MIAMI BY MARTIN January 2009

A monthly column from Martin Crossland

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Current Miami Temperature: 80°F 27°C balmy degrees
Current Miami Beach Surf Temperature: 74°F 23°C degrees

Anna Kournikova Loves Miami
By Fred Gonzalez
Miami resident, tennis bombshell and K-Swiss fashionista Anna Kournikova changed up her regular routine a bit this past weekend. She ran the four-mile leg of the Nautica South Beach Triathlon as part of a celebrity relay team that included Olympian Dana Torres (swimming) and model/triathlete Katya Myers (biking). With a large bottle of water in hand post-run, and the admission that she ate too much seafood the night before, Kournikova, 26, took a time out to talk about running, boyfriend Enrique Iglesias and her home.
Why did you decide to compete in the triathlon?
"The most important reason I did this was for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. With it here in Miami, it was a no-brainer. I had never done one of these, so it was also a new experience and challenge for me."
Did you do any kind of special training, or did you just get up and go?
"It was more like I’ll just get up in the morning and do it, and whatever happens afterwards, who cares. I workout regularly, so I did not change one thing. I do my usual 30 to 45 minute weights and then I walk for like an hour or so. I don’t run. Four times a week."
Did you watch Enrique [Iglesias] perform on the Latin Billboards?
"I did. I watched it on TV. I didn’t go. We never mix work. We keep that separate."
Why did Miami become home for you?
"It’s really strange, but ever since I came her for the first time in 1992, I fell in love with it. I thought if I can make enough money, I would buy a place here. But in 1997, I moved here permanently and Miami is the only place where I actually own property."
What is it about Miami that’s special for you?
"I just love the area and the water and the weather and the people. I travel so much for work that when I come home, it’s like I am on vacation. I like the relaxed lifestyle and being able to wear flip-flops and shorts. In a city like New York you can’t go outside and relax, and I don’t have time to worry about how I look. And I like that it’s a small community. I just like everything about it."
Do you have any favorite restaurants?
"I don’t go to big, new trendy ones. I go to classic ones, like China Grill and Nobu and Bond Street. Big Pink. Alta Mar. I don’t normally go to Ocean Drive or Lincoln Road."
Would you change anything about Miami?
"I think Miami is perfect. I wouldn’t want the roads to be any bigger because there would be more cars. Parking is a little difficult, but I wouldn’t change anything."

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- A newspaper advertisement for a Miami car dealership reads more like a coupon for bags of potato chips: "Buy one, get two!"

It's estimated that 900 automotive dealerships will have shut their doors by year's end. The ad speaks to the desperation of car dealers as Big Three auto manufacturers beg Washington for billions in bailout dollars to combat sales that keep dipping to all-time lows.

"The first thing people think when they come in is, 'It's a fake ad. It's a normal car dealer ad. It's a gimmick.' But it's not," said Ali Ahmed, sales manager at Rob Lambdin's University Dodge in Miami.

To be fair, there is a catch to the buy-one-get-one-free offer: You must first buy a new Dodge truck at full retail price before you're eligible to receive a second truck for about $3,000 in tax, tags and dealer fees.

"We've been fielding phone calls and e-mail inquiries from every state in the country looking to get this buy-one-get-one deal," Ahmed said.

Versace's Miami mansion opens to the public

By Matt Sedensky, AP | Dec 16, 2008
For years, the iconic South Beach mansion best known as the place Gianni Versace lived and died was open only to the privileged few.

Before the designer's death more than a decade ago, his celebrity friends stayed so often, rooms were outfitted with them in mind. After Versace's murder and the house's sale, it become home to another mogul with A-list friends.

But, slowly, 1116 Ocean Drive has opened its doors, first as an invitation-only private club, then allowing non-members to stay in its ornate rooms, and now to the masses — or at least anyone willing to plunk down $65 for a tour.

Outside, tourists flock to the cast-iron gates, taking pictures all hours of the day. It is not until you enter, though, that you truly sense its magnificence.

Pass through the limestone arch, into the courtyard of Casa Casuarina, and the fuss all makes sense. The trickle of water from a fountain, the shift of clouds above, the tickle of Atlantic breezes — the simple beauty of each is enhanced by the home's lavishness.

It was built in 1930 by Standard Oil heir Alden Freeman, later became a hotel, spiraled into disrepair, and was at one point a hostel where rooms went for as little as $1 a night. Versace bought it in 1992, along with a hotel next door, and did massive renovations to make the estate what it is today.

Versace's touches are everywhere, often in the form of his Medusa head logo, which is seen in gold, on gates and railings, in stone mosaics even on shower drains. And, of course, visitors will want to know where he spent his final moment that Tuesday in July 1997, which staff prefer not to speak about. He was shot by a serial killer who later committed suicide.

Three of the 10 rooms go for $1,200 during the peak winter season, plus 13% tax and 22% service charge. The others climb in price, up to the owner's suite, which goes for $10,000 nightly. Prices are less expensive in summer, when the heat chases many tourists away, and for members.

No one expects the Versace mansion to be cheap; they do expect it to be special. And it delivers. In here, everything seems different, and a Tuesday afternoon is transformed from mundane to magical.

Victoria's Secret brings sexy back to Fontainebleau

By Arienne Thompson, USA TODAY
Old Hollywood's glitz and glamour returned to the Fontainebleau Hotel Saturday night as the recently renovated resort played host to the annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.

In the '50s and '60s, the Fontainebleau was a bee's nest of celebrity activity: Frank Sinatra played the nightclub. Jerry Lewis filmed The Bellboy. Sean Connery's James Bond swam in the pool in Goldfinger.

On this night, Paris Hilton struck a pose on the pink carpet. Heidi Klum primped and prepped backstage for the catwalk. Robert Duvall and James Caan arrived as a team to work the crowd.

From the humid air to the no-holds-barred attitude, the scene was steamy as A-listers convened to watch the annual fashion show and celebrate the reinvigoration of the resort.

Iron Man star Terrence Howard was pointedly honest from the front row: "I'd rather see beautiful lingerie lying on the floor."

Victoria's Secret 2009 line-up

Why Is Miami Developer So Determined To Build?
by Greg Allen
A Miami home builder is seeking approval for a 7,000-house development in the midst of the biggest housing downturn since the Depression. And the new community would be built in an area that now is off-limits to big development, just three miles from the Everglades.

Audio: Building by the Everglades

Record Port of Miami Cruise Passengers
The latest figures released by the Port of Miami indicate that cruise passenger traffic for eleven months (January - November 2008) was a RECORD 3.8 million passengers, an increase of 10.5% over last year.

The month of November alone revealed a 16.4% increase over last year’s figure – also a RECORD. Sustained growth is due in part to the arrival of new, larger vessels and the variety of cruise options offered by the Port of Miami.

Miami's Bayfront Park Named Among Top 10 Places to Ring in the New Year
USA TODAY - Miami’s Bayfront Park was one of 10 great places to spend New Year’s Eve, according to Mahdad Taheri, founder of, who shared his list of favorites with USA TODAY last week. "Who wouldn't love a party complete with a Big Orange climbing up the side of a building?" Taheri asks. "The Big Orange," a New Year's Eve icon in Miami's Bayfront Park, reaches the top of the Hotel Intercontinental at midnight, heralding the beginning of a huge fireworks display. The park hosted a free concert until the midnight extravaganza. "The best thing about this event: It's warm!" Taheri says. For the full article, click here.


8th. Jan. 09
FedEx BCS National Championship Game…..Go Gators!

8th. to 18th. Jan. 09
Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus

9th. 10th. and 11th.
Miami City Ballet - Program II

10th. Jan. 09
Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Music selections include arias from Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, Tchaikovsky’s Mazeppa, and Gounod’s Faust.

10th. and 11th. Jan. 09
19th Annual Taste of the Grove

10th. and 11th. Jan. 09
Beaux Arts Festival

10th. and 11th. Jan. 09
Redland Festival

11th. Jan. 09
South Florida History Challenge

11th. Jan. 09
Miami Symphony Orchestra - An Evening in Vienna

16th. Jan. 09
JAZZ ROOTS - A Tribute to Machito and Tito Puente

16th. to 18th. Jan. 09
Art Deco Weekend

18th. Jan. 09
Firebird Chamber Orchestra - Mozart and Salieri - Setting the Record Straight

20th. Jan. 09
Presidential Inauguration - Live simulcast of the inauguration and swearing-in ceremony of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.

21st. to 25th. Jan. 09
South Beach Comedy Festival 2009

22nd. Jan. 09
Wynton Marsalis. The most outstanding jazz musician and trumpeter of his generation.

23rd. Jan. 09
The Four Tops & Temptations. Nine great vocalists…two legendary groups…one memorable evening!

23rd. Jan. 09
Celine Dion Presents Taking Chances World Tour

24th. Jan. 09
New World Symphony. Saint-Saëns: Violin Concerto No. 3 - Mahler: Symphony No. 1, "Titan"

23rd. to 25th. Jan. 09
Homestead Championship Rodeo

23rd. to 25th. Jan. 09
Miami Modernism

24th. and 25th. Jan. 09
International Chocolate Festival

24th. to 31st. Jan. 09
Florida Grand Opera - La Cenerentola

25th. Jan. 09
ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon

28th. Jan. 09
Budapest Festival Orchestra

29th. Jan. 09
Miami City Ballet and The Cleveland Orchestra Present: See The Music Hear The Dancing

30th. and 31st. Jan. 09
The Cleveland Orchestra

31st. Jan to 1st. Feb. 09
2009 Miami International Orchid Festival


January issue of Visit Florida