Last updated: 06:00 PM ET, Sat April 09 2016

Miami Heats Up

The city is in the midst of a new tourism wave, adding hotels, restaurants and clubs.

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Miami Heats Up

PHOTO: Miami Beach at sunset. (via Flickr/Boss Tweed)

Miami is attracting more visitors than ever, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, which reported a 5.4 percent increase in overnight visitors during the September 2014-August 2015 period. During that time the destination welcomed 15.1 million overnight visitors, up from 14.2 million over the same period for 2014. But Miami is not standing still in its efforts to remain one of the top tourism destinations in the U.S. The city is in the midst of yet another wave of tourism refurbishment, with a number of new hotels, restaurants, clubs and attractions opening in the past year and much more to come in the next two years. Much of that development also is linked to a refurbished convention center set to debut in two years.

Where to Meet: The $615 million Miami Beach Convention Center expansion and renovation project, which will replace the current center that first opened in 1958, is poised to make Miami a top-ranked meetings and convention center once again. Construction began in phases in December, with the center scheduled for completion by late 2018. It will feature 505,000 square feet of exhibition space, a 60,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom, three 20,000-squarefoot junior ballrooms, 59,000 square feet of breakout meeting spaces, 806 on-site rooftop parking spaces, and an additional 12 acres of surrounding parks and landscaped areas. A new 900-room hotel that will be linked to the convention facility is being planned as well. Projected to be the largest in the Miami Beach area, the property still must be approved by Miami voters in a March referendum, so it most likely won’t open until 2019 or 2020.

Where to Stay: Miami is set to welcome an additional 2,300 hotel rooms this year. Among them is the new Faena Hotel Miami Beach, which opened in December 2015 with 169 rooms. The property, spanning three blocks along Collins Avenue just south of the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, is part of the billion-dollar Faena Arts District project created by Argentine developer Alan Faena. Highlights include the Faena Hotel, Faena House (a 24-story building with 47 ocean-view luxury residences), Faena Forum (a cultural center), Faena Arts¢er, Faena Bazaar and Artists-in-Residence Center, Faena Park, a Marina and gardens.

READ MORE: Take a Bite Out of Miami’s Foodie Scene

Elsewhere the new EAST-Miami Hotel will open in winter 2016 in the heart of the new Brickell City Center complex near downtown Miami. The $1.05 billion project includes three office buildings, two residential towers, shopping and dining center. Miami World Center in Downtown Miami is slated to be one of the largest private master-planned projects in the U.S. at $2 billion. It will include retail, restaurants, entertainment, residential and commercial offerings plus a 1,800-room Marriott Hotel with a 600,000-square-foot expo center.

New South Beach boutique hotels that have opened in the past year include the Edition Miami Beach, the 1 Hotel, and SIXTY Hotels’ 250-room Nautilus Miami Beach, all located on Collins Avenue on the beachside. Farther up the beach, the Carillon Miami Beach is undergoing a complete refurbishment. Room renovations have been completed, a new restaurant, Thyme, has been introduced, and public spaces will be revamped by this fall. New hotel development also isn’t confined to the higher end of the market. Last year Starwood opened the Aloft Miami Beach, a property that reflects the Miami Beach vibe, including a two-level lobby, pool and an adjacent top-chef restaurant. Meanwhile, Hyatt opened its own mid-market property, the 105-room Hyatt Centric South Beach, just to the south on Collins Avenue.

Where to Party: LIV Miami, located in the Fontainebleau, is widely considered to be Miami Beach’s top nightclub these days, which of course means big crowds, celebrity sightings and some of the world’s best DJs. But if you can’t get in there, there are lots of alternatives just down the beach, including Story Nightclub, which has a huge floor space, great DJs and its own chic crowd, and Icon Miami, a new club (formerly known as Mansion) that opened last year in an Art Deco theater on Washington Avenue. For a change of pace, try Treehouse, a subterranean Miami Beach club with jungle theme and techno music, and Baoli Miami, a nightclub and Asian restaurant.

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Vacation Agent Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the February 2016 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.