A Kimpton hotel might not only change the way you travel, but it also can change a neighbourhood.
That was the case in downtown Miami nearly a decade ago, according to Eric Jellson, area director of marketing & strategy at Kimpton Hotels Florida & Cayman Islands.
“Nine years ago, downtown Miami wasn’t exactly the type of place you’d vacation in,” Jellson told PAX in an interview on location in Miami, Florida.
A lot has changed in the Magic City since then, from the implementation of must-see murals and urban graffiti at Wynwood Walls to the opening of slick city institutions, such as the modern and contemporary Pérez Art Museum, Brickell City Centre, Marlins Park and, recently, the long-awaited 250,000-sq. ft. Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science.
Making downtown Miami epic
Essentially, people now have good reasons to explore downtown Miami – something the Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group saw coming when it opened the Kimpton EPIC Hotel, a waterfront boutique hotel located at the edge of the Miami River and Biscayne Bay, in December 2008.
The Kimpton EPIC is minutes away from all the things that are making downtown Miami cool right now. It was designed to be the Kimpton brand’s first luxury hotel and played a key role in pioneering the gentrification of Miami’s downtown core, Jellson told PAX.
“Our ability to set up shop as a flagship was a great opportunity to take us to the next level of luxury,” Jellson said.
Elements of art, design and urban sophistication are prominent throughout EPIC’s modern, dark-toned lobby, where, at the time of our visit, a portrait of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld hung prominently and boldly.
The Kimpton EPIC has a club level, a private marina (you can park your yacht right out front), the internationally-renowned modern Japanese restaurant, Zuma, and 15,000 stylish sq. ft. of meeting space.
With 411 guestrooms, 24 one-bedroom corner suites and 24 junior suites, the hotel successfully lives up to its name. Every room has a spacious balcony, offering epic views of the Miami River, sparkling Biscayne Bay, South Beach and Miami’s glowing skyline sunsets (depending on the direction you face).
The hotel’s beds, notably, are draped with incredibly soft Frette triple Italian sheeting. If there’s such thing as an epic sleep, it’s going to happen here.
While you might be in the heart of champagne-popping Miami, there’s something quiet and serene about staying at EPIC, given the property’s proximity to the water, which creates a sense of openness and airiness to every room. Nothing about the stay felt contrived or boxed-in, as can be the case with some city hotels.
Sitting 16 floors up is a 13,752 sq. ft. , wrap-around pool deck with two swimming pools and 10 private cabanas (premium cabanas, which overlook the pool and feature a plasma TV, are available for daily rental).
“Something that’s epic is not only colossal, but also iconic and long-lasting,” Jellson said, explaining the meaning behind the hotel’s name.
Staying at the Kimpton EPIC can be a seriously epic experience – even if the hotel doesn’t take itself too seriously. “Epic can also refer to one’s hero,” Jellson said, pointing out that the meeting rooms on EPIC’s 14th floor are named after comic book references. One ballroom is named “Metropolis” (the fictional city from Superman) while another is named “Gotham” (Batman’s hometown).
From Miami to Grand Cayman
If downtown Miami needed a hero to thank in its ongoing revitalization, the Kimpton EPIC might be it. When staying there, you simply don’t want to leave – a feeling that resonates over to another neighbourhood-changing property in the Kimpton portfolio, the new Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa in Grand Cayman.
Opening its doors in November 2016, the Kimpton Seafire, at the time of our visit, was the first Cayman resort to be built in a decade. It marks a new chapter in Grand Cayman’s hospitality biz since Hurricane Ivan passed over Grand Cayman in September 2004, battering the community with strong winds and wrecking many resort beachfronts.
“The island was ready for a new development,” Steven Andre, general manager at the Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa, told PAX in an interview at the property.
Named after the blazing sunsets that light up the Caribbean property every evening, the Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa represents the company’s first international luxury resort, so expect the service to go that extra mile.\
The rockstar treatment
You’re made to feel like a rockstar the moment you arrive as staff, dressed in the most fashionable uniforms I’ve ever seen at a hotel, greet you with pearly white smiles and champagne.
Just a one-hour flight away from Miami, the property dramatically unfolds over levels of colourful tropical gardens, from the open-air lobby grounds (elevated 24 ft. above sea level so that the Caribbean Sea is never out of sight), down to spacious pools, oceanfront bungalows and beach facilities that span nearly 500 ft. along Grand Cayman’s famous Seven Mile Beach.
The hotel’s rustic-meets-modern design is noteworthy, incorporating bright botanical palettes that blend into sandy weathered woods, driftwood sculptures and stones. Steps from the lobby is a trendy library where the Seafire’s Caymanian catboat, Miss Ola, hangs suspended from the room’s ceiling. It’s here where guests meet daily for complimentary wine, beer and hors d'oeuvres.
Nearly all of the 266 guest rooms and suites at Seafire (which is one of the tallest buildings in Grand Cayman) offer views of the Caribbean Sea or the North Sound.
For a more exclusive stay, there’s one-to-two bedroom bungalows, which offer six additional suites with intimate beach and pool views and perks, such as chilled champagne on arrival and a reserved cabana for each day of stay. If you want to spoil a bridal party, this is where to do it.
The Culinary Capital of the Caribbean
Ave, Avecita and Coccoloba, Kimpton Seafire’s three restaurants, bring a unique flair to Grand Cayman, which is often heralded as the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean (the market ceviche, tuna loin and crispy octopus at Ave, Seafire’s main eatery, are to die for). “[The hotel] is about people who really love the island and want to experience it in a special way,” Andre told PAX. “I think what we’ve added to that is going to take it a step up.”
Whether operating in Miami or The Cayman Islands, this is something Kimpton knows how to do well.