Checking In: Hotel Victor in Miami Beach a treat for the senses on Ocean Drive

1144 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach,, 305-428-1234

Back story: Located next to the former Versace mansion on Ocean Drive, Hotel Victor is a historic 1937 property that underwent a complete renovation and expansion in 2005. Originally designed by famed architect L. Murray Dixon, internationally renowned decorator Jacques Garcia was tapped to update the property while respecting the historical integrity. The senses are immediately engaged when one walks into the hotel. A special "Vibe Concierge" is responsible for a changing array of music, scents and color, while a three-dimensional, almost electric feel is present all around. The textiles and Asian designed ironwork, the bright purples and moon jellyfish imported from the Pacific create the illusion of entering another world. The jellyfish motif is carried throughout the hotel, from actual jellyfish to jellyfish styled lamps in the guest rooms. The clean and simple lines are still present from the Deco era, as is the beautiful landscape mural originally painted by Earl La Pan then touched up by the artist himself during the renovation.

Just for fun: Subterranean Spa V is a short elevator ride from the sizzle of Ocean Drive to serenity. Spa V handmaidens will cleanse and exfoliate your body while you luxuriate on a heated marble bed enveloped in aromatic steam. This is the Hammam experience, South Beach's first authentic Turkish ritual steam bath. "Quickie" manicure and pedicure options are available in addition to traditional services, as well as the decadent Gold Facial, featuring a 24 karat gold mask that is purported to brighten the complexion, ease fine lines and give the skin a celebrity glow.

Sleep well: Rooms are equipped with necessary South Beach amenities such as full-sized bars, wide screen plasma and LCD panel TVs, DVD/CD players, wireless Internet and an emphasis on luxurious textiles and furnishings. All white marbled bathrooms feature deep, dramatic tubs.

In your dreams: The 4,000 square foot Presidential Suite features a separate elevator, two outdoor terraces, one of which is on the rooftop and includes a generous hot tub among built-in speakers, an outdoor shower and a large seating area great for parties. There is a 360 degree view of South Beach and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as a fully equipped kitchen for your viewing and dining pleasure.

Attractions: South Beach and The Villa by Barton G are a one-minute walk away. The Bass Museum of Art is a mile away, and many upscale nightclubs, restaurants and boutiques are a two-minute walk away. The Miami Beach Golf Course is close by, as is the Miami Marina.

Celebrity cache: During a recent Miami Beach Wine and Food Festival, Rachael Ray cooked up a storm in the Presidential Suite kitchen, later watching her hubby jam downstairs while Gloria Estefan sang and Emilio played the bongos. Other celebrities who have stayed on site are Madonna, Diddy and Serena Williams.

Awards and accolades: Conde Nast traveler named the Victor "One of the Best New Hotels in the World," The World Travel Awards, "2007 North America's Leading Boutique Hotel," and Florida's Leading Boutique Hotel for the second year in a row.

Prices: Rates range from $179 to $349 per night plus tax for regular rooms to $4,000 to $10,000 a night for suites. Check for specials and packages.

Tracey Broussard

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