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This article reviews the newest venues around Miami for event planners.

The Magic of Miami
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Florida’s Hottest City Has Hot Venues Aplenty
by Paulanne Pellegrino | Published in May 2007 Focus on Event Sites
When Susan Gladstone needed to find a venue for the Super Bowl Sponsor VIP Gala featuring Michael Bolton, one property was the perfect fit — the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami.
“The Carnival Center is a beautiful venue,” says the Miami-area planner. “It offers unusual and fabulous opportunities for gatherings like dinner onstage or arranging a concert as the highlight of an affair.”
Gladstone was more than pleased with the way her event unfolded at the mammoth venue — and the Carnival Center is just one of the many hotspots this caliente city serves up.
The wealth of exciting venues was one reason why Event Solutions chose the city to host the 2007 Idea Factory: Events, Education, Expo. It will be the trade show’s second time in the city since 2002.
“We are excited to bring the events community to a place that has an incredible array of locations representing new, re-used and historic venues,” says Vicki Carson, trade show director. “One of our biggest challenges with Miami is deciding which of the many venues to use!”
Well-known to locals and visitors as the Magic City, Miami continually reinvents itself, making more and bigger and better of what is already there. Extending into this new millennium its longtime status as one of the premier places in the country to mix business with pleasure, the city is now home to scores of extraordinary, up-to-this-very-minute venues for planners to create mind-blowing affairs that your clients and attendees will never forget.

The Fifth
New to the hot list as of last June is The Fifth Social Club. According to Gerry Kelly, marketing director, The Fifth came to Miami compliments of Oliver Geddes, a nightclub mogul who has operated a Fifth in Toronto for 12 years.
Having undergone a $3.5 million refurbishment, the Miami hotspot offers over 9,000 square feet of space and can accommodate any affair from a private dinner for 50 to cocktails for 1,000. Designed by Geddes to resemble a New York City loft combined with a Star Island mansion, it is homey, impeccably kept and structured with the planner’s needs in mind.
Outside, 60-foot-high exterior walls are perfect for projections, and its private parking lot is big enough for outdoor expos. High-end touches abound inside, with hardwood floors and Italian leather furniture that can be easily reconfigured or removed. The Fifth has a full kitchen, and since it’s licensed as both a restaurant and a nightclub, it can cater all events on the premises but also lets you bring in outside caterers.
The club’s walls are lined with celebrity coolers — stars like Kate Hudson, Mickey Rourke and Ivanka Trump (or other, more earthly individuals who are so predisposed) can purchase and stock them with favorite bottles so they are ice cold and ready to be served upon the party’s arrival.
The second floor features three private penthouse suites customized with music volume controls, 6-foot-high refrigerators for snacks like chocolates, strawberries and whipped cream, and private elevators for low-key arrivals and departures.
With all this attention to luxuries small and large, Kelly proudly says it’s no coincidence that there’s a 99 percent booking rate for walkthroughs at The Fifth.

Wynwood Convention Center
With 50,000 square feet of space encompassing a city block, the Wynwood Convention Center is big on size and potential. Located in Miami’s up and coming Wynwood Arts District, the venue has also been chosen as the site of the 2007 Fabulous Showcase Event, the Idea Factory’s signature evening affair.
Originally a dry-cleaning factory, the venue has embraced an industrial-chic aesthetic. Co-owner and Designer Adrian Green is quick to point out that there is a “flexibility of feeling here with warmth and great energy. That’s what this place is all about.”
The Wynwood Convention Center recently hosted its first major event, Photo Miami, during the internationally renowned Art Basel Festival and, says Green, the reviews were fantastic.

Claiming to have set off “the biggest buzz in South Beach’s famed nightlife scene,” SET nightclub, the newest edition to the Opium Group’s Miami dynasty, opened its doors this past January to showcase a wave of glamour not seen in this town since the days of Frank, Dean and Sammy.
Completely gutted and rebuilt, SET features a dramatic design inspired by the grand Hollywood homes of the 1930s and ’40s.
With a dramatic floor-to-ceiling, glass-encased fireplace, the foyer is its first focal point. Four multi-colored, illuminated Swarovski crystal ball chandeliers are suspended overhead, seeming to float in midair.
Furniture is modular, comprising woods, leather and dagger symbols combined with “whisky-a-go-go”-style Pucci fabrics. Tinsel-type objets d’art inspired by Hollywood’s Black Dalia era embellish the space, including a pair of 12-foot-high Egyptian Annibus statues that stand in homage to Cecil B. Demille’s “Cleopatra.”
The Trophy Room, featuring hunting and sporting awards and memorabilia, is a cozy members-only area on the second floor.

Fontainebleau Suites
Not far off on the horizon is the scheduled 2008 completion of the renovation and expansion of the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.
No expense is being spared to bring the historic hotel into the new millennium.
After its $1 billion facelift, the new facility will cater to every type of gathering, from executive board meetings to full-blown conventions. There will be a total of 58 meeting rooms, occupying 107,000 square feet. Approximately 42,000 square feet of prefunction space and 51,000 square feet of outdoor space will also be available.
Wired with the latest technology, the meeting space will include three ballrooms that can accommodate up to 3,000 people, theater-style.
Accommodations will include nearly 700 studio and single-bedroom suites in the resort’s new luxury towers. Marble floors, columns and a grand staircase are just some of the architectural features to look forward to.

Carnival Center for the Performing Arts
These days, no discussion of hot new venues in Miami would be complete without mention of the Carnival Center. Located on both sides of Biscayne Boulevard, the 570,000-square-foot facility gives this otherwise flat city “mountains of the arts,” according to architect Cesar Pelli.
And these new mountains are available for events. The Center has three theaters: Sanford and Delores Ziff Ballet Opera House (which seats 2,400), Knight Concert Hall (2,200) and Studio Theatre (200), in addition to other spaces. The two larger theaters are perfect for larger gatherings, and dinner parties there have been known to happen right on the stage.
Planners are also encouraged to orchestrate events in its two sweeping lobbies and various outdoor terraces. The outdoor Plaza for the Arts is 57,000 square feet of space connecting the two theaters across Biscayne Boulevard. For VIP affairs, traffic can be rerouted around the plaza.
Even though all these spaces are “better than great,” according to Michael Aller, Miami Beach’s tourism and convention director, there is one last spot that none of them can beat. To him, the white sands and aquamarine waters of the seashore itself is truly God’s gift to event planners. At least, that is, for parties of a large scale. With the need to secure a permit from the City of Miami Beach, the effort and expense are well worth it if you have bigger numbers to accommodate.
“There’s nothing better,” he says.

About the author: Paulanne Pellegrino
Paulanne Pellegrino is a writer based in Miami.

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