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Business Travel Guide: Miami, Florida



For most of Miami's relatively short life since it incorporated as a city in 1896 (roughly 275 years after New York), its main claim to fame has been as a paradisical vacation/second home hot spot. But surprisingly, Miami's founder, Julia Tuttle (a transplanted "snowbird" from Cleveland) didn't envision tourism as the new city's mainstay. Her nineteenth century prediction: "Someday Miami will become the great center of South American trade."

It has taken awhile. But today's business travelers know that Tuttle was right on. While tourism remains an important industry (drawing roughly 12 million visitors annually), Miami has also developed into a major force in entertainment, finance, commerce, and international trade. Today's "Magic City" is headquarters of Latin American operations for over 1400 multinational corporations. The Downtown/Brickell central business district now houses both the Port of Miami (the world's largest cruise ship port, plus one of the world's busiest points of entry for cargo from Latin America) and, even more impressively, the largest concentration of international banks in the USA.

It's not all business in the business district these days, though; Miami still is, after all, The Sun & Fun Capital of the World. While it was necessary, just a few years ago, to cross the causeways to South Beach to find the hottest hotels, restaurants, and lounges, recent revitalization along the Biscayne Corridor (particularly the Design District, the Upper Eastside, Mary Brickell Village, and, just this past year, the formerly dead-after-business-hours heart of Downtown) has made this mainland Miami area an increasingly alluring place for business travelers to base their entire stay.

Facts to Know Before You Go

Transportation:

Taxi cabs and shuttles:
Cabs are located just outside each terminal's baggage claim area. The flat-rate fare from the airport is $32 to South Beach, $22 to downtown Miami or Coconut Grove, $19 to Coral Gables, and $52 to Sunny Isles Beach (location of a number of recently-opened upscale resorts that are oceanfront but quieter than Sobe hotels). Any of several share-ride shuttles can save you money if you reserve ahead. SuperShuttle also offers walk-up service just outside baggage claim, however, wait time for a shuttle is about 15 to 20 minutes.
Expect to pay about $20 to reach South Beach, $17 for a ride to Downtown, $18 to the Grove or the Gables, $27 to Sunny Isles Beach; each additional passenger in the same party pays $9-11.

Rental Car:
Except for severe parking problems in certain locales (like South Beach), renting a car can be a great way to get around South Florida. Most national car rental chains have airport counters, but all pick-up/drop-off locations are outside the airport facility, three to five minutes away. Before you leave the rental car facility, make sure that you get a map with its location; the signage is not great around the airport and the facilities can be tricky to find.

Public Transportation:
Public transportation is not recommended for business travelers, with one notable exception: the Metromover. Gliding on a Disneyesque overhead rail system that stretches from the northernmost Omni area of downtown (location of the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center) south through the Brickell business district, these people-mover cars run from 5 a.m. to midnight daily — and the ride is free. Hence the Metromover is very useful for business travelers content to stay, eat, and find their off-hours entertainment within Downtown/Brickell. For a route/station map: www.miamidade.gov.

Otherwise, public transport is cumbersome at best. Although it only costs $2, for instance, the mere seven-mile Metrobus trip from the airport to Downtown takes about one hour — assuming you can even find the extremely inconvenient Metrobus stop at MIA.

As for commuting between mainland Miami and Miami Beach (just a few miles away, across Biscayne Bay), public transport is an inexpedient process at any hour, generally involving several transfers. After dark, when only limited night busses run, public transportation is even more inconvenient and sometimes downright unsafe.

Information:

For local business news, try the South Florida Business Journal, which is published weekly, or the Daily Business Review for more frequent business and legal news.

The Miami Herald, a general interest newspaper, has a daily business section covering business news from the local to the international.

Travelers whose business centers in mainland Miami's financial district will want to pick up a copy of the Biscayne Times, a free monthly newspaper with a comprehensive Biscayne Corridor dining guide.


Internet:
AT&T Public Wireless offers Wi-Fi Internet access in the D and H concourses and plans to add more hotspots in the future. In Concourse G, look for Wireless service by Airpath at gate G2. Yet another provider, Boingo Wireless, offers service at the Bacardi Bar in Concourse E. For a full-service Internet workstation, try the Hotel Lobby Bar on the eighth floor of the Miami International Airport Hotel.

For more South Florida travel information,
see our 72-Hour Vacation guide to Miami.

Where to Stay



Delano
1685 Collins Ave. (16th St.)
Miami, FL 33139
305-672-2000
www.delano-hotel.com

Delano
Named after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, this 1947 landmark was completely renovated in 1995 at a cost of $28 million. Inspired by the islands of Greece, Phillippe Starck transformed the complex into a magical retreat with a 250-foot-long lobby corridor and floor-to-ceiling windows with flowing sheer drapes. This boutique hotel continues to be one of the premier South Beach destinations for celebrities as does its popular restaurant, the Blue Door. Its 238 elegant lofts, one-bedroom suites and pool bungalows are romantic with their virginal white furnishings, but more importantly, they're practical. All rooms include both wired and wireless high-speed Internet access. Guests will feel like royalty as they take advantage of in-room massages, personal trainers and maids who discreetly unpack their bags.


Hyatt Regency Miami
400 SE Second Ave. (Fourth St.)
Miami, FL 33131
305-358-1234
miamiregency.hyatt.com

Hyatt Regency Miami
Located downtown on the Miami River and enviably close to the Riverwalk and Convention Center, this majestic hotel offers the kind of modern and practical accommodations travelers have come to count on from Hyatt. Many rooms have private balconies overlooking Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline and all have wireless high-speed Internet access and fax machines. Among the property's several restaurants and lounges is the tropical Riverwalk Café, serving gourmet and casual cuisine. Japengo's nightclub keeps the Latin rhythm beating 'til morning.

Loews Miami Beach Hotel
1601 Collins Ave. (16th St.)
Miami, FL 33139
305-604-5280
www.loewshotels.com

Loews Hotel Miami

While South Beach's Art Deco hotels are lovely to look at from the outside, roomtend to be unimpressively small (a throwback to Sobe's 1920s-30s origin as a working class resort area). A better bet is this 790-room hotel, which incorporates the charming little Deco-era St. Moritz Hotel with a modern 18-story tower featuring spacious rooms with huge work desks and two digital phone lines with voice mail, high-speed Internet access, and more. Additionally the hotel offers a full range of services that make business trips hassle-free, including copying, laser printing, top AV equipment, "pool concierges" to send faxes for you, and 27 indoor and/or outdoor meeting spaces (plus Access Managers to handle all meeting planning details, even for last-minute events).

The Ritz-Carlton, Coconut Grove
3300 SW 27th Ave (Tigertail Ave.)
Coconut Grove, FL 33133
305-644-4680
www.ritzcarlton.com


The Ritz-Carlton, Coconut Grove

This magnificent grand hotel knows how to go the extra mile. For a special visit, customized packages incorporate local tours in a Mercedes-Benz, gourmet picnic baskets, "shopping invigoration" spa sessions and romantic breakfasts in bed. Each of the 115 guest rooms and suites has a private balcony and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking manicured gardens, Biscayne Bay or the Miami skyline. With high-speed Internet access in every room and an on-site business center, this hotel is as convenient as it is luxurious. Bizcaya Grill, the hotel's restaurant, features upscale steaks and Continental cuisine.

Viceroy Miami
485 Brickell Ave.
Miami, FL 33131
305-503-4400; 866-781-9923
www.viceroymiami.com

Viceroy Miami

Located on ten acres fronting Biscayne Bay, this sleek Kelly Wearstler-designed hotel is part of the Brickell area's prestigious new Icon complex. Among business amenities: dual-line cordless phones plus wireless and wired high-speed Internet in all rooms and public areas; three meeting rooms (two executive boardrooms and a ballroom), plus in-room convenience kitchens should you want to meet in your suite; cutting-edge media equipment; computer access (with laser printing); secretarial, translation, photocopying, postal/parcel, and concierge services (including errand runners for the greater Brickell business area); a "micro-boutique" should you feel the need for business gifts; wireless room check-in, plus and express and video check-out with emailed receipt. There are numerous unique indoor and outdoor event spaces throughout the icon grounds, including an expansive indoor/outdoor rooftop pool terrace. The Viceroy also houses a spa and the trendy after-work hangout Club 50.


See our list of Miami's 10 Best Business Hotels

Where to Dine


Area 31
EPIC Hotel
270 Biscayne Blvd. Way (Brickell Ave.)
Miami, FL 33131
305-424-5234
www.area31restaurant.com
Seafood/Small Plates
14/20
$$$$$

Area 31

The views from this sixteenth-floor restaurant/lounge's extensive rooftop terrace — including the adjacent Miami River, Biscayne Bay beyond, and Brickell skyscrapers — would alone qualify the place as a power dining spot. But you'll also love the Mediterranean-accented seafood dishes, featuring impeccably fresh sustainable seafood. Chef E. Michael Reidt turns out both normal-sized entrées and small plates that pair perfectly with the place's innovative, two-fisted cocktails (created by renowned mixologist Jacques Bezuidenhout).



BLT Steak
The Betsy
1440 Ocean Dr.
Miami, FL 33139
305-673-0044
www.e2hospitality.com
Steakhouse
14/20
$$$$$

The dining room at BLT Steak in Miami

Impress your clients with an elegant dinner at BLT Steak Miami, the modern beach branch of French-trained chef Laurent Tourondel's restaurant empire. Although the star's not actually in the kitchen, chef de cuisine Samuel Gorenstein, a Miamian who worked at BLT Fish in NYC, ably executes signatures, including the famed freebies — silky chicken liver pâté and giant Gruyère cheese popovers — that start dinner. BLT's main feature, the steaks — USDA Prime, certified Black Angus or American Wagyu — are top quality and generally cooked with precision, as are sauces, especially tangy béarnaise and rich peppercorn. Those looking for a quick bite between meetings can happily make a meal of starters, particularly two Asian-accented raw fish creations: tuna tartare with soy-lime dressing and a sprinkling of crispy shallots, or, even better, a hamachi crudo with creamy avocado, hearts of palm, citrusy yuzu vinaigrette, and a few nicely trimmed jalapeños for tiny bursts of refined heat. Before heading back to the boardroom, try one of BLT Steak's signature desserts that combine French finesse with tropical inspiration, such as a complex crêpe soufflé with passion fruit sauce.



The Oceanaire Seafood Room
900 S. Miami Ave. (at Mary Brickell Village)
Miami, FL 33130
305-372-8862
www.theoceanaire.com
Seafood/Small Plates
14/20
$$$$$

The Oceanaire Seafood Room
Steakhouses are the classic power lunch places, so The Oceanaire's national reputation as a steakhouse for seafood lovers makes it a savvy choice for business leaders who think a bit differently than the rest of the pack. Décor is opulent yet no-nonsense traditional — nautical without kitsch, like a sleek 1930s cruise ship — and the place's comfy, high-backed leather booths/banquettes provide enough privacy for deal-making; there's also none of the incessant deejayed thump that impedes conversation in most South Beach hotspots. Food-wise, the place's portions of market-fresh fish (about two dozen different choices daily) are also steakhouse-sized and prepared with scrumptious simplicity. The core menu of All American retro classics (shrimp Dejonghe, Chesapeake Bay-style jumbo lump crab cakes, impeccable oysters-on-the-half-shell from Miami 's most extensive raw bar, etc.) is supplemented by the hip Latin and Asian-accented specialties of local chef/partner Sean Bernal.

Off the Clock

Doral Resort & Spa Golf Course
4400 NW 87th Ave. (NW 41st St.)
Miami, FL 33178
305-592-2000
www.doralresort.com

Doral Resort Golf Course
The Doral Resort's five championship courses include the world-famous Blue Monster. After hosting the PGA tournament for more than forty years, this course is one of the most recognizable in the country. Each of the challenging courses includes thick rough and numerous water holes; in fact, sixteen of the Gold Course's eighteen holes are surrounded by water. To hone your game, spend some time at the Jim McLean Golf School.

The Florida Room
Delano
1685 Collins Ave. (16th St.)
Miami Beach, FL 33139
305-672-2000
www.delano-hotel.com

The Florida Room
The Florida Room, a retro piano bar designed by locally-based celeb Lenny Kravitz, is the hangout for cool old-school sorts who want to party like it was 1920. Located in the nightclub-like lobby of the perennially hot Delano hotel, the space's mix of old-style opulence (Swarovski crystal chandelier, smoked glass mirrored ceiling) and tropical touches (wicker bar stools), not to mention the décor's over-the-top focal point — a see-through Lucite grand piano — convey a satisfyingly sinful island/speakeasy feel that is furthered by its menu of potent rum cocktails. Do come early if you favor real live piano bar music over the usual DJed stuff that generally takes over late at night.

Hoy Como Ayer
2212 SW 8 th St.
Miami, FL 33135
305-541-2631
www.hoycomoayer.us

Hoy Como Ayer

South Beach's dance clubs are definitely dominated by the kind of DJed sounds found everywhere in the country, but for those staying in downtown hotels, Old Havana is only a short hop away, down Calle Ocho. Today is always yesterday at this evocative Cuban club (open Wednesday through Saturday), from the old photos on the walls to the traditional tamales on the tapas platters — and, of course, the live Latin bands that are the main attraction. Acts vary from the eclectic Spam All Stars to roots-oriented songstress Albita Rodriguez, and a sprinkling of old-timers who actually played in Havana way back when (call for schedule). But the sounds are always the sort that get patrons off their seats and onto their feet.

Ocean Force Adventures
300 Alton Rd.
Miami Beach, FL 33139
305-372-3388
www.oceanforceadventures.com

This unique company provides comprehensive tours of Miami on on their RIBs (rigid inflatable boats); speeds reaching 50 mph enable the boats to cover more ground, and shallow drafts enable the craft to venture into shallower water. Two-hour tours are $150 per person, including snacks and beverages; boats hold a maximum of six people.


The Spa at the Biltmore
The Biltmore Hotel
1200 Anastasia Ave. (Columbus Blvd.)
Coral Gables, FL 33134
305-445-1926
www.biltmorehotel.com

The Spa at the Biltmore
Hidden within the historic hotel's fitness center, The Spa at The Biltmore feels a little bit like a secret club. You ring a bell for entry, and are ushered into the sanctuary of all sanctuaries — a waiting area whose subtle golden lighting and pillowed sofas bring to mind the earthier, Moroccan works of Matisse. All the requisite treatments are offered and then some. And those treating business colleagues to this classy experience will appreciate the Biltmore's full range of après-spa options, including full English tea (with Champagne supplement available) in the hotel's showpiece Moorish-domed lobby; cocktails in the club-like Biltmore Bar; and Miami's largest selection of wines by-the-glass at the Cellar Club Bar.

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