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Half-century later, the Fontainebleau is a popular icon of Miami Beach.
The Fontainebleau is relaunching its iconic Hotel Fontainebleau. This famous hotel, which opened in 1954 and featured such notable guests as Walter Winchell, Fontainebleau’s mayor, France, and others, on an evening filled with deranged luxury in Miami Beach. Heidi Klum walks down the runway wearing bras, panties and three-foot wings in Fontainebleau, where once women dressed in diamonds and furs for dinner. Usher is doing an after-Sammy Davis Jr. look in a vest and bowler hat.
Mariah Carey, Terrence Howard, and Martha Stewart perform the next evening for an audience that also includes Kate Hudson and Gwyneth paltrow. George Hamilton and Deborah Harry are as close friends, as long lost in America’s fame club. With a help from a local Rabbi, Brett Ratner, a Miami Beach boy and Rush Hour director, the Fontainebleau’s front entrance mezuzah was installed.
Opening festivities as well as the actual hotel are close to Miami’s overloaded social scene. Jeffrey Soffer (a Miami developer) purchased the Fontainebleau in 2005. He is also the one responsible for opening the Fontainebleau Las Vegas casino hotel, which will have 3,800 rooms, later in the year. Soffer spent a cool billion dollars to purchase the Miami Beach Fontainebleau. The hotel is also home to high-end art and low-party culture, including bouncers and velvet ropes that guard the lobby during weekends. Everywhere is filled with glamour, including the Bleau Bar’s constant changing color, the spectacular chandeliers by Ai Weiwei, and sex: The Fontainebleau’s Vegas-like advertisements featuring nearly naked models in desperate abandonment poses is replicated in real life, as is the Fontainebleau’s property with sunbathing, topless sunbathing, and other such activities.
LIV is the new nightclub, which will be located in the old La Ronde clubhouse, where Frank Sinatra, the Rat Pack, would dazzle every high-roller back then. It’s a clear nod to the market for heiresses, with the Fontainebleau having lots of celebrity contacts and money. South Beach has been a Florida outpost of Vegas for years–and many hotels have become free-form nightclubs–but the Fontainebleau has used its power to orchestrate that something-is-about-to-break-loose illusion of Sin City: Paris Hilton, assorted young models, and controversial Bill Clinton confidante Ron Burkle making a splash in LIV; Jay-Z and Beyonce suddenly turning up in Blade Sushi Bar for a Tory Burch dinner.
Curiously though, hotel icons of the now-dead Rat Pack are still a powerful marketing tool. Solo’s cafe and pastry shop is decorated at Fontainebleau with Sinatra black-and-white Stills. In its early years, Miami Beach housed the Rat Pack as well as several illegal gambling venues. The Fontainebleau also invented the Las Vegas resort-hotel-a-go–go theme-park-as-a-go model. In the 1950s Steve Wynn was there, where his hotel-as theater concept started to take root.