10 NOV 2011: It’s been years since anyone’s mentioned the Obsession Calvin Klein ads, Jordache jeans never mind recalling Miami Vice and Don Johnson in a single breath. But here at the 6th annual Miami Media Reception hosted by the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) evening soiree it was a throwback to some of these iconic 80s symbols.

Yes, love was in the air.

Still it helps we were there to celebrate the fruits of the city’s latest promotion, known as the Miami Romance month, which occurred in June.

“Miami’s always been a great place for romance. We’ve been getting more attention with weddings but it’s just not that. Picture the tropical weather, cosmopolitan nightlife, amazing cuisine and you get the best of both worlds. Besides, this (Miami Romance month) is a great incentive for folks to get married in June in Miami. We worked with all these partners to put together amazing packages,” says Jennifer Diaz, associate vice president, media relations and promotions for GMCVB, describing the new programme launched this past May with select partners offering various packages valid either until the end of 2011 or through May 2012. (For more details visit www.MiamiRomanceMonth.com)

Canadians are the biggest international visitor market to this sun kissed destination and Toronto is their biggest international city hub. More nuptials, swanky luxe hotels and some animal friendly love at the nearby Zoo Miami are part of the bits and bites we were snacking on in Toronto’s funky Art and Design District.

Here’s what you don’t want to miss:

Miami Boutique Hotels

So you have a client in a rush and there’s no time for direct contact with hotel reps on the ground. Enter MiamiBoutiqueHotels.com, your stress-reliever hotel database care of the Greater Miami CVB. Catalogued via property size, location, budget and other categories, this searchable online database even includes the latest discounts and giveaways says Esther Molina, your go-to boutique hotels programme manager with the GMCVB’s Miami Boutique Hotels office.

Zoo Miami
“We’ve got everything,” proudly boasts Benjamin Pingree, president and CEO, recounting how 2011 had their best attendance year ever. (nearly 1 million visitors annually).The zoo recently completed a multi-million dollar reno with a brand new $5-million amphitheatre, a new Children’s zoo, and the zoo has recently emerged into their own backyard with the Florida Everglades.
Expect to see the Florida panther at a later date.

Watch for an inspirational programme involving the pairing of a captive-born cheetah with a homeless dog from a local shelter to serve as an educational ambassador. The zoo is great for families and animal lovers. “At Zoo Miami you’re not going to see bars and cages. We have ample acreage and I think that’ll make a great experience for visitors and animals,” says Benjamin adding the zoo was one of the first to introduce “Plein Air” (open air) architecture with its moats so don’t expect animals in cages either. Take a tram tour, sign up for a walking tour, and be sure to pop by their botanic garden and aviary. www.miamimetrozoo.com

The Breakwater South Beach Hotel

The Jordache Jeans Company was fretting at the trendy hotel scene creeping along fashionable Ocean Drive on South Beach so wanted its own naturally. It resurrected and did a fabulous renovation with plenty of bling and splashes of denim touches here and there. Guests might remember the days Nicky Hilton owned the historic oceanfront property. Like then it is a “to be seen in” spot. And the rooftop will surely cause that 80’s flashback. For those of us who can remember, a birthday suit clad Kate Moss caressed the Obsession perfume bottle for that hit Calvin Klein advertising campaign. Inquire about their “unfiltered” concierge services.

Bragging rights: only see-through infinity pool in South Beach

Park Central Hotel

A historic hotel constructed in 1937 and once frequented by the famous Rat Pack still maintains its vintage past. You’ll spot an old timey car with Humphrey Bogart sitting inside by the entrance. Michelle Freedman, senior sales manager for the Goldman Properties, says it would be very common to walk into the lobby and see these types of personalities sitting by the bar.Expect beautifully restored rooms harkening back to the Art Deco era.

The Delano
Big on the mod factor, this location lays claim to fame to plenty. It is Miami’s first boutique hotel designed by visionaries Ian Schrager and Philippe Starck, and is loaded with history and lots of bells and whistles. There’s a soaring huge lobby with cascading white drapes that leads into a magnificent backyard. The luxe property remains one of the top hotel spots in Miami Beach.
Bragging rights: in-pool steroid-big chairs with giant sized chessboards and don’t forget the ultra hip nightlife happening at The Florida Room

The Setai Hotel

After an extensive renovation, the Setai owned by hotelier extraordinaire, Adrian Zecha, founder of General Hotel Management (GHM) and chairman of Amanresorts, has added his own signature touch. You’ll find an exotic themed decor which is an homage to Shanghai’s Art Deco period. Watch for bronze and rich teak motifs. Built in the 30s the original property was none other than the exquisite Dempsey Vanderbilt Hotel.

The Hampton Inn Miami Brickell

When you first walk into this new 221-room property you will see an art gallery, and on the top floor expect an uber chic rooftop lounge accompanied by a pool and cabanas. Located in the heart of the burgeoning restaurant and retail scene, this is a great edgy hotel with fuschia-accented room interiors.

JW Marriott Marquis
Jennifer says this is the first time the JW Marriott and the Marquis brand have come together. So it’s ultra luxury all the time. Imagine within this Marquis property there is a separate boutique hotel called the Hotel Beaux Arts. “Very luxe and low key,” smiles Jennifer.

Sunny Isles Beach
Okay so clients tell you they want to do Miami but without the frills and sans hipster crowds – look no further than this sun kissed coastal paradise. “It’s laid back charm is everything you were looking for,” beams a radiant Ibis Romero, CTC, Sunny Isles Beach Tourism’s Executive Director.

Other reasons to fall in love with Miami:
Miami Beach’s Art Deco District contains the world’s largest collection of Art Deco Architecture (800+ buildings)

Miami is home to the largest concentration of Boutique Hotels in the world.

Miami was named the #2 most romantic city in America by Amazon.com (You can be the judge on the Number 1 most romantic city in the US)

For a vacation guide visit www.MiamiAndBeaches.com
Meeting planners: www.MiamiMeetings.com
For Romance packages visit www.MiamiRomanceMonth.com

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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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