Ultratravel U.S.

Summer 2014

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30 ultratravel COMO NO? With the opening of Metropolitan by COMO on Miami Beach, the Singapore-based luxury resort makes its U.S. debut. BY DARRELL HARTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY BY GRACIELA CATTAROSSI O ver the past two decades, COMO has redefined how high-end travelers experience faraway realms like Bhutan and Bali, as well as urban hot spots like London and Bangkok. And while many of those travelers have been Americans—like Donna Karan, an enthusiastic spokesperson for the haute-Zen COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali—the United States hasn't had a spot on the pioneering hotel group's destination map. Make that hadn't. The Metropolitan is the fourth city property in COMO's growing portfolio, a hotel that mixes site-specific urbanity with elements of the group's frequently name-dropped wellness and beach resorts. Where an influential hotel group decides to make its inroads is always interesting. Amanresorts, for example, set its first two U.S. properties in Wyoming and Utah, amid the lonely grandeur of the West. COMO's first American offering, meanwhile, occupies an acre or two of well-trafficked Collins Avenue. It's situated at 25th Street, no less, a burgeoning section of the main drag that's basically within earshot of the busy W Hotel and a forthcoming Edition property. But within this crowded market, COMO's nine-floor retreat carves out a tranquil and understated niche of its own. The Metropolitan is at a bend in the road where you can catch views of the canal as well as the ocean, and it's pretty evident that the hotel has made smart use of its limited space. A soaring ceiling adds an expansive air to the lobby area, which is outfitted with constellation-like light installations and fluted columns. COMO's renovation of the 1939 building, which formerly housed a much humbler hotel, has reduced the bedroom count from 96 to 74 and has resituated nearly all the back-of- house operations to an office next door. The overhaul touched on just about everything, according to general manager Javier Beneyto, apart from the historic façade—which is protected by local preservation laws. That said, designer Paola Navone has taken plenty of cues from original elements such as the pastel-pink and turquoise terrazzo floors and given the rooms a fresh, Deco-inspired look. Corrugated, pistachio-toned walls add depth and texture, not to mention a witty echo of adjacent curtain folds. There are gooseneck bedside lamps, Dalmatian-patterned terrazzo floors and white-tiled bathrooms with rain showers. Everything feels original and thought- out; according to Beneyto, 85 percent of the decor was made to order, down to the bathrobe hooks. Blink and you might miss these telling details—and that's the point. "We're not a pretentious or bling-bling company," he says. The eighth floor houses an intimate version of COMO's renowned Shambhala Spa: four treatment rooms, a hydrotherapy pool on the roof that looks out over the Atlantic, signature juices by COMO Shambhala and a yoga terrace. Down below, guests can sun by the lap pool and have cocktails and ceviche delivered to their cabanas. Inside the hotel itself, a nearly 30-foot zinc bar—which has a gin club and features more than 30 artisanal gins—anchors the Traymore restaurant, named after the previous hotel. Its specialty is seafood, served in a laid-back atmosphere that Beneyto hopes will help to make it a local haunt. The executive chef is Jonathan Lane, an American who previously worked across town at the Mondrian and who prepped for his post here by training at COMO's stylishly serene resort on Parrot Cay in Turks and Caicos, the company's only other holding in the Western hemisphere. The two properties are offering joint packages, for a new twist on the old Miami-en-route-to-Caribbean trip—one that, for COMO devotees especially, will be awfully hard to beat. Traymore, the restaurant at the new Metropolitan by COMO resort, features classic Floridian seafood in a relaxed setting; Paola Navone designed the hotel interiors in line with its original Art Deco style.

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