The most famous hotel in Miami Beach has had a billion-dollar facelift. Built in 1954 by modernist god Morris Lapidus, whose dictum was 'less is a bore', its undulating curves and flashy style stood apart from the crowd. Back in the day, it was the pinnacle of excess: the lobby was a sea of chandeliers; a 'staircase to nowhere' was built solely so that women could deposit their coats in the cloakroom at the top and make a grand entrance back down to the lobby; and air-conditioning was cranked up to protect all the mink coats. The Rat Pack, Elvis and Marilyn were regulars. But in recent years the resort's fortunes faded. Now a consortium of architects has joined forces to recapture the former glory.
Reflecting the Las Vegas-ification of Miami, the new resort will boast 1,500 rooms, eight bars and restaurants, five pools and a bakery that makes cakes in the shape of Prada handbags. Star openings include the first US branch of Hakkasan, London's glam Chinese restaurant; and a sister steakhouse to New York's Michelin-starred Gotham Bar and Grill. Pure, a Vegas superclub, is also in the works.
The heart of the action will be the Sea Chateau, Lapidus's famous crescent-shaped creation; the hotel's new buildings feel corporate and bland. Throughout, the bedrooms are mammoth and the amenities superb: one of the pools boasts an island cabana and a two-storey bar overlooking the ocean. As Lapidus himself said, too much is never enough.