I turn the reins over to my friend and brilliant writer, Emily Gonzales, for this entry. She went in my place to attend the SLS Hotel‘s grand opening, and I couldn’t think of a better substitute. Emily’s perspective of SLS’s opening is much stronger than the average person’s. A 10-year resident of South Beach, Emily isn’t too fazed by the glitz and glam she sees on a normal basis. But SLS is different. Here’s her take:
Even after living in South Beach for more than 10 years, I still agree with the general consensus that South Beach is a place with an altered sense of reality. The people are impossibly gorgeous, the weather is always perfect, chances are you’re dining alongside a celebrity or two. And on any given night, partygoers have the times of their lives. For those that attended SLS’s grand-opening event on Nov. 8, you witnessed all of these South Beach qualities in one party.
Accurately titled Le Cirque des Reves (The Circus of Dreams), the SLS Hotel treated guests to a medley of mythical backdrops, seemingly endless platters of mouthwatering fare, and an energy powered by anticipation and excitement. The 132-room, Philippe Starck-designed luxury hotel on Collins Avenue opened to whimsical fanfare and limit-stretching artistic representation, from the Marie Antoinette impersonators who greeted us (and the rest of the dressed-to-the-nines Sobe elite) upon check-in to the mime-like Black Swan type who escorted us into the SLS’s surreal world of fantasy and dreams.
Even with Satyrs, nymphs and impish pranksters greeting visitors throughout this festive night, it was the SLS’s food experiences that took center stage. There was no shortage of cocktail servers offering us real menu items from the hotel’s in-house restaurants, such as delectable croquetas served out of glass sneakers from The Bazaar – the second location of Jose Andres’ award-winning Spanish fusion restaurant – and Master Sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi’s irresistable Wagyu ribeye.
The surreal atmosphere of the party continued as we walked through the restaurant areas of the hotel and onto the pool deck, where most of the famous party guests were hanging out. We, along with footballer Jeremy Shockey and actress Rumer Willis, were entertained by a hypnotizing projection of monkeys climbing the hotel wall facing the pool and elaborately dressed fairies dancing among us. Lenny Kravitz, who designed the hotel’s penthouse suite and contributed his touches to the poolside cabanas, also made an appearance, although his large entourage made it impossible to greet him.
By every measure, the SLS Hotel grand-opening party was a success for hotel creator, Sam Nazarian, founder, chairman and CEO of the hospitality, real estate and entertainment company sbe, and his group. The magical world of disturbingly costumed characters and lavishly decorated rooms that the SLS Hotel created for us was a realization of an Alice In Wonderland for adults. I left the party feeling like I had already had my dreams for the night.
Emily Gonzales is the CIO of Bookigee, which develops tools and analytics for the publishing world.