Pharrell Williams and David Grutman team up to open their first hotel and revive one of the city's most historic neighborhoods, promising Miami it's going to be a good time.
In the height of Miami’s most notorious party scene in the early ’90s, Washington Avenue was the place to be. Flanked by some of the most iconic nightclub destinations including Cameo, Mansion, Liquid and Bash, the historic street lent itself to overindulgence, debauchery and celebrities galore including everyone from Madonna to Diddy, Leonardo DiCaprio and more. Anyone who was anyone wanted to be partying the night away along Washington Avenue—otherwise, were you really in Miami?
Fast-forward to the late 2000s, and what was once one of the city’s most coveted streets lost its luster, falling behind other blossoming neighborhoods and serving as only a nostalgic reminder of the true Miami heyday. At the neighborhood’s height, David Grutman was beginning his career as an aspiring nightlife figure, knocking on the doors of every Washington Avenue nightclub to work as a bartender. After consistently being told “no,” he moved off Miami Beach to work at the Aventura Mall, where Donald Soffer offered him his first gig as the bartender of Biz Bistro. After climbing the ranks and proving his worth, Donald Soffer’s son, Jeff, offered Grutman the golden keys to partner in his new nightclub, LIV, located at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. You know what comes next—his life changed forever.
He is now known as the hospitality king of Miami, and he is returning to the street that denied him the start of his career—opening one of the city’s most anticipated hotels with partner, musician, tastemaker and creative genius Pharrell Williams. Poetic justice at its finest.
“He made it here because he always thinks outside the box,” says Williams. “He could look at me as just another musician, but he sees more than that. He sees things that people sometimes don’t know about themselves, and he sees things in the community that maybe, just maybe, the community hasn’t seen in itself in a long time.
“This guy [Grutman] is a master curator. He knows who to have in the room, at the right time, to make the right things happen. Good, bad or indifferent.” [laughs]
Thus, The Goodtime Hotel was born, alongside help from developers Mike Fascitelli and Eric Birnbaum. Indicative of its name, the ethos centers around having a good time—something Miami always has succeeded at doing best.
“Pharrell said to me, ‘I think we should name it The Goodtime as one word—and really change the narrative.’ That’s been our whole vision for everything we’re doing. [In recent years], Washington Avenue has not been thought of as the star. We want to change that—this won’t be a place to just lay your head.”
“The Goodtime will light up this community. People are going to be inspired by what we’re doing here. It will be good energy, good vibrations, good space and, of course, a good time,” adds Williams.
The all-star team has come together to bring forth a stunning hotel with enticing food, beverage and entertainment programs that will shake up the scene, set to debut in early March. To complete the project, they tapped world-renowned designer Ken Fulk and landscape architect Raymond Jungles to create magic inside and out of the hotel, bringing their vision to life.
“We’re both obsessed with Ken Fulk and Raymond Jungles,” says Grutman. “Ken Fulk is one of the best interior designers in the world, and Raymond Jungles is the best landscaping architect. One thing I’ve learned from Pharrell is when you use the best in class, you’re building the perfect mousetrap.”
“Facts, facts,” Williams nods in approval.
The two have a way of communicating with one another that sometimes doesn’t even need to be spoken. They’re on completely different levels that complement each other in the best way. The end result? Magic.
While the interior and exterior of the hotel are vibrant, whimsical and evoke Miami glamour with a nostalgic nod to its historic location, the food and beverage programs, detailed service and live entertainment are what will keep people coming back for more.
“You can look at a photo online of a building and it can be the most beautiful space—you can have as many instagrammable moments as you want, but that’s not going to keep the people there. That gets their attention, but what keeps them is the food [and service]. It’s like meeting someone for the first time—their look is what first gets your focus, but the conversation is what keeps it,” notes Williams.
The hotel features a large-scale pool deck, where guests and visitors will be able to take part in everything from live entertainment to outdoor yoga classes or Uno tournaments, complete with playful cabanas, an outdoor bar and VIP seating. The on-site restaurant, Strawberry Moon, will serve up a mix of sophisticated Mediterranean cuisine and American hotel favorites, featuring indoor and outdoor seating. There are 267 boutique-style guest rooms featuring fanciful interior palettes and fun features, such as old-school pink telephone landlines, an indoor and outdoor gym and even multiple recording studios. The latter was a unique addition that pays homage to Williams’ deep-rooted history in Miami.
“When I first started coming to Miami, I used to always say there were three things that blew me away: the weather, the water and the women,” Williams recalls. “That’s still the case. There’s still the most beautiful weather, the water is still beautiful, and the women are everywhere.
“Coming down here, I had that experience, because we were working in a studio that Chris Blackwell had bought, and there was this guy, Joe Galdo, who was the head engineer there in a hotel called The Marlin. They had two rooms there, and I made countless songs from that studio. I realized the energy of working in Miami was just different. Now, we’re trying to re-create that energy where you’re in a boutique hotel and we’re offering people the opportunity to make magic downstairs. People will know that while they’re on-site, magic is being made downstairs. And when they come upstairs to the third floor, they’re greeted with a 30,000-square-foot pool deck, where arguably, magic is happening too.”
It will be magic, indeed, and they’ve put in the work to ensure that.
After a long and trying year in 2020 with delayed construction dates and hospitality closures that affected the industry throughout the country, Groot Hospitality is pulling through 2021 in a big way to launch The Goodtime Hotel, and they’re feeling grateful beyond words.
“The past year was definitely a struggle. For this project, it’s been more of a construction situation and hitting our timelines. But we feel like the world wasn’t ready for us, and now they are,” says Grutman.
“We’ve been so blessed with The Goodtime,” says Williams. “We’ve been in the middle of a pandemic and we’ve been so blessed to be able to still do things we want to do and have our projects move forward—that’s not lost on us. We do things together on philanthropic levels because we know that the outcome could have been completely different—we could have been a lost leader in the middle of the plague, but that’s not how the universe wrote it. Because of that, we express our gratitude through acknowledging that and doubling down on philanthropy.”
“It’s not just The Goodtime; it’s goodwill,” adds Grutman. “We’ve also really been able to focus on the food and getting this right. Normally, we all have so much going on in our lives, but that noise was gone and we could really give it our all.”
The final product is a clear embodiment of everything the team set out to accomplish. Its captivating design, attentive service and innovative food and beverage program will invite the star-studded clientele for which Groot Hospitality has become known and loved. And it’s at a time when Miami is booming and people from all over the country are hedging their bets on a city that Grutman and Williams fell in love with so long ago. It is their time, and we are ready.
“I see The Goodtime Hotel as a shining star—in the middle of all of the action,” says Grutman.
“I want to emphasize how excited we are for this community—this street of Washington. There’s a lot of room to grow, and I think that what we want to do is become a part of this community and not leave it better than we found it, but contribute to it. It’s not just us here. There’s other businesses here and other people who want to bring their businesses here, and we’re just so excited about this strip called Washington Avenue,” says Williams.
As he so perfectly put it, expect “good energy, good space, good vibrations.” Let the good times roll.
Photography by: Photography by RIOCAM
Grooming by Jenny Dyson
Shot at The Goodtime Hotel