A number of hotel projects are either underway or approved for Miami Beach. Recently developer Sandor Scher of Claro Development shared his thoughts on trends in commercial construction here with the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce Real Estate Council.
Perhaps the most interesting trend is the emphasis on hotels as a local experience – for visitors as well as the community. “Guests relate to places that are frequented by the locals as there is a certain authenticity,” Scher said. “The place becomes real.”
Hotels are becoming hubs for local culture. “Whether its music or art or food,” he said, “the trend is for the hotel to become a unique destination for all of this.” He used the Standard Hotel, a popular local destination on Belle Isle, as an example.
One of Claro’s current projects is the renovation of the Raleigh Hotel at 17th and Collins. The Raleigh will include a membership model that “will focus extensively on programming and creating reasons to use the club throughout the day and night,” Scher said. The membership model, he noted, contributes to the immersion in the local cultural experience for hotel guests who share amenities and culinary experiences with local members.
Plans for the Raleigh illustrate what Scher calls another interesting trend. “We have a very large underground amenity space that is a necessity due to the highly sensitive nature of the historic building. The basement will have multipurpose functions and serve as a late night lounge that should be one of a kind.”
Claro is also managing the development of the nearby Greystone Hotel at 20th and Collins, which Scher said “is also being built to be a local destination and to be deeply immersive in the Miami Beach experience for its guests.” Like the Raleigh, the Greystone will have an underground basement bar and lounge “fashioned towards the speakeasies of the twenties and early thirties.” The “activated rooftop [is] another trend that we have seen move from the exception to the norm,” he said.
Also moving from exception to norm, according to Scher, is the property’s location. “In the last few years we have seen the quality and investment in properties on the west side of Collins improve by many multiples. With the new Convention Center coming online we see this changing from a trend to the norm.”
Scher also spoke to the planned hotel at 955 Washington Avenue (which is not a Claro project). “This is the first new project that will be built with small or compact hotel rooms. Smaller hotel rooms and utilizing the retail as the hotel amenity is a novel approach for Miami Beach and we think will work great for the younger traveler.” It’s not about spending time in your hotel room but being out in the community and experiencing local culture.
“The holy grail for hotels,” Scher said “is getting locals to help create the environment that defines the space, finding ways for the local culture to come into your hotel organically and through programming, and for your hotel to become a cultural exporter all at the same time.”
Susan Askew is the co-chair of the Chamber’s Real Estate Council and the founder of RE:MiamiBeach.com where this article was initially published.