I ticked off another destination on my bucket list and, in retrospect, am finding it hard to determine which vacation I loved more: the South African Safari http://singita.com/ or a recent trip to the Galapagos Islands.

These two teenagers fighting were so amazingly close you could hear their tusks clanking

Quechua ladies of Peru

Rafting in the Rio Paquare, Costa Rica was an exhilirating, heart thumping experience

" On the way to Tilcara and Humahuaca, the landscape is unreal, the color tones of the earth, and the huge mountains, are all overwhelming"

Aperitif on the beach at sunset, in Grand Cayman, is priceless

WEEKEND GETAWAY Miami Beach

By: Esilda Buxbaum


After a quick 2 1/2-hour flight from La Guardia and a 25-minute taxi ride, we arrived at a little piece of heaven, 1Hotels South Beach on Collins Avenue and 23rd Street. The hotel was just weeks old when we visited and so taxi drivers knew it as the former Gansevoort—that said, you’d never recognize it as such. As one enters the lobby the first thing one senses is the wonderful aroma of wood; my daughter kept looking around for the scented candles but the smell is natural, a byproduct of the building materials used in the hotel’s design. In fact, we discovered that much of the ash wood came from a forest in Colorado that had succumbed to a beetle infestation. The 1Hotels company bought the dead trees and replanted the forest. Eco-friendly, recycled materials are everywhere, yet the result is serene, elegant, fresh, and natural; no one is roughing it here. 

After a quick check in, we went to our rooms, one overlooking the city with two queen beds and the other with a king bed and small balcony overlooking the pool area. These were the standard rooms, but you never would have known by their size, 700-square feet, probably the biggest ones in all of Miami Beach. The color scheme repeats that of the inviting lobby: white and sand colors with wood accents. 

We immediately set out for the beautiful pools—there are four in total, including one on the roof reserved for adults. The hotel is family-friendly; as such, an adult-only option is a nice touch for couples seeking a little more solitude. The private beach, with lounge chairs and umbrellas, abuts clear water that stays shallow, roughly thigh-high, for a distance of about 100 feet.and bathroom here

During our entire stay, we were very pleased by the attentiveness and genuine friendliness of the staff, from the gentlemen who helped with bags, taxis, and greeted guests at the front doors to the front desk staff and pool attendants. The hotel seems to have gone out of its way to hire people who enjoy the hospitality business and to create a welcoming environment, which includes a variety of fresh fruits (raspberries, grapes, apples, local oranges, and cape gooseberries) in the lobby for guests. 

Miami has an abundance of excellent restaurants from which to choose, many more than one can visit on a long weekend. We had dinner at Juvia, one of my favorites, a chic restaurant on the top floor of a building on Lincoln Road that enjoys fantastic views of Miami and the sunset. The flavorful crudos are just what one wants to combat the heat. We also tried The Bazaar, Jose Andres’s excellent tapas restaurant inside the SLS Hotel on Collins and 17th Street. No visit to Miami is complete without a stop at Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in the Design District, a delicious choice for an al fresco lunch. On our last day, we had lunch at our hotel by the pool and enjoyed lovely tacos and small plates. If we had tried it earlier, we may never have left the hotel!

For longer stays, 1Hotels SoBe also offers what it calls “residences,” one- to two-bedroom suites with full kitchens and washers and dryers, a great choice for families. These are on the top floor of the building and even though they have a separate entrance they also enjoy all the amenities provided by the hotel.

The soon-to-open BeachCraft by restaurateur Tom Colicchio will represent another dining option on the property, as will a planned coffee bar and ice cream shop. Also on deck is a fitness center, though jogging on the pathway between the hotels and the beach will always remain a popular pastime. I can’t wait to check them out on our next visit; we will surely return for another perfect vacation.

http://www.1hotels.com  2377 Collins Avenue (23rd street)

http://www.juviamiami.com  1111 Lincoln Rd. 305-763-8272

http://www.slshotels.com/southbeach/thebazaarbyjoseandres   1701 Collins Avenue 305-674-2701