Affluent Miami in the 1950s and 1960s was defined by a unique polished beauty, style, and charm. Recalling a certain midcentury Miami glamour, or at least today’s interpretation of it, Yabu Pushelberg has designed St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort to be the leading luxury hotel in south Florida. Both Forbes and Luxury Travel magazines named St. Regis Bal Harbour as the most anticipated hotel opening in 2012.
Located just north of Miami Beach in the prosperous community of Bal Harbour, this five-star Starwood hotel is actually on the site of the Morris Lapidus–designed Americana that was built in 1956 and demolished in 2007 to make room for the St. Regis. Ironically, the era in which the Americana opened is what influenced George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg with the St. Regis.
“There was a quality in Miami [in the 1950s and 1960s]. It was an optimistic time, and we wanted to bring some of that back,” says Pushelberg. “This is going to be the most special hotel in south Florida. It has an appeal across ages.”
“We wanted to evoke a graciousness and grandeur; a grandeur in a more modern way,” Yabu says. “And we really pushed that to the nth degree.”
Six years in planning and construction, at a cost of about $1 billion, the St. Regis Bal Harbour opened earlier this year directly across Collins Avenue from the high-end retail Bal Harbour Shops. Designed by Sieger Suarez Architectural Partnership, the St. Regis includes three towers of 243 guest rooms and 307 residences priced from $1.9 million to more than $10 million each.
For St. Regis Hotels and Resorts, appealing to the tastes of a new generation of luxury travelers, who blur the lines between work and play was essential. The St. Regis brand, which began in New York in 1904, has expanded to include hotels designed by Yabu Pushelberg in San Francisco (2006) and Mexico City (2009). Paul James, the global brand leader for St. Regis and The Luxury Collection, credits the firm for being able to codify the luxury brand with elegance and taste in curation for today’s traveler. “The next generation of luxury guests is evolving,” James says. “It’s youthful and international, elegant and refined.”
At St. Regis Bal Harbour, that refined elegance begins in the entrance hall, with walls of beveled mirror that appear like faceted details on a woman’s bracelet. The walls reflect light from three six-foot-tall rock crystal chandeliers, each holding nearly 3,000 individually hung crystals that glitter against the mirrored backdrop. The chandeliers were designed and constructed by Kelvin Goddard and Lisa Santana of Unitfive in Toronto.
In the lobby, a silver cloud sculpture by artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle is suspended from the ceiling, and God’s Flower marble, quarried exclusively for the resort from China, covers all the ground level floors. Typically used for decorative Chinese art, God’s Flower is rare and this was the first application in a commercial project in the United States.
A bejeweled deer sculpture, sheathed in crystal beads by Japanese artist Kohei Nawa, is an idiosyncratic piece in the reception area. Additional works by artists Vanessa Beecroft, Tony Cragg, Arslan Sukan, Candida Höfer, and Santiago Rubino are on display in the resort.
J&G Grill: a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant
The dining highlight, the J&G Grill, is an 80-seat restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. In a triple-height space with a curved glass wall for dramatic views of the Atlantic Ocean, the space features slate-colored banquettes, gray herringbone wall panels, and oversized pendant lights. The dark interiors absorb the abundant daylight saturating the space. At night, the dining experience is more intimate.
Guests can relax in the Remède Spa, a 12,000-square-foot space for pampering that includes relaxation areas, steam and sauna rooms, a fitness facility, cold and hot plunge pools, and 12 treatment pools. The spa’s overall light yellow-green color palette can be tough to pull off in a space where personal appearance is important, but Yabu says the key was in dramatic lighting. “We didn’t want a cliché,” Yabu says. “We persevered by increasing the lighting in the space.”
All guest rooms and suites have a view of the ocean, and are generously proportioned with large bathrooms. The smallest guest room is about 650 square feet. Rooms and suites reflect a contemporary style with Art Deco influences, muted creamy colors, cool blues, grays, and a mirrored wall surface composed of small square glass tiles behind the bed. “They are gracious and very residential,” Pushelberg says of the rooms.
St. Regis Bal Harbour is an evolution in the St. Regis brand story. Reflecting a 21st-century Miami energy and international culture, “it has a lot of verve to it,” Pushelberg says. “I think it’s appropriate for the brand and Bal Harbour.”
Key Design Highlights
- Inspired by Miami Beach glitz and glamour of the 1950s and 1960s.
- Contemporary artwork and sculpture by notable artists are featured throughout the resort’s public areas.
- J&G Grill, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant, has a seductively dark interior with sweeping views of the ocean.
- Light colors add a calming appeal in Remède Spa, which includes 12 treatment pools, cold and hot plunge pools, and steam and sauna rooms.
St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort
Designer Yabu Pushelberg
Architect Sieger Suarez Architectural Partnership
Client Starwood Hotels and Resorts
Where Bal Harbour, Florida
What Three 26-story towers
Total Cost Approximately $1 billion