Fontainebleau Miami Beach

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Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Miami Beach FL Fontainebleau01.jpg
Fontainebleau Miami Beach (2011)
Fontainebleau Miami Beach is located in Miami
Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Location Miami Beach, Florida, USA
Coordinates 25°49′5″N 80°7′22.7″W / 25.81806°N 80.122972°W / 25.81806; -80.122972Coordinates: 25°49′5″N 80°7′22.7″W / 25.81806°N 80.122972°W / 25.81806; -80.122972
Built 1954
Architect Morris Lapidus
Architectural style Miami Modern Architecture (MiMo)
NRHP Reference # 08001318[1]
Added to NRHP December 22, 2008[1]

The Fontainebleau Miami Beach or the Fontainebleau Hotel is one of the most historically and architecturally significant hotels in Miami Beach, Florida. Opened in 1954 and designed by Morris Lapidus, it was arguably the most luxurious hotel in Miami Beach, and is thought to be the most significant building of Lapidus's career. In 2007, the Fontainebleau Hotel was ranked ninety-third in the American Institute of Architects list of "America's Favorite Architecture".[2] On April 18, 2012, the AIA's Florida Chapter ranked the Fontainebleau first on its list of Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places.[3]

The Fontainebleau Miami Beach is situated on oceanfront Collins Avenue in the heart of Millionaire's Row and is currently owned by Fontainebleau Resorts. Fronting the Atlantic Ocean, the 1504-room resort’s most distinguishing features include two new towers; 12 restaurants and bars; a 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2) spa with mineral-rich water therapies and co-ed swimming pools; and oceanfront poolscape featuring a free-form pool shaped as a re-interpretation of Lapidus’ signature bow-tie design.


Fontainebleau Hotel in March,1955 photo by Samuel Gottscho
Fontainebleau Hotel, Miami Beach (2004)

Lapidus once wrote, “If you create a stage and it is grand, everyone who enters will play their part.” He conceived of the ideas for the hotel each morning as he took a subway from Flatbush to his office in Manhattan. The hotel was built by hotelier Ben Novack on the Harvey Firestone estate. Novack owned and operated the hotel until its bankruptcy in 1977.[4]

The Fontainebleau is famous[citation needed] in judicial circles for its victory in the landmark 1959 Florida District Courts of Appeal decision, Fontainebleau Hotel Corp. v. Forty-Five Twenty-Five, Inc. 114 So. 2d 357,[5] in which the Fontainebleau Hotel successfully appealed an injunction by the neighboring Eden Roc Hotel, to prevent construction of an expansion that blocked sunlight to the Eden Roc's swimming pool. The Court rejected the Eden Roc's claim to an easement allowing sunlight, in favor of affirming the Fontainebleau's vertical property rights to build on its land.[6][7] It stated that the "ancient lights" doctrine has been unanimously repudiated in the United States.[8]

In the 1970s a suite in the hotel was used by members of the Black Tuna Gang to run their operations.[9] This is recounted in the 2011 documentary Square Grouper, which follows the burgeoning marijuana-smuggling trade of the mid-to-late 1970s. It was at this time that large amounts of the drug were being shipped to southeastern Florida - the film goes so far as to allege that more than ninety percent of the United States's illicit demand was being met through such channels.

In 1978, Stephen Muss bought the Fontainebleau Hotel for $27 million[10] rescuing it from bankruptcy.[11] He injected an additional $100 million into the hotel for improvements[11] and hired the Hilton company to manage it.[10] In 2005, the Muss Organization sold the Fontainebleau to Turnberry Associates[12] for $165 million.[10]

The hotel closed a large part of its property in 2006, though one building remained open to hotel guests, and the furnishings were available for sale. The expanded hotel and its new condominium buildings re-opened in November 2008.[13]

On December 22, 2008, the Fontainebleau was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.[1]

Film, television and music history[edit]

The swimming pool is shown in the 1959 film A Hole in the Head. Tony Manetta (played by Frank Sinatra) comes to a party there for businessman and friend Jerry Marks (Keenan Wynn). Miami Mayor Robert King High had a cameo during the gala for Marks. Sinatra then videotaped a special, on March 26, 1960, during his regular Timex-sponsored television series for ABC, to welcome back Elvis Presley from his two years of military service in Germany, which was then broadcast on May 12, 1960.

The hotel was also the setting for Jerry Lewis's 1960 comedy film, The Bellboy.

The Fontainebleau is continually depicted and mentioned in the 1960-1962 television series, Surfside 6 which centers on two detectives living aboard and working out of a houseboat moored directly across the street from the hotel, at the eponymous address. Supporting character Cha Cha O'Brien was an entertainer who worked at The Boom Boom Room in the hotel. Aside from establishing shots, however, the series was filmed entirely at Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, California.

The Fontainebleau Miami Beach is featured in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger, most notably in the sweeping aerial shot that follows the opening credits and accompanies composer John Barry's big-band track "Into Miami". It was the hotel where character Jill Masterton (played by Shirley Eaton) was murdered by the villainous Oddjob (Harold Sakata).[14] It is also featured in the Frank Sinatra film Tony Rome in 1967. In 1979, Art Fleming hosted a revival of the old College Bowl game show, as the syndicated College Bowl '79 tournament was filmed in the hotel's LaRonde Room.

It gained a second round of architectural fame by its inclusion in critic and novelist Tom Wolfe's From Bauhaus to Our House, published in 1981, which referred to the condescending way that Lapidus was treated by the architectural profession and critics. In the 1971 Woody Allen movie Bananas, the hotel is referenced when the ex-dictator Vargas flees his fictitious country San Marcos in a plane and calls the Fontainebleau to reserve a room.

The hotel, predominantly the pool area, was featured in the 1983 film Scarface. Other movies filmed there include Go for It (1983), Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach (1988), The Bodyguard (1992), and The Specialist (1994).

The Fontainebleau was seen on The Sopranos in the season 4 (2002) episode "Calling All Cars".[15] The Fontainebleau was also the location of the Bravo television network's show Top Chef for the third season in 2007, and an episode of FOX's The O.C..

The hotel was the location of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in 2008.

From May 5–9, 2009 Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa broadcast their talk show Live with Regis and Kelly from the Fontainebleau Hotel, primarily from the pool area.

The hotel is repeatedly mentioned by Allan Sherman in his 1962 comedy song, "The Streets of Miami" (based on "The Streets of Laredo"). The Fontainebleau is the title subject of a song written by Neil Young and performed by the Stills-Young Band on their 1976 album Long May You Run, which was recorded at the hotel.[16] The Joni Mitchell song "Otis and Marlena" from her 1977 album Don Juan's Reckless Daughter is generally thought[weasel words] to include an oblique reference to the Fontainebleau as, among other things, "that celebrated dump sleazing by the sea".


Chateau Lobby

Fontainebleau’s grand re-opening[when?] marked the end of a two-year, $1 billion transformation. Special care was taken to preserve many of the original design elements, including the "Staircase to Nowhere" (formally called the "floating staircase").

Restaurants and nightclubs in the complex include:

  • Stripsteak by Michael Mina. (Priorly FB Steakhouse, and Originally named "Gotham Steak")
  • Scarpetta (Italian)
  • Hakkasan (Cantonese)
  • La Côte (two-level poolside bar and grille)
  • Blade Sushi
  • Vida (Pan American)
  • Fresh (Snacks & Gelato)
  • LIV (Nightclub, a.k.a. '54 formerly Tropigala Lounge)
  • Bleau Bar
  • Glow Bar
  • Michael Mina 74 (formerly Arkadia)
  • Chez Bon Bon (pastries and chocolates; Priorly Solo)


Miami Beach FL Fontainebleau name01.jpg

The local pronunciation of the hotel's name is the Anglicized "fountain blue" rather than the normal French pronunciation of the word.[17]


External links[edit]