When GoodLife Report first launched in 2010, I pledged to dedicate a certain amount of our coverage to the natural, eco-friendly lifestyle niche—from hotels, to restaurants, to products you can buy on Amazon. At that time, though, most of the applicable products and places, especially those within the travel industry, came with a bit of a caveat: less overall comfort (though many of these products and places were expensive, too).
Let’s face it—composting your food waste, using low flow faucets and sleeping on suboptimal bedding made from scratchy recycled fabrics, while all virtuous and great for the planet, are not the types of experiences desired by travelers paying a premium for their room.
Fortunately, things have changed. Hotels, restaurants and others in the hospitality business have figured out how to lower their carbon footprint while providing a certain level of excellence and comfort to their patrons. Some have even mastered the art. Such marvels are providing an eco-friendly, natural atmosphere that is actually enhanced by its environmental friendliness.
Case in point: 1 Hotel Group. GLR’s Chelsey Pieretti wrote about 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge (the third iteration of their line of hotels) several years ago and I have since visited the property and loved it. But it was not until I spent several days at their debut hotel in South Beach last year that I truly bought in.
Miami may be a major city with professional sports teams (and semi pro football team), an international vibe and no shortage of culture, but it is also a city in a tropical locale with natural landscapes that are matched by few US cities. Did you know Florida is the only state in the lower 48 where palm trees are actually indigenous? From the turquoise ocean waters, to the vast wetlands of the Everglades (the largest sub tropical wilderness in the US), to the lush canopies that dot the state and the thousands of wildlife species that inhabit these areas, Florida is a state that—for all its man-made developments—is still quite wild.
Occupying an entire city block on Collins Avenue, 1 Hotel South Beach sits directly on 600-feet of pristine beachfront. The celebration of nature throughout the hotel is evident, from the graceful twist of driftwood furnishings to the ever-present sounds of the ocean and abundance of living, natural material. The first hotel to debut in the 1 Hotels brand, 1 South Beach offers unparalleled views of the Atlantic Ocean, Biscayne Bay and Downtown Miami’s ever-expanding skyline.
“1 Hotel South Beach was designed to allow humans to reconnect with the most authentic and awe-inspiring experience—nature,” says SH group CEO and Chairman Barry Sternlicht. “Nature shapes the way our guests arrive, depart, sleep, eat, relax, interact and ultimately the way they feel.”
With a farm stand in the lobby and carefully placed remixes of recycled and repurposed wood, preserved moss, petrified branches and driftwood, the 18-story landmark has been revolutionizing sustainably chic design in Miami since it opened its doors in March 2015. But farm-to-table cuisine and a focus on sustainability does not automatically add to the customer experience. While millennials love earth-friendly attributes, they also love experiences, whether it be experiential travel, culinary tours or mountain climbing.
A stay at 1 Hotel South Beach may not be a textbook form of “experiential travel,” but it is a bona fide travel destination and an experience all its own. The hotel aims to relax you upon arrival, the lobby colored by soothing earth tones and structured in a feng shui layout. You might think the venue’s elevated pools, which offer an unparalleled view of Miami Beach, would be its ultimate selling point. But no, you just haven’t been up to the rooftop bar yet, where the panoramic view is well accompanied by delicious food and cocktails. Between all of the above and the complimentary Tesla chauffeur service outside, you can’t help but feel an undeniable “it” factor when visiting.
The best part about it is that this type of atmosphere was not just accomplished through a lot of money, good timing and a little luck (though I’m sure it cost a small fortune to build). Nor is it simply the latest trend in hotel design. The atmosphere here—and at all their hotels for that matter—follows a common theme that is borne in sustainability but thrives in the final product, whether you value its environmental efforts or not. 1 Hotels exude a certain easy mellowness, an underlying current of energy that sets them apart from other destinations.
At 1 Hotel South Beach and their other locations, 1 Hotels Group has mindfully created a healthy, service-focused environment with a focus on sustainability that does not come at the expense of the guest experience. Daily operations are carefully orchestrated to minimize each hotel’s footprint, utilizing such practices as leveraging local resources, conserving non-renewable resources, mitigating paper consumption and reducing landfill waste.
Materials for construction and furnishings are regional, reclaimed, or repurposed, whenever possible. This includes saving Colorado beetle kill pine to create headboards, taking Ipe wood from the property’s original boardwalk to use as planters, constructing an herb garden at Beachcraft as a resource for cocktails and cuisine, crafting reclaimed driftwood as guest room door handles, and using 7500 pounds of local Florida coral stone for the property’s signature 1 monument. It may be eco-friendly, but trust me when I vouch that it also looks great! And is natural for the area, to boot.
With that said, let’s move right along to amenities because—as stated from the start—they’re important, as well. 1 Hotel South Beach boasts 425 guest rooms, including 168 studio suites (ranging from two to four-bedrooms and boasting a variety of styles, including penthouse or oceanfront options) and one 3,500-square-foot oceanfront presidential suite. Guest rooms average 700-square-feet, the largest in all of South Beach. All rooms feature custom hemp blend-filled mattresses by Keetsa with 100 percent organic cotton sheets, custom 1 Hotels bath products featuring naturally-derived ingredients, soft socks in lieu of slippers to provide a touch of home, hangers made from recycled paper, yoga mats to use with in-room or on-property programming, and glass terrariums and special green moments for a bit of reconnection with nature. Guests are also provided with an in-room Nexus device to control room temperature, communicate with hotel staff as needed, or simply for entertainment. A signature to 1 Hotels, all rooms also feature complimentary reusable recycled water glasses to use with the Triple Clear Water in-room water tap.
Oh, and that aforementioned pool and rooftop situation? At an impressive 110-feet-long, their ocean view rooftop pool happens to be the largest of its kind in South Beach. There are also three more distinctive swimming pools throughout the property–Center Pool, Cabana Pool and South Pool. A total of 57 cabanas and daybeds can be found poolside throughout 1 Hotel SB, ranging from intimate two-person daybeds to the rooftop living room cabana that seats up to 20.
And not to pressure you into working out on vacation, but you might as well take advantage of 1 Hotel’s featured Anatomy Gym. As the first of its kind in the US, it boasts 14,000-square feet of space designed with state-of the-art equipment. This unprecedented partnership offers education from local, certified Anatomy trainers dedicated to helping those of all fitness levels achieve strength and endurance. Available to hotel guests and residents of 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach, the gym divides itself by Anatomy’s core areas of fitness: athleticism, strength, endurance and mind. Each of these rooms is surrounded by a central area which features obstacle-inspired offerings, including overhead ropes, nets, and pipes for traditional Anatomy course training.
Located directly next to Anatomy is a less strenuous form of self-care. The 4,500-square-foot Bamford Haybarn Spa is the first Bamford Haybarn Spa in the United States. Based around a heartfelt connection with nature, the spa is rooted in a strong commitment to caring for the mind, body and spirit. 1 Hotel aims to provide a calming spa retreat for guests and locals looking to nurture themselves through specialty treatments, including massages and facials, as well as yoga, Pilates and meditation. Bamford also uses their organic and botanical ingredients in an array of luxury spa treatments and products.
This brings us to what may just be your favorite category of all: dining. Incorporating some of the state’s freshest flavors, 1 Hotel South Beach features seven on-property food and beverage outlets varying from farm-to-table cuisine to Japanese-inspired tropical dishes.
For one, there is Habitat, Chef José Mendin’s highly anticipated new concept that seamlessly blends old world Spanish elegance with new world Miami vitality to help reimagine restaurant dining in South Beach. Using fresh, local ingredients and masterful Michelin-star techniques, the menu respects the elements–fire, earth, air and water–and honors simplicity. The 200-seat restaurant feels both comfortable and unpretentious; hues of soft blues and browns evoke the sea with hand dyed textiles, natural woods, stone and warm lighting. Guests can also opt to sit on the patio, which offers al fresco dining under a canopy of trees.
Guests looking to dine while embracing their natural surroundings can experience Watr, a venue recognized by OpenTable Diner’s Choice Awards in the categories of Best Sushi, Best Scenic View, and Best Late Night Find. Located on the 1 Rooftop, Watr specializes in poke and Japanese-inspired cuisine. Additionally, the menu features vibrant cocktails that enhance flavors and compliment culinary creations.
Another option for a quick cocktail and some light dining would be the lobby lounge and bar, which offers a well-curated selection of local beer, wine-on-tap and crafted seasonal cocktails along with small plates. Those looking for something casual could visit The Sandbox, located on the Center Pool Deck, which features cantina-style poolside dining with freshly made tacos, alambres and tortas. In-room dining is also available 24 hours a day serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I’ll be honest, fellow travelers—Miami can be hectic. And Miami Beach is not always the beach experience you are expecting. If you’ve been, you can attest that it can be quite crowded and—at times—infested with seaweed. And if you haven’t, the aforementioned is not to say that I don’t recommend you make a visit because my intention is quite the opposite; I certainly love it there.
From one traveler to another, though, allow me to nudge you toward a hotel choice that will let you avoid the fray a bit and indulge in some serenity. 1 Hotel SB is exactly the kind of oasis I look for in a popular beach locale: easy access to sun and sand, if desired, and also a haven for creature comforts if you want to hide out for the day. And on top of enjoying all of its many luxurious amenities, you can rest assured that the environment is being treated right, too. So if you’ve been looking for an eco-friendly escape this winter, look no further—I’ve found the 1(Hotel) for you.