The beginning of "She Loves You" could be heard amidst the shrill cries of loud Beatles fans as the band opened their second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show inside the Napoleon Ballroom of Miami Beach's iconic Deauville Resort on Feb. 16, 1964.
Today, the hotel faces demolition after years of disrepair and abandonment, but its legacy as one of Miami's most iconic and glamorous resorts remains intact.
The Beatles were not the only celebrities that stayed at the Deauville while it stood the test of time. Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, and President Kennedy were among the guests that stayed at the Deauville and that helped cement the hotel’s reputation as one of the town’s must-see staples. Even Judy Garland performed at the Deauville in November 1961.
But despite public outcry and attempts by preservationists to avoid demolishing the hotel, no effort has been enough to keep this once-famous landmark on its feet. And as other historic buildings in Miami Beach face threats from new developers, aging, and the effects of climate change, preservationists fear the city could lose another one any minute.
The Deauville was built in 1957 and designed by Melvin Grossman, one of the fathers of MiMo (Miami Modern Architecture). It became part of a collection of buildings that gave Miami Beach a glamorous fresh look that served as a regional response to the growing international post-war architecture boom of the 50s.
The resort's rooms' design varied a lot. Some rooms had orange walls, while others had yellow or blue. The curtains were striped, and the stripes matched the color of the walls and the bed scarf, the boudoir pillow had a D (that stood for Deauville). Everything was planned to make perfect symmetry and color combination.
“We had very nice rooms in my opinion. The ocean front room was one of the best rooms that we always sold out. And it basically had a beautiful view of the beach and it had a balcony too. Obviously the suites, like if you stayed at the oceanfront suite, it was pretty spectacular,” said former front desk agent Karina Rucinque.
The Napoleon ballroom where the Beatles taped their appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show," was grand and had big conic chandeliers that illuminated the large space. The ballroom didn't have a backstage, so the Beatles had to go through the lobby surrounded by screaming fans, to get to the stage. At its prime time, the hotel had the largest combined convection center space in all of Miami Beach.
According to Rucinque, the ballroom was always well maintained, and many schools in the area hosted their proms there, including her own.
Nonetheless, no other entertainer that stayed at the Deauville gave the resort the recognition the Beatles gave the hotel. They lodged there for eight days while passing through the U.S. for the first time.
The hotel also had restaurants, night clubs, boutiques, a salon and an ice skating rink.
“I started working doing reservations, and the manager at the time moved me to the front desk because he really liked how I worked with reservations and the way I spoke to guests,” Rucinque said.
“But my favorite thing about working at the Deauville was actually my team at the time. I loved working with the front desk team, and the reservations team. They were all an excellent group of people to work with. And aside from that, the experience I gained from working in the hotel business. I started working there right after high school with no previous experience, but I gained it by working with a great group of people,” she said.
Rucinque says she's sad the hotel is getting demolished, but loves talking about her time at Deauville.
Chris Finseth, a Florida resident, stayed at the resort ten years ago, when he visited his dad with a girlfriend.
"We got to the lobby and checked in, and they gave us a room on the 12th floor, so we went up, and as soon as the elevator doors opened, there were four large photos of The Beatles, there was John, Paul, George, and Ringo Star. So, I thought, 'wow! I wonder if they stayed here.' So I went down to the lobby and asked, 'how come there are large photos of the Beatles up there?' and they said, 'Oh, that's because they stayed here.' So, I started looking around and found other photos of them playing on the beach. This was like 1964 when they first came to Miami, and I just thought the whole idea of it was very cool. We stayed on the floor with the Beatles," Finseth said.
He says he remembers going to the hotel’s beach and splashing the water around and remembered those photos of the Beatles he found scattered around the hotel, were taken right there.
Although the Deauville during its most recent years was not glamorous as the Fountainblue because it didn't have a $600 million makeover, Finseth said it was still a very cool hotel.
“The lobby was very beautiful, it still had a great atmosphere. It still had pizzazz. And I was shocked to learn that they were talking about tearing it down,” he said.
If the building is demolished, the Miami Beach code allows the Historic Preservation Board to demand that the original structure be replicated, and the new structure be the same height and density as the old one. But no other hotel will replace the iconic history and glamour of the second, Deauville Beach Resort.
Photography by: Photography by: Courtesy Chris Finseth