Sunny Miami and Beautiful Art
Arriving at Miami airport is an endurance test, pure and simple. As if flying 9 hours isn’t trauma enough with little people – the battle to get to the Passport Control first is an olympian task in itself. This trip was no different! We must have still waited in line for a good 30 minutes, bearable compared to one poor friend who stood for a mind-boggling 2 hours before getting that precious stamp and smile!!
Once we arrived at our hotel the SLS Hotel South Beach all my stress disappeared and Vivi, Bea (my rather too cute 22yr old Italian Nanny) headed to the pool to watch our first Sunset. As I knew the PR girl from Harrison & Shriftman back from my old LA days, we were literally treated like the Middleton’s relations. A perfect white-smiling, red-carpet genie called Leo Demarsh checked us in and literally never left my side. He was drop dead handsome, charm personified and was absolutely what a great concierge should be.
The hotel is the latest cool place on the uber hip South Beach and I hadn’t quite taken on board the heady mix of a Philip Starck Hotel in collaboration with the one and only Lenny Kravitz, meaning it was hardly a kids’ place! Not that Vivi cares terribly much! She finds fun wherever she goes and the beach was fantastic. All the staff, notably Terry, Andrea and Leo all made Vivi feel very special as she was usually the first by the pool in the morning. Our saving grace was also that a lot of my great friends were there with their children. We made a plan for everyday and heading off to various other hotels makes you realise where would have been a more sensible choice!
We arranged to see my dear friend PR whizz Jenny Halpern Prince with her delicious twin girls. We had a mad and much needed dip at The W Hotel before lunch – it was also where Nick and Holly Candy were staying. We bumped into another friend Damian Aspinall who had all three of his girls with him. The food was delicious and totally geared towards the kids and we spent a great afternoon with the girls leaping in and out of the pool.
That night my husband Giorgio was flying in from New York and some friends had planned a dinner at Mr Chows. The table ended up girl-heavy but Robert Hanson, who has moved to Miami with his lovely wife Masha and their little boy Max, was quite capable of handling us all. Our friends the Stevensons were off the following morning so actually it was relatively quiet. Nick Candy stopped by and was funny about the service at the W being so hopeless. Giorgio finally arrived rather bleary-eyed but by that time I was incredibly tired and so we jumped into a taxi and headed home.
Of course, staying right on South Beach means you have the famous boardwalk right on your doorstep. It is ideal for early morning runs or just watching the world go by. There are also quite a lot of street traders now. I had taken Vivi off for a morning jaunt and we came across a lovely lady, Bara Boheme who had made some really pretty pieces with coloured opals. Being as keen a shopper as her mother, Vivi picked some out for her cousins, one for her and one for her mummy!
Another plus to holidaying in Miami whilst your husband works, is that if the weather isn’t amazing, there is still plenty to do. One such day arrived and so I decided I would take Bea and Vivi to Jungle Island. Sat Nav or no Sat Nav I still didn’t listen to the very simple instructions. Robert and his son had called to say they would meet us there and so off we headed…a slight diversion and we added 20 mins to what should have been a speedy little trip!
Once parked and inside the first monkey shed we were in heaven – Americans really do do theme parks brilliantly. The humidity was a problem but over the course of three hours we saw every animal imaginable. A small lake covered in flamingos, parrots & cockatoo’s galore, lions, tigers, snow tigers, jaguars, leopards and cheetahs. However one feels about animals in captivity it is still quite something to see these magnificent animals up close. Apparently there are more big cats bred in captivity or kept in captivity than there are in the wild! That’s quite a sombre fact.
We caught the Wild Encounter cat show which, of course, had Vivi transfixed. Bea and I were about to pass out from dehyrdration but Vivi was far from done! Robert and Max had long gone but the sweetest bit was when we had finally convinced her to leave and were just paying for some drinks, Vivi piped up “Oh and Mummy can we buy a baby Cheetah?”
Although it all sounds lots of fun I was actually in Miami to work! One of my great friends Sara Colombo has an amazing new interiors showroom in the design district called NEST. She and I had been collaborating over a Terry O’Neill show she thought would be perfect for her Miami market. As Terry is a very old friend of mine and The Little Black Gallery, he was thrilled to come over on his way to another show in Brazil. I was shocked at how much press he generated! Sara had sent out beautiful, chic invitations and we just hoped the show would be a huge success.
Terry and his business manager Robin Morgan arrived late – another passport control nightmare – but were staying with me at SLS. Sara and I had decided to take them on their first night to the most beautiful restaurant in South Beach, Casa Tua, owned by a very naughty, handsome Italian called Miky Grendene. It also happens to be one block from the hotel. He is thick as thieves with London naughties, Arki Busson and Tim Jefferies. Sara and Terry hit it off immediately and he adored the charming flowery terrace. Miky was his usual charming self and had arranged a wonderful feast and actually sat with us. Fawaz Gruosi (owner of De Grisogono jewellery) arrived for his gang’s dinner and my husband’s great pal Marco Bizarri was hosting a think-tank for luxury label Bottega Venetta. As if we needed any further glamour, ex-supermodel Elsa Benitez arrived in a teeny red Herve Leger to celebrate her birthday.
The night of Terry’s “It Girls & Boys” show arrived and I arranged a car to take us to the Design District. Terry was such a trooper arriving not a single minute late, and I remembered to get a quick shot on the steps of the hotel for posterity. Sara’s showroom is absolutely sensational, beautiful Italian style furniture with very expensive looking accessories stylishly dotted around. Terry’s iconic images looked amazing. Bridget Bardot, Audrey Hepburn, Frank Sinatra, Richard Burton and Bowie – all instantly recognisable.
The party was crammed full of Miami faces, decorators and in the middle of all this were the few Londoners who had come to make Terry feel loved. Jo Wood and her sister Lizzie slipped in and bought books for Terry to sign. The glamazon Masha Hanson made a very stylish entrance and the seriously sought-after Luis Morais (another very cool jeweller) came by in a fabulous black leather ensemble. He is a huge star and a trip to Miami is never complete without visiting his studio!
Miky and Fawaz came by as did art collector Guido Orsi who was holding court, and there were a huge amount of rather pretty, tanned limbed females! My favourite sighting however was Blaine Trump and her dashing partner Steve Simon. They really are quite a knock-out couple. We finally headed off to the after dinner at Bazaar with Terry and Robin, Jo and Lizzie and Sara’s lovely parents feeling we really had earned a delicious feast….