As anyone planning a bachelorette party can attest, there’s a lot of pressure to make the bride-to-be’s big weekend an unforgettable affair. But after you’ve traveled around the world with someone — as I have with fellow Lost Girl Amanda — throwing a bachelorette bash means seriously upping the ante. Hosting something locally, even in our bach-trendy Manhattan residence, wasn‘t going to cut it. I had a tall order: to orchestrate an unprecedented soiree for a diverse group of well-traveled women in a desirable yet versatile destination that was preferably warm and within a couple of hours by plane.
Although my mission seemed impossible, I found all I was looking for and more in Miami’s sexiest milieu, South Beach. What we hoped would be a fun bachelorette weekend turned into one of the most amazing girlfriend getaways our group had experienced together in years. And with such VIP perks as world-class beaches, renowned restaurants, innumerable poolside cabanas (and cabana boys!) and a scintillating nightlife, SoBe is an ideal spot to host an outrageous “final fling before the ring” for almost any bridal party.
To inspire your South Beach escape, here are my top picks for a pre-wedding weekend bash.
Situated in the heart of SoBe on the vibrant and iconic Collins Avenue, the James Royal Palm infuses an intimate, boutique-chic vibe with all the amenities and perks of a grand beach resort. A stone’s throw from the ocean (and from the city’s hottest clubs, restaurants and shops), this highly coveted, luxury property boasts two swimming pools, two award-winning restaurants, one of the area’s top nightclubs, a full-service spa and a special kid’s program— providing a welcoming home base for couples, families and groups of travelers alike who seek an authentically glamorous South Beach experience.
From bowls of Florida’s sweetest tangelos to complimentary picnic baskets stocked with cold water and fresh fruit (offered beachside with your lounge chair, umbrella and towel), it’s the small touches at the James that really charm you.
Though coordinating a dinner for 12 women at a posh location seemed challenging, we were fortunately just an elevator ride away from one of SoBe’s latest culinary hotspots — the James Hotel’s Florida Cookery — where we kicked off the weekend’s festivities with a lavish tasting menu of regional delicacies. With award-winning chef, Kris Wessel, at the helm, the Florida Cookery offers a unique twist on fresh, seasonal South Florida fare such as sorrel-lychee glazed Florida quail, roasted Everglades wild boar, bake ‘n broil key lime and tomato mahi mahi, and mango pie. Featuring a chic and modern (yet unpretentious) indoor dining room overlooking the ocean and a spacious outdoor patio, the Florida Cookery is the ideal setting for both intimate dinners and group events.
Boasting the area’s only oceanfront restaurant/lounge with an unobscured view of the Atlantic, the DiLido Beach Club is the perfect spot to relax with a frosty cocktail and enjoy a casually elegant afternoon meal. With the sounds of crashing waves serving as the soundtrack du jour, guests can settle into plush veranda chairs to dine on an impressive menu from renowned Chef de Cuisine Andres Meraz, whose signature dishes include a duet of corvina and shrimp ceviche, Florida-citrus and goat-cheese salad and pork “carnitas” sliders. As the sun dips below the horizon, while away the (happy) hours with inventive libations by master mixologist Ramsey Pimentel as you soak in the tropical beats of the area’s hottest local bands.
Our favorite nightlife destination of the weekend, LDV Hospitality’s Rec Room, is a recent and welcome addition to the local club scene. Designed to make you feel like you’re hanging out in a friend’s 1970s basement — complete with wood-panel walls, vintage record players and a collection of vinyls, old-school sports trophies and even A Christmas Story leg lamp replica — the Rec Room uniquely blends the vibe of New York’s underground with that of a chill beach town. And without the off-putting pretentiousness and overpriced services that are the hallmark of other area hotspots, the Rec Room will make you feel so at home, you won’t ever want to leave.
Whether you settle into a leather booth in a den-like nook for some cocktails or, as we did, spend the entire night on the dance floor — raging to fresh spins of everything from funk and disco to hip-hop and house — be sure Rec Room is on your SoBe itinerary.
Ask anyone who has ever partied in South Beach, and they’ll say that a visit to Hyde Beach is non-negotiable. Located in the swanky SLS Hotel, Hyde Beach is more than just a popular haunt to sip, savor and sunbathe. With more than 8,000 feet of indoor and outdoor space, including Hyde Garden, several swanky bars and poolside lounges, an expansive deck lined with lounge chairs and private cabanas — all impeccably designed by the legendary Phillipe Starck — it’s a luxury getaway destination in and of itself.
Transforming from a stylish dayclub where guests can indulge in sophisticated fare from world-renowned Chef José Andrés and Master Sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi to a trendy nightclub that entices a posh crowd of revelers and top resident DJs, Hyde Beach is a must for any bachelorette party. Insider hint: Splurge on bottle service for easy access and your own cabana.
Aside from some quintessential R&R on the powdery sand of South Beach’s iconic beaches, nothing combats post-partying fatigue like a detoxifying day at the luxurious Renew spa at The James Hotel. Renowned for its signature salt-infused offerings such an outdoor salt bar shower, saltwater soaks, scrubs and healing baths, the spa offers guests an individualized experience designed to revive, renew or restore.
Adventurous spa-goers can experience the unique Mindful Waves treatment, in which a therapist connects you to a device that monitors brainwaves and projects inspirational imagery, then guides you in relaxation exercises. Or opt to melt away your soreness (and sins) from the weekend with a more traditional shiatsu, hot-stone or lomi lomi massage, customized to meet your sensibilities. The spa also offers a range of facials, beauty and hair treatments, fitness classes and private consultations with resident nutritionist Oz Garcia, PhD.