Fontainebleau: Luxury as a fantasy escape

This past weekend’s re-opening of the legendary Fontainebleau in Miami Beach invoked nostalgic images of style and glamour. One felt transported to other (better) times, in what I would call a “Great Escape” – a fantasy, which at the end of the day, is part of what travel is all about.

The temptation for Howard Karawan, Fontainebleau’s Chief Operating Officer, and his team could have been to go over the top – high on the bling quotient. However, they didn’t go there and created excitement and a buzz that respectfully resonated with today’s luxury consumer.  The story was about the recreation of a legend – the iconic architecture, the sensuality, and above all – the people.

I have executed and attended numerous high profile hotel and resort openings over the years, but seldom have I seen a better “people show.” And therein was one of the greatest reasons for the opening’s success. The crowd included the hipsters from New York and Miami, the art scene, celebs, models, a smattering of business and government leaders, the media, the young and the seasoned. Undoubtedly, it helped to host the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, the hottest ticket in town.

Also interesting to note, food and beverage literally took center stage. Before the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, guests were invited to a sampling of small plates from the soon-to-open restaurants – Gotham Steak, Scarpeta, La Cote and Hakkasan. The celeb chefs were on stage, interviewed by a local TV personality, with images broadcast simultaneously on large plasma screens. Guests were invited to come up on stage, partake of the evening’s signature dishes, interact with the star chefs, and be a part of the show – a novel twist on a food tasting.

It’s a tough time to open a luxury resort. Let’s hope they achieve the great success they deserve.

By: Karen Weiner Escalera

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