As the iconic Park Central Hotel transforms into the gorgeous Celino South Beach this month, Ocean Drive will finally be adorned with its grandest resort ever. Composed of four immaculate buildings designed to make both vacationers and staycationers swoon, owner Ricardo Tabet of Optimum Development and designer Ken Lam of Navigate Design share their passionate journey of reimagining architect Henry Hohauser’s 1937 masterwork with a visual statement that’s entirely their own.
What’s the grand vision behind Celino South Beach? RICARDO TABET: The Park Central, in this truly amazing location, really needed to be reinvigorated after years of neglect. And in my mind, I saw the three adjacent buildings, each with different heights and silhouettes and character, collectively as a conceptual Celino District, a luxury oasis within the city. So I bought the three buildings, built another from scratch, connected them, and Celino South Beach is now spread over 280 feet of Ocean Drive.
KEN LAM: When Ricardo came to us with the project, we were mesmerized by Miami Beach’s tropical allure, its Art Deco history, the city’s latin and Caribbean influence, the hotel’s proximity to the ocean and the sand… all the elements were there to create something truly special.
When you say a tropical oasis, like a city within a city, what’s life going to be like at the hotel? RT: It’s the chic tropical lifestyle people imagine when they think about Miami. You’re on Ocean Drive to the point you can touch it, but yet you’re completely removed, tucked away in lush green spaces and gazebos, multiple pools, and both intimate and soaring spaces for dropping out or connecting with people. But most of all, we’ve conceived three restaurants and two bars for all-day socializing over food and drinks. When you get to your room, it’s quiet and serene, so you can see Ocean Drive’s activity but not necessarily hear it.
KL: In short, it’s Floridita. I see the hotel as cocktail dresses and men in jackets from the 1940’s, sipping tropical drinks against subdued pastel backdrops and furnishings awash in colors—peach, yellows, mint green, pinks, purples, and turquoise… you know, like a Miami sunset. Because of the era that inspired us and Miami’s latin flavor, the spaces also necessitate bold visuals that are both vintage and contemporary, so that’s why you’ll see enormous flamingo-painted scrims and a Mr. Brainwash mural juxtaposed against parquet wood, polished terrazzo and checkered marble floors.
OK, you’ve both personally checked into the hotel on vacation. What’s your favorite go-to spot? RT: For me, it’s the 6th floor rooftop of the all-suite southernmost building—the new building—where you can sit by the pool and feel like you’re touching the ocean.
KL: I love the triple-terraced lobby with the indoor/outdoor bar, where I can see and smell the food being cooked in the open kitchen, relaxing on a comfy couch with friends.