We say the success of the new The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort will depend on how well the posh locals in its surrounding neighborhood accept it. By all accounts, at its grand opening last month, the denizens of Bal Harbour were liking the highly anticipated resort just fine. Just hours after the hotel had opened, men in crisply pressed linen jackets and slacks were accompanying elegant women in chic resort wear through The St. Regis’ elegant public spaces and into Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s J&G Grill and The St. Regis Bar, where a live jazz band plays at 6 p.m. sharp every night. In fact, that evening, it seemed as if the long-awaited St. Regis had always been a part of Bal Harbour, a classy enclave north of Miami Beach. Here, the main magnets are The Shops at Bal Harbour, acclaimed as having the highest concentration of designer boutiques in the country (think Chanel, Hermes, Fendi, Armani, Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Oscar de la Renta and Dior). Bonus: The stores are anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.
What we loved: The hotel’s public spaces are designed as jewel boxes, one flowing into the other, with outlets that reveal a lobby here, a restaurant there, an elevator bank over there. Tech Touch: Elevators are electronically programmed; just wave your key card in front of a panel which assigns you to an elevator that already knows where you’re going. This feature allows entire floors to by blocked off, meaning super A-list VIPs can inhabit an enclave with four suites and eight guest rooms in private. That’s especially fun in areas that have connecting rooms—for example, Grand Lux Ocean Front Suites connect to one Grand Lux Suite. Pets are welcome to stay at a fee, but they must weigh 40 pounds or less and there can be only one to a room.
All guest rooms are high-tech, with bedside panels that allow you to control air temperature, drapes and a variety of other services remotely. Top Digs: The Presidential Suite is on the 24th floor. The 2,800-square-foot unit has a full chef’s kitchen, a staff entrance, a media room, two bedrooms, a dining room and a 1,200-square-foot private balcony looking out over the Atlantic Ocean. Naturally, guests here have the 24/7 assistance of a St. Regis butler who can unpack or run across the street to The Shops at Bal Harbour for any items you’ve forgotten.
We loved that the One-Bedroom Suites are quite large (we saw Room No. 402), with kitchen facilities, a media room, dining area, a living room and two bathrooms. All units have huge bathrooms, including standard rooms, which start at a generous 650 square feet. All have large balconies as well, though we realized that outdoor areas on the southern portion of the resort tower likely get much more sun than those to the north.
The hotel is headed by Marco Selva (formerly of The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne), but we hear that Reservations Manager Julie Adams ([email protected]; 305-993-3371), or Director of Revenue Paul Bergen ([email protected]; 305-993-3370), can give you the 411 on all you need to know about rooms.
We found the treatment rooms at Remède Spa to be some of the most peaceful we’ve ever witnessed. The over-the-top treatment here is the Bal Harbour 24-karat Designer Facial, which starts off with a copper-enriched peel and ends with a “bejeweled sprinkling of gold oil.” Personally, we found a customized deep-tissue massage to be perfect to our liking, which we topped off with a lovely manicure and pedicure. Nice Touch: The spa has a couple’s suite with a completely private bath and shower, which can be booked for a full or half day or used for bridal parties. Contact the spa director, Sonie Boyce ([email protected]; 305-993-3315), who can walk you through options that include a “Wedding Party Wellness” package.
When it’s time to retox after detoxing, we say there’s no better place in town than The St. Regis Bar, serving its own version of the signature St. Regis Bloody Mary. This is elegant territory and while there’s no dress code at the hotel, if you’re looking for packing suggestions, we suggest something that makes you feel trendy and put together in the South Florida social scene. Nice Touch: This St. Regis has its own dramatic wall mural that’s meant to complement the iconic Maxfield Parrish King Cole Mural that hangs in The St. Regis New York and was commissioned by St. Regis founder John Jacob Astor.
After a cocktail (try the cucumber martini with gin), head to the hotel’s Atlantico restaurant for seafood with a Spanish twist or to J&G Grill for some black truffle cheese fritters and local red snapper. Be sure to request a table lining the window, which overlooks the beach and the Atlantic and do stop in at J&G’s during the day for a million-dollar view of the ocean.
Hint: The St. Regis Bar has a wine vault housing 2,500 bottles of wine, which can be closed off and used for private tastings or events. The hotel’s sommeliers can also arrange tasting for those who want to select a bottle before dining in J&G’s Grill. Contact Chef Concierge Brian Bean ([email protected]; 305-993-3303) to set up a tasting or to reserve complimentary house car service to the resort’s surrounding areas. He can also book you into one of the nine private cabanas near the hotel’s two swimming pools; they come with butler service, bathrooms, showers, wet bars and lots of privacy.
We would expect that The St. Regis might already have some weddings on the books, and Annette Winkler ([email protected]; 305-993-3326), director of social catering, is your go-to person for such celebrations.
Location: Bal Harbour is 18 miles from Miami International Airport and 18 miles from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, making both no more than 30 minutes away. Note: If you want to arrive in style, request The St. Regis Bentley for a transfer. Those arriving via private jets can land at the Opa-locka Executive Airport; those flying in by helicopter can land at Opa-locka or at Tamiami Airport.
Reserve 30 to 60 days out during high season, which runs from December 20 through April 30.