Security is an increasingly vital part of any luxury hotel stay, says the gal, who thinks back a few weeks to staying right next to London’s New Scotland Yard police headquarters. In Miami Beach it is quite another story. The police post has become an art work – see it, in the photo, soaring above the beach at 14th street, with darkened windows so you can’t tell whether it is occupied or not. The boardwalk, and Ocean Drive, are bustling with activity from sunrise on. A heavily pregnant woman cycles confidently on one of the city’s quick-rent bike, aspiring models strut their stuff and serious runners race by. It is all action, and the fabulous Betsy is a magnet that not only draws the literati and philanthropically-minded to stay, but others to call in.
That is why, last Sunday morning, Hyatt’s Mr South America (with the Caribbean thrown in) Myles McGourty, an Irishman based here in Miami, and his colleague, Uruguayan Alvaro Valeriani, chose the Betsy’s terrace for breakfast. This is, by the way, one of the best-value and best-quality breakfasts anywhere, an example of over-delivering on expectation. I thought I was going to get eggs my-choice (omelette) with side my-choice (sausages) and toast and beverage my-choice (wholewheat, coffee). The omelette came with potato cubes and a pesto-topped half of heirloom tomato. Four big sausages arrived in a cast-iron skillet, with a surprise bowl of really good fruit, and the excellent coffee was filled again and again, with a smile.
The point is that The Betsy’s owners, Jonathan Plutzik and Lesley Goldwasser, with their lovely hotel director, Jeff Lehman, want everyone to have a good time here, and that includes the 180 who work to make it possible. Staff initiatives include cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the underprivileged, and building houses for the homeless via Habitat for Humanity. Guest initiatives include the chance to take a memory away with them: at night, I found a paper bookmark that is impregnated with wildflower seeds which I will, once home, moisten and plant. Many guests buy one of the fabric bookbags that come with room supplies: proceeds benefit one of the many Plutzik charities, this one in Zimbabwe.
My own lasting memories of this luxury hotel? The proximity to the beach. The tagline on my room’s coffee mugs, ‘Expect no more. This is happiness’. Smiles from Christopher and Hendrick on front desk. Kids, and later adults, engrossed in their chess games using the sets in the palm-filled lobby. Breakfast, and later the Certified Angus flank steak lunch from BLT, the restaurant run by Laurent Torondel. And the fact that soon even more will be able to appreciate staying at The Betsy. The team has bought the equally-historic Hotel Carlton, immediately behind The Betsy, which will be upgraded to add a further 75 rooms.