Center of Attention: Faena District Miami Beach

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By: Angela Caraway-Carlton

The neighborhoods of Miami Beach are continually growing and changing—each offering its own personality and vibe. One of the up-and-coming areas in the Mid Beach neighborhood is the Faena District, a burgeoning cultural destination that stretches north from 32nd Street to 36th Street between the Atlantic Ocean and Indian Creek. The brainchild of famous Argentinean hotelier and developer Alan Faena, the thriving neighborhood is now brimming with a luxe hotel, stunning residences, arts, culture and fashion.

Faena Hotel Miami Beach
Luxury awaits around every corner at Faena Hotel Miami Beach

The centerpiece is the Faena Hotel Miami Beach, which was formerly the historic Saxony Hotel. Known as the “Queen of Collins Avenue,” where crooners like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin used to dazzle the crowds back in Miami’s heyday, it’s now been reimagined into a present-day wonderland of luxury. With help from film director/producer Baz Luhrmann and Academy Award-winning costume designer Catherine Martin, the hotel with 179 rooms and suites and 1 penthouses recalls the glamour of the 1950s with a dramatic red-carpet entrance, hardwood floors, furniture draped in red velvet and cool Ann Sacks tiled bathrooms. Wander the oceanfront property to discover wow-worthy art from Damien Hirst, like an enormous gilded woolly mammoth skeleton that’s displayed in a glass box with the shimmering ocean as its backdrop, or the golden unicorn that stands tall in Pao by Paul Qui.

Los Fuegos
Enjoy fine dining experiences at Pao and Los Fuegos

The property boasts trendy restaurants like Asian-fusion Pao by Paul Qui, live-fire cooking at Los Fuegos by Argentine super-star chef Francis Mallmann, and Tree of Life, an outdoor tropical retreat. The Faena world is based around culture and entertainment, so expect to feel like you’re in a Hollywood movie at the Living Room, a sumptuous space meant for mingling and music, and where there are two chandeliers that flicker every time lightning strikes the Pampas in Argentina. At the intimate yet grand Faena Theater, guests and locals can catch live shows that range from cabarets to concert series. Keeping with the colorful theme of the hotel is the bright Tierra Santa Healing House, a 22,000-square-foot sanctuary that features one of the largest hammams available on the East Coast. Guests can receive shaman-inspired treatments and embark on body-healing rituals here too.

Casa Faena
Enjoy understated elegance at Casa Faena

Just steps away from the lavish hotel is its alter ego, Casa Faena, an intimate, 50-room hotel that’s meant to feel more like a home than a hotel. That is, if your home is designed like a Mediterranean villa and has a private beach club. Sashay across terracotta tiles, curl up under handwoven throws, or retreat to the lounge in the sun-filled courtyard with a great read from the library of antique books. At Gitano, Casa Faena’s relaxed bistro-style restaurant, you’ll find Mexican-inspired dishes such as guacamole, smoked shrimp tacos, chilaquiles, and a tuna tostada. 

If you want to live the fantasy of Faena, the neighboring Faena House is an 18-story luxury condominium situated on a wide stretch of white sand. The ultra-luxe residences feature architectural advances that allow a true indoor/outdoor experience, such as signature aleros (wrap-around terraces) and expansive glass walls that open to panoramic views. Residents are treated to an in-house spa and fitness center, a private club, concierge service and a round-the-clock doorman.

Move on to the architecturally stunning Faena Forum—recognized by its dramatically shaped windows—for everything from galas to concerts to buzzy events and posh weddings. With a stark white backdrop, the venue offers a blank slate for flexibility and ultimate creativity. The sprawling 43,000-square-foot space has a collection of unique event spaces that includes two grand exhibit halls, five meeting rooms, and a rose-marble amphitheater with built-in seating and unbelievable acoustics. The robust venue can fit up to 1,000 guests and has already played host to many of Miami’s most exciting events.

Faena Bazaar
A truly unique shopping experience awaits at Faena Bazaar

Fashionistas rejoiced in December 2018 when Faena Bazaar opened, a cutting-edge retail and experiential space that’s housed in an Art Deco-white building sprinkled with red lips. The Bazaar is the antithesis of a traditional mall and is designed to feel more like a souk. Wander the four floors and float past walls draped in Gucci swan wallpaper to discover an eclectic mix of new and emerging global designers along with incredible talent from Miami—many of which have never had a store before. Designers and labels intermingle in 15 “pocket stores,” featuring mostly womenswear and fine jewelry, with brands rotating every six months to a year to keep things fresh. As you go higher, the brands become more luxe and exclusive. Expect to find everything from a $90 T-shirt next to a pair of $90,000 earrings. Our advice? If you see something you like, buy it. Most are either one-of-a-kind or one of each size.

Everything in the Faena District is always evolving, so each time you visit, you’ll experience something different—just as Alan Faena intended.

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