The last time a new MIami hotel project opened early was just about...never. Yet in December, the Epic will open five months early.
The reason, said execs on a morning hard-hat tour of the downtown tower: As construction in South Florida has slowed, labor has become more readily available. So instead of opening to guests in May 2009, the hotel will open Dec. 15 and begin taking guests Jan. 1. Starting rate: $399.
If you remember the old Dupont hotel downtown, you know the location: on the Miami River, near the mouth, on the "downtown'' side of the Brickell Bridge. That riverfront location gives it something no other hotel in town offers: 800 feet of marina suitable for water-tour pick-ups, speed boats and your 100-foot-yacht. (It's not designed for permanent tie-ups but for guests.)
On this morning's tour, we were able to see a standard guest room: 425 square feet plus balcony, muted earth tones in sophisticated styling, and a spa-style bathroom with separate water closet, rainshower head in the spacious shower, separate tub and a "window'' into the bedroom. (Execs swear the window shade is a blackout so you won't bother your partner; if you stay there, let us know how it works.)
Though it's not the cheeriest time in the economy to be opening up a hotel, Kimpton COO Niki Leondakis said they're expecting marketing efforts in Europe and South America and the chain's specialty in small-group meetings will pay off.
The 411-room Epic is Kimpton's first property in Miami. (The company briefly managed the Mayfair in the Grove.) If you don't know Kimpton, you'll want to check them out. Based in the Northwest, Kimpton opened the country's first boutique hotels 27 years ago; though many are still out west, three are in New York. Along with hip styling, distinctive personality and (generally) smaller size hotels, Kimpton offers friendly touches like a nightly wine hour, pet-friendly service (they'll deliver a goldfish to your room if you're feeling lonely), and free or at-cost access to those basics you often forget, like tweezers, contact solution and nail polish remover -- exactly the items I nearly always forget.
Photo courtesy of Kimpton.