Few hoteliers would dare to launch a new venue in the midst of a global pandemic, let alone one that has decimated the travel industry to the tune of $4.5 billion. From vaccine passports and canceled flights to mask mandates and international restrictions, the matrix of obstacles would threaten to destroy even the most exceptional product.
Yet not only has Moxy South Beach survived this rocky start, it has thrived – becoming one of America’s top performing Marriott properties in 2021. As far as accomplishments go, that’s nothing. less than Herculean. Especially given the circumstances.
Just a year before launch, Governor Ron DeSantis declared a public health emergency across the state of Florida. Soon after, he announced a stay-at-home order and demanded that all bars and restaurants stop selling alcohol. At one point, the restrictions were so severe that police in riot gear were firing pepper balls to disperse crowds along Ocean Drive. Hardly an optimal environment for hospitality.
However, when Moxy South Beach opened in February 2021, its ambition and whimsical glamor triumphed over the Covid panic with tropical, playful vibrancy. As a result, people flocked to the hotel — and, once there, fell in love with its stylish nod to mid-century Havana and contemporary Mexico City.
Leading the charge through a crippled sector and acting as cavalry for Covid-weary Floridians, Moxy embodied all the qualities of the American hero: fearless, strong and well-built – an apt comparison given the hotel’s proximity to the beach muscle from Miami. .
The newly built hotel offers 202 rooms spread over eight floors, all of which manage to be both ambitious and affordable. Bathed in Florida sunshine thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, the bedrooms feature sumptuous double beds, rain showers and ingenious storage solutions to optimize space.
Inspired by the Clyde Mallory Line, an overnight ferry service between Miami and Havana that operated in the 1950s, the rooms are all hued in a gradient of greens, pinks, and citrus tones. Meanwhile, floors are tiled in colorful terrazzo while headboards are upholstered in Shore Rug, an outdoor woven material reminiscent of vintage beach furniture.
Savvy travelers who have already visited the Moxy’s three New York locations – Chelsea, East Village and Times Square – will already know to expect something special from the decor. For the first venture in Florida, Rockwell Group designers personalized each room with custom artwork depicting Frida Kahlo, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí visiting South Beach.
Rooms at Moxy South Beach are available in a range of configurations: one king bed or two queen beds; quadruple rooms with bunk beds; and sequels. The latter has a king-size bed, ocean view, separate sitting area with an L-shaped sofa, wet bar with sink and fridge, bar cart, two 55-inch wall-mounted flat screen TVs and custom neon artwork.
Where to eat and drink
Moxy South Beach isn’t just a hotel, it’s a resort. To exemplify this, there are no less than six food and drink venues, developed in partnership with the founders of Miami’s wildly popular Coyo Taco and 1-800-LUCKY.
The standout among these is Como Como, which feels reverential and momentous, like the interior of a cathedral. Guests enter through carved wooden doors and wrought-iron and glass archways, with shelves displaying Mesoamerican artifacts. Once inside, they can watch the chefs prepare their meals using ancient Mexican techniques: whole fish cooked on a wood-and-charcoal grill; vegetables roasted in cast iron skillets in a charcoal Josper oven; tortillas sizzling on a comal, the traditional griddle that has been used for centuries.
At the center of the restaurant is a spectacular “tequila tree” sculpture made of mouth-blown glass and copper pipes, which symbolizes the process of distilling the drink. Tequila travels through this dramatically lit centerpiece and is dispensed by bartenders into more refined cocktails. Awesome stuff.
Other dining spots on site include Mezcalista, a sexy mezcal lounge; Serena, an open-air rooftop restaurant and bar with a casual yet chic vibe; Los Buenos, a taco bodega in the lobby (serving delicious quesadillas and homemade ice cream); Bar Moxy, which doubles as a social hub and check-in counter; and The Upside, a rooftop bar on the eighth floor.
Outside the hotel, guests should venture to Nikki Beach (1 Ocean Dr), which is America’s first luxury beach club. You’ll find sushi boats, sharing platters, oversized salads and roast chickens all paired with organic wines. Think Soho Farmhouse, but in the sand.
What to do
Miami has a thriving arts scene that rivals Europe’s biggest cities, including London. That’s to be expected because, at Ice Palace Studios (1400 N Miami Ave), there’s an entire museum dedicated to Banksy, which includes a comprehensive and painstaking recreation of an underground tube rig, alongside 150 of his other parts.
Conversely, hip art gallery Superblue Miami (1101 NW 23rd St) is Florida’s equivalent of Tate Modern, but with a focus on light-based exhibits and digital installations. An exhibition, Massless clouds between sculpture and life, invites visitors inside a huge cloud made of soap suds. The Miami Herald described it as “art you can literally be inside of”.
Luckily, not all of the city’s art is inside. South Beach’s famous collection of Art Deco buildings is also a must-see, not least because it’s been virtually unchanged since its completion in 1941. Highlights include The Carlyle and The Breakwater.
Depending on the time of year, visitors can also take advantage of the Art Basel Miami Beach international fair, which takes place every December, or the Miami Film Festival, of which the Moxy is an official partner. Again, of course it is. It’s Marriott’s brightest new star.
Moxy South Beach is a stylish and playful celebration of Miami’s cosmopolitan culture. A stand-alone resort with six restaurants, two pools, and a gym, plus an outdoor rooftop cinema, it anchors the city’s Art Deco cultural district and is just two blocks from the golden sands.
Forget miami vice, it’s more Miami Nice. Very very nice.
Rooms at the Moxy South Beach start from $159 (around £120) per night. Book online at moxysouthbeach.com