The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach
Architect Morris Lapidus designed the building in 1953.

By: Mary Gostelow

The first time I arrived they picked me up in a scarlet 1961 Chrysler 300 soft top belonging personally to Bill Marriott. We slid up to the entrance, at Lincoln Road - cross-link between Miami Beach's famous Collins Street and the Atlantic. There, waiting in line, was a welcome party of keen athletic types in polo shirts.

General Manager John Rolfs, who in an earlier life had run the household of the King of Jordan, led me in to the big lobby, that seems to soar up and up.

How architect Morris Lapidus, who designed the building in 1953, would love to see this buzzing place now. In his day it was known as DiLido, and despite metamorphoses has been renowned continually for service meeting style.

There are 376 rooms, some in the 11-floor main block or, my preference, in the four-floor extension - I was there, in end suite 496, its balcony overlooking the pool and so close to the sandy beach that, given a long pole, I could have leaned over and touched it.

My C-shaped area was themed for the locale, with a sand-colored carpet with blue highlights, stone-colored walls, nautical blue or sand upholstery. My foyer led into a big parlor, with dining for eight, then bedroom, walk-in closet and big white and grey marble bathroom. Of course I had Frette linens, Bulgari White Tea toiletries and a Ty waffle robe lined with terry.

There is so much not to miss here. The Mobil four-star spa, which has 14 treatment rooms, offered a truly memorable ashiatsu massage, with Colombian therapist Mabel hanging from ceiling-set wood bars to 'walk' up and down my back.

Many head straight for the outdoor pool, which has sexy cabanas to rent (take one for $250 for the day, but splurge on a $850 package, which gives unlimited day-long Perrier-Jouet, lunch for two and a pair of spa treatments). For all, a tanning butler who patrols offering the lotions just right for your skin.

At the DiLido Beach Club, I tried a Deco Daiquiri, Bacardi light with fresh strawberries.

As light went down, I admired the art in the hotel, chosen by one of the hotel's owner, Diana Lowenstein. I loved the giant Miro etching in the lobby, and the four blue Murano chandeliers.

Then, sheer bliss, I went back up to my suite, for a sybaritic dinner for one. What beats a bottle of Krug with a hamburger, especially when the side salad comes under a silver cloche, the fries are salt-free, and you have new pots of Grey Poupon mustard, Heinz ketchup and Hellman's.

I slept like a log, enjoyed a run along the beach's boardwalk, breakfast in the Club lounge on the tenth floor of the main block, and then it was back to the airport.





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