Last updated: 09:20 AM ET, Wed November 30 2016

South Florida Style at St. Regis Bal Harbour

Hotel & Resort Scott Laird November 29, 2016

South Florida Style at St. Regis Bal Harbour

Photo courtesy St. Regis Bal Harbour. All other photos by Scott Laird.

The elevators at the St. Regis Bal Harbour are smarter than I am. Hold a key card up against the sensor and the screen will prompt you to a numbered elevator which will whisk you automatically to the floor for your room: no buttons necessary. If you’ve booked a suite, the elevator’s second door will know to open instead, depositing you into the private lobby of your suite.  I was floored. I was at another luxury hotel soon after that, and all I could think about at that property was that the elevator wasn’t smart enough to know who I was and where I was going like it was at the St. Regis.

Now, elevators aren’t the only feature worth crowing about here. The hotel also has a spectacular location going for it – beachfront in tony Bal Harbour, right across from the luxury fashion temple Bal Harbour Shops, and steps away from the beach, just past the two infinity pools.

The lobby itself is built as a long corridor designed in a series of rooms—deliberately done to evoke the intimacy of a private home. Towering ceilings, polished stone floors, and whimsical flower displays underline the idea of luxury—but with a distinct South Florida flavor instead of the beaux-arts button-up of the celebrated 1904 original.

Guest rooms are generously sized, distinctly designed in a way to maximize both the feeling and function of space to spare. Standard rooms feel palatial, with Olympic bathrooms with separate WC and expansive balconies. All the rooms are angled to the ocean so each one in the building has an ocean view.

When I visited, the hotel had just opened a new dining concept in Atlantikós, where Chef Anastasios Chasekioglou swims upstream against a flood of South Florida fusion restaurants with sort of a single inspiration concept that’s refreshingly pure. There’s some gorgeous seafood to be had here, and food that is oh-so-Greek. Think lots of oily, salty fishes, lemons, succulent peppers and earthy vegetables and rich yogurts. I had a whole Aegean Wild Seabream cooked in parchment with fennel, garlic, spring onion, dill, sun-dried Santorini tomatoes, and extra virgin olive oil which was presented whole and then carved tableside. The parchment really steeps the fish in the aromatics, and the flavor fairly burst forth with each bite.

The dining atmosphere is definitely that sort of white-walled Miami cool, but Greek touches abound from the prints worn by the wait staff, and on the upholstery to the blue fish embroidery on the soft white napkins, to the azure glass table tops – it’s easy to feel transported to the shores of the Aegean.

There’s also a bar and sushi lounge, where the nightly champagne sabering happens (as it does nightly at each St. Regis) and the hotel’s signature bloody mary can be enjoyed (that’s another brand standard). In Bal Harbour, the variation on the theme is the Bal Harbour Bloody Sunrise, which adds clamato, fresh key lime, and a key lime ice cube to the mix pioneered by a bartender at the St. Regis New York in 1934.

Rounding out the restaurants is BH Burger Bar, a more casual dining concept with build-your-own gourmet burgers in a relaxed, oceanfront atmosphere with a sports game on the television, largely in response to guest feedback, I’m told (even at several hundred dollars per night there’s still unsurprisingly a desire to go casual a few nights on vacation).

The Remède Spa is fairly standard, appearing in other St. Regis properties, although the couples massage suite with the giant bathtub is particularly welcoming.

Takeaway: Regis Bal Harbour effectively blends the best of the brand with the particular spirit of the neighborhood—the best address in the city, as each St. Regis property purports to occupy. Spectacularly done.

Rooms From: I haven’t really seen rates much less than around $550 per night.

Instagrammable Moment: The view from any guest room balcony is sure to garner some engagement.

Don’t Miss: Atlantikós. It’s as Greek as you’ll get this side of Mykonos.