Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Phenomenon of South Beach

I was in South Beach last week sharing Bob Isherwood’s induction into the Clio Hall of Fame and his Lifetime Achievement Award. I’ve been going to South Beach for around 15 years now and boy, is it booming. Ian Schrager and the Delano kicked it off around a decade ago, and now everybody is in on the act. This time I stayed at the Setai, which has delivered laid-back Indonesian chic to Florida. In the meantime, Philippe Starck is cleaning up, the Shore Club continues to rage, the renovated Raleigh offers one of the most intimate secret bars in town, and the Sagamore can be counted among the great art gallery/hotels in the world. Now, Giuseppe Cipriani is getting into the act; building a resort and apartment complex a few blocks from the Setai. This is branding at its ultimate. Taking what started in 1931 as Harry’s Bar in Venice, the Cipriani concept of sophisticated style, tradition and luxury has inspired restaurants in London and Hong Kong, as well as all over New York, and is now transforming into a fantastic lifestyle experience in Miami. These guys can teach all of us something about creating global luxury brands by their use of smart brand extensions, meaningful, long-term equities, and adjacencies with real potential. If you are between 21 and 30, South Beach is not to be missed. What the hell I was doing there is beyond me.