By: Alexa Shabinsky By: Alexa Shabinsky | February 22, 2022 | People
The hospitality industry has been through waves over the last two years, with pandemic shutdowns to Miami becoming one of the most sought-after destinations in the nation. According to VisitFlorida, the state has seen a record-breaking 50% increase in the number of visitors between 2020 and 2021, and Miami has most definitely seen the heat of this.
With hospitality at the forefront of the city, everyone has faced many upsides and challenges in recent years. Emi Guerra, co-founder of Breakwater Hospitality Group, and the brains behind the Riverside Wharf has experienced this first hand. From how the company pivoted in the peak of the pandemic, to exciting projects and strategies which will change the Miami landscape both physically and figuratively, Breakwater Hospitality Group is in the middle of the city’s boom.
We had the chance to catch up with Guerra to talk all about the South Florida landscape, upcoming projects and so much more.
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How have you seen the hospitality industry in South Florida change over the last two years?
Natural beauty, year-long summer, and a vibrant community are some of the factors that help travelers keep South Florida at the top of their list among destinations to visit, and even though the pandemic radically affected the hospitality business, Miami was able to bounce back much sooner than other cities around the country. The city has always had a strong hospitality foundation, and once the world started opening up again, it was easier to evolve and adapt to the "new normal''.
We are experiencing a growth never seen before in the hospitality industry as we started to implement new protocols, use new technologies and bring new experiences to our guests. This last one is a direct result of the lockdown. People do not want to be confined and go through the same daily routine; they want to live their best life, enjoy and experience new things daily, and thankfully in our business, we are able to provide just that.
What has been the biggest challenge you've faced thus far?
The pandemic left marks in the hospitality business, introduced us to the unknown, and led us to newer regulations and more health and safety protocols. It was a time of learning and adaptation but emerging from this was a much stronger company focused on investing in innovations and offering comfort and safety to travelers. Furthermore, Miami is a destination on a global scale and, in the post-pandemic era, the city was able to shine brighter, not only for tourists but digital nomads in this new hybrid work environment.
The Wharf Miami has been a go-to destination since opening in 2016. How did the concept for the Riverside Wharf come to life?
Riverside Wharf will be a world-class waterfront destination and a new paradigm for the city's entertainment and hospitality industry. We hope to become a staple in the city and a community hub for food, drinks, culture, and vibrant nightlife. The concept features dynamic and diverse local culinary concepts, live music, and areas for guests to relax and enjoy beautiful waterfront views. The idea of the project also creates a shift in the entertainment culture that positively affects the neighboring economy, which was historically vacant and underutilized.
How do you think the Riverside Wharf is going to change Miami for both locals and tourists?
Riverside Wharf is the answer to Miami's craving entertainment and hospitality industry as more and more people flocking into the city looking for unique products such as this. The project is something the city has never seen before, and we hope to keep contributing to the growth and revitalization of the Miami River District.
The Carousel Club is in a unique location for Miamianans. Why Gulfstream Park?
We have always done an excellent job identifying prominent locations that go unnoticed, and in South Florida, you still have some of them. Miami has been the main focus of the hospitality and entertainment business, but it is about time to wake up the other cities. We are betting on Carrousel's success and the revitalization of it all. The location is distinguishable and eye-catching, but it is also warm and welcoming, accurately translating Miami's atmosphere.
What is next for Breakwater Hospitality Group?
We are thrilled to be opening John Martin’s in Coral Gables in the near future. The establishment has been a staple in the community for years and we can’t wait to reintroduce this concept with a reimagined vision for the area. We also are opening Pier 5 at Bayside Marketplace later this year. Growing up going to Bayside myself, it’s exciting to be able to bring a unique concept that will appeal to locals, as well as visitors and reinvigorate the Downtown area. There’s one more secret project we have in the works that will be announced this year…stay tuned for more information on that one!
Photography by: Courtesy Breakwater Hospitality Group, Riverside Wharf