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Surfcomber Miami

CONCEPT: To rebrand the iconic oceanfront hotel, which was originally built in 1948, into a Kimpton Hotel, a renovation was needed to create a stylish and playful escape in the center of Miami’s Historic Art Deco District. The 186-room Surfcomber reopened in December 2011 after a project that included gutting the guest bathrooms and adding new designs for the lobby bar and restaurant. 

   Dayna Lee, a principal with Powerstrip Studio, the Los Angeles-based design firm that spearheaded the project, elaborated on the objective. “With styling and patterns that could exist in Miami, Barcelona or San Remo, our desire was to make our local and international guest feel the backyard bliss,” she said, adding that the previous design was “very tired.” In addition, Lee noted that the design team was challenged with a very tight schedule.

EXECUTION: The guestroom design depicts a combination of ’70s summer dress prints and pickled natural wood with brass fittings. The walls are the color of the sky and are designed to make the furnishings float. Lee described the carpet as “pure pop art.”  

Little decks, both streetward and beachward, include chic, porch-style furnishings custom made in rural Italy, Spain and Miami. Meanwhile, multiple cabanas edge the large pool and have rocking chairs. “Our design intent exudes with an appreciation of the relaxed back porch—simple yet worldly,” Lee said.  Art selections throughout the lobby include warm wood sculptures from the local Miami area. High-end residential shapes are seen throughout the property. The hotel was also designed with the environment in mind and includes solar-powered exterior lighting and reclaimed and recycled materials throughout.

The hotel, which is owned by Robert Balzebre, is managed by Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and represents its third property in the South Beach area. General manager Sean McKeen feels the redesign was effective. “The new Surfcomber brings to South Beach all the things visitors to the area desire most, a sultry and stylish hotel that is dynamic and fun, yet inviting and authentic,” he said. 

Lee was equally pleased with the result. “We are proud that with our challenges and limitations, we are able to still re-brand the property with design as the game changer,” she said.

When asked what differentiates the property in a competitive South Beach market, which boasts a number of famously designed hotels, Lee noted, “Our European breezy, seaside style sets us apart from the other properties,” she said.