Adventures written by the VAMONDE Team
No hotel captures the glitz and glamor of Miami Beach quite like the Fontainebleau. Opened in 1954, this luxury hotel was the place to see and be seen. The rich and famous were drawn to the hotel's prime oceanfront location on Millionaire’s Row, opulent design, and air of exclusivity.
Morris Lapidus, the architect hired by hotelier Ben Novack to turn the former Firestone Mansion into a world-class hotel, once said, "If you create a stage and it is grand, everyone who enters will play their part.” Accordingly, the Fontainebleau became the grand stage for celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, and Elvis Presley as well as notorious crime figures like Meyer Lansky and Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal.
Learn about the glory days of the Fontainebleau Hotel:
The hotel is also featured prominently in American pop culture, appearing in films like Scarface, The Bellboy, Goldfinger, Police Academy 5, and The Bodyguard.
The hotel is known for its legendary lobby, formal gardens, and curved facade. Although renovated several times, many of the original elements remain, including the “Staircase to Nowhere” and the black bowtie pattern in the white marble lobby floor. Lapidus was known for wearing bowties, and the renovation paid tribute to his jaunty style; the theme is continued outdoors in the concrete pavers and the shape of one of the hotel’s pools.
The Fontainebleau is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and recognized as one of the 100 most popular architectural works in the United States by the American Institute of Architects.
Cover image by Ebyabe [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)].