The Heart of Miami
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.
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