Living / Insights

Property Highlight: The Soho Beach House

Find everything you could every want (and more) at the Soho Beach House Miami.

October 06, 2013

If you’re jetting down to Miami to enjoy the pristine white sands of South Beach, reconsider the hotel you normally book. The Soho Beach House Miami ratchets up hospitality several considerable notches.   The $100 million Collins Avenue property, which includes the revamped historic art deco Sovereign Hotel as well as a brand new 16-story oceanfront tower, features 49 hotel rooms, which feel more like remarkable mini apartments. Available in six different sizes and layouts, the bedrooms have a strong South American influence, one-off pieces of antique furniture, king-size beds and rainforest style showers. The majority of the rooms face the ocean and a number have freestanding baths in front of the windows, so you can soak while staring into the Atlantic.   The best part? The one-year-old hotel is open to the public. Which means you can enjoy all the luxurious amenities that members annually pay between $1,800 and $2,400 to experience. Included in the laundry list of haute offerings are two pools (one for families and one for adults), a full service beach, lush garden with a Tiki bar, a roof deck, 3D screening room, gym and the Cowshed Spa.   The spa, tucked into the second floor, is comprised of six spacious ocean facing mani- pedi chairs, five private treatment rooms (including a couples suite), steam rooms, a relaxation area, changing facilities and a blow dry bar. The spa has a full range of treatments available as well as a Cowshed shop. There’s even a private yoga studio at your disposal.    Down the hallway – constructed from reclaimed wooden beams from barns – lies the 2nd Floor bar, accessible only to members and hotel guests. The motif of this space evokes a feeling of Cuba in the 1940s; Hemmingway’s Havana. While the floor tiles, bar stools and tables are new, special care has been taken to distress each piece so it looks authentically from the era. Here, you can swill a specialty cocktail on the open-air deck while the salty breeze from the beach wafts over.   When the allure of the ocean eventually pulls you down the boardwalk to the beach area, vintage Coca Coolers filled with water and plush towels await you chair side. Fresh slices of fruit are readily available, and when the moon is full, head back at night for a bonfire complete with marshmallow roasting.    As for finer fare, the first level restaurant, Cecconi’s, offers Italian specialties, while the second floor combines traditional and Latin cuisines. Mondays are Meatball Nights, where they pair three to four kinds of the balled delights with various wines for a very reasonable $25.   Finally, the Soho Beach House’s in-room liquor services are unparalleled. The hotel doesn’t nickel and dime you for raiding the mini bar, and each bottle of alcohol – regardless of brand – is $35. Considering the bottles are nearly full size, it almost feels like you’re stealing. Then there’s the One While Changing program. Simply call the front desk before dinner and a mixologist will rush to your room with a full tray of ingredients and craft whatever cocktail you desire on the spot. As an added bonus, the barmaster will even bring you a snack. Add in the backdrop of the ocean and the libations taste even sweeter. 

—sean evans


Bentley Unveils Plans for Luxury SUV

The highly anticipated SUV concept is expected to hit the market in 2016.

July 25, 2013

After endless speculation and rumors, Bentley recently made an official statement that their much-anticipated EXP 9 F concept SUV will go into production as the company’s fourth model line. It’s expected to hit the market in 2016.

Bentley says it will devote more than 800 million Euros toward new product development as well as its headquarters. The stately SUV will be made in Crewe and is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs in England.

“This is excellent news for Bentley and for the UK. Bentley is increasingly successful, and this new fourth model line will leverage the success of the global SUV market,” said Dr. Wolfgang Schreiber, Bentley’s chairman and chief executive, in a statement. “The support of everyone involved with the company has been fundamental to this decision, which will ensure sustainable growth for the company.”

The EXP 9 F concept was first shown in 2012 at the Geneva Motor Show with massive 23-inch alloy wheels, Bentley’s signature grille, a powerful 6-liter W12 engine coupled with an 8-speed transmission, and luxurious amenities fit for the royal family. Expect the production of the lavish SUV to be limited with pricing well beyond the most expensive SUVs—the Range Rover and Porsche Cayenne Turbo—on the market.

by Kimatni D. Rawlins,, (@ARtvKimatni)


Group Exhibit Features Artists with Disabilities

Dazzling creativity emerges to challenge the boundaries of the art world.

July 02, 2013

Painting of Watches on Orange by James Montgomery
Watches on Orange by James Montgomery, 2007

Cultural outsiders becoming insiders is hardly a new phenomenon, least of all in the art world. Witness the current vogue for “outsider art”—works fashioned by the formally untrained and socially marginalized—with its own network of specialized dealers, many of whom tout their artists’ mental illness as a badge of outsider authenticity. Such is the landscape into which “Create” arrives this month at the Boca Museum of Art. A group exhibition originating from the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, featuring more than 135 works by 20 different Bay Area artists, all with developmental disabilities ranging from autism to Down syndrome, “Create” would seem to carry its own share of conceptual baggage. Thankfully, all reservations vanish upon encountering the art in question.

The most impressive pieces in this show are simply striking visual artworks—period. Case in point: James Montgomery’s intricately detailed paintings, which explore time through a hypnotically unfolding array of watches, all seemingly spinning around each other at an accelerated pace; Aurie Ramirez’s arresting portraits of formally clad and Harlequin-masked women; and Bertha Otoya’s drawings summoning an otherworldly air with ominous snakeheads atop a sea of text. It’s tempting to see these pieces as the purest form of art, with its creators freed from—or blissfully unaware of—the considerations and pressures of the marketplace. Yet just as much thought and determination went into this artwork as that which was poured into Art Basel’s wares. “If this exhibition allows people to recalibrate what it means to have a developmental disorder, that would be great,” Boca Museum of Art Director Steven Maklansky explains to Ocean Drive. “But art isn’t just something you hang over your couch. Art is an epistemological way of looking at the world.” And the visions expressed in “Create,” Maklansky adds, more than hold their own against their contemporary art world peers. “Create” opens July 29 at the Boca Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, 561-392-2500

by brett sokol
photography courtesy of creativity explored, san francisco


The Best Yet: 2014 Maserati Quattroporte

The Maserati Quattroporte S and S Q4 redefine Italian luxury.

May 30, 2013

When deep beauty is encountered, what behavior would you exert to obtain it? Fortunately, Maserati has never had qualms attracting car lovers to their brand. Yet, today’s expectations from tech-savvy and opulence-seeking connoisseurs have to be met in the competitive global markets.

To explore the technologies, luxury accouterments, and Italian design philosophy of the latest Maserati Quattroporte, we flew to Italy for a day of testing at the Balocco Proving Grounds, which felt more like Stanford’s campus than a vehicle test track. The Langhe course that we challenged the Italian maestro on is 12.89 miles long with 135 tight and wide turns and miles of K-rail.

Offered in both the GTS (V8 engine) and the S (V6 engine), the Quattroporte features AWD for the first time, but only on the V6. And please do not expect a hybrid rendition of this model because the technology is not a part of the company’s vision. Maserati prefers the numbers achieved in diesel engines. With deliveries currently taking place in the U.S., base MSRP for the 523-horsepower V8 RWD Quattroporte GTS is $140,500 and $102,500 for the 404-horsepower GDI V6 AWD Quattroporte S Q4, the model we drove in Balocco.

Riding in the back is just as spacious as an Audi A8L or Jaguar XJL and dual seats can be ordered to replace the bench seat. The dashboard uses a magnesium frame and houses the 8.4” infotainment system, which is available with the up-level 15-speaker, 1280-watt Bowers and Wilkins surround sound, where crisp, concert-like rhythms are delivered spectacularly throughout the cabin. The shift paddles, gear lever frame, and LCD trim are all aluminum. Two leather types are available with the optional, higher grain leather covering more area. A rear window shade and side electric blinds, standard sunroof, and the choice of six surfaces, including a carbon fiber package, round out interior comfort offerings.

I always find it clever when auto manufacturers are able to manifest lavish, full-size sedans in every sense, yet instill the performance and character of sport cars. Q4, for example, offers the Quattroporte S greater high-speed confidence and safety for inclement weather. First, the car has a perfect 50/50 weight distribution with both engines; uses a double wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear; and Skyhook has been significantly improved. Skyhook is Maserati’s sophisticated damping system, which manages all vehicle dynamic parameters. To the left of the gear selector are five options for your specified style of driving.

Whichever angle you examine it from, Quattroporte is ready for the big leagues and certainly will not disappoint.

By Kimatni D. Rawlins,, (@ARtvKimatni)


The Ultimate Parking Space

The latest luxury cars sit pretty at 1111 Lincoln Road for an Ocean Drive photoshoot.

May 10, 2013

For our April issue car feature, “Speed of Sight,” Ocean Drive brought some of the most sophisticated vehicle brands together to present their latest ultra-luxury, exclusive models. But photographing these mammoths of opulence presented an interesting challenge. A group composed of a Bentley Continental GT Speed, an Audi R8, a Porsche 911 Carrera, and a Maserati GT Sport would swallow an ordinary studio space. They required an equally elevated level of luxury—so Ocean Drive turned to 1111 Lincoln Road.

Barely three years old, the Herzog & de Meuron-designed structure rising above Lincoln Road and Alton Road has already become a signature landmark in Miami Beach, with its stark elegance and dramatic lines. “I thought it would be interesting to juxtapose the sleek surfaces and lines of these incredible cars against the raw interior of the building,” says award-winning architectural photographer Claudia Uribe, who shot these vehicles on the garage’s seventh floor.

That level in the structure, with its 34-foot-high ceilings, 25,000 square feet of space, and sweeping views of Miami Beach, doubles as a highly coveted event location—and Ocean Drive has not been the first to make use of it to highlight luxury autos. Ferrari hosted an exclusive party there during Art Basel Miami Beach 2011, where it unveiled the 458 Spider; days later, BMW launched its line of electric cars, including the BMW i3 and BMW i8 Concept cars there. The space, in fact, is a favorite of the Art Basel crowd, hosting the most exclusive events during the art week; this last December, the Moncler 60th anniversary dinner—hands-down the most sought-after invitation during Art Basel—was held there.

The Ocean Drive shoot took two days, with two cars being shot each morning. Once the vehicles arrived at the garage, they were driven to the seventh floor and positioned accordingly, with the team of 1111 Lincoln Road making sure that every need for the shoot was met, including preparation of the surrounding areas and helping to coordinate the safe transport of the vehicles, as well as any additional catering needs. The end result? A stunning eight pages of glossy cars, powerful interiors, and Miami flavor. 1111 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, Ste. 760, 305-538-9320, ext. 101


Rolls-Royce Wraith Debuts in Geneva

The British auto brand takes a 1938 model for a modern spin.

March 13, 2013

It’s symptomatic for Rolls-Royce to look backwards before moving forward when the time for contemplation of a new model is imminent. With a storied history—founder Charles Stewart Rolls was in his twenties when he co-founded the company and, as a young pilot, became the first man to double cross the English Channel non-stop—and a reservoir of creativity at its disposal, the British automaker proudly staged the world debut of its dynamic new Wraith recently at the 83rd Geneva International Motor Show.

Wraith, titled after a mystical Scottish spirit, represents new potential direction for Rolls-Royce and extends its level of luxury, refinement, and hand-craftsmanship, but also presents unique positioning defined by power, style, and drama. Originally conceived in 1938, the rebirth of the current fastback and its perfectly engineered features and technical contour introduces a younger demographic to the Rolls-Royce brand. The sleek and vigorous Wraith is purely driver oriented with its Ghost-based 6.6-liter V12 that now outputs 624-horsepower (European spec), allowing it to reach 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds. With this in mind, the majestic gran turismo becomes the most powerful Rolls-Royce in the history of the company. 

Hallmark coach doors open into the Wraith’s rich cabin, which is composed of Phantom-grade leathers and Canadel Panelling wood veneers. A bespoke touch of imagination is displayed by way of the lustrous night roof lining, conceived by the hand stitching of 1,340 fibre optic lamps. For enthusiastic owners who position themselves directly behind the wheel, innovative technology dubbed Satellite Aided Transmission applies GPS mapping algorithms to forecast the driver’s next move using current location-base and drive characteristics. The system then pre-chooses the most suitable gear from the 8-speed automatic ZF transmission appropriate for the impending topography ahead.

Expect deliveries by the end of the year to early 2014 with a current European price of €245K. Further pricing details for additional markets such as the U.S. will be revealed at a later date. It’s currently a moment of introspection for Rolls-Royce as they position themselves for supplementary growth, heightened levels of performance, and inflated expectations from their loyalists.



Brokers Discuss Internet Impact on Real Estate

Veronica Escobedo and Felipe Azenha discuss the Internet’s impact on the real estate industry.

February 25, 2013

Felipe Azenha and Veronica Escobedo discuss the booming sales in the South of Fifth neighborhood.

As the Internet swoops over the real estate market, it’s influencing everything from consumer access to information to how brokerage firms handle their marketing budgets, making it a crucial game changer for one of South Florida’s most important industries.

VERONICA ESCOBEDO, chief marketing officer for International Sales Group: What’s an immediate change created by the Internet?

FELIPE AZENHA, business development lead for StreetEasy South Florida, a real estate listings site: Consumers are very hungry for information, so they’re educating themselves online before even contacting a broker. They’re doing research, ensuring that the building and the neighborhood are something they’re interested in.

VE: We definitely have a more empowered generation who do their homework before heading out to see a property. There are mobile apps and sites where you can find market trends, and innovative Web programs such as 3-D interactive property tools are a great way to showcase a project. I deal with many foreign buyers, so we rely heavily on the Internet to promote to outside areas, especially Latin America. There’s a lot out there, so brokers have to compete to get the info out the fastest and most efficiently.

FA: People value their time, so we try to make it easy for them. For preconstruction projects, we’ll have videos, floor plans, and high-resolution photos available for people to view. They can just go to one place online to find everything they need.

VE: Another important aspect is social media. We work with developers and realtors who ask, “Is social media worth investing in? How do we quantify it?” But it isn’t something you can quantify. It’s about building better relationships with consumers and keeping them updated on what’s new.

FA: Overall, has the Internet helped sales?

VE: Yes, because you have savvier home buyers with strong ideas versus the broker driving them around everywhere to no avail.

FA: In a sense, the Internet has made the buying transaction even quicker because consumers already know what they want and what they should be paying. It smooths out the process and makes it more transparent—although it isn’t like the Internet is going to replace brokers. We’ll always need them to handhold consumers through the purchasing procedure and provide localized expertise about the neighborhood, property taxes, insurance rates, and other specifics.

VE: With traffic stats, the Internet provides valuable information to us, too.

FA: Considering the traffic on our site, I can say that approximately 60 percent of consumers that purchase real estate in Miami are foreign—mostly Latin Americans (Venezuelans, Argentines, Colombians, Mexicans, and Brazilians). But the percentage of international buyers [just] in the downtown and beach areas is probably closer to 90 percent. Canadians are also big buyers, but they tend to buy in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

VE: I work with marketing budgets for different developers, and they’re spending thousands of dollars on the Internet—websites mostly—whereas five years ago, before the bust, we spent a majority of money on printed materials. Now we save on printing and mailing costs, and it’s more effective. Today, most of our business comes from the Internet, including leads via websites, e-mail marketing campaigns, and more. According to a study by the National Association of Realtors, Florida is the top market for international buyers, so it’s crucial for us to reach them. That means spending time on things like search engine optimization (SEO), which can get tricky because you have to find the perfect keywords. (Some regions in Brazil may have different dialects, while countries in Latin America speak different versions of Spanish.)

FA: Anyone in real estate who doesn’t embrace technology is going to have a tough time. Consumers want brokers with a strong track record, and they can find that online.

moderated by omar sommereyns
photography by jim arbogast


Samsung Simplifies the Art Deal

Miami's art scene embraces the functionality of Samsung’s popular phones.

January 30, 2013

One thing that this past Art Basel revealed about the changing art landscape is the way galleries and artists exhibit their work to collectors with mobile devices—as we will continue to see at this month’s Art Wynwood (February 14–18). With limited space in their booths and minimal ability to transport actual art from such far-flung places as Beijing, Buenos Aires, Moscow, and Paris, gallerists are depending on devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 to access their network of photographs and fine-art files remotely with true-to-life color and resolution.

The GS3’s 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display allows for sharper text, brighter whites, and vivid/true colors, making it easy to show clients artworks that are not at the fair—a feature that is further enhanced by the slightly larger Note 2, which has a 5.5-inch screen. During last month’s Art Basel, nearly every gallery handled deals in this manner, eliminating the need to travel with notebooks and laptops. Other applications include the ability to showcase visual art projects and pulling art contracts. 


Fendi Wows at Design Miami

Among Design Miami’s most memorable exhibitions was Fendi’s “Transformations.”

January 30, 2013

Fendi’s “Transformations” exhibition at Design Miami.

This year's Art Basel Miami Beach and Design Miami events were met with extraordinary support from some of fashion’s biggest power players. Chosen for his brilliance in synthesizing fashion and art, Belgian industrial designer Maarten de Ceulaer led Fendi’s annual Design Miami art series. A tribute to the label’s modern geometric prints, the remarkable exhibit reimagined the Italian fashion house’s striped “pequin” motif, converting the iconic pattern from archival textiles into three-dimensional objects. Lacquered wood boards and tree stumps resembled benches, tables, and chairs, and were decorated with handmade leather straps. “These are definitely more functional works than former collaborations,” Silvia Fendi says. The installation’s identification with Fendi was clear, yet its abstract interpretation of the pequin design blurred the boundaries between the luxurious and the functional. The result? A winning combination of fashion and art. Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-861-7114

photography by Daniele Venturelli


Annie Leibovitz Retrospective

Leibovitz turns her lens on conceptual self-portraitist Cindy Sherman as part of her retrospective exhibition.

January 07, 2013

Cindy Sherman, New York City, 1992, by Annie Leibovitz.

Annie Leibovitz’s reputation is an odd one. The best-known portraitist in America today—from her 1970s photos for Rolling Stone to her current work for Vanity Fair—Leibovitz has several shots as iconic as the celebrities they depict. Yet what deeper truths does she reveal? “It is visual shorthand,” argues The New York Times critic Ginia Bellafante. “Ms. Leibovitz shows up to merchandise the prevailing image of whomever she’s shooting—often wittily, almost always arrestingly—but rarely to get beyond it.” That hasn’t always been so—at least not when Leibovitz steps back from the role of all-arranging overseer into that of silently observing photojournalist. Her off-the-cuff 1970s shots of Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, and the Rolling Stones are both masterful and revealing. Similarly, the best work in a new retrospective show of hers at the Norton Museum of Art—from 1968 photos of US soldiers to a 1988 portrait of the Reverend Al Sharpton having his hair styled—are the ones that are least staged and most natural. Indeed, Sharpton should have been the model for a 1992 portrait of self-disguising artist Cindy Sherman. Instead, Leibovitz wryly placed Sherman in a lineup with eight other look- alikes. “I wanted to photograph all of them in the same outfit Cindy was wearing when she met me,” Leibovitz recalls in her Annie Leibovitz at Work monograph of that initial informal encounter at Sherman’s downtown New York loft. “But it turned out that the simple white shirt was from Agnes B, the pants were by some Italian designer, and the shoes were Manolo Blahnik. It would have cost too much to dress everyone like that, so we went to the Gap for the pants and shirts.” As eye-grabbing as Leibovitz’s final portrait may be, her throwaway detail tells us far more about Sherman’s personal transformation from struggling bohemian to art world star. “Annie Leibovitz” opens January 17 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach, 561-832-5196;

— brett sokol
photography courtesy of annie leibovitz and the norton museum of art

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