Fun in Miami Beach

Pao Miami Beach
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Historic Miami Beach advertisement
Historic Miami Beach advertisement

Miami Beach, a perennial favorite travel destination,  continues to entice with new upscale hotels and  cutting edge restaurants.

Where to Eat

Pao by Paul Qui

Argentine hotelier, Alan Faena, of the eponymous Faena Hotel, picked Paul Qui, a Top Chef and James Beard Award winner, to head the kitchen at Pao. Qui, who got his start in the Austin food truck scene, blends flavors from his native Phillipines, Japan and Asia in an eclectic menu. Expect the unusual.

Examples include: a seared tuna belly, cooked over white oak heated to 800 degrees, served on a bed of lettuce painted with butter. East Side King Fried Chicken,  lifted from his Texas food truck menu, is a boneless, crusted chicken, fried and served with a spicy banana ketchup. A well marbled smoked beef short-rib is paired with pickled vegetable puree, a nod to Korean street food.

Unicorn at Pao
Unicorn at Pao

Unicorn , a roasted sweet corn pudding presented in a sea urchin shell, is a favorite.

You’re in good hands with a  great sommelier and attentive waiters who have a comprehensive knowledge of the large menu.

Damien Hirst’s sculpture Unicorn is the restaurant’s centerpiece. Check out Hirst’s Gone but not Forgotten – the gilded skeleton of a woolly mammoth, currently on display in the courtyard.

Beachcraft

Beachcraft at 1 Hotel, Miami Beach
Beachcraft at 1 Hotel, Miami Beach

Five-time James Beard award winner, Tom Colicchio, is at the helm of Beachcraft at 1 Hotel. Colicchio honed his cooking chops in the south of France at 2-star Michelin restaurants, but emphatically states the Beachcraft menu is not French.  Using locally sourced ingredients, Colicchio’s fresh and inventive menu puts a spin on old favorites. Try his Mexican-inspired grilled octopus, glazed with a tangy ancho chile sauce or the sashimi paired with a compote of tropical fruit.

Lure Fishbar

Lure Fishbar Miami Beach
Lure Fishbar Miami Beach

Located in Emeril’s former restaurant space at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel in the St. Moritz building,  Lure has the best seafood in Miami Beach. Dennis, our friendly and helpful waiter, recommended the signature appetizer, crispy rice cakes, a spicy tuna tartare, with wasabi aioli, wrapped in crispy nori. An excellent start to our dinner at Lure.

The daurade, grilled whole, served with watercress and the scallop risotto with brussels sprouts are both excellent. The nautical themed restaurant also has a secluded, comfortable back terrace overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Icebox Cafe

Icebox Cafe Miami Beach
Icebox Cafe Miami Beach

Featuring healthy choices in a creative, contemporary menu, Icebox Cafe is a great choice for dining in Miami Beach.

Wild Salmon Burger at Icebox Cafe
Wild Salmon Burger at Icebox Cafe

Try the Bet a Beet Juice, the wild salmon burger and the Chocolate Delight dessert, all excellent.

Things to do in Miami Beach

Interested in the architecture of Miami Beach? Try the fun, informative 90-minute Art Deco walking tour offered by the Miami Design Preservation League. Miami Vice was one of the first TV series to film in Miami Beach and the Art Deco Carlyle Hotel on Ocean Drive was a favorite location.

The Carlyle Miami Beach
The Carlyle Miami Beach

Several times developers had bulldozers ready to demolish the historic Art Deco hotels of South Beach and replace them with high density towers of glass and steel. Without the tireless efforts of Barb Capitman and the Miami Design Preservation League, there would be no Art Deco Walking Tour in Miami.

Tip: It’s free to inspect the lobby of most art deco hotels, but to view the Versace mansion, it will cost you 57 bucks for a cocktail at the bar. Dinner may be your best option.

Wolfsonian Miami Beach
Wolfsonian Miami Beach

The Wolfsonian Museum and research library, on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach, is dedicated to preserving the history of modernism in a variety of different media: industrial and furniture design, rare posters, and art works.

The Wrestler by Dudley Talcott
The Wrestler by Dudley Talcott

This unique collection displayed on seven floors reveals the impact design had in shaping the modern world.  The Wrestler by American sculptor Dudley Talcott was first shown at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932.

Tip: Free on Fridays from 6-9pm

Margaritaville Beach Resort, Hollywood

Margaritaville Beach Resort, Hollywood
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Margaritaville Beach Resort, the $147 million Jimmy Buffett-themed hotel, is the new kid on the Hollywood, Florida boardwalk. Lyrics from Jimmy Buffet’s hit songs entered popular culture and now adorn the hotel walls as totems of his gone fishin-carpe manana-beach lifestyle.

Parrots at Margaritaville Beach Resort
Parrots at Margaritaville Beach Resort

Buffet’s loyal fans are known as parrotheads and colorful wooden parrots crown directional signs at the Margaritaville resort. Margaritaville’s hotel rooms bring the beach vibe inside with bleached, sand-colored wood floors and sky-blue accent notes.

Where to Eat

Guests have a choice between the following dining and drinking options: Margaritaville restaurant, the LandShark Bar & Grill, It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere (an outdoor restaurant with a fire pit on the intracoastal waterway) and JWB Prime Steak & Seafood, upscale dining in a casual setting.

JWB at Margaritaville
JWB at Margaritaville

JWB, named for James William Buffet, is a great steak and seafood restaurant with superb service. Start with one of their inventive cocktails.  If you like Mojitos, try the popular Caribbean Amphibian, made with pineapple vodka or a Perfect Partner – Hendricks gin with cucumber-infused watermelon – a refreshing take on a martini.

For starters, try the signature jumbo lump crab cakes, accompanied by a coleslaw, spiced with cumin, curry and golden raisins. Or the pan-fried oysters, presented in the shell on a bed of creamed spinach.  Both pair well with a dry Sancerre.

Locally speared Lionfish is sliced into a tasty sashimi and served in a mirin marinade with black sesame seeds. From chef Johnny Tucker’s creative specials, the JWB surf and turf gives you a great taste of both sides of the menu.

For dessert, try the caramel macchiato, where a chocolate bar meets a cocktail in a glass.

Things to do

Lone Palm Pool at Margaritaville Beach Resort
Lone Palm Pool at Margaritaville Beach Resort

Swimmers have the choice of three pools: The Lone Palm Pool, the adults only rooftop pool and the Landshark Pool which features a kid-friendly waterslide and tiki-style cabanas. There’s also a FlowRider, where pro surfers offer neophytes a lesson.  Resort fees also include chaise lounges set up on the beach. Lifeguards, not always present in  beach resort locations, are on duty in front of the Margaritaville resort.

For guests who want the ultimate in relaxation, try the St. Somewhere Spa, with eleven treatment rooms, steam rooms, scrub room, and rainfall showers. The 50 minute Swedish massage is highly recommended.

Miami Beach Eco-Style at 1 Hotel

Center Pool 1 Hotel
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Green living and respect for the environment are more than buzzwords at 1 Hotel in Miami Beach.  The three R’s, reduce, reuse and recycle, are all put into practice – clothing hangers are fashioned from recycled paper, the ceilings and furniture are all made of reclaimed wood and there are even bins in your room to recycle your unwanted clothing.

The  grey wood used for framing doorways is recycled beetle wood from Colorado. The pine beetles carry a fungus that leaves an attractive grey stain which does not affect the wood’s strength.

Instead of plastic water bottles, rooms come with Triple-Clear water filters, and printed hotel guides have been replaced with smart phones. As well, all furniture is made with natural fabrics.

South Lobby 1 Hotel
South Lobby 1 Hotel
Bar at Beachcraft
Bar at Beachcraft

Five-time James Beard award winner, Tom Colicchio, is at the helm of Beachcraft at 1 Hotel. Colicchio honed his cooking chops in the south of France at 2-star Michelin restaurants, but emphatically states the Beachcraft menu is not French.  Using locally sourced ingredients, Colicchio’s fresh and inventive menu puts a spin on old favorites. Try his Mexican-inspired grilled octopus, glazed with a tangy ancho chile sauce or the sashimi paired with a compote of tropical fruit.

 

South Pool 1 Hotel
South Pool 1 Hotel

Swimmers have four beautiful pools to choose from: the south pool, the center pool, the cabana pool, and the rooftop pool as well as the Atlantic Ocean, just steps away.

Center Pool 1 Hotel
Center Pool 1 Hotel
Rooftop Pool 1 Hotel
Rooftop Pool 1 Hotel

Everyone likes freebies. At 1 Hotel, complimentary services for guests include: a different cocktail every night in the hotel garden at happy hour, fresh organic fruit in the lobby in the morning, and first come, first serve chauffeured rides in electric Tesla cars within a three-mile radius.

1 hotel has applied for silver certification from the green building program LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design). Beneath this cool exterior lies a luxury hotel with an eco-friendly heart.

Diplomat Beach Resort & Spa Hollywood

Diplomat Resort and Spa Infinity Pool
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A 100-million-dollar renovation positions the Diplomat Beach Resort and Spa at the top of upscale resort destinations in South Florida. Situated on the beach between the Atlantic and the Intracoastal waterway in Hollywood, The Diplomat is a new member of the Curio Collection, a select group of hotels under the Hilton imprimatur.

What’s New

The hotel’s main lobby has been re-imagined and new restaurants, Point Royal from celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian and Monkitail have been added, complementing the existing restaurants: Diplomat Prime, Diplomat Cafe, Portico and Bristol’s Burgers.   The beachfront patio cafe Splash has been re-branded as Playa with a revised menu.

Diplomat Beach Resort & Spa Governor Suite
Diplomat Beach Resort & Spa Governor Suite

All 1000 rooms have been remodeled in a warm, contemporary palette with a nod to surfer culture – a pleasing blend of upscale with casual. Guests have a choice between rooms facing east with beautiful views of the sunrise over the Atlantic or facing west with a fantastic view of sunsets over the Intracoastal waterway. The corner suites have 180 degree views of both.

Where to Eat

Whether you’re staying at the Diplomat or just come for a meal, you have great options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

When was the last time you found pomegranates on your breakfast buffet? The Diplomat Cafe has an amazing variety of buffet choices and a custom omelet chef. Place your choice of ingredients in a bowl and the chef will magically create one of the best omelets you have ever tasted. Tip: if you’re not that hungry, ask for a one or two egg omelet.

Bristol's Burgers at Diplomat Landing, Hollywood
Bristol’s Burgers at Diplomat Landing, Hollywood

Cross Ocean Drive on the elevated crosswalk to Portico and Bristol’s Burgers, both at Diplomat Landing.

Parked outside Bristol’s Burgers is the same huge smoker you’d find at a roadside bbq joint on the gulf coast. All meat at Bristol’s is smoked for six hours. The smoked boneless rib sandwich is pink and tender and paired with an excellent jalapeno coleslaw. For a healthy option, choose the fresh veggies instead of the Florida fries, a spin on the French Canadian classic, poutine.

Portico at Diplomat Landing
Portico at Diplomat Landing

Fans of alfresco dining will love Portico. Watch the boats go
by on the intracoastal waterway while enjoying a chianti and a tasty thin crust pizza. We loved the meatball appetizer and smoked prosciutto and arugula pizza, cooked perfectly in a wood-fired oven.

Featuring both steak and seafood,  head to Diplomat Prime  when you want to celebrate a special  occasion. Stone crabs, found only on Florida’s gulf coast, make a great appetizer. Two large claws, perfectly cracked, arrive at the table. Eating them is 100 percent satisfaction, zero effort. Tip: Florida stone crabs are only in season from October to May.  A in house dry-aged wagyu striploin paired with lobster makes a great surf and turf combination. Sides of truffle whipped potatoes and asparagus complete our entrees.  Our attentive waiter has excellent suggestions for wine pairings.

The Spa at Diplomat Beach Resort
The Spa at Diplomat Beach Resort

Signature massages from the Diplomat Spa  include a new bamboo treatment that uses warmed bamboo to penetrate deep into tissues and increase circulation.  Any massage from the menu at the Diplomat Spa is available for couples.

Golf Scottsdale

Troon North Monument Course
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With more than 300 days of sunshine per year, and 200 plus golf courses in the area, Scottsdale is a natural choice for a golf vacation.

TPC Scottsdale

Flanked by the McDowell Mountains to the east, TPC Scottsdale is home to the popular PGA Waste Management Phoenix Open and allows visitors to golf on two pro-level courses, The Stadium and The Champions.

Play the famous par 3, 16th hole of the Stadium course—minus the raucous fans enthusiastically cheering great shots like Tiger’s hole-in-one in 1997.

The Champions Course at TPC Scottsdale
The Champions Course at TPC Scottsdale

Or play the Randy Heckenkemper-designed Champions Course, 7,115 yards from the tips. The 15th hole on The Champions is a classic risk/reward—play it safe and take the longer dogleg right or risk a 200-yard carry-over desert. Hit a decent drive and it’s a short chip onto a sloped green.

The advantage of a stay-and-play, like the packages offered by the Fairmont Scottsdale, is that everything is nearby—two TPC courses, pools, spa and dining. It’s like a small town inside an urban metropolis.

Only you won’t find food like this in any small town. La Hacienda’s nouveau Mexican cuisine includes a roasted cream corn soup decorated with chocolate-coloured stripes of huitlacoche syrup and small dumplings. Huitlacoche, a fungus that grows on white corn, is a Mexican delicacy. The pomegranate guacamole, lobster tacos and flaming coffee complete the favourites list.

Tequila Bar at La Hacienda
Tequila Bar at La Hacienda

La Hacienda’s Tequila Bar offers aficionados the choice of more than 200 bottles, including the smoother and more complex amber-coloured aged varieties.

The on-site Well and Being Spa offers golfers an hour-long “golfers performance massage” endorsed by pros David Leadbetter and Charles Howell III, and said to improve flexibility.

Troon North

At the base of Pinnacle Peak, British Open winner Tom Weiskopf took full advantage of the natural ravines and foothills of the Sonoran Desert to plant well-groomed fairways and bentgrass greens on Troon North’s two tracks.

Hole 10 at Troon North
Hole 10 at Troon North

If you have a choice between the Pinnacle and Monument courses, opt for the latter. The Monument course has elevated tees from six locations (so all can enjoy) and giant boulders on the fairways. In a hurry or playing with kids under 15? Check out the executive 9-hole Monument Express where kids play for free.

Just south of Troon North, the Four Seasons Scottsdale comprises adobe casitas built into the hills with dramatic sunset views of Pinnacle Peak.

Pinnacle Peak Trail
Pinnacle Peak Trail

Hiking and biking trails join the on-site interpretive trail populated with towering saguaro cacti found only in the high Sonoran desert. Thoughtful touches like free sunscreen and condensed versions of the The New York Times enhance the pool experience.

Proof restaurant at the Four Seasons specializes in American comfort food in a casual setting—a particularly good choice for breakfast.

Previously published on AOL

Travel Planner

  • TPC Scottsdale  17020 North Hayden Road, Scottsdale, Az.
  • Fairmont Scottsdale Princess  7575 E Princess Dr, Scottsdale, Az.
  • Troon North  10320 E. Dynamite Blvd. Scottsdale, Az.
  • Four Seasons Scottsdale 10600 East Crescent Moon Drive, Scottsdale, Az

The Players Championship

TPC Sawgrass 18th hole and Clubhouse
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When The Players Championship first moved to Ponte Vedra in 1982, Pete Dye’s Stadium course wasn’t an instant hit with the players. When then asked if  TPC Sawgrass suited his playing style, Jack Nicklaus quipped,

“No, I’ve never been very good at stopping a 5-iron on the hood of a car.”

Dye returned to tweak the course, softening the rock hard and lightning fast greens and replacing several bunkers. After the changes, TPC Sawgrass became far more playable.

Every May, the best golfers in the world return to Ponte Vedra Beach for The Players Championship, now considered the unofficial 5th major by golf writers and players alike.

Memorable moments from The Players include Rickie Fowler’s three birdies on 17 for his first Players win in 2015, Hal Sutton’s “Be the right club today” 6 iron into the eighteenth for a 1 shot win over Tiger Woods in 2000 and Tiger Woods “Better than most” 60-foot putt on the island green at 17 for his first Players title in 2001.

If you’re hungry, stop by Nineteen in the clubhouse for lunch.  And don’t miss seeing the Champions clubs. Every year since the inaugural Players Championship in 1974, the TPC Champion has donated a  club from their winning bag to a collection on permanent display in the TPC clubhouse.

THE PLAYERS Championship
May 9-14th, 2017
TPC Sawgrass, 110 Championship Way, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

The Players Clubhouse front room

TPC Sawgrass Champions framed watercolors

The Players locker room at TPC Sawgrass

Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino photos at TPC Sawgrass

The Champions Clubs at TPC Sawgrass

TPC Champion's clubs

The Player's Trophy