The first time I saw the Four Seasons Hotel Miami, I mistook it for a museum. Driving down Brickell Avenue through the city’s gleaming financial district, I spotted a pair of commanding sculptures standing in the building’s lobby. Amber light bathed the lustrous bronze representations of Adam and Eve by Colombian artist Fernando Botero.
My mistake was an honest one. When the hotel opened in fall 2003, the installation of the museum-quality statuary, which anchors a $3.5 million collection of Latin American works, heralded Miami’s entrance into the upper echelons of the art world (see sidebar). And the style of the sculptures—big and bold, signature Botero—set the tone for the towering luxury hotel (at sixty-four stories, it’s the tallest building in Florida).
When I finally splurged on a stay, my room was plush, and the views of Biscayne Bay stunning. But honestly, I didn’t linger; the pull of the two-acre pool complex set six stories above the sparkling bay was just too strong. Framed by neighboring skyscrapers and situated among a grove of royal palms and flowering cassia trees, the pools are every bit an oasis. But what really made the day was the staff: Attendants in crisp khaki shorts and bright white Mexican wedding shirts circled the deck, keeping cups of ice water filled and offering shot-sized samples of pineapple and coconut smoothies. While I spent the day sunning in a poolside lounge chair, other guests opted for the privacy afforded by a handful of cabanas.
The next day, I rose early and made my way down to Edge Steak & Bar, just off the lobby, to experience another of the hotel’s signature offerings: Sunday brunch. Named one of the best brunch buffets in the nation by Travel + Leisure, the spread was like nothing I’d ever seen. There was a seafood bar and a taco station with just-grilled tortillas. Bowls of salads butted up against platters piled high with mango cheesecakes, lemon tarts, and coconut madeleines. Just outside, attendants carved a whole suckling pig, and the entire scene was punctuated by the popping of Champagne corks.
I chose a table on the tented terrace overlooking the pool and happily worked my way toward seconds. During my return trip to the buffet, a quick storm blew in, and though it was only twenty feet to the covered terrace—an easy dash—a staff member insisted on walking me back to my table, umbrella held high. The spread was stunning, but it was again the service that stuck with me.
After brunch I walked to the hotel lobby, where another of Botero’s monumental sculptures, the voluptuous Seated Woman, holds court. It was her immensity, in both scale and style, that drew my attention, but as I stood before her, taking in the shimmering finish and impossible attention to detail, I really began to appreciate her. Of course, all great artists—and hoteliers, it seems—know the grandest of statements rely upon those details. First they wow, then they woo.
Miami’s White-Hot Art Scene
Miami is home to one of the nation’s most dynamic art scenes, with the Four Seasons situated in the middle of it all. The Perez, Miami’s acclaimed contemporary art museum, stands just a couple of miles north of the hotel; less than two miles south is Vizcaya, a magnificent Italian villa-turned-museum known for its large and diverse sculpture collection. And since 2002, when Art Basel selected Miami Beach as its sole satellite location, the city’s December gathering of arts glitterati has reigned as the most important contemporary arts event in the Americas.
1435 Brickell Avenue, Miami, Florida • (305) 358-3535 • fourseasons.com/miami