The Heart of Mi­ami

Porthole Cruise Magazine - - What’s Inside - BY JAMES WIL­LIAMS

How to en­joy 24 hours in the Magic City

OF­TEN KNOWN SIM­PLY AS “THE MAGIC CITY,” Mi­ami is an ode to the plea­sures of life. There are per­haps few ci­ties on earth that of­fer as much as this jewel. From sun, par­ty­ing, and the culi­nary arts to pas­sion, cre­ativ­ity — and most of all — ex­cess. And so, for that rea­son, CNN In­ter­na­tional's monthly travel se­ries, “In 24 Hours,” has fea­tured the very best the city has to of­fer in just one day.

De­sign Icon

First stop is the Villa Casa Ca­sua­r­ina, or as it’s more fa­mously known around here, the Ver­sace man­sion. Be­fore it was a lux­ury bou­tique ho­tel it was the for­mer home of one of fash­ion’s most renowned de­sign­ers, the late Gianni Ver­sace. While gaz­ing at the build­ing from the out­side is on most tourists’ to-do lists, get­ting in­side is a much rarer oc­cur­rence.

There are two op­tions: The first is to book one of the 10 bed­rooms, which cur­rently start from $799 per night. Eas­ier still is sim­ply re­quest­ing a din­ner reser­va­tion at Gianni’s res­tau­rant. The de­signer’s for­mer din­ing room, com­plete with hand-dec­o­rated walls cov­ered in ex­trav­a­gant mo­saics, is now the very in­ti­mate res­tau­rant that over­looks what could be the most fa­mous pool in Amer­ica, the Mil­lion Mo­saic Pool. This is per­haps the most quin­tes­sen­tial Mi­ami lux­ury ex­pe­ri­ence.

Eat Around Town

To get to the heart of Mi­ami’s culi­nary scene, you need to meet a man like Jeremy Ford. Lo­cal boy, Mi­ami am­bas­sador, and win­ner of Top Chef, he’s pas­sion­ate about the culi­nary scene in the city, and is hard at work on his first res­tau­rant, Stub­born Seed, which is open­ing in the South of Fifth area.

“Mi­ami has changed me as a chef,” ex­plains Ford. “There’s so much cul­ture, so much fla­vor. There’s so much depth of per­son­al­ity and all that shines through in your food.” Ex­cite­ment about the res­tau­rant it­self has been build­ing all year, so for trav­el­ers look­ing for the next hotspot when in town, this is it.

Rhythm Is Gonna Get You

With all this talk about who’s new, it’s im­por­tant not to for­get those who’ve been driv­ing Mi­ami cul­ture for decades. Chief among them are the undis­puted king and queen of Mi­ami roy­alty — mu­sic leg­ends Emilio and Glo­ria Este­fan.

The two have opened many res­tau­rants across the city over the years, and have re­cently launched their lat­est, the Cuban fine din­ing con­cept, Este­fan Kitchen, in the De­sign Dis­trict. The res­tau­rant’s en­vi­ron­ment broadly re­flects and speaks vol­umes about the city’s val­ues.

“Mi­ami is a very unique kind of city,” ex­plains Emilio. “It’s a great city be­cause we have the Jewish com­mu­nity, we have the Asian com­mu­nity, we have the gay com­mu­nity, we have Lati­nos from all over the world. It’s a fu­sion that I think we learn, and we love each other, and we re­spect each other. And I think that’s a great thing.”

Top to bot­tom: James on the wa­ter with Chef Jeremy Ford, James in the stu­dio with Emily Este­fan, the Ver­sace man­sion’s Mil­lion Mo­saic Pool

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