Mr & Mrs Smith and Porter magazine have teamed up to celebrate everything Miami. We sat down with Porter’s glamorous, globe-trotting Travel Director, Catherine Fairweather, to get the insider lowdown on the Magic City, following her recent trip…
What do you love about Miami? Its crazy cultural mix, the hedonism, the iconography (palm trees and pink stretch limos), the shiny glamour of the girls in high heels, the beautiful bodies at the beachside outdoor gyms, the skaters, bikers, diners and Art Deco architecture.
Can you share some memorable Miami moments? Walking from the Art Basel Miami Beach Convention Center all the way to Soho Beach House to attend the best party in town: held in the hotel’s makeshift pavilion on the beach, with cocktails, and guests barefoot on the sand. An incredible mezze dinner at Mandolin in the Arts District one night, when the rain dripped off the olive trees in the charming outdoor restaurant. Free sunrise yoga on the rooftop decks of 1 Hotel South Beach. Cycling around SoBe on rented velo bikes. Admiring the architecture of Alan Faena’s parties: his white suits and panama; the guests, some of whom come some with parrots on their shoulders as the latest accessories; the extraordinary spectacle of the cars and heels and dresses at the drop-off at the red carpet.
How would you describe Miami style? High-voltage glamour. In Miami, they like their fashion like they like their cars: sporty, low-slung, bright, brash and expensive. For Miami, I always pack flats and heels, sundresses in bright colours and designer bags.
Tell us about one of your favourite shops in Miami… I love the Webster for its curated accessories. You go in for a pair of sunglasses and end up with a book, a blouse, a bikini and a bite to eat – it’s the ultimate lifestyle store. I also like 1 Hotel’s boutique for belts and bags; Soho House’s boutique for beachwear.
Which restaurants do you love there? Casa Tua for its classic Italian cuisine, romantic garden, sense of clubby intimacy and brilliant service. Mandolin for its incredible but unpretentious Mediterranean food. I also love Mandolin’s owners; they’re an integral part of the convivial atmosphere and scene. Cecconi’s at Soho Beach House seems to be humming all day and night; its semi-al fresco courtyard is romantically lit with fairy lights. You can still hear yourself talk – and get away from that ubiquitous background muzak that is the bane of most Miami restaurants.
Give us some insider tips on Magic City adventures… Casa Faena, housed in an old colonial mansion, just a block back from the ocean, gives you access to the fabulous Faena lifestyle and facilities of his shiny new hotel and its complexes – for a fraction of the cost. It’s also a good place to go for a quiet breakfast. A tip given to me by various hoteliers is Yardbird for homey chicken and ribs and Southern-style, enormous portions. If you’re new in town and want to imbibe the scene, go to Juvia on Lincoln Road for the electric bar: it has the best views of Miami, seen through the purple haze of its psychedelic lighting effects. If you want to escape the scene and are after some peace (and an amazing massage and hydrotherapy on a rooftop), go to Como Metropolitan Miami Beach.
Where is your favourite place in the world? I love the top suites at Soho Beach House for their wraparound views from the terrace, bath tubs overlooking the lagoon, no-nonsense technology, the cocktail cabinet, 10 types of soap and shampoo in giant bottles, the decor and comfort. It’s clever luxury, and somehow really does succeed in feeling like home. I also love Burma’s jungle for its elephants.
How do you manage to stay glamorous while travelling? I rely on dark sunglasses to cover eye bags; flat shoes that you can whip on and off at security and run the long distances to departures gates; a cashmere throw or poncho or scarf (always); black trousers and a white classic shirt; wedged espadrilles, for when you need a heel in the evening but where sand or mud or wilderness mean heels won’t work; my silk Etro long skirt; a voluminous shoulder bag for chucking my computer, wrap, and everything else into, with a separate, easy-to-get-at compartment for my ticket and passport.
What is the best thing about your job? The impassioned visionaries and dreamers I meet on the road in the remote corners of the world. Room service. Business-class lounges.
Where is your favourite place in the world? Italy is my favourite country. Depending on the season, I also love World’s End in Sri Lanka, the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia, anywhere in the Arctic Circle and a Provençal Saturday market.
Where do you call home? Home is Somerset: the only place on earth where I don’t get reception on my mobile phone.
Whose suitcase would you most like to peek inside? Joan Didion’s. Is she a maximalist or minimalist packer? Tidy or impulsive? Book or Kindle? Are cigarettes her luxury item?
Featured image is Como Metropolitan Miami Beach; all others photos by Catherine Fairweather