Barry Sternlicht, the chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group and a member of the Interior Design Hall of Fame, needs no introduction, as they say. Will Meyer and Gray Davis, meanwhile, know a thing or two about hotel and restaurant design. Put these heavy hitters together, and you have a championship team in the competition to redefine luxury hospitality. Proof positive is a new brand, 1 Hotel, launched with a flagship in Miami Beach. “The luxury of enough,” as Meyer calls it, is the essence of the brand, which seeks to make its name synonymous with eco-consciousness.
The site of 1 Hotel South Beach, technically over the border in quieter Mid-Beach, stretches a full city block with 600 feet of Atlantic Ocean beachfront. Meyer Davis Studio was charged with transforming the lower eight stories of the 1968 building, for the hotel, while the upper eight became apartments. The 426 key count remains roughly equal to what it had been. But that’s about all that’s left. “We paid homage to the natural landscape of south Florida,” Meyer notes—versus the art deco razzle-dazzle typically associated with the area. In keeping with Sternlicht’s overall vision of sustainability, moves large and small rack up literal and figurative points in the quest for LEED Silver certification. Uses of reclaimed wood represent a virtual forest preserved. Dialing down to details, Meyer and Davis specified organic bed linens, hemp mattresses, and clothes hangers molded from recycled paper. Bedside note pads have disappeared in favor of chalkboards.
“From the second floor down, we gutted everything, even reconfiguring the street presence,” Davis says. Guests now pull up beneath a porte cochere in reclaimed redwood. To the side, a massive numeral one, sculpted from pink coral stone, rises from a reflecting pool. With that kind of signage, there’s no mistaking the message—and it comes through even clearer just steps inside. How about the lobby’s 20-by-30-foot mural of a swimmer, rendered in live moss growing through slits in a white-painted wall?
The lobby also presents an innovative model for the programming of public space. One large see-and-be-seen venue? Old hat for this team. Instead, beyond the double-height entry, the ceiling drops to a grottolike level for the reception area, where the hulking desk’s live-edge oak top rests on a gnarled teak-root base, and an absolute jungle of real greenery looms. But much more daunting than this straight-ahead progression was a perpendicular axis extending 130 feet. Meyer and Davis responded by splitting it in two. Narrower and more utilitarian is a corridor dedicated to guests with suitcases en route to the elevators. “It takes luggage out of the lobby equation,” Meyer explains. Allowing for the inclusion of more beautiful furnishings in the wider, parallel gallery, since they’re not in danger of getting banged up.
He and Davis conceived the gallery as a continuum of intimate seating groups along a central circulation route. Paola Navone sofas, armchairs, and ottomans are all slipcovered in white—impossibly chic. As Davis says, “There’s a relaxed peacefulness. Barry referenced toes in the sand.” One side of the gallery is raised on a platform. On the other, banyan tree trunks, painted white, tower between the groups, which can also be separated by gauzy white curtains.
The ostensible reason for strutting down this white-on-white catwalk is to reach the bar at the far end: Tom on Collins, not only a pun on lemony gin cocktails and the hotel’s Collins Avenue address but also a wink at Tom Colicchio, the star chef whose restaurant Beachcraft is behind the bar. The dining room, downstairs, is furnished with beachy wicker chairs and teak-topped tables. Above, a rugged-luxe lounge features Mexican-style chairs with saddle-leather seats and floor lamps with bases made from mangrove roots.
For many guests, luxury means choice, hence the four swimming pools. For others the one true luxury is space. Guest rooms and suites, at 700 square feet and larger, have plenty of it—in a palette that’s plenty soothing. “Wood, sand, and ocean tones,” Davis says, appropriately riff on the real versions seen through the windows. In the spacious bathrooms, what looks like floorboards is actually porcelain tile. Planks cladding accent walls behind some beds and lining the portals that help break up the long guest corridors are driftwood gray but turn out to be reclaimed beetle-kill pine. “A blight killed a lot of trees in Colorado,” Meyer says. Convenience is luxurious, too. Should a guest need to venture to the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall for a bikini, 1 Hotel South Beach has a fleet of battery-powered white Teslas at the ready.
Project Team: Grace Escano; Michael Casey; Kristen Cochran; Mei Lau; Patrick Martin; Lauren Williams: Meyer Davis Studio. Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design: Architect Of Record. Edsa: Landscaping Consultant. Kugler Ning Lighting Design; L’observatoire International: Lighting Consultants. Tga Design: Graphics Consultant. Desimone Consulting Engineers: Structural Engineer. Kimley-Horn And Associates: Civil Engineer. Steven Feller P.E., Pl: Mep. Advanced Millwork; Genesis Hospitality Corporation; IFR Studio: Woodwork. Jose Leal Enterprises: Drapery Workshop. Alternative Constructors: Concrete Contractor. First Finish; Plaza Construction: General Contractors.