Visions of an oceanfront resort in Miami Beach for me bring back luxurious pool scenes from famous movies and TV shows such as Goldfinger, Miami Vice, The Specialist and even Scarface. The “In” spot today continues to be the legendary Fontainebleau, which James Bond so aptly described as “the best hotel in Miami Beach.”


The resort

The Fontainebleau sits right on the emerald-green waters of the South Florida Atlantic in Miami Beach’s best neighborhood. When seen from the beach, it almost takes on the appearance of a giant cruise ship with its wavy design and upper-level balcony suites. Even if you were not staying here, it would be worth an hour or two just to walk the property and take in the avant garde people by its famous pool area. That is the first thing we did after check-in and the view was definitely exciting. Beautiful people in chic bathing attire listening to the latest dance music while they soak up the ever-present sun.

On this visit, we were fortunate to enjoy and oceanfront suite with a large balcony offering sweeping views of the Atlantic with the pool just below. The floor-to-ceiling windows and rectangular layout enhanced the experience. The furnishings were 5-star all the way, with comfortable down bedding and an oversized marble bathroom. The rooms even have their own iMac to keep you in touch.

While the ocean view is the most popular, the other side offers unobstructed views of the Intracoastal Waterway stretching all the way to downtown Miami, which is starting to rival Manhattan with its many new skyscrapers. This view hits you each time you visit the elevators, with a floor-to-ceiling window waiting area.

When you stay at the Fontainebleau, there is no reason to leave the property during your visit. The pools and beach will take up most of the day. Elegant Cabanas are available to rent that include large-screen TVs. At the beach guests can rent cabanas, umbrellas, chairs or get more adventurous with windsurfing and Jet Skis. FB Kids offers several multi-hour sessions for parents in need of a break. This is a well-run program, leaving your children wanting an encore.


The dining

The resort features a wide array of excellent dining choices sure to please any palate. For lunch we dined at Hakkasan, which has been voted the best Chinese restaurant in Miami. The contemporary Cantonese cuisine is as exotic as its décor. If you are lucky enough to be there over a weekend as we were, the Dim Sum lunch is served. The menu items include stir fry, soups, vegetables and dumplings either steamed or fried. The food and service was top-notch.

For dinner, we chose Scarpetta the Fontainebleau’s signature Italian restaurant overlooking the blue-green ocean water. Here, chef Scott Conant mixes a N.Y. Italian cuisine with touches one would expect in Miami, creating a memorable tasting experience. I was able to sample several of their best dishes and each was superb. This presentation started with Raw Yellowtail and Swordfish Bresalda, along with Creamy Polenta (truffled mushrooms). A bit later, duck and foie gras ravioli along with a tomato and basil spaghetti. The finishing touch was Diver Sea Scallops. Each dish was paired with the appropriate wine, ranging from Champagne to Chardonnay and Malbec. I would highly recommend either the 4- or 5-course Wine Pairing choice. The service was equal to the food, and GM Sol Alvarez is a great source for special needs at the hotel.


The nightlife

It is not surprising that the best hotel in Miami Beach with the best food also has the best nightclub. Liv is home to celebrities, VIPs and Miami’s party crowd is at the top of anyone’s club list here. The light show and sexy dancers provide an electric mood, which can be seen from the entire venue due to its unique design. DJ’s spin rock, hip hop and house music in a lavish environment spreading out more than 18,000 square feet. Arkadia is the newest club at the resort and also popular. Whether it is day or night, make sure to have a drink at Bleau, the signature lobby bar where all the interesting people of Miami Beach seem to pass by.