MIAMI BY MARTIN September 2008

A monthly column from Martin Crossland

Welcome to my newsletter!
Current Miami Temperature: 85°F 29°C balmy degrees
Current Miami Beach Surf Temperature: 86°F 30°C degrees

Tropical Storm Fay
Tropical Storm Fay brought nothing more than a little bad weather on Monday to Miami Beach; unfortunately, our neighbors on the central Atlantic coast were not as lucky. Areas like Port St. Lucie and Melbourne experienced more than 30 inches of rainfall since Tuesday. It slowly drifted north over Daytona Beach, entered the Atlantic and then veered west crossing back into Florida by Jacksonville. It drenched the northern state through Tallahassee and exited on the Gulf of Mexico. It then veered north west and once again returned to the state along the panhandle, filling the storm drains in Destin, Fort Walton and Pensacola. This is the first time on record that a a single tropical storm has hit the state three times running.
Plum TV Miami Beach Newsletter

GMCVB'S Miami Spice restaurant month in full swing.
The 7TH Annual Miami Spice Restaurant Month began August 1st and will run through September 30th. This year a record, 108 of Miami's finest dining restaurants are offering visitors and residents three-course lunches for $23 and three-course dinners for $36 (excluding tax and gratuities). Featuring signature dishes created by world-renowned chefs, Miami Spice Restaurant Month is a great time to discover the tropical fusion of ingredients that makes Miami dining so wonderfully out of the ordinary. For an up-to-the-minute list of participating restaurants, menus, and special offers, visit:

Record hotel room occupancy and room rate reported for Miami for January through July of 2008
Record Hotel Room Occupancy and Room Rate was reported by Smith Travel Research for Greater Miami and the Beaches for the January - July 2008 time period. For the first seven months of 2008, Miami ranked #3 in Occupancy at 75.8% (up from its #4 ranking for the same period in 2007), and ranked #2 in Average Daily Room Rate at $172.73, according to the latest report issued by Smith Travel Research, which compares and ranks the top 25 hotel markets in the United States based on Occupancy and Average Daily Room Rates. Hotels saw revenue per room grow 3.3 percent through June in Miami-Dade, where foreign visitors accounted for 46 percent of the tourism market. Ana Vazquez, a student in Madrid, and her boyfriend, Luis Hermosilla, who sells real estate there, soaked up the sun on the rooftop Gansevoort pool deck on a recent afternoon in South Beach. Their nightly rate: US$450. "With the euro, it's expensive," Hermosilla said in a mix of English and Spanish. "But with the dollar, it's cheap." "This year, it's a little surprise," said the hotel manager. "In the end of August, it looks like all the hotels in Miami are full."

Fontainebleau reopening postponed
Construction delays have forced the Fontainebleau to postpone its reopening by five weeks, with the debut of the redesigned resort now set for Oct. 18. The decision to scrap the preliminary Sept. 6 ''soft opening'' will force groups who booked conferences at the Miami Beach hotel to scramble their plans. Howard Karawan, chief operating officer of Fontainebleau Resorts, said the hotel's ''grand opening'' -- including completion of its new oceanfront spa -- is still scheduled for Nov. 14, to coincide with the filming of a Victoria's Secret television special.

Topless Day
Currently, women who dare to be topless in public in the US are repeatedly being arrested, fined, humiliated, criminalized. On Aug 23rd, 2008, topless women will rally in great numbers across the USA to protest this gross inequality in the law and will demand that they be granted the fundamental right to be topless where men already enjoy that right according to the 14th amendment of the Constitution. Our local rally was held at noon on Miami Beach at the corner of 8th. Street and Ocean Drive in front of News Café and was a resounding success.

Ocean Drive Selected as One of 10 Great Streets in America
The American Planning Association (APA) announced today that Ocean Drive in Miami Beach has been designated as one of 10 Great Streets for 2008 through APA's Great Places in America program. APA selected Ocean Drive as one of 10 Great Streets in America for its unique architectural legacy and pedestrian-oriented restoration. Miami Beach's unmatched legacy of Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco, and Streamline Moderne hotels, apartments, and other buildings - well over a thousand - was built during the 1920s and 1930s. In the mid-1980s the Miami Beach planning department developed a plan to redesign Ocean Drive, including rezoning the area to mixed use; expanding sidewalks for outside tables and seating; creating a 20-foot wide promenade and outdoor concert stage; and establishing a business improvement district.

Florida's Olympic Athletes
Everyone knows South Florida is famous for its beaches and fun but not many are aware that it is also an Olympic training field for some of Beijing's biggest stars. Aside from the obvious near-perfect weather, its close proximity to the Caribbean and Latin America allows Olympians, both American and international, to train at sea level year-round. South Florida's Olympians include Dara Torres of Parkland, Wellington show jumper Laura Kraut, beach volleyball's Misty May-Treanor of Coral Springs and runners Sanya Richards and Walter Dix. Plum TV Miami Beach Newsletter.

THE EVERGLADES - Ravaged Everglades lodge may be reborn
Three years after it was severely damaged by hurricanes, Flamingo Lodge in the Everglades will be demolished soon, and plans for its modernized rebirth are in the works -- if funding can be found. The 50-year-old Flamingo Lodge will be knocked down later this year. It's been closed since 2005, when hurricanes Katrina and Wilma gutted it. The Flamingo Lodge, a landmark at the end of the road in Everglades National Park for nearly a half century, will soon be history. The rebuilding blueprint wouldn't exactly make Flamingo a five-star resort. In fact, park rules require affordable prices with ''eco-tents'' expected to go for about $60 a night and cottages from $125 to $150. For now, the plan calls for Flamingo's looks to go back to its past with designs evoking cracker-style structures that once dotted the area. The vision for the new Flamingo is a smaller footprint with greener, sustainable buildings and more family-friendly activities. From the late 1800s until the park opened in 1947, Flamingo was a small village populated largely by fishermen, moon shiners and plume hunters.

Vive La France!
French tourists are booking the most hotel rooms in the US this summer With the euro and other foreign currencies trading favorably against the dollar, this summer is a good time for international tourists to visit the U.S. So who's coming to America? Recently, - the Amsterdam-based international online hotel reservation service that is part of surveyed over 10,000 U.S. hotel reservations made by international tourists for this summer to find out which countries were generating the most bookings to the U.S. operates in over 65 countries around the world and offers its services in 18 languages. Based on its recent survey, created a list of the top 20 countries, in order, generating the most U.S. hotel bookings for Summer 2008. The countries are:
#1 France; #2 Italy; #3 Spain; #4 Netherlands; #5 United Kingdom; #6 Germany; #7 Brazil; #8 Canada; #9 Japan; #10 Mexico; #11 Switzerland; #12 Belgium; #13 Sweden; #14 Ireland; #15 Australia; #16 Denmark; #17 Venezuela; #18 Israel; #19 China; #20 Austria. also found that the French favored New York, San Francisco, Miami Beach, Los Angeles and Boston for their summer trips.

Miami's Haulover Beach's nude stretch celebrates 17 years in the buff
No one at a Haulover Beach party last month seemed embarrassed that nearly everyone showed up in the same outfit -- their birthday suit. The party was on Day 2 of a three-part celebration of the 17th anniversary of Haulover's establishment as a ''clothing-optional'' stretch of sand. It also marks a belated observance of National Nude Recreation Week.

The activists who worked to get Miami-Dade County to allow them to swim without swimsuits were out in force to mark the occasion. ''We've seen so many people learn to enjoy the beach. It really does feel good,'' said Shirley Mason, one of the early pioneers with the group South Florida Free Beaches that brought nude bathing to Haulover in July 1991.

Mason said she realized the county needed a nude beach when a doctor told her husband that sun and salt water may help treat his painful full-body psoriasis. But they had trouble finding a place to go. After researching the law and working to raise awareness, Mason's group succeeded in getting the county to designate several hundred yards of Haulover Beach as clothing optional.

But after all her work, on Saturday Mason was one of the only clothed people in sight. She said she had too much organizing to do outside the beach for the party to relax in the buff. Almost everyone else on the crowded beach was stripped down to bare skin, lounging under umbrellas or soaking up rays for a line-free tan. A picnic, ice-cold margaritas and even a kiosk offering therapeutic massages were all part of the fun-in-the-sun festivities.

One reason for the friendly atmosphere is people like Miami resident Ed Christin, who said he's been coming to Haulover once a week since 2002. He hands out cards with nude beach etiquette rules to people who are rude. ''It's OK to look at beauty, just don't stare,'' he said. Most people are too embarrassed to keep up their ogling once Christin gives out a card, but he admits a few bad apples persist. Standing nude under the broiling Florida sun, Christin sighed: ``Some people, they have no shame.''


Through 9/30/08
Miami Spice Restaurant Month

Through 11/2/08
20th Century Spanish Drawings from the Fundación Mapfre Collection

Through 11/2/08
Excavating Egypt: Great Discoveries from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

9/3/08 - 9/5/08
La Cumbre, The Americas' Travel Industry Summit

The Children's Trust Family Expo

Wine on Harvest Moon presented by the South Florida Select BMW Dealers

9/13/08 - 9/14/08
Zephyrhills 'Dig the Beach' Volleyball National Championships

9/13/08 - 9/14/08
Miami Beach September Sports Series

Cauley Square Antique & Classic Car Show

9/23/08 - 1/25/09
The Eye of the Collector: Jewish Vision of Sigmund R. Balka

9/24/08 - 9/26/08
IFE Americas - 11th Americas Food & Beverage Show

9/24/08 - 9/28/08
Disney On Ice - Mickey and Minnie Magical Journey

9/24/08 - 11/2/08
Nightmare: Ghost Stories


September issue of Visit Florida