Escape the stir of South Beach and discover the posh poolsides, luxe shopping, and gourmet dining Bal Harbour has to offer.
in Miami can be less than restorative. The busy beachfronts and late nights associated with South Beach can be arduous for even the most seasoned traveller; you leave needing a second vacation to recuperate from the first. But journey only 30 minutes north of the neon mini dresses that litter Ocean Drive, and you’ll find Bal Harbour: a slice of sandy heaven that is infinitely more refined.
This teensy area of Miami is a blip along Collins Avenue—blink and you’ll have passed through— but what Bal Harbour lacks in size, it makes up for in luxury. Here, you’ll discover more high-end restaurants, hotels, and exotic cars per square metre than almost anywhere else in the world, and some of the most upscale shopping, too. With a footprint of only one-and-a-half square kilometres, parking is limited, and the majority of oceanfront access is private, reserved solely for residents ( just 3,000 people actually live here) and hotel guests, so it immediately feels exclusive.
Situated on the shoreline overlooking the Atlantic is the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, a sprawling luxury retreat with a surprisingly intimate air. Just a few steps into the hotel, and its opulence is palpable. In the lobby, guests are greeted with a flute of Champagne, and floor-to-ceiling pentagon-shaped mirrors—an elevated, yet subtle nod to the Art Deco in South Beach—make an impressive statement. Every suite has an ocean view and a balcony—an ideal breakfast spot.
Outside, white lounge chairs line the two sleek pools. For privacy, guests can enjoy one of the resort’s ocean-facing cabanas, which are essentially miniature suites containing a bed, bathroom and television, with ample seating outside. Each cabana has an appointed butler—an attentative staff member who will bring drinks, charge your iPhone, or answer any pressing questions—and can be booked daily. You’ll feel like an incognito celebrity by the day's end.
The Shops at Bal Harbour cannot be missed. This year marks the open-air mall’s 50th anniversary, and the calibre of stores is something worth celebrating in itself. Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, and Goyard are a few noteworthy boutiques, all of which carry seasonal collections and hard-to-find pieces. On the second floor, Miami’s own multi-brand boutique, The Webster, offers an expertly curated range of fashion (think colourful Céline trio bags, Chloé culottes, and Margiela belts).
But there’s more to do than shop. Skincare studio Gee Beauty provides a variety of treatments like makeup application and eyebrow shaping. On the third floor, an intimate gallery space, Fashion Project, hosts rotating exhibitions and is open seven days a week, free of charge. Situated next door is a beautiful bookstore, Books and Books, that’s worth a browse, too. Cap off the day by people-watching over a cocktail at the open-air bar in the courtyard, surrounded by tall, swaying palms.
Dining options in Bal Harbour are delicious. Makoto, a modern Japanese restaurant, serves up unique dishes like charcoal-grilled cauliflower and deep-fried sushi. Its dark décor is cozy and inviting, the kind of locale you could happily lose several hours in. Nearby, Le Zoo’s classic French cuisine can be enjoyed outdoors on a charming terrace.