Q: What is it? A: The third property by the Morgan’s Hotel Group in Miami South Beach and one with a name to live up to. So, whaddaboutit? Are they successful? I have to say… yes!
The 17-story apartment tower, originally built in 1964, bought by Morgans Hotel Group in August 2006, opened as the Mondrian South Beach in December 2008. The exterior is relatively unchanged since. The inside is a whole different kettle of fish with 300+ spaces for rent. Of the 225 rooms offered as hotels rooms, about 125 double as condos.
The inside, by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders (born 1963) works pretty well, but… see the female face on the wall to the right? Looks computer generated; partly or entirely. According to a hotel publicist, she is a ”siren”. She appears in every room in order to protect the guests, ”almost like an angel figure”. Of all the little twists and tweaks Wanders dreamt up for this hotel, these ”sirens” give me the least good vibes.
Ah… finally a bathroom which is possible to enjoy. Mosaic of clouds in the shower. A long, oversized stone sink. Chandelier-like showerheads. This bathroom actually had a minor cleaning issue which was graciously sorted out by the front desk and the manager on site.
A not to Wanders’ Dutch roots: Blue and white Delft tiles for hanging towels. (for clarity, the town of Delft is located in South Holland.) The motifs; SUVs, beach patrol towers and whatnot worked quite well. I actually want to buy a few of these. Can I? Please?
The Delft theme, although embedded in wool, continues in the corridors. The Mondrian follows some kind of ”tradition” of the Morgan Hotel Group, with dim corridors contrasting with the combo of shiny white and bright colors in public spaces and guest rooms.
Marcel Wanders’ much talked-about laser-cut steel staircase in lobby. If you think it echoes a bit of Starck, you may not be too far off. ”For years, Philippe has been telling me that Marcel is the next Philippe Starck”, John Hitchcox, a real-estate developer who works with them both, exclaimed in an interview.
A definite reason to check in here: The waterfront views as sunset. And the lounge chairs. And, above all, the great staff at the pool bar. Their friendliness and attitude shines brighter than any quirky design feature.
There’s something about 1100 West Ave.
I can’t say I like all of Miami South Beach. Apart from the Art Déco cheesecakes lined up along Ocean Drive and some of L. Murray Dixon’s creations of the 1930s, there are only a few very attractive spots in the area. (OK, the towers of the Beach Patrol are pretty as well…) And upon arrival, I made a right on West Avenue with a slight feeling of disappointment, as the exterior of the 1964 former apartment building – now home to the Mondrian – isn’t very pleasing to the eye.
Enter the lobby. It’s a lot different.
There’s your watershed moment. You will either decide if you’ve arrived to a surreal world where you will take a lot of selfies – or, if the property belongs on the Silliest Public Spaces in the World-list. I’ve admired the works of Marcel Wanders since he presented his Knotted Chair in 1996, but the first impression of the Mondrian wasn’t as mind-blowing as I’d hoped it to be. The lobbies of the Sanderson and the Hudson (both by Starck) sent my stoke-meter to red. This didn’t. But this hotel has other things to offer…
The staff. Again, it’s the staff.
A guest is checking in before me. When it’s my turn, Meryl Streep +20 years suddenly steps into the picture, with the ambition to sort a parking-related problem out. Her wrinkles are proof of a life in complete grumpiness and she doesn’t want to wait in line. At that moment, Carina the receptionist unleashes her diplomatic talents. With a combo of charm and firmness, she convinces Meryl to step aside. To my surprise, Meryl does not only obey. Meryl does so smiling. Such is the quality of the Mondrian staff. And that I’m not saying just because I was at the winning end of this… incident. Few things are as important to a hotel as a guest’s first impression and Mondrian sure delivered. Not only at check-in but throughout my entire stay.
What I will remember; the waterfront and the staff.
I want to encourage everyone to stay here. It’s a few blocks away from the dense craziness of Collins and Ocean Drive. As a bonus, the location with the pool area facing west makes for some pretty views of the Biscayne Bay and downtown Miami at sunset. With Alex manning the pool bar and the good atmosphere throughout this entire property, it’s a great place to enjoy a drink (or five). The only setback during my visit was, that they were renovating their restaurant, so anything more complicated than a burger would be a project. You already know what I will remember of this place. Those are also my main reasons for returning.
1100 West Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139