When the iconic InterContinental Miami was built on Chopin Plaza in downtown Miami 30 years ago, there wasn’t a skyscraper in sight.
Now this mainstay in the city’s financial district, which grew up around it, has also become an anchor in a burgeoning arts and sports district. Miami’s reputation for international business and culture has risen to the point where it is known not only for its Pan-Latin roots but as a truly global destination.
What better timing then, for a $30 million investment to transform the hotel into a first-choice meeting property for corporate planners and others, particularly in the financial, medical, and automotive fields. The cranes that were stilled midway through development during the 2007–2008 recession have long since been replaced with new cranes and new development. Brazilians are particularly attracted to Miami, said General Manager Robert B. Hill, and hotel stats prove that the city has come back full force.
“Our occupancy levels have exceeded our 2007 levels,” said Hill recently. Already in 2013, corporate meeting business is up 10 percent over last year, added Mike Kovensky, director of sales.
Hill is extremely proud that celebrity chef Richard Sandoval has opened his first U.S. outpost of Toro Toro, his take on a Pan Latin contemporary steakhouse, in Miami. Toro Toro debuted in Dubai and its second location will be in Washington, D.C. Its chef’s table, Table 40, with one entire side glass that overlooks the kitchen, is available for private parties of up to 14 for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is a brilliant way to break bread and connect.
Hill added that the InterContinental brand is known for infusing the local culture and community into its fabric. “It’s all about creating local experiences and getting to know the city through our hotels. We want to offer a unique perspective, to be able to give the flavor of Miami by capturing its pulse.”
The hotel group has done a good job of that by pouring $10 million into lighting and technology alone. A digital canvas encompassing thousands of LED lights stretches up 19 of the hotel’s 34 stories and its images can be seen at night from miles around. On the weekend I visited, the display was a silhouette of a lovely woman ready to go out on the town. The vibrant colors evoke the colorful spirit, fashion, food, and elegance that Miami is becoming so well known for.
Even the Times Square–style LED marquee at the entrance of the hotel is customizable for groups. Take advantage of the 18 LCD screens throughout the lobby and meeting levels, which allow you to feature your group’s or your sponsors’ messaging. And—quite literally at the warm touch of a hand—your attendees will enjoy viewing menus, maps of Miami, and other options via interactive coffee tables as they wait for colleagues in the lobby before heading for drinks or to dinner at the amazing Toro Toro.
“The lobby is created for networking,” said Hill, which bodes well for meeting attendees gathering before or after their meetings, held just one level above or below. The 101,000 square feet of meeting space includes the magnificent Grand Ballroom with a view of the water; it is so flexible that three meetings going on simultaneously during my recent visit flowed seamlessly.
Situated on Biscayne Bay, with gorgeous views of the Atlantic and close-ups of the busy Port of Miami’s cruiseliners just across the bay, the hotel’s location offers planners a plaza or pool area for outdoor events. Or you can take advantage of the amphitheater in nearby Bayfront Park.
Book an event at the American Airlines Arena, home of the Miami Heat NBA team; or ballet, orchestra, or other performance at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. Soon to come in the thriving cultural district is the Miami Art Museum and the Miami Science Museum, both new tenants in Museum Park.
Well behind the scenes, but well worth a mention, is the InterContinental Hotel Group’s commitment to sustainability through its “Green Engage” program, which includes single-stream recycling bins in all guest rooms. “All lighting is compact or low LED,” said Hill, and the hotel is the number-one green energy purchaser in Florida.
The hotel retains its world-class spa and rooftop pool and restaurant, which top off this venue’s universal appeal.