This new hotel in the Magic City was designed to put travelers under its spell.
Now that the COVID-19 vaccine has arrived and some assemblance of normalcy is coming with it, there’s no better time to celebrate the onslaught of hospitality hubs opening up across the country. One city that’s already proving it’s on the upswing is Miami, with a host of restaurants, including New York City staples such as Pastis and Red Rooster, and hotels, including the Hilton Aventura Miami, entering the scene. Situated in the heart of Aventura across the street from its signature mall, near Sunny Isles Beach and local airports, the hotel—which opened in late March 2021—has plenty of amenities that impress and design elements that showcase both elegance and innovation.
From the Spanish-inspired menu at the on-site restaurant Gala, to the handcrafted cocktails and skyline views at the lobby bar Muse Lounge, and the exquisite 8,466-square-foot event space featuring the grand Carrington Ballroom, the combination upscale interiors with gorgeous lighting fixtures makes the Hilton Aventura Miami’s surroundings the essence of luxury. Add to that the elevated pool deck, a 24-hour fitness center, a yoga studio, 208 well-appointed guest rooms, the Hilton Executive Lounge, the Library gathering area, the Reserve coffee outlet, and multiple exterior decks for business and recreation, this hotel is an ideal spot to call home when you’re away from home and exploring the area. We caught up with Mayer S. Abbo, Principal and Founder of Prime Design Associates for insights about the design, and of course, the lighting.
“Every single project has different criteria. First and foremost, one of the drivers is really the site and its location. This hotel is a fairly urban site, and it was really quite challenging because of its geometry and access points. It has very high visibility because of this. It is parallel to the William Lehman Causeway, which runs east to west. Everybody uses that road to go to the beach, so there’s a lot of exposure,” explains Abbo. “The causeway, along with the Aventura Mall, were important considerations. This hotel is also probably one of the larger projects that has been done in the city for some time now, and I think it was something that was a long time coming. Covid and all of the different things that have happened in the recent past just expedited this and helped it come to fruition.”
Inside the sleek, modern-line architecture of the pristine white and gray exterior, the Hilton Aventura Miami features hues of warm neutrals and grays combined with metallic accents. Stylish art envelops the surroundings with oversized garage murals and in-room art canvases. The heart of the hotel is the black-and-white lobby with its white marble flooring, comfy leather lounge chairs, modern glass fireplace, sweeping views overlooking Aventura, and striking fixtures. “Lighting is always very important, both natural lighting as well as other lighting interior to the building. From a planning perspective, the main lobby of the hotel is located at the seventh level. There are areas of the hotel that are double height, reaching about 20 feet or so. With glazing on both sides of those spaces, you really get a unique perspective when you’re inside the space looking outward and quality of light that comes into those spaces,” says Abbo. He adds that how those larger areas juxtapose with some of the smaller, more intimate spaces—which are not double height with control lighting—really set up different moods, especially in the evenings. “The space can really begin to transform throughout the day and into the evening.”
Of course with any hotel of this scale, collaboration with like-minded partners who inspire is the key to success. “We like to be as open as possible when beginning a project,” says Abbo. “It’s a collaborative effort with all the team players that typically partake in a project like this, so we try to have an open mind more than anything else.” He adds that there was a great team working on this. “We worked with IDDI (ID & Design International). That was the interior designer. They do a lot of commercial spaces, hospitality, and restaurants. I think they had a pretty unique approach,” notes Abbo. “We also worked with GMLD (Granville Mcanear Lighting Design) on the lighting.” He notes that there were quite a few people involved in the lighting of the hotel, helping to set the mood and select some of the fixtures. Many of which, by the way, were custom-made.
“There’s a number of different fixtures that really help accentuate the spaces. The ones in the ballroom—all of that was custom, and really set the mood. As far as I’m concerned, they really transform the space,” says Abbo. “Also, there are two fixtures that come to mind in the main lobby space. One is right above the bar. It is a sculptural piece that’s really the anchor to the lobby and the focal point. How the light reflects off of those crystals is really quite wonderful. The other is the lighting in the restaurant above the main dining space where we have a communal table. That’s an anchor as well.”
“There’s a number of different fixtures that really help accentuate the spaces. The ones in the ballroom—all of that was custom, and really set the mood. As far as I’m concerned, they really transform the space.”
― Mayer S. Abbo
As always the importance of lighting choice can never be understated when it comes to helping define a design aesthetic, and for Abbo and his team, it truly helps bring each space to life. “It starts with the building itself, what we’re trying to achieve, and the mood that we’re trying to create with natural lighting and how that transforms throughout the day,” he says. “The quality of the lighting throughout the day—how it can change and be controlled so that it’s not too bright or not too dark—is certainly a very important consideration in the design.”
The hotel itself is something Abbo is very happy with considering the tail end of its development took place during the pandemic and sourcing was delayed in terms of the lighting, furniture, and more. Due to the circumstances, there was a lot to contend with and, therefore, he actually thought things might take even longer. “I think overall,” he concludes, “it’s exceeded my expectations.”
This article was originally featured in the June issue of designing lighting (dl)