By Trip Styler, on February 12, 2014

Heating up Miami, couples-style

Like a Victoria’s Secret angel, South Beach, in Miami, is sexy 24 hours a day. Barring the South of France’s yacht- and celeb-lined shores, I’ve never encountered a destination pumping so much X-factor into the atmosphere. Add in a sunset stroll-worthy beach, low-lit cocktail bars, and a racy legacy dating back to Marilyn Monroe, and Miami is North America’s sultriest spot for a couples escape.

While most beach cities sport a surf and sandals pace, Miami mingles Latin flare with the cachet and pace of a international hotspot. Sights such as women marching around the pool in monokinis and Manolos are the everyday, as are men with perfectly angled fedoras and white linen shirts that seem to unbutton in the wind.

Experienced South Beach snowbirds, aware of the city’s hot-to-trot reputation, pack a little differently for Miami than they would for a beach vacation, throwing in barely-there beach-chic somethings typically relegated to the back of their closets. I have to admit I did the same. I don’t wear my neon-green string bikini on many trips, but you better believe I packed it for my five-day trip to Florida’s most iconic shorefront.

Back in 2006, my husband and I took our first trip to Miami before boarding a Caribbean cruise. The trip was epic, namely because we attempted to live out the lyrics of Will Smith’s mega-hit “Welcome to Miami.” (Oh, to be in my 20s again.) Eager to do a milder reprise with a little spice, we visited again in fall of 2013.

Viewfinder Tip:  When booking a sizzling couples escape, select a hotel that fires up your five senses and inspires your passion.

Megafans of design-focused, one-stop-shop hotels—cool vibe, swish bar, and it restaurant—we toured all the hot spots on the Strip and landed at The James Royal Palm, renovated in 2012 to the tune of US$42 million. Its sultry mix of 1930s Deco, art gallery posh, and beach retreat was so fetching, I considered cancelling my flight home.

We started at the hotel’s South Shore rum bar. Rum doesn’t rev my engine—or so I thought—but I seem to have been imbibing the wrong rums because the bartender made me a believer with the Hispanola, a multistep cocktail combining freshly squeezed limes, egg white, tiki bitters, mint, and Matusalem rum. With a clink of our curvy glasses, we sat, sipped, and savored the scene, recalling a yesteryear basement bar with shag pillows and geometric furniture.

My Hispanola cocktail at South Shore

By this point it was 10 p.m. (early by SoBe standards). Feeling like we should probably break free from our cozy compound, we strolled up the Lincoln Road Mall and walked into Juvia, one of the city’s most seductive perches, with views covering half the city. Coated in concrete, structured white furniture, and a living wall the length of a commuter jet, Juvia screams hotspot—and the people who frequent the place know it. We felt lucky to score the last two seats at the glowing, purple bar.

A couple drinks in, it started downpouring outside, causing a mass exodus from the patio into the bar. Making room for others, we shimmied closer together and watched the storm through the all-glass facade as bolts of lightning raced across the night sky. It was like the universe was throwing us back into first-date territory.

Thankfully, Miami’s wayward weather is usually short-lived, so the next day we burst back into action with a tub and scrub in the hammam at The Standard Spa. Our treatment took place in a steamy co-ed room, moving us from individual coconut milk-infused baths to side-by-side scrubs atop a slab of heated marble. Suspended in a transported state, we spent the rest of the day spa-side, slipping in and out of experience showers, the sauna, and the steam room.

Biking to The James Royal Palm


Pining for the sun after a day spent indoors, we hopped onto a pair of Miami’s DecoBike(s)—part of the city’s public bike-share network—and peddled back to the The James’ second-floor pool to catch the end-of-day sun. Fully settled into SoBe style, I strutted in my string bikini, my husband in his beach fedora. When in Miami…

What are your hot picks for couples in SoBe?