I was excited to experience FAENA Buenos Aires after first experiencing their Miami property under construction last December. Faena is genius, always transforming locations into hip new areas with their interesting design, surprising flourishes, and their impressive arts programs. The Faena areas turn into cultural districts, going above and beyond simply contemporary accommodations. But… accommodations they do have. There is a modern grandness to Faena you instantly feel as you walk through the red carpet entrance of this turn-of-the-20th-century grain warehouse turned stylish Buenos Aires hot spot. I loved the contrast of the old industrial brick building to the sleek glamour of Faena. Accented in red and white, I couldn’t help but think of the creator of this “universe” as they call it, Alan Faena. One of the most stylish men in the world, he is always in white and surrounded in red roses. I can see so much of him personally in this space and I like the intimacy of his specific identity and vision showing through.
Walking into the guest room, I was charmed by how they positioned the bed: floating in the center at a diagonal angle, covered in fantastic crisp white bedding that was a dream to sleep on. The best part for me though was the extra-large soaking bathtub. It was the perfect medicine to ease the pain of my last night out in Buenos Aires (if you saw my snap story you know what I mean…).
Knowing Alan and his style, it was to no surprise to find a completely white formal dining room adorned with white unicorns and an exquisite tasting menu. The wine cellar, directly below the restaurant underground, is another example of the balance between old industrial and new design. It was here we had a romantic tasting of all Argentinean wines, my favorite being the organic biodynamic option from Patagonia.
They say you can’t go to Buenos Aires and not see a tango show—so here we were, at Faena, with what has been declared the best and least touristy show in the city and I have to say, it was fabulous… but now I’m slightly obsessed with tango, too. The club was a perfect little cabaret size, with a live band and gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous dancers. Afterwards, outside the bustling Library Lounge, we sat on red cushions around the pool adorned in a golden crown fountain and reflected on this amazing city, so rich in culture and life and felt grateful to dance into other people’s worlds so far away from our own.
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Before Miami, the name Alan Faena didn’t mean much to me… that is until I stepped into his world. The suave Argentine man who always dresses in white has a Gatsby-eque mystery about him. Where did he come from? What are his plans? What is he thinking? Over the course of Art Basel he hosted the most beautiful asados, a South American tradition of barbecue, with the famed Patagonia-raised, French trained Chef Francis Mallmann. Chef Mallmann uses every aspect of the fires: from the flames to the thick smoke and smoldering ashes, a style of cooking he grew up with in Patagonia hanging around the gaucho cowboys with their simple way of life. He has now taken it all over the world including, on this day, the spectacular seaside of Miami.
So here we are at this beautiful asado on Miami Beach where Alan Faena has choreographed a collection of artist collaborations, celebrity friends, and world media for one big purpose- to talk about his vision for FAENA Miami, a new cultural district covering six city blocks complete with a hotel, shopping bazaar, multiple restaurants, arts center and the most exclusive condos in Miami with asking prices starting at $50 million. Just to paint a small picture of what is to come, filmmaker Baz Luhrmann and his wife Catherine Martin have been enlisted to remake the 1940’s Saxony Hotel which I can only imagine will be… spectacular, spectacular.
If this new Miami cultural district is anything like what Mr. Faena already built in Buenos Aires, this might set a new bar stateside of hospitality and experience.
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Our creative crew went down to Miami during Art Basel and took up residence on Miami Beach’s Casa Claridge Hotel. Built in the 1930s originally as El Paraiso Apartments, the now very small and intimate hotel is a playful mix of historic Spanish architecture and Miami’s modern art scene. All around the hotel you’ll find collaborations with mid-career Miami based artists, part of a program called ELEVATE that Alan Faena, the hotel’s owner and visionary behind the Faena Art District, which the hotel is a part of, created to promote engaging the public in art and its creation.
My favorite part of the hotel was the “living room”, the common area under a sun filled atrium in the center of the building all the rooms face. Here is where you could relax and read the paper, get inspiration from any of the hundreds of art books lining the walls around you, or finish your evening with a cocktail on the cozy couches with old friends and new acquaintances. We loved this room so much, Kelly & I used it for a shoot!
As I sit here in New York on this winter day I love looking back at these sun filled images and remembering the afternoons in the sand and nights of Casa Claridge magic….
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