The Cadillac Hotel in Miami Beach Mixes Old with Sleek
By Janet K. Keeler
Luxury hotels in Miami Beach are sexy, and you can count the Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club among the curvy Art Deco darlings. The Cadillac Hotel is in the club of famous Miami Beach hotels that chalk up their come-hither magnetism to architecture.
Attentive service and classy amenities like those offered at the Cadillac Hotel Miami Beach add to the attraction.
The Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club, Autograph Collection, in mid Miami Beach is a refurbished holdover of the Art Deco design movement that gave Miami Beach its reputation as America’s Riviera. Starting in the 1920s and lasting through the 1930s, a string of hotels and apartment complexes was built alongside the Atlantic Ocean. That’s just one era of distinctive design of Miami Beach hotels; another came post-World War II. The Miami Modern movement is often referred to as MiMo.
Built in 1940, the Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club is sandwiched between the two architecture movements.
Whether you’re an architecture buff or just want a piece of Miami Beach sand to throw out a blanket, the Cadillac Hotel, part of the Independent Collection Hotels & Resorts portfolio, is a luxurious place to unpack for a long weekend or longer week.
Realtor Miriam Bolber, who specializes in luxury properties with The Agency in Florida and California, likes the Cadillac Hotel’s primo location from which to explore the clubs, restaurants and shops of the barrier island. Miami Beach may be called a beach but it actually is an island, connected to mainland Miami by several bridges.
Mid Miami Beach is quieter than South Beach, which is a few blocks south, she says. Plus, it’s an easy walk to the legendary Fontainebleau and Eden Roc hotels and many restaurants and nightclubs.
Or, Bolber says, “stay close to the hotel and treat yourself to their fun array of cocktails and food offered at their indoor modern bar with plenty of comfy lounge-y sofas to unwind.” Bolber is referring to the Cadillac Hotel’s swanky Lobby Bar.
The Cadillac Hotel is also close to the Miami Beach Boardwalk and its “awesome” running, walking, in-line skating and (partial) biking path, Bolber says. The boardwalk runs between the beach and the back of the buildings on the east side of Collins Avenue for about 40 blocks. When finished, the boardwalk will be seven miles long.
Get your exercise in, she suggests, then grab chairs on the beach behind the Cadillac. Or stretch out on a lounge chair at the pool at the Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club, order a mojito and soak up the luxury. You are on vacation. It’s Miami Beach, and it’s hard not to feel the sexy vibes at the Cadillac Hotel.
Renovation Money Well Spent
A $47 million renovation closed the Cadillac Hotel for a year starting in 2017. When it reopened in 2018, the 357-room hotel was a gleaming statement on how vintage can be glamorous thanks to attention to detail and dedication to history. For example, the lobby’s original terrazzo floors remain and are now shining again, embedded with bits of granite, marble and glass to create geographic patterns.
Terrazzo flooring was a mid-century Florida staple in many homes and public spaces. They were often covered over with carpet or wood flooring but are now being uncovered and restored. Nothing screams Florida beach hotels and homes like terrazzo, which can be easily swept clean of sand tracked in after a day at the beach. Plus, it’s cool on bare feet.
The floors also make a good base for the clickey-clack of the impossibly high heels that are part of the Miami Beach fashion scene. Listen for them as you hang out in the Cadillac Hotel’s restored lobby, or maybe join them on the way to the club.
Cadillac Hotel Trivia
Tuck this piece of information away for when you are playing Miami Beach trivia. Better yet, use it to come up with a question if you’re the host.
The cursive lettering of the word Cadillac on the front of the hotel will make you think of the classic luxury car. But while it may look like the logo from the Detroit car company, the hotel and the brand are not associated at all. On the original Cadillac Hotel, the lettering of the name was quite boxy.
Antoine Cadillac founded Detroit in 1701 and the car company named for him came along in 1902. As you can imagine, the Great Depression did a number on sales and maybe by the time the Cadillac Hotel in Miami Beach was built in 1940, there wasn’t the money or inclination to go after a copyright infringement lawsuit.
The architect of the Cadillac Hotel in Miami Beach was Roy F. France, who is credited with helping to build the area’s iconic Miami Beach skyline. He was born in Minnesota but designed buildings in Chicago before relocating to Florida, like so many Midwesterners before and since.
He doesn’t appear to have had a direct relationship with Detroit, but by 1940 he would have known of the luxury that the name Cadillac evoked.
Regardless, the name remains and the hotel delivers on the promise of luxury.
A Renovation for Modern Tastes
Realtor Bolber is familiar with Miami Beach and environs since it is one of the areas that she specializes in for her work. She is also a frequent traveler and stays in a lot of hotels, domestically and around the world.
The 2018 renovation spiffed up the Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club quite a bit. The footprint of the Cadillac Hotel is a rare thing on Mid Miami Beach. It takes up an entire block, which is why there was room to add a second tower in 2011. That expanded the number of rooms. “Everything feels clean and with a more modern feel,” she says.
The lobby is all tropical foliage and upholstered furniture set about to create cozy corners to talk. It’s a nice place to wait for a date or your room if you’ve arrived too early. Better yet, stow your luggage and ask for a place to change into your bathing suit. It’s time for a swim. Take the family to the iconic and massively long outdoor pool that has Art Deco bump outs at each end. Or, head to the Cabana Pool for an adults-only swim.
The Cadillac Hotel has direct access to the beach and that may be where you find yourself for much of your stay. The waves crash gently there, and remember that the Cadillac has an entire block of beachfront. Staff will set up covered lounge chairs with towels provided. Food and drink are just an order way. Consider a cool Watermelon Mule with a ginger kick and grab a bottle of water, too.
It’s smart to bring sunscreen — this is America’s tropics after all — but don’t worry about hauling snorkels and masks all the way from home. Rent them from the Cadillac but — bonus! — children’s beach toys are for use for free.
The Cadillac Hotel Loves Your Pets, Too
Perhaps you don’t have human children in tow and are thankful for the adults-only pool. However, your precious Pomeranians have come along for pampering. The Cadillac Hotel is pet friendly and you can have two fur babies with you in your room, as long as they each weigh less than 75 pounds.
Ask the hotel concierge for the Cadillac’s guide to pet friendly businesses and areas nearby and be happy that a luxurious Waggo bed is provided for each pet. Now, you can stretch out in your own bed.
The Cadillac’s attention to pets scores big points with Bolber, who brought her pup Sparkles to the Cadillac. It was a good place to grab some photos of Sparkles for her Instagram page, Sparkles Is Fancy.
“She was treated as much of a VIP as we were,” she says.
Pets or no pets, the refreshed rooms are a haven for relaxation after a day on the water or exploring. They’re sleek places decorated in blues and grays that mimic the scene outside.
You can get a city or ocean-view room but remember that the ocean side will be pitch black when the sun goes down save for the lights of passing tankers or cruise ships in the distance. On other side, you’ll see city lights and the goings on down below.
In the evening, give the pets a smooch and head for Donna Mare, which serves Italian trattoria dishes such as risotto, wood-fired pizza and baked pasta classics. Children are welcomed and the restaurant also serves breakfast.
If you’re looking for the ultimate in luxury, book the Cadillac Suite with its 1,000-square-foot terrace. It’s the perfect place for an intimate gathering or a romantic spot all your own to watch the sun go down with your honey. And when the sun sets and you tire of the Miami Beach night seen, watch a movie in the home theater system.
You might see Pal Joey with Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak. It was filmed in 1957 at the Cadillac. They weren’t the first stars to be sighted at the hotel. After World War II, Jackie Gleason, Nat King Cole and Ann-Margret were guests at the Cadillac.
Going Beyond the Cadillac Hotel
Walk the beach by day. Stroll Collins Avenue by night. There’ll be enough action in both places to entertain you for however long you stay at the Cadillac Hotel.
Get acquainted with the routes of the Collins Avenue Trolley to get to nearby Miami Beach sites. There’s a stop close to the entrance of the hotel.
If you’re more about water action than frolicking in the surf, consider a fishing charter or other water sports activities. In-shore or deep-sea fishing excursions can be booked with a number of companies. The Fishing Booker lists more than 140 charters and you can find one suited for you by plugging in the date you want to go.
Trophy fish such as sailfish, marlin and tarpon are caught in these waters, along with good-eating fish grouper, snapper, sea trout and so many others. Charters are full day or half and cleaning your fish may be included. Ask charter operators for restaurants that will cook the catch for you.
Watersports Miami Beach can get you rumbling across the water on a personal watercraft, such as a Jet Ski, or help you get a bird’s-eye view of Miami Beach via parasailing. The Cadillac Hotel concierge can provide guidance on water-sports activities.
One of the best ways to learn about Miami Beach Art Deco architecture is to take a walking tour of South Beach. Miami’s biggest collection of Art Deco buildings is from South Pointe Park north to 23rd Street. You’ll learn on the tour that Miami’s interpretation of Art Deco is inspired by the sea and nautical themes, which is why so many buildings have what looks to be ship smokestacks and portholes, and railings that evoke cruise ships.
The Miami Design and Preservation League also offers other walking tours of South Beach focusing on it Jewish history and LGBTQ contributions to the area.
Then head back to the Cadillac Hotel and its Lobby Bar for a thoroughly modern Miami cocktail of rum, pineapple juice and coconut water. If you’re there on Friday and Saturday night, a DJ will be orchestrating the Miami Beach vibe. Just in case you’ve forgotten where you are.