As is the case with any large city, there are many different parts to Miami, and pleasantly, not all of them revolve around bedazzled trucker hats. Tucked cozily between the beachfront neighbourhoods of Sunny Isles and Surfside is a little strip of indulgence called Bal Harbour, known for its high-end shops and fancy hotel properties. Far enough away from South Beach that it feels secluded, but close enough to the pulse in case one feels the urge to partake, Bal Harbour offers all of the luxury without all of the fist bumps. It’s where Miami can go to escape itself.
“It has that resort feeling,” says Paola Busch, marketing coordinator for Bal Harbour Village. “Driving down Collins Avenue, you know when you’re in Bal Harbour.” With a population of only 3,300 residents, the quiet, 2.5-square-kilometre area, the vision for which dates back to 1946, is perfect for vacationers both with and without children. The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort provides the perfect place to stay; awarded both the Forbes five-star and AAA five-diamond awards in 2016, the pristine hotel puts guests immediately at ease. The long, mirrored lobby is reason alone to hang one’s hat and stay a while, perhaps sipping drinks in the bar where there is live music, a wine vault, and a nightly St. Regis champagne sabering ritual. But there is plenty of reason to retreat upstairs as well: for one, every suite in the hotel features a breathtaking ocean view. It is quite something to open the sliding doors and listen to the wind as the Atlantic stretches on seemingly forever ahead.
There is an adults-only pool for quiet swimmers, as well as a kid-friendly one, plus easy and direct action to Miami Beach across a short path, where St. Regis waiters will serve food right to the sand. For those less ocean-inclined, there are private villas, each one equipped with kitchen, television, bed, shower, butler, and that stunning water vista. Nibble on fresh fruit and consider which treatment to receive at the Remède Spa, located right in the hotel—a full-body massage should do the trick—and leave time to soak in the tub and detox in the steam room. Finally, ensure at least one dinner is had at the in-house J&G Grill, envisioned by renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten—a fine selection of fresh fish and meat dishes will suit any palate, a delicious and delicate offering.
Directly across the street from The St. Regis is Bal Harbour Shops, a beautiful, three-level, open-air shopping mall (that was once the site of an army barrack) housing some of the world’s finest jewellery and fashion brands. Indeed, everything from Chanel and Alexander McQueen to Harry Winston and Hublot, even a Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, are all present for the browsing amongst the tall palm trees. “People don’t come to Bal Harbour to shop—they come to be serviced,” says Gee Beauty’s Natalie Gee. Founded in Toronto, Gee’s only other outpost is in Bal Harbour Shops, offering makeup, cosmetic appointments, and more. “We have such an international client base here,” says Gee. “It’s not uncommon to hear five languages in one day.”
The restaurant offering is multicultural, as well: there is the classic Italian spot Carpaccio and the traditional American The Grill, for starters. But Vancouverites will find the modern take on Japanese at Makoto particularly interesting, whether it be the yellowtail ceviche or the chicken and scallion grilled over Japanese charcoal. Part of the Stephen Starr restaurant family, Makoto is becoming a destination in its own right; a sister establishment called Le Zoo recently opened up in the mall as well, and the sweetly-decorated French brasserie excels at its mushroom tart and chicken paillard salad.
Just down the road is The Ritz-Carlton, another hotel of note, and if the beachfront Bistro Bal Harbour restaurant doesn’t make one’s heart skip a beat, the view from the in-suite bathtubs surely will. Bal Harbour is far from the South Beach commonly depicted on television, but the little resort oasis is certainly its own coveted kind of Miami.
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