ONE on ONE

by Mayi de la Vega

Luxe Loungewear

By | Fashion

Revamp your WFH wardrobe with these Florida-based designer brands.

With our beach-chic lifestyle, Floridians perfected the WFH wardrobe long before it became a thing. Flowing caftans and other elegant loungewear fill our closets, ready on a moment’s notice for boating and poolside soirées.

It’s no wonder that the niche’s designers flock here to establish their collections. Some even manufacture locally, a wonderful advantage for our growing fashion community. It’s easy to see why, too. How could they resist the Sunshine State’s endless summer as inspiration?

I’d like to share some of my favorite brands to refresh your WFH looks. Happy shopping.

Krelwear

Born in Paris, Miami-based fashion designer and textile artist Karelle Levy grew up on the ocean in Golden Beach. She attended Rhode Island School of Design before founding her upscale knitwear label Krelwear in 2002. Her wonderland of a knitting studio and boutique are located in Miami Ironside. Women, men and children love her Florida-friendly, lightweight knits in natural yarns. In addition to signature styles such as kaftans, dresses, tops, rompers and harem pants, the collection includes hand-loomed, bespoke pieces and accessories like hooded scarves and bottle bags for water and wine. (They make terrific hostess gifts.)

https://krelwear.com/

Tighemi

Tighemi raises the bar for its absolutely gorgeous fashion and home items hand-crafted in Morocco. It’s the kind of shop you want to buy everything, and we’re grateful that its mother daughter owners Lisa and Lauren Walsh relocated to Florida from New York and London to open their first boutique in the Miami Design District. They have an incredible eye for exclusive collaborations with talented artisans discovered during their frequent travels to Morocco. Luxury fabrics range from Moroccan cashmere (soft-brushed cotton) to Italian silks for styles like capes, tunics and kaftans. A men’s velvet smoking jacket is another fall must-have.

https://tighemi.com/

Lanhtropy

Uruguayan Ani Ponce de Leon runs her four-year-old linen empire from the barrier island of Key Biscayne. Made from pure, sustainable linen, her Lanhtropy collection literally translates to “linen universe” in Vietnamese, a nod to the country where her small factory is based. She focuses on women’s minimalist pieces with a twist that lend a touch of romance to everyday wear. I’m especially fond of her adorable jumpsuits with tie belts (the Oma) or front button panels (the Mia) in subdued hues like terracotta. In addition to her online store, you can find pieces at Florida boutiques like Roses and Dreams.

https://lanhtropy.com/

The Onikas

The Onikas has a cute backstory. Designers Veronica Pesantes and Jonnyka Bormann are childhood best friends from Dallas who now reside in Miami Beach and Austin, respectively. They launched their fair-trade line five years ago to celebrate their friendship and love of art and travel as well as to support Indian and Ecuadorian craftsmen (Veronica was born in Quito.) Tapping into their artistic backgrounds, they create exclusive, hand-blocked prints for cotton voile caftans, robes, dresses, tunics and bottoms made in India. They also collaborate with multi-generational families of Andean weavers for ponchos and wraps in naturally dyed, organic cotton.

https://theonikas.com/

 

Kult Jewelry

Kult Jewelry also turned five this year. Designer Jessie Bonne lived in the French Caribbean, Paris and Mexico City before settling in Miami. She continues to work with Mexican silversmiths for part of her fine jewelry collection, while the rest in produced in downtown Miami’s Seybold Building. Offering minimalist looks to bold statement pieces, she favors lapis lazuli, malachite and onyx and recently introduced more precious materials such as rubies and yellow and rose gold. Besides frequent trunk shows throughout Florida during season, you can try on her pieces at Mrs. Mandolin lifestyle store and Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club’s boutique.

https://kultjewelry.com/

 

Let There Be Light

By | Art, Events

Maison&Objet, Paris’s home, design and lifestyle fair, goes virtual for its September edition.

 While Paris trips are on hold for many of us this year, we can travel to the City of Light in our minds. Its internationally renowned Maison&Objet fair for home, design and lifestyle introduced a digital edition through September 18. Normally each of its biannual events receives 80,000 visitors. This year’s attendance is expected to balloon to hundreds of thousands on its Maison&Objet and More (MOM) platform, which launched in 2016 as a way for industry insiders to stay connected.

The platform pivoted with newly added digital showrooms that enable design professionals and the general public to walk the show from their laptops and other devices. Dial your interior designer and meet online to learn about the latest trends and to shop for brilliant items. Filters make it convenient to zero in on categories from furniture to fragrances. The website’s Inspirations section also helps with browsing. Here, the fair invites design experts who own firms, showrooms and boutiques as well as home and design editors from magazines all over the world like AD France and House & Garden to share their favorite pieces. Pieces are broken down into themes, too, like eco-chic and tea time. I’ve included photos of some of my picks that work well for the Florida lifestyle.

A fun fact is that Maison&Objet staged a U.S. edition of its show in Miami Beach for two years. It’s easy to see why since South Florida is a hotbed for forward design. We are lucky to have iconic projects from a plethora of revered architects like the late Zaha Hadid who designed Miami’s One Thousand Museum Residences proudly represented by OSIR. The region offers so many luxury home showrooms as well, including B&B Italia’s first Southeast location that recently opened in the Miami Design District. I definitely recommend a visit.

Maison&Objet also hosts daily digital talks on its MOM platform. I’ve noticed that this year’s programs focus a lot on the return to nature and how to protect the environment—themes we’re all experiencing these days. A few to look out for are sustainable interiors on September 15; post-pandemic hotel design by Miami architect Chad Oppenheim (he just spoke to Forbes about the timely topic) on September 17, and a chef’s point of view on the natural world by Christophe Aribert, the alpine culinary visionary and farmer’s son behind Maison Aribert resort in France’s mountainous Uriage-Les-Bains park—I’d love to take one of his coveted cooking classes.

The fair’s Designer of the Year installation has been postponed until the next event from January 22-26, 2021. The honor goes to architect Franklin Azzi, whose Paris-based eponymous firm is known for whole landscapes that often involves urban planning—his Left Bank promenade along the Seine is similar to New York’s High Line. His impressive portfolio also features stores for French fashion houses like Isabel Marant, Lacoste and LVMH’s brands. I look forward to returning to the real deal in winter and toasting him with a glass of champagne, bien sûr.


Fearless at Fifteen

By | Beauty, Wellness

The glamorous Gee Beauty spa and boutique celebrates its 15th anniversary.

I’ve always supported women-owned businesses, which is just one of the many reasons I’m a huge fan of Gee Beauty. Named after a chic Canadian family—the impossibly gorgeous, savvy and kind Miriam Gee and her equally accomplished and stunning daughters, Natalie, Celene and Stephanie—the breakthrough beauty concept was founded 15 years ago in their hometown of Toronto. Years later, they expanded to Miami Beach’s Sunset Harbour neighborhood.

The spa/boutique hybrid is tailored for the time-crunched modern woman (and man, since they offer a full range of men’s products and custom treatments). The basic idea is that we all love a spa day, but it’s just not practical most of the time with our hectic schedules, whether you’re a busy parent, professional or both. They saw a white space for a 21st-century urban spa, where people can pop in for quick yet effective services such as their signature Brow Shaping and Medi Multi Express anti-aging facial in the same manner that they visit their favorite coffee shop for a latte. By thinking of your spa routine in daily snippets, you can still stick to your beauty routine without spending precious hours all at once.

I can attest to the quality of their services and products including their namesake cosmetics line. When I really want to treat myself, I indulge in one of their Luxury Facials whose themes are often based on their premier brands like Dr. Sebagh, Tata Harper and Dr. Barbara Sturm. Each of the four women has her sub-specialties regarding services and product niches, and they personally test every single item that comes into the store. Because the beauty market is flooded with options, it’s one less thing I have to think about—if it passes their approval, I know it’s great. When I’m in Sunset Harbour, I add it to my round of errands and treats like dinner at Naiyara and Lucali.

Since reopening in the pandemic, I’ve been impressed with how they’re handling protocol. They’re really good about spacing clients through limiting appointments and installing plexi-glass dividers. During services, the staff wears masks, face shields, gloves and gowns, among many thoughtful safety measures. You can also order online or arrange for curbside pickup to tide you over until you feel safe enough for in-person treatments and shopping.

I also like how they’ve always been ahead of the curve. Before clean beauty was trendy, they believed in a holistic approach and were among the first stores to bring in natural and organic skin-care lines. They’re constantly searching for better alternatives and address all skin types and tones. They recently introduced Epara, a luxury, skin-care brand whose ingredients from essential oils to botanicals are specifically designed for women of color.

For the 15th anniversary, they assembled the Glow Into Fall Skin Kit, a crème de la crème package with their top beauty picks in a complimentary tote commemorating the achievement. Some goodies inside are the Joanna Vargas Bright Eye Firming Mask, Mimi Luzon 24K Gold Hyaluronic Serum, Gee Beauty Soothing Lip Balm and Slip Skinnies silk hair ties. What a great gift for a friend or yourself.

Congrats ladies, and here’s to another 15 years!

 

Every Vote Counts

By | Culture, Education

This month celebrates the centennial of U.S. women’s right to vote.

Seventy-two years. That’s how long it took from the first women’s rights convention held in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848, until the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote, was signed into law on August 26, 1920. Throughout the month of August, we’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of the suffragist movement’s incredible achievement: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

The women’s vote centennial is being honored across the U.S. with myriad events that culminate on August 26. I’ve included a couple links below to brush up on your history to fully appreciate how far we’ve come and how much work remains. As the female founder of my real estate firm, I deeply respect these historic figures for the road they paved for me and other women to follow their dreams, first by being able to cast a ballot. In poring over the links’ comprehensive timelines and priceless photos, I discovered so many details beyond the basic lessons we learn in school about iconic suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Of all places, I never thought Wyoming, then a territory, would be the first place in the U.S. to pass a women’s suffrage measure in 1869, and that Colorado would be the first state to adopt and amendment granting women the right to vote in 1893. (Even though the movement began in New York, it wouldn’t be until 1917 that it passed there.) Other interesting details are that suffragists were the first protestors to picket at the White House; 32 men were among the signees to declare the nascent movement back then in Seneca Falls, and several notable Black suffragists including Harriet Tubman and Ida B. Wells-Barnett contributed greatly to the cause. With another election year upon us, I’m grateful for their tireless efforts.

An in-depth resource to find out more about nationwide events is the 2020 Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative (link below). This week features virtual lectures by top professors on the subject, online tours of exhibits, women-themed film screenings, a virtual Equality Weekend in Seneca Falls, livestreamed concerts from Nashville, a historic reenactment of Stanton circa 1866, and many more great activities. The website also provides educational materials on where we stand today. For example, women make up less than 20 percent of elected officials in Congress, and only one in three eligible women voted in the last presidential election. As you can see, we still have a lot of work to do!

https://www.2020centennial.org/

https://floridasuffrage100.org/

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/08/17/us/suffrage-movement-photos-history.html

The Art of the Online Art Fair

By | Art, Events

Untitled launches world’s first virtual reality art fair for the times.

When people talk about going to Art Basel Miami Beach, they don’t just mean the main fair. There are approximately a dozen satellite fairs around the city that offer their own special niche during the December art week. One of the most respected of these satellite fairs is Untitled, which takes place in a glamorous white tent on the beach. It also hosts a San Francisco event. When the pandemic hit, it pivoted by premiering a virtual edition.

Untitled Art Online, Powered by Artland was originally slated to end last weekend, but organizers extended it to Sunday, August 9, to accommodate the unexpected amount of transactions and all-around interest. Its success has rocked the art world, thus ushering in a new age of discovery for art lovers worldwide and of technology’s capabilities to deliver an interactive, immersive experience in lieu of the real thing. In attending the first-ever virtual reality art fair, visitors explore aisles and browse booths just like an in-person fair—they’ve even managed to capture the feeling of the natural light-filled tent in Miami Beach—and conduct business in real time with instant chat tools and a 24/7 “Buy Now” button. Art advisor Laura Smith Sweeney said the platform vastly differs from other online fairs’ sequential viewing of artworks.

“A virtual walk through evokes the excitement of discovering a well-curated booth at an art fair,” said Smith Sweeney, of experiencing the conversational mix of sculpture, painting, and photography to curate virtual tours for her clients. “The doll house and floor-plan views allow visitors to arrive at a gallery’s booth very efficiently, and the interactive chat function with an actual staff member makes for a personal and welcoming experience.”

Approximately 40 international exhibitors are participating in the inaugural online fair. Galleries not only have the ability to customize their booths but rearrange artworks and replenish them with new ones as others sell. When one enters the portal, they’re viewing the fair’s inventory in real time no matter the hour or time zone. A transparent fee model minimizes costs to give galleries an edge during this tough year.

Response and engagement have been so strong that they’re already planning a fall edition. Collectors are taking it seriously, too. Galeria Nara Roesler sold two large-scale works by Vik Muniz for approximately $60,000 apiece on the opening day alone according to gallery deputy director Frederik Schampers. A benefit for the New York Foundation for the Arts also sold out; Artspace & Phaidon produced the UNTITLED, ART Charitable Artist Edition of artist Genesis Tramaine’s limited-edition work on paper titled Black Woman University. All proceeds go to the charity.

Hope you enjoy gallery-hopping from your home this weekend and find some great new works to brighten your space. Good luck!

https://www.artland.com/untitled-art-online

 

 

Back to School

By | Education, Philanthropy

Help our fantastic local charities gather school supplies for underserved children.

From Lotus House to YoungArts, children’s charities have always been near and dear to my heart. They need our help even more due to the pandemic, especially with how it’s affecting the school year. Many local non-profits are organizing school supply drives for struggling families. Here are ways to get involved to alleviate kids’ anxiety in these tough times. Every little bit goes a long way.

The Little Lighthouse Foundation

For its 2020 Back to School fundraiser, the Little Lighthouse Foundation hopes to have enough supplies for 1,500 underserved students. The team plans to distribute them to children at Excel Kids Academy, B. Wright Leadership Academy, Fienberg Fisher K-8, the Motivational Edge and Carrfour on August 21. Check out LLF’s web site to learn more about its profound impact on South Florida and how to volunteer in other aspects.

https://www.classy.org/campaign/llf-back-to-school-2020/c289736

The Salvation Army of Broward County

The Salvation Army of Broward County is having to adapt its programs for the coronavirus. Its inaugural “Stuff the Bus” virtual school supplies drive takes place August 3-17. Drop off items or donate through Walmart’s online registry as well as the Salvation Army’s secure portal. Supplies will be distributed in time for the start of the school year.

Salvation Army’s shipping and drop-off location:

1445 West Broward Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 33312

Online donations:

https://give.salvationarmyflorida.org/browardschoolsupplies

Walmart online:

https://tinyurl.com/StuffTheBus2020

Walmart drop-off locations:

4700 South Flamingo Road, Cooper City

2500 West Broward Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale

6001 Coral Ridge Drive, Coral Springs

Lotus House

Focusing on homeless women, youth and children, Lotus House is invaluable to our community. It doesn’t just provide food, clothing and shelter but everything to live a well-rounded life from education to play. In addition to everyday necessities and school supplies, they’re asking people to sponsor summer activities. Whether ice skating field trips or ice cream parties, these simple pleasures bring a sense of normalcy for the kids. Sponsor summertime fun by emailing love@lotushouse.org. For general donations, click here:

https://lotushouse.kindful.com/event/support-lotus-village-?fbclid=IwAR1yNLHQMLjCvF-9GxmNa08Ro95TWVdThrV60XuZBj-5cnJtXoxQDWK-W9k&mc_cid=290608daba&mc_eid=cc461c3135

United Way of Martin County

Because of the highly difficult year, United Way is spearheading the county’s main school supply drive. Through partnerships with Publix and other individual and corporate providers, the Tools for Success program is creating basic supply kits for elementary school students. Whether in-person classes resume or virtual classes are to be, a lot of local kids will be prepared.  www.UnitedWayMartin.org/ToolsForSuccess

Feeling Florida

By | Florida Finds, Travel

I’ve always felt blessed to live in a state that has so much to offer. We have culture and nature in spades, and how fun is it to jump in one’s car for a quick road trip when the mood strikes? The quieter months are a great time to get out and explore this beautiful part of the country. Here are a few spots that top my list, and make sure to say hi to our Sotheby’s friends if you go. (I’ve included links to affiliates’ web sites here.)

Boca Grande

The legendary Gasparilla Inn & Club reopens for its 107th season in October. Multi-generational families return year after year for its old-fashioned charm from the front porch’s rocking chairs to pastel, preppy décor. Its current stewards are doing a tremendous job in ensuring its placement within the Historic Hotels of America and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

As if one of my favorite West Coast getaways couldn’t get any better, its Gulf-side accommodations debut in winter. The Beach Cottages’ spacious residences feature full kitchens, elevators and two to four bedrooms. A new fitness center opens beforehand. Doubling its size makes room for a yoga studio and exercise pool as well as a Zen garden and pickleball courts to meet demand for the fast-growing pastime.

Visitors can still dine at the inn’s multiple venues in the meantime. The Pink Elephant serves dinner nightly and lunch on weekends. Popular items are Thai-spiced, tempura-fried grouper and signature, rum-laced ice cream cocktails for an after-dinner drink and dessert in one. The Outlet restaurant and Inn Bakery are more daytime options.

https://the-gasparilla-inn.com/

Bonus Tip: If you want to know where the tarpon are biting, call captain Tommy Locke. The champion fly-fishing guide and sixth-generation Floridian also helps clients catch good eating species such as snapper, grouper, pompano, redfish and trout from his ultra-nimble Chittum skiff. I’m hooked.

http://www.tommylockeoutdoors.com/

Pop by Gulf to Bay Sotheby’s, too.

https://www.gulftobaysothebysrealty.com/eng

Marco Island

Another fantastic destination on the Gulf of Mexico with big news is the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort. Its $320 million renovation premiered last year for a much more luxurious experience in line with Florida’s elevated hospitality scene. The top-to-bottom revamp introduced an adults-only tower, Paradise by Sirene, with 94 rooms and suites, rooftop pool and beach butlers. Its exclusive Tesoro restaurant’s spacious deck overlooks the Gulf for a Greek Isles vibe.

All guests are welcome at the new 10K Alley, a mega-entertainment zone with games for kids of all ages. The property also offers two nearby golf courses and is in the midst of replacing the turfgrass at its 36-hole Hammock Bay Golf Course designed by Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy. The $4.8 million project wraps up in October. The Robert Cupp, Jr.-designed Rookery at Marco course is available to play now.

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mrkfl-jw-marriott-marco-island-beach-resort/

Pop by Premier Sotheby’s, too.

https://www.premiersothebysrealty.com/

Florida Scenic Highway 30A

Dotted with new urbanist developments like Seaside and Rosemary Beach, this stretch of the Florida Panhandle wins accolades for its chic design mixed with laidback lifestyle. Home rentals range in all sizes, and every good and service are within walking distance to ditch the car upon arrival. Grab a beach cruiser and your beach chair and spend quality time with family and friends on one of the world’s most gorgeous swaths of sand.

In Seaside, browse the latest titles at Sundog Books, try on new swimsuits at Ophelia and share a bottle of vino and tapas at 45 Central Wine & Sushi Bar. In Rosemary Beach, sip stiff punch drinks on Pescado’s rooftop deck, shop Southern tastemaker Ashley Gilbreath’s home selection at Parish, and play tennis on the Racquet Club’s green clay courts. Both communities have outposts of Amavida Coffee & Tea for a caffeinated pick-me-up.

https://seasidefl.com/

https://rosemarybeach.com/

Pop by Scenic Sotheby’s, too.

https://www.scenicsir.com/

Chill Out with Cold Soups

By | Dining, Nutrition

When it’s too hot to even think about cooking, try a chilled soup.

These five recipes depart from well-worn classics like gazpacho and vichyssoise. Their interesting ingredients and bright colors take advantage of summer’s bounty and just might inspire you to create your own masterpiece with whatever you have on hand.

It’s cherry season, so I’m intrigued by Martha Rose Shulman’s healthier version of one of Eastern Europe’s signature soups. She decreases the amount of sugar and substitutes traditional heavy cream or sour cream with yogurt. Besides being tasty, its gorgeous pink hue is delightful.

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1013699-cold-cherry-soup

Summer is also synonymous with sweet corn. Though it’s amazing on the grill and plain boiled or steamed, why not whip those kernels into a frothy, fresh soup for supper? Martha Stewart adapted this sure-fire recipe from Basque blogger and cookbook author Aran Goyoaga. Top it with Maine lobster to be decadent.

https://www.marthastewart.com/1121843/chilled-corn-soup

Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, N.Y., pioneered the vegetarian scene, and its treasured cookbooks have inspired many home cooks for decades. This no-fuss peach soup can be jazzed up with a sprinkle of feta cheese, dollop of crème fraiche, swirl of berry coulis or dash of your favorite liqueur. It makes a great dessert or slushie, too.

https://moosewoodcooks.com/2015/08/peach-soup/

If you’re in the mood for Thai flavors, this spicy avocado cucumber soup from Food & Wine will do the trick. It stars many of the cuisine’s main ingredients like green curry paste, coconut milk, cilantro, lime and chiles, whose heat can be adjusted for your palate.

https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/spicy-avocado-cucumber-soup

Who doesn’t love an old-fashioned potato leek soup? It’s the base of this asparagus masterpiece that Charleston chef Kevin Johnson shared with Saveur magazine. Along with adding herbs from thyme to tarragon for depth, he tops servings with Old Bay-seasoned boiled shrimp. It’s like having the Lowcountry in a bowl.

https://www.saveur.com/chilled-asparagus-soup-with-herbed-shrimp-recipe/

Aspen Ascent

By | Art, Culture, Events, Music

The ski town’s cultural scene moves online for summer festivals and fundraisers.

Come summertime, South Floridians look forward to cooling off in the mountains, wherever their traditions may take them. Aspen, which has become a sister city to our region in many respects, is favored for its rare balance of nature and the outdoors with cosmopolitan perks from designer shopping to chef-driven dining to world-class culture. Though the pandemic has altered many of summer’s beloved festivals and fundraisers, cultural institutions are making the best of it with virtual events.

The Anderson Ranch Arts Center always hosts one of the biggest parties of the season at Hotel Jerome. This year is no exception, because the nonprofit in nearby Snowmass invites donors to attend its “Un-Gala” on July 16, from the comfort of their own homes. It will deliver a “bash-in-a-box” to your door filled with all kinds of whimsical surprises to sip and spark creativity throughout the evening that begins at 6 p.m. MST. Each open access pass includes a raffle ticket to win a drawing. Dozens of participating artists like Cindy Sherman, Walead Beshty, Enrique Martinez Celaya and Fred Tomaselli, among others, are donating works. Proceeds go toward operations and scholarship funds to promote diversity. For tickets, call 970.924.5067, or click here: https://www.andersonranch.org/event/un-gala/.

Anderson Ranch moved its 2020 Summer Series with conversations by artists, critics, collectors and curators online as well. Led by curator-in-residence Helen Molesworth, complimentary Zoom sessions kick off with Mark Grotjahn on July 2; the California native is known for his Butterfly and Face series of abstract, geometric paintings and drawings. Other speakers are Nicole Eisenman on July 9, Michael Shnayerson on July 21, Deana Lawson on July 23, Silke Otto-Knapp on July 30, Christiana Quarles on August 6, and Tavares Strachan on August 13.

The Aspen Music Festival and School also leaps from its iconic tent to the virtual realm from July 4 through August 23. Log on for complimentary live recitals, panel discussions and in-depth seminars, as well as a tribute to music director Robert Spano to celebrate his tenth anniversary with the organization on July 5. His star-studded performance features soprano Renée Fleming, pianist Yefim Bronfman, violinist Robert McDuffie, clarinetist Michael Rusinek and other musicians with long histories here. Expect plenty of guest speakers to share their memories of Spano, too. If you’re feeling charitable, please donate here:      http://www.aspenmusicfestival.com/support/contribution

 

Deana Lawson

Tavares Strachan

Robert Spano

Paradise Found

By | Florida Finds, Travel | No Comments

 Little Palm Island Resort & Spa reopens with the rest of the Florida Keys for the ultimate tropical escape.

Adorable Key deer, epic sunsets and some of the world’s best fishing are just a few reasons why the Florida Keys remain a top travel destination decade after decade. Closed to non-residents during the pandemic shutdown, the tropical archipelago reopened June 1. As a South Floridian, I’m grateful to have this healing haven in my backyard. There are so many exquisite resorts to stay from Key Largo to Key West, but Little Palm Island Resort & Spa stands out at this particular moment.

Not only did the four-acre luxury property owned by Noble House Hotels & Resorts debut its multimillion-dollar renovation in early March, but its very nature is tailor-made for social distancing. One must take a boat or floatplane to access the private oasis a couple miles off of Little Torch Key. The resort’s ferry can fetch you, or there’s complimentary dockage for 10 yachts. In addition to checking into one of 30 new thatched-roof bungalows, the entire resort is available for rent for extra-safe precautions—talk about the perfect setting to celebrate a wedding, graduation, family reunion and other milestones. Rates start at $250,000 for a 3-night minimum stay.

Though it’s tempting to bring the whole crew, Little Palm is known for couples’ getaways. The new dreamy décor picks up a West Indies thread, while some suite categories feature outdoor copper soaking tubs. It also gets a lot of points in the romance department for SpaTerre. Being shuttered since 2017 gave the spa team extensive time to research innovative treatments. Their new menu touches on beneficial discoveries in the wellness industry such as CBD-infused products and rose quartz stones. Several types of massages further include the Madrugada, where guests are submerged in water at sunrise. Facial fans can try the Biologiqué Rechérché Experience, which uses Cryo Sticks and microcurrent therapies.

With the redesign, the owners brought on Daniel Ganem as executive chef. Miami gourmets will recognize his name as formerly with the Betsy, an elegant boutique hotel in South Beach. He’s already become best buds with local farmers and fishermen for an eclectic, healthy menu that touches on the region’s international roots with Latin and Mediterranean influences. If you can’t visit quite yet, he shares the recipe for the resort’s signature welcome drink below. One sip of the Gumby Slumber, a refreshing summer cocktail anywhere, and you’re transported here in your mind until the real thing.

Little Palm Island’s Gumby Slumber

Ingredients: 

  • 1 part pineapple juice
  • 1 part cranberry juice
  • 1 part orange juice
  • 1 part Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
  • 1 part Parrot Bay Rum
  • Fresh coconut