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    Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh discusses his 10th novel, which "couldn't have taken place anywhere else but Miami."

    Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh.

    It’s been 22 years since Irvine Welsh dug deep into the darkest dark of Edinburgh’s drug culture and came up with one of the unlikeliest blockbusters to ever hit bookshelves. That book, of course, was Trainspotting, and while its fame was seriously helped along by Danny Boyle’s 1996 film, it was Welsh’s words (specifically his insistence on street phonetics) which set the tone of the career to come.

    Since then there have been another dirty dozen of fictions, some of them long-form (Glue, Porno), some of them short-form (Reheated Cabbage), and some of both that also made it to the big screen (The Acid House, Ecstasy, Filth). There was even a romp that made its way to Miami (Crime), and a prequel to his debut (Skagboys). But no matter the size or the setting, each and every offering came off pure, unmitigated Irvine Welsh.

    Welsh’s 10th novel, The Sex Lives of Siamese Twinsis decidedly no different, despite the fact that its cast is all American, its protagonists (and perspectives) are all woman, and it’s set right here in the MIA. Then again, Welsh would be Welsh no matter what or where.

    We reached out to the part-time South Beach resident at his home in Chicago on the eve of his next American book tour to see what the infamous author is making of Miami and its most infamous beach.

    Who should we thank for luring you into the sex lives of Siamese twins?
    IRVINE WELSH: I was interested in writing about the horrible dichotomy we have in our society between sport and art. How you have to be either a meathead jock or a poncey arty type. I was always both. I wanted to explore that in two characters and saw them as coming together and representing a complete and actualized person. It was also a chance to look at our media culture, and how a TV channel has to create a narrative around characters to sucker us into watching regularly.

    Did you source the sex lives of Chang and Eng and/or any other actual Siamese twins?
    IW: I did, but not in an in-depth manner. The Siamese twins in the book are a sideshow, and their relationship runs parallel to Lucy and Lena's. They take different positions on the twin's proposed surgical separation, and that helps define and illustrate their different characters.

    That covers obsession; wanna now give us a sneak peek at Siamese’s most obsessed?
    IW: Lucy is a very driven, sporty woman; she's a serious athlete and trainer. She really has a messianic belief in the power of physical training to transform lives. She hates time wasters, who would be people who want to just work out rather than seriously train. She's aggressive and confrontational in relationships, and doesn't take any s---. Of course, her tough persona was developed as a response to her being in a situation when she was powerless to prevent herself [from] being abused. She's made sure she will never be a victim again, which is good, but she hasn't faced up to the psychological trauma the abuse caused her, which isn't so good.

    Lena is a very talented artist, who doesn't believe she has the right to that talent. By constantly seeking the approval of others, she undermines herself. She's basically a good-hearted woman, but is depressed through not facing up to her talents. She is depressed, overeats, and becomes massively overweight. She also becomes obsessed with Lucy, believing that Lucy's discipline and power can be her salvation.

    The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins by Irvine Welsh.

    Who serves as the Yin to the leading ladies’ Yang?
    IW: It's all on the two main characters; they are the Yin and Yang of the story. It's essentially a twisted romance, and like all romances, it ends with the persons involved denying something of themselves to create something bigger.

    Would you say that South Beach is also a star of this show?
    IW: I think so, very much. It probably couldn't have taken place anywhere else but Miami. There is the astonishingly visual culture, the light, and therefore the art, the beach and therefore the body imagery and the gyms. Lucy and Lena are, in some ways, extreme archetypes of ambitious transplants who have washed up in South Beach.

    Any other pockets of Miami play out in the book?
    IW: Yes, a lot of the action takes place in a semi-abandoned penthouse apartment in Downtown Miami during the height of the property crash of few years back, when things got really desperate for the people who overbuilt down there. It was a ghost town back then, but it's starting to establish itself as a proper downtown now. I think that's great. The Miami area is always going to be about the beaches, but all truly great cities need a vibrant, interesting downtown.

    RELATED: Why author Carl Hiaasen won't do wizards or vampires>>

    Speaking of Miami and its most infamous strip of sand, how’d you wind up with a pad on South Beach?
    IW: I've had a place in SoBe for about eight years. I first came back in the ‘90s for the WMC when I was DJing. Basically, it was an excuse to hang out with friends from the UK and have fun. I kind of feel in love with it. When the Chicago winters kick in, I jump on a flight and get down there. I've made a lot of friends over the years, so it's easy to slip back into the different scenes.

    What was it about the hallowed ‘hood which compelled you to commit?
    IW: I love the climate, and it encourages an easygoing hedonism, whereby people don't take life too seriously. I love the Latin American vibe; Colombia and Mexico are two of my favorite countries, and there is a big South/Central American influence there. I like the kind of voodoo darkness you get there, and how everybody in the bars has a colorful backstory. I love the food, and the South Florida Boxing Club where I go to get back in shape. Most of all, I love the beach. Give me a stack of novels and set me down on the sand around 10th Street and I'm a happy camper.

    Does the Beach still hold its original allure for you?
    IW: I find that if I have serious work deadlines, I'm better staying away from Miami. I love going down there when I've broken the back of a project. It's a great place to transition from work into leisure time. But I work on a project basis, so I could be in SoBe five months of the year, or five weeks, there's no set pattern. But Art Basel and the WMC and Ultra are the big times in the winter, so I try and do at least one of those two.

    If you had to sum up Miami in general to a creature from another world, what would you say?
    IW: I have to do this, as I explain it to people from Scotland regularly. I say to them, "Just go, and when you get there, don't go looking for the scene. Go to the beach and a few bars and it'll come to you."

    How ‘bout for South Beach in particular?
    IW: When you get to the beach, don't be scared to leave it. Check out the Gables, the art in Wynwood.

    That all said, shall we count on seeing even more of Irvine Welsh in Miami, as well as even more of Miami in the works of Irvine Welsh?
    IW: I think so. It's such a great place for me to write about as it’s a city and culture that's emerging before your eyes, and not ossified in the same way the great Northern cities in America are. I wrote Sex Lives of Siamese Twins partly to give me an excuse to spend more time down there, and I'm exploring more Miami film and book projects.

    Irvine Welsh reads from The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins on February 4 at 7 p.m. at Books and Books (265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables). For more information, go here.


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    Our February fashion update straight from the pages of Ocean Drive.

    Melissa Knows Best

    Style News Melissa MosheirIn addition to the illustrious brands sold at MVM Miami, celebrity-driven jewelry line LeiVanKash (shown here) is exclusively available to the city's elite, with gorgeous pieces from fine jewelry to handbags.

    Stylist-turned-entrepreneur Melissa Mosheim brings a fusion of contemporary designers and everyday essentials to the artsy Wynwood district with the relaunch of her boutique, MVM Miami. The 1,300-square-foot industrial space will showcase brands ranging from 10 Crosby Derek Lam and Mara Hoffman to Clover Canyon, plus accessories by Hat Attack and Lanvin, on the studio’s custom built-in shelves and workshop-inspired wooden tables. The boutique also offers Magic City shoppers a unique, tailored shopping experience, including an at-home personal styling service. 175 NW 23rd St., Miami, 305-573-4885

    Bijoux Off the Beach

    BijouxAlchemist’s exclusive jewelry concept brings cult favorites like Abraxas Rex to the Design District.

    The Design District welcomes a new jewelry concept by cutting-edge boutique Alchemist. The shop, which features a rose-gold mirror façade and granite walls, houses pieces exclusive to the area from top jewelry designers like Lydia Courteille and Stephen Webster. Alchemist also is celebrating the launch of its private-label jewelry collection. “Over the years, we have become deeply passionate about discovering new talent and unique craftsmanship in fine jewels,” say founders Roma and Erika Cohen. The debut collection will feature collaborative jewelry projects, including a capsule collection by model Erin Wasson. 140 NE 39th St., Miami, 305-531-4653

    RELATED: This jewelry will brighten your day>>

    Perfect Timing

    Omega watch

    Adding to the Magic City’s glitz is Omega's newest boutique, which houses the brand’s timepieces for men and women in cases that are inspired by themes of sun, water, earth, and time. Above the unique displays are one-of-a-kind art installations representing the sun’s rays, falling rain, passing time, and the history of time. Miami Design District, 111 NE 39th St., 866-733-5790

    RELATED: Watches that will wow Miami collectors>>

    Issa Simple Choice

    Caroline Issa

    Nordstrom is teaming up with Tank magazine Fashion Director Caroline Issa to bring shoppers a new taste of essential and classic ready-to-wear styles for spring. The collection, which changes for each season, will feature 25 luxurious yet accessible pieces, from tailored jackets and trousers to an array of foundation items designed by Issa, who is an international street-style favorite. Village of Merrick Park, 358 San Lorenzo Ave., Coral Gables, 786-999-1313

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    Luxe new digs haven’t swayed New World Symphony founder and artistic director Michael Tilson Thomas from his core mission.

    Michael Tilson Thomas
    Michael Tilson Thomas in the atrium of the New World Center. 

    If you’re looking for an easy way to gauge the evolution of the New World Symphony since its 1987 debut, just stand in front of its concert hall. Or rather, stand in front of its new concert hall. The symphony’s prior Miami Beach home on Lincoln Road—the sometimes clunky, sometimes funky Art Deco-era Lincoln Theater—is now an anything-but-funky fashion emporium.

    But a block north is the $154 million New World Center, a Frank Gehry-designed 100,000-square-foot complex with a state-of-the-art sound system and intimate in-the-round seating. Yet despite all the dazzling upgrades, the symphony’s founder and artistic director, Michael Tilson Thomas—who celebrates his 70th birthday with a blowout gala concert this month—insists his approach to conducting remains essentially the same. “I don’t know that my style has changed,” he says, musing on his preparations for the upcoming fête. “As I’ve been reading a lot of old speeches and articles from 30 years ago—my God, from 40 years ago!—it struck me how many of the same ideas I’m pursuing now are the same issues that were essential to me all those years ago.”

    At the core of his thinking is the belief that classical music remains a living, breathing genre. That means eschewing an overreliance on tried-and-true 18th-and 19th-century symphonic warhorses and making room in his repertoire for modern-day composers like Steve Mackey and Steve Reich. “I’m very aware of the past, present, and the future of this amazing musical tradition which goes back 1,200 years,” Thomas says. “There’s so much to explore in its past, but there’s still so much happening right now.”

    And all of it sounds better than ever before. “In the new hall, we can go after many more musical ideals—the quality of the sound is something we think about much more,” he explains. “Venues themselves are really instruments, and what we are doing with our violins and oboes, our trombones and timpanis—we are causing sound within this instrument to happen. The acoustics of the room itself are part of the audience experience.”

    Of course, buildings and composers are only part of the equation. The New World Symphony’s musicians remain key. More than 1,000 music school and conservatory graduates vie each year for one of roughly 35 slots in the symphony’s three-year fellowship program, all honing their craft in hopeful preparation for professional careers with orchestras around the country. “It’s not so much about technical proficiency,” Thomas says of the program’s training. “That’s kind of a given. It’s more about the issues of playing together; it’s encouraging people at appropriate moments to take leadership roles and be on the front edge of the music... For many of them, they’re playing some of these pieces for the first time, so it’s a voyage of discovery they’re on. That means, in some cases, it may take them a little bit longer to get to where the model performance needs to be. On the other hand, there’s a kind of joy and spontaneity they have at the experience, which very much comes across in the music.”

    Michael Tilson Thomas 2
    A New World Symphony Wallcast concert at the New World Center. 

    If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Thomas need only look for affirmation to the many organizations around the globe that have cited the New World Symphony as a model in creating their own educational programs. This past October, the New York Philharmonic announced the launch of a global academy to train students. So is Thomas concerned about this new competition for young classical talent? “I’m not trying to market or brand the work I’m doing with the fellows,” he replies with a soft chuckle. “There is something quite unique about the New World Symphony. If another organization like it existed in, say, a major northern city, it inevitably would be just one of a host of things that people in its fellowship program would be doing. They’d be doing all kinds of other jobs and outside gigs. There’s a tremendous focus about what they do in Miami, inside of our campus, to completing this wonderful process of inventing themselves.”

    Indeed, Thomas credits Miami itself for much of the New World Symphony’s success: “The organization is very much what it is because it has been in Miami, because of the freedom of what can happen in our city. Just the fact that we are outside probably more than any other orchestra in the world, we are playing in a hall where we have natural light much of the time, we’re seeing sky and water.” He pauses before concluding with more than a hint of triumph in his voice: “It is a unique Miami experience.”

    The New World Symphony will honor Michael Tilson Thomas’s 70th birthday with a blue-tie gala on February 7 at New World Center, 500 17th St., Miami Beach, 305-673- 331.

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    The Norton Museum of Art turns to its own backyard to spotlight the cutting-edge collection of West Palm Beach’s Beth Rudin DeWoody.

    Beth Rudin deWoody
    Untitled (Map Head) by David Wojnarowicz, 1984 

    As exhibition names go, “The Triumph of Love” may initially sound a bit corny. But Beth Rudin DeWoody says it suits her perfectly. Aside from being a nod to the title of a dizzyingly elliptical work by Cy Twombly—just one of the many marquee pieces from her collection of contemporary art that are featured in this Norton Museum of Art show —“The Triumph of Love” also encapsulates DeWoody’s feelings on the art world itself.

    Dividing her time between her family’s real estate company in New York and her home in West Palm Beach, DeWoody has spent several decades as both a museum trustee and an art patron. However, as long-term love affairs go, this one has had its share of rocky patches. “I still love art, but I don’t like all the aspects of what’s happened around it,” she explains. “Way back, it wasn’t about making big bucks. Nobody even thought of that—including the artists. They just wanted to keep their practice going. Now there’s more of an emphasis on commerce.”

    Accordingly, DeWoody is filling this show with pieces by lesser-known figures alongside what she jokingly calls “wham-bam names.” The exact lineup was still in flux at press time, but in addition to the aforementioned Twombly, as well as work by fellow “wham-bammers” Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol, expect to see pieces by on-the-verge figures, including sculptor Marc Swanson and Fort Lauderdale painter José Alvarez. “More people are participating in the art world than ever before,” DeWoody adds. “It’s taken over a lot of people’s lives—which is what it should be doing. Art is an essential part of life.”

    “The Triumph of Love” is on display through May 3 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach, 561-832-5196

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    You say you want a revolution—Babacar M’Bow leads the new MOCA into a dynamo era with a mix of local and international vibes.

    BaBacar M’Bow
    Babacar M’Bow at MOCA next to a piece from “Shifting the Paradigm: The Art of George Edozie,” which runs through February 2.

    “Why should so small a country, and one so poor, interest the world?” the narrator of Chris Marker’s 1983 film Sans Soleil asks of Guinea-Bissau, the small West African country of less than 2 million inhabitants. “They did what they could. They freed themselves. They chased out the Portuguese.”

    Today, Babacar M’Bow, one of Guinea-Bissau’s freedom fighters, directs the Museum of Contemporary Art of North Miami. This introduction might seem hyperbolic, but for many in South Florida’s art world, the recent schism at MOCA soon assumed the tack, and tact, of a civil war. The board decamped, along with some of the art, to the ICA in the Design District, but the name and the museum remain in the city, under new leadership and with a new mission.

    Born into a Marxist family in Senegal, M’Bow studied at the University of Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar and continued his education in Paris, where he received a doctorate at the Sorbonne, specializing in the sociology of the image. “I claim all of the cultures of the world as my own,” M’Bow says, believing there is no better place to experience this mix than Miami. “It is a gateway to a continent,” filled with people with “flexible psyches,” and, most importantly, the city is new. “Every century requires a new site,” M’Bow says. “The rupture is fundamental with the rise.”

    Before his appointment at MOCA, M’Bow spent 11 years with the Broward County Libraries. He also ran a gallery in Little Haiti and has written a number of books, including the just-released The End of the African Postcolonial State. Faced with rebranding one of Florida’s most visible cultural institutions, change is afoot: The “NoMi on My Mind” program brings citizens into the museum to share their own experiences, and the museum has already begun hosting different lecture series. The exhibition schedule is split between Miami-based artist-curators like Gean Moreno, William Cordova, and Richard Haden, who is preparing an exhibition about anarchism, and international programming such as retrospectives of the Colombian painter Carlos Salas and Russian artist and e-Flux founder Anton Vidokle.

    Amid the changes, M’Bow remains focused on his objectives and programming, including the “Alternative Contemporaneity: TAZ” group exhibition that opens on March 19. Says M’Bow, “It is a privilege to bring one’s small contribution to this rising global center.” 770 NE 125th St., Miami, 305-893-6211

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    Rachel Raab’s Buddha Pants are giving wearers the freedom to move as they please, from the yoga mat to the beach and beyond.

    Rachel Raab
    Rachel Raab manufactured the unisex pants, available in solids and wild prints, from Burberry-inspired plaid to rose-pink zigzag and tribal patterns ($80), to be both cool and comfortable.

    Like many modern-day headline-makers, Rachel Raab’s success story began in a college dorm. The founder and creative director of Buddha Pants, a Miami-area company that’s rethinking the ever-popular harem pants, knew her roommate at the Savannah College of Art and Design was onto something when she started making what would soon be the first Buddha Pant prototype. “I commissioned her to make me 15 to 30 pairs in college, because I just loved the pant, but I could not find them anywhere,” says Raab.

    After graduating, a move to Miami provided Raab the opportunity and inspiration to seriously launch the company. She quickly ramped up production and began visiting trade shows, like Wanderlust Yoga Festival and Om Festival, around the globe, where customers responded well to the pants’ versatile nature and forgiving fit. “A lot of women don’t feel comfortable wearing leggings,” says Raab. The style’s wide leg, draping, and elastic hem “really gives people their own space and comfort on their mat or wherever they may be.”

    Now, close to two years later, Raab’s business has blossomed into multiple unisex styles: the original Buddha (in a thick organic cotton), the Savannah (a smaller drop in a breezy, super-soft cotton), and baby Buddhas, a children’s version of the Savannah. “I got inspired by the ENO [camping] hammock—it folds up and packs into itself,” Raab explains of the pants’ ability to fold into their own pocket. “We made it happen, and people love it. It turns into a little yoga pillow. You can travel with it—you don’t even have to pack it. You can tie it onto your bag, tie it off of your suitcase, hang it off of your bike bar—it’s really versatile.”

    Today, Raab is her own best billboard. “We haven’t exposed the pant too much in Miami, other than me personally wearing them. We did the Miami Reggae Festival last year and sold, like, 100 pants in a day.”

    Long-term plans include setting up a hybrid storefront headquarters near her Little Haiti warehouse (completely self-sustainable and made out of shipping containers conceptualized in tandem with local designer Marcos Delgado) as well as introducing new designs, materials, and limited-edition prints.

    For Raab, though, it’s the small victories that define her achievement. One stand-out customer credited the “lifechanging” pants with giving her the newfound confidence she needed to reinvent her life and live in alignment with her truest self. To Raab, that “is success, to give this feeling to people, to make a change in their life.”

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    The Related Group COO Matt Allen discusses the highs and overcoming the lows of Miami real estate.

    Matt Allen
    Matt Allen, COO of The Related Group, at his home.

    To The Related Group COO Matt Allen, working for the real estate company is akin to the famous Vince Lombardi quote, “Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all-the-time thing.” (Allen even has the quote framed in his home.) As the man responsible for the day-to-day operations of one of the country’s largest real estate developers, Allen was arguably at ground zero of Miami’s real estate downturn. Consequently, he has a lot to say about fighting your way back to the top and never giving up, and since 1999, he has raised over $10 billion in equity and debt. The multi-hyphenate executive and active member of the Miami community brings immeasurable intensity to his career, family, and philanthropy. Here, he speaks about working side by side with Jorge Pérez, Related’s chairman and CEO, coming back from the recession, and what he feels is the key to his success.

    You wear a lot of hats at The Related Group.
    That’s what’s fun about my job—it’s always different. Jorge [Pérez] keeps me hopping all the time because his priority has to be my priority. I get a high from making sure we get a deal done and getting the best deal that’s out there; we call it the “Related tax.” I also love the people I work with. We have such a “push hard” mentality; you've got to make sure that people realize you appreciate them.

    How many dollars are you currently overseeing for Related?
    We have probably over $10 billion in development right now. We raise a lot of money; we have a lot of equity partners and there’s a lot of entertainment. I’m the main liaison for that; you have to make sure the banks see you as a normal person.

    What’s the largest raise you've done for any one project?
    This past year, we raised over $100 million for the 444 project [One Brickell at 444 Brickell Avenue]. We’re doing debt deals all the time—we just closed with Canyon Capital [Advisors] on a $157 million facility for SLS Lux.

    Right now, roughly how many projects are in the works?
    At our meetings, we speak about more than 60 to 70 jobs. I’m probably the only one other than Jorge in the company who has a hand in every job, but we also have great division presidents. I look at myself as partners with those guys.

    Matt Allen
    Carlos Rosso, George Mato, and Matt Allen at the Jaume Plensa sculpture debut, hosted by Colin Cowie, at Park Grove last November.

    So are you the “good cop” or the “bad cop”?
    Plenty of people don’t like me because you have to be stern, and they don’t always agree with you. When I have to take charge, I have to take charge, and when I don’t, I let them know they’re doing a good job.

    You were really at the epicenter of the recession. What was that like for you?
    It was a hard time. I was the one on the front end with the banks. We had 50 lenders and $2 billion in debt, and you’re telling people, “People aren’t closing on their condos, we can’t pay you back right now.” You take it personally. But we didn’t have one bankruptcy, we didn’t have one lawsuit with any of those lenders, and not many people can say that.

    What do you think about today’s market?
    We’re building to demand today. When you have such a South American influence, speculation is not driving the market—it’s investment. Miami’s become a big global city. You start reading about where Miami is globally, and we’re the seventh city of importance to high-net-worth individuals.

    You’re also very involved in charity work.
    Giving back to the community is very important. I think it’s a necessity of life, and I want my kids to see that. I’m on the board of the Dolphins Cycling Challenge, and we have the largest team. I did a fundraiser for the DCC and brought 300 people to my home. All this money goes to Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and that’s important…. Forget the tall buildings; we need the education and the medical facilities.

    Do your kids take part?
    This year, they decided to take donations for Sylvester and do a haunted house in the backyard. They did an incredible job. They raised around $1,300, but the money isn’t the point—it’s what they are learning.

    Are you Related for life?
    Absolutely, no doubt in my mind. It’s like when you’ve been on a national championship team year after year—you crave it. Even for all the difficulties of what we do, how we work, the constant challenges, when you’re with the best, there’s nowhere else to go.

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  • 01/29/15--21:00: 4 Red-Hot Luxury Watches
  • Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Miami with timepieces as fiery as the city itself.

    luxury watchesMonkey clutch, Valentino Garavani ($2,145). Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-867-1215. Serpenti Forever bag, Bulgari ($2,050). Bal Harbour Shops, 305-861-8898

    Valentine’s Day is the ultimate occasion pour l’amour. This year, eschew clichéd chocolates and renounce roses to give your love a longer-lasting token of your affection. Stunning red watches that underscore elegance, whimsy, and love will allow your special someone to display your devotion for years to come.

    1. From Blancpain, this St. Valentin watch ($19,300) is crafted in steel and houses an automatic movement. Stylized hearts are engraved and transferred onto the white mother-of-pearl dial. East Coast Jewelry, 16810 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles, 305-947-8883

    2. Dior presents this elegant 38mm Christal watch ($10,400) housing an automatic movement and featuring a red sapphire crystal pyramid bracelet. The bezel is also set with sapphire pyramids. Diamonds are added for extra allure, and the dial is red lacquer. Saks Fifth Avenue, Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-865-1100

    3. This Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Night & Day watch ($24,200) is crafted in 18k pink gold and features a red patent leather strap. The automatic movement, developed in-house, offers a day and night indicator. Aventura Mall, 19575 Biscayne Blvd., 305-521-0600

    4. Baume & Mercier’s Linea watch ($3,090) is crafted in steel with diamond indexes for added glamour. It is sold with an interchangeable two-tone leather strap. Mayors, 1000 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, 305-672-1662

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  • 01/29/15--21:00: You’ve Been Comped
  • Even the rich don’t mind a free meal or bottle. In Miami, it’s a way of life.

    Comped chefs

    Billionaires do it. Millionaires do it. Writers who occasionally eat ramen noodles in the off-season do it. It doesn’t matter what you bank—everyone is in search of a freebie. And in a town where drinks cost $25 and the price of fun is jacked up to appeal to high-spending tourists, locals schmooze their way into socialite status in order to live the good life for free.

    Sure, the best restaurants have four dollar signs next to them on every dining website, but no one really pays attention. They just sort of shrug their shoulders and say, “Eh, it’s better than giving the money to my ex-wife.” That is until, of course, you figure out that you don’t always have to pay.

    Recently, while sitting at my second VIP dinner at Morimoto, the ultra-chic Japanese restaurant in the newly revamped Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach on Collins Avenue, I figured it all out. It was the second VIP dinner, because chef Masaharu Morimoto (whom many know from the hit TV show Iron Chef ) is now a Miami Beach chef, and in Miami Beach, we give away dinners to the in-the-know VIP crowd.

    In case you were wondering, VIP means “free.” That means—twice—I enjoyed the yellowtail pastrami, tuna pizza, rock shrimp tempura, spicy king crab, and, oh, I don’t know, the crispy whole fish and the Duck Duck Duck on the house. As I was signing my name on what would have been a very Miami-priced meal (I still left a tip), I looked around and saw well-known lawyers, Hollywood types, and doctors—guys who not only rolled up in six-figure cars but have a Jeeves on salary to do the driving—all doing the same thing. That’s when it hit me: You can live in this town and never spend a dollar.

    Everyone is doing it. The wealthy, the hot young models, folks with just enough Twitter followers, realtors, editors, developers, guys who occasionally say funny things on Facebook, fashion bloggers—they’re all there at that new restaurant or store opening where they pass around Champagne and hors d’oeuvres for hours on end. Somewhere every night, there is a free party to go to, and every Miami socialite (most of whom head back to their penthouse at the Continuum, bachelor pad at the Icon, or home on fill-in-the-blank island afterward) is in attendance. Free apps, free booze, and a free gift bag usually loaded with certificates for free facials, free blowouts, and a bottle of free vodka for later. I’m still waiting for when a free-rent voucher is in one of those bags.

    It’s incredible, and it’s what makes Miami an amazing city. Everyone’s looking to party, to celebrate, reopen, and commemorate. And the only thing that pays is the liver.

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    Outlet king and South Beach regular Steve Tanger puts “sale” signs up all across America—and that’s a good thing for our economy.

    Steve Tanger
    Steve Tanger at his condo at the Continuum South Beach.

    Anyone who wants to keep his or her finger on the pulse of the economy needs to know what’s happening in retail. American consumers traditionally have served as the engine of economic growth, and their discretionary spending accounts are the largest contributor to the country’s gross domestic product.

    And who better to ask for a read on the health of consumers than Steve Tanger, president and CEO of Tanger Factory Outlet Centers. The company, founded by Tanger’s father in 1981, became the first outlet mall business to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1993. “We’ve been doing this for 33 years, and have never ended the year with an outlet center less than 95 percent occupied,” says Tanger, a resident of South Beach.

    As 2014 drew to a close, the economists were in a bind as to how to interpret trends. Black Friday sales were disappointing; consumer confidence numbers unexpectedly retreated. On the other hand, overall retail sales remained relatively buoyant. And Tanger, eyeing results at the hundreds of top brand-name retailers that sign leases at his company’s malls, was taking the rosier view. “Our traffic is up,” he says. “We’re opening three new shopping centers.”

    Each of those, Tanger says, is now on track to open with occupancy rates of 90 percent or higher in the new regions—Grand Rapids, Michigan; Savannah, Georgia; and the Foxwoods Resort casino in Connecticut—bringing the number of Tanger-owned malls to 47 in the United States and Canada, capping a $500 million expansion program that began in January 2014 that Tanger describes as “the largest building boom we have had in our history.”

    Tanger’s confidence in the future of retail—and the value of the company’s underlying real estate assets—lies in his view of the broader economy. “It’s doing a lot better than people had anticipated,” he says. “People are seeing the value of their investments [climb] substantially, followed by the value of their homes.”

    Tanger has made a home base for himself in Miami Beach, close to favorite hangouts Zuma and Cipriani (“I love the atmosphere at Casa Tua!”), and he plays golf at Indian Creek (where he quips that “my handicap is my swing”), but he hasn’t been able to open a Tanger outlet mall nearby. Not that Miami is short of alluring retail. “There are other great malls; there is the Design District, which will expand and thrive,” he says. “It has been fascinating to watch it all develop: Five years ago, Lincoln Road was nowhere. Having attractive shopping experiences is simply part of life’s collage.”

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    A new generation of prefab homes—from “granny flats” to sprawling primary residences—are a smart solution for Florida families.

    Gayle Zalduondo and Andrew Kelly
    Cabin Fever’s Gayle Zalduondo and Andrew Kelly on the porch of one of their company’s cabins.

    Much has changed for Andrew Kelly and Gayle Zalduondo since they built their first prefab cabin eight years ago. The Miami-based couple had been running Urbanus, their own design and manufacturing company, since 1989—designing products for name-brand retailers like Crate & Barrel and Room & Board—until industry changes motivated them to explore new business options. “We were thinking about what’s next for us, what would we like to do with our experience—and we realized that prefab housing was really an exciting industry that was now morphing into something new,” says Zalduondo.

    Zalduondo and Kelly gave prefab (short for “prefabricated,” meaning the homes are manufactured in sections to enable quick or easy assembly on site) design a shot and crafted a 320-square-foot cabin in their manufacturing facility in Little River, then set it up on an empty lot in Spring Garden to be photographed for their recently launched company website. Among those who took notice was the Gaudet Design Group, the landscape architects for Bob Dylan, who acquired the tiny structure for the legendary musician’s home in Santa Monica, California. And with that first purchase, Zalduondo and Kelly’s prefab business, Cabin Fever, was born.

    Since then, the couple has produced about 80 prefab structures for customers all over the country, who use them for everything from one-room music studios, home offices, or garden sheds to multi-bedroom in-law cottages, weekend houses, and even main residences. “We started with tiny cabins, but now customers are really looking for vacation retreats and full-time homes,” Zalduondo explains.

    “People started to think about prefabricated homes differently as a result of the recession [and] green building movement,” says Steve Linton, president of Deltec Homes, a manufacturer of prefabricated homes that was established in 1968 and has shipped 5,000 homes to date. “When the home is built, there are many things we can do in the factory that allow it to be more energy efficient that are hard to do in a field setting. [People] understand the value behind it [and] embrace the idea of environmental responsibility and building a more sustainable home.”

    As result of Kelly and Zalduondo’s success and the market insight they gained along the way, they've adapted their business model, expanded their product line and services, and added the words “Cab Prefab” to their company name in early 2014—because their buildings are no longer limited to small cabins—in order to push their business to the next level nationwide. The design duo also launched a sister company called Grey Build for their business in South Florida. “We have an à la carte menu and can either offer a shell-only structure with walls and a roof, or we can make a complete package with the shell, open floor plans, cabinets, and provocative materials and interior finishes, starting at about $175 per square foot,” Zalduondo adds.

    Cabin Fever cabin
    Cabin Fever’s cabins are available with custom interior finishes and made-to-order furnishings.

    Unlike early prefab structures, which were marketed in the US by Sears, Roebuck and Co. in the 1930s to middle-class buyers interested in easy-to-build, affordable housing options, Cab Prefab and Grey Build’s prefab structures aren't so much about low cost as they are about speed, value-engineering, and eco-friendly materials. Now the pair is designing and manufacturing prefab structures in a range of for- mats and sizes from one-room “granny flats” to four-bedroom homes in two styles, which Zalduondo describes as either “beach modern,” using silvery-white galvanized aluminum and stainless steel with bleached wood finishes, or “urban industrial,” using gray carbon steel, bronze, and plywood finishes. Prices start from about $20,000 for a 120-square-foot cabin to $100,000 and higher, depending on the scale and level of detail, and homes can be shipped to locations in most parts of the country for about $3,500.

    “The small premium that you may pay up front for a [prefabricated] home pales in comparison to the additional maintenance and energy expenses that a [conventional] house sees over its lifetime,” says Linton. “In one [case study], the total cost of a Deltec over a conventional home was about 5 percent more in upfront cost. Then after about 10 years, the total cost of owning a Deltec is about the same as a conventional new home [and] an existing home that was about 20 percent cheaper to begin with. So at about 10 years, we see this break-even point. As you carry that into the future 20 or 30 years, it’s even more dramatic. The savings are 10 to 20 or more percent.”

    While Kelly and Zalduondo offer guidance for putting the houses together, the cost of construction depends on standard rates for local builders. Yet their kit includes everything from siding, insulation, and interior finishes to plumbing, electricity, heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning as well as bath and kitchen fixtures and appliances. Some handy DIYers even build their homes themselves. The prefab kits can also be ordered with made-to-order furnishings, finishes, and light fixtures. Built mostly of recycled steel, Cab Prefab and Grey Build’s structures are also engineered to meet codes for regional conditions, such as earthquakes or hurricanes—an extra bonus that any prefab enthusiast in Miami is sure to love.

    This high-level customization suits Miami’s discerning homeowner set. “Customers have total flexibility to do whatever they want with the home in terms of adding luxury items, whether that’s in the finishes or [features] that are important to them,” says Linton. “We see homeowners building small getaway cabins that are very simple, then we see multimillion-dollar homes that are very luxurious.” And yes, they can deliver to Star Island. 6301 NE Fourth Ave., Miami, 786-734-6247

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    The comfy blue-collar Riviera—Hollywood and Hallandale—goes upscale and skyward.

    Hyde Resort & Residences will bring its legendary nightlife scene to Hollywood, Florida.

    Walk down the wide, paved Hollywood Beach Broadwalk (not boardwalk) and, with the exception of the classy low beachside wall just high enough to sit on and wash the sand off your feet, the town’s collection of sleepy beachfront motels, salty old taverns, and family-run pizza joints feels frozen in time before the contemporary condo canyons of South Florida existed. Hollywood Beach is still the comfy blue-collar Riviera that Sunny Isles Beach stopped being 20 years ago when 30-story condo towers began replacing kitschy motels.

    Yet change is afoot in Hollywood. At the center of it all, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Beach Resort is rising just to the south of the Hollywood Beach bandshell. The Margaritaville tower, with its 349 guest rooms, is a stark, although not completely foreign, change to the neighborhood beat. Named after the popular Buffett song, not surprisingly, the resort caters to former beach bums who long ago traded in their surf shacks and lifeguard wages for the suburbs and more flush occupations but want to relive the old days. The resort’s amenities come with straight-from-Buffett-lyrics names poking fun at the laid-back beach town lifestyle that Hollywood Beach has always been about, like the License to Chill Rooftop Bar, the St. Somewhere Spa, and the 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar.

    For the affluent looking for a place to buy, and perhaps less fond of cheeseburgers in paradise, Sage Beach and the Meliá Costa Hollywood Beach Resort are viable choices. Both are residential projects (although Meliá does double-duty as a condo/ hotel) with a sleek, modern, and “beachy” but contemporary aesthetic, and both are in close proximity to the Broadwalk, with Meliá occupying a site stretching from North Surf Road to A1A, just off the Broadwalk, and Sage Beach taking a more intimate oceanfront site in walking distance from the Broadwalk’s southern end. Meliá has units ranging from studios to three bedrooms, while Sage Beach has two to four bedroom units, including six penthouses. Both are under construction and will be completed in 2015.

    Sage Beach
    Sage Beach, designed by the renowned architect Carlos Ott, is among the new luxury condominiums changing the image of Hollywood Beach.

    A little bit further south, the formerly sleepy Hallandale Beach, with its mid-century motels, may evolve into the new Sunny Isles Beach of Broward County, with vertiginous buildings that make the town’s iconic beach ball water tower, built at a time when it was the tallest thing in sight, seem almost out of date (historic preservationists, keep a watchful eye). The Related Group is making a substantial investment in the area. Its Apogee Beach is the third condominium tower completed in South Florida since the beginning of the infamous 2008 recession, and its Beachwalk and Hyde Resort & Residences condominium towers are both under construction along with a shared beach club (opening in March) for the future residents. As to Related’s northward expansion, “We are able to deliver beachfront projects at a significant discount to Sunny Isles and South Beach,” says Related’s Condo Division President Carlos Rosso. “It’s a great value proposition for buyers.”

    Beachwalk overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway.

    The oceanfront Hyde (which is technically just over the border, in Hollywood, but is next door to the Hallandale “ball”), the most high-end of Related’s efforts, is 97 percent sold out, and will operate in partnership with hospitality group SBE, a team Related has joined with on a number of other projects around South Florida. Hyde broke ground in September 2014, while Beachwalk, which is just over the Intracoastal Waterway—and thus a short walk away from the beach instead of on it—topped off a few months before Hyde broke ground and is completely sold out.

    Looking to the future (and a few yards west), Related is working on a project for the parking lot south of the Hollywood Crowne Plaza Hotel and directly across A1A from Hyde, which the company plans on launching sometime mid-February.

    Luckily Hallandale is getting an infusion of new kitsch to replace the rapidly disappearing old: A giant statue of a pegasus fighting a dragon is the latest addition to the roadside vernacular of Biscayne Boulevard, thanks to Gulfstream Park Race Track. Pegasus, a mythical horse with wings, is winning the match, perhaps symbolizing the speed and swiftness of racing thoroughbreds. The dragon’s meaning is a bit harder to interpret. They’ll both soon be flanked, however, by an even taller speci- men: a condo tower. The Village at Gulfstream Park, the outdoor retail and entertainment area attached to the track, is getting a condo tower called, rather prosaically, Gulfstream Park Tower. Units will range from studios to three-bedrooms, and, though a walk to the beach is a bit of a trek, you can stroll over and bet on the ponies.

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    Southern Wine & Spirits’ Wayne Chaplin gets in the spirit for his biggest business party of the year—the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

    Wayne Chaplin
    Wayne Chaplin, president and CEO of Southern Wine & Spirits, at FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, in the school’s Restaurant Management Laboratory. 

    On most workdays when in town, Wayne Chaplin, president and CEO of Southern Wine & Spirits, sits in his office, working with suppliers to build a brand that, today, is the country’s largest wine and spirits distributor, with 14,500 employees from Maui to Maine and $11.4 billion in sales in 2013. It is number 28 on Forbes’s list of America’s largest private companies, representing more than 1,500 wine, spirits, beer, and beverage suppliers from around the world. But on one Sunday a year—in this case Sunday, February 22—Chaplin puts his feet in the sands of South Beach and soaks it all in. “Every year, I enjoy walking through the Grand Tasting event and watching people sample all of our suppliers’ great wines and spirits,” he says of the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, which takes place this year from February 19-22.

    It was Chaplin and the team at Southern Wine & Spirits who started the festival in 1997, known then as the Florida Extravaganza, a one-day wine tasting and food-pairing event held on the north campus of Florida International University. The goal was simple: introduce people to their brands of wine and raise money for FIU. “It was just kind of a small, intimate event that we hoped would raise some money, and by 1999, we were able to open up the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center, with a lecture hall and a tasting room, which is obviously state of the art,” says Chaplin. “In 2000, when Lee [Brian Schrager] joined Southern Wine & Spirits, he saw what we were doing and decided it was time to take the event to the next level.”

    RELATED: Lee Brian Schrager on what’s new at SOBEWFF>>

    Wayne Chaplin and friends
    Lee Brian Schrager, Michael Symon, Arlene and Wayne Chaplin, Chrissy Teigen, and John Legend at The Q and Flaunt event to kick off the 2014 South Beach Wine & Food Festival at the Delano.  

    Schrager moved the Extravaganza to South Beach in 2002, gave it a new name, found corporate sponsors, and over the past dozen years, turned the South Beach Wine & Food Festival into what, in 2014, consisted of 70 events over four days with 300 celebrated chefs and winemakers, raising $2 million for what is now the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at FIU. “Lee Schrager is a magician and visionary, and he has taken this festival with the Food Network to a place no one would have ever imagined,” says Chaplin.

    To date, the festival has raised more than $20 million for the school, creating scholarships and facilities like the Mel Dick Wine Tower and the Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Laboratory. “There’s no other hospitality school that has that type of teaching laboratory for students and the most amazing state-of-the-art kitchen that anyone has ever seen,” says Chaplin. “The dean has ideas about expanding that into a brewing science laboratory and food production laboratory, and now there is also the Chaplin Hospitality School in China.”

    The festival itself is a big business. Corporate sponsors like the Food Network, Mastercard, Whole Foods, and KitchenAid support the event that, in 2014, garnered more than 4.5 billion media impressions, and welcomed celebrity chefs, Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, and Hollywood’s biggest foodies. More than $1 million worth of Southern Wine & Spirits’ beverage offerings were consumed at the festival last year. “In 2013, the US became the largest wine-consuming country in the world, surpassing France,” says Chaplin. “I’m not saying that happened because of our festival in any way, shape, or means, but by exposing people to wine over time, it continues to help grow the wine business.”

    Wayne Chaplin and Mel Dick
    Chaplin with Southern Wine & Spirits’ Mel Dick at the FIU Teaching Restaurant inaugural dinner during last year’s festival. 

    Chaplin’s company and industry as a whole also benefit from the education they are helping to provide FIU students, who work at the festival and at various venues around town during their school tenure. “Students become an amazing resource for us to recruit from,” says Chaplin. “The school is putting out some amazingly talented young people.”

    So on that Sunday, Chaplin will smile. He’ll see the students working, the consumers drinking wine and spirits, and the city of Miami Beach hosting one of the greatest food festivals in the country. Says Chaplin, “It’s a fabulous success story, and we’re all lucky to be able to do something that we love and at the same time be able to give back to the community.”

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    Award-winning photographer Drew Doggett mounts an exhibition in West Palm Beach of his black and white images of one of the world’s most remote corners.

    Drew DoggetRunning Wild, from Drew Doggett’s 2012 “Discovering the Horses of Sable Island” collection. 

    “All of my collections are sparked by a captivating story,” says photographer Drew Doggett, whose “Discovering the Horses of Sable Island” series is currently on view at Mecox in West Palm Beach. “I’m captivated by a story, initially—that’s what draws me to a subject matter, [then] it’s all about telling the story in a way that I think does a subject matter justice.” Here, the 30-year-old artist, who has also photographed the African Omo tribe; the isolated people of Humla, China; and the towering dunes in Sossusvlei, Namibia, opens up about finding his voice, his breakout year, and the elite subject matter that has next captured his focus.

    What sparked your interest in photography?
    My dad is an architect, so from a very young age I had an appreciation for architectural photography. In high school, I went through all the black and white photography courses, and then when I went on to college, I found a mentor in Nashville who taught me about fashion photography and portraiture. That was the tipping point for me in recognizing that I could make a career out of this art.

    Why photograph the horses on Sable Island?
    Not having any human interference is a pretty remarkable thing, and it’s such a unique place and unique story that I felt like it should be documented and shared. Sable Island [near Halifax, Nova Scotia] is a really difficult place to get to and from—you have to charter a plane, and there’s only a single plane that’s available. You land on the beach, and the island is socked in by fog over 100 days out of the year. I spent two weeks living in the weather station on the island, and every morning I’d set out by myself, not knowing what I’d see or where I would go. There was such an element of adventure to it because I didn’t know what I would stumble across.

    In 2013, your “Omo: Expressions of a People” series was accepted into the National Museum of African Art’s photographic archives, and last year you won several awards. Would you say 2014 was your breakout year?
    That’s a tough question. I think it takes the better part of a decade to really find your voice in your artwork, and while my subject matter might drastically differ, I feel like I’ve found a common thread. This year, I’ve launched a new website, I have a consistent look, and it feels really good to be settled within this brand that I’ve created.

    What will your next series be?
    Racing sailboats from the 1920s and 1930s. They might not be remote, but the particular class of boats that I chose to shoot, there are only seven of them in the world, and so there’s this inaccessibility about them that drew me in. I’ll be publishing a large-format coffee-table book as well, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. There are so many different stories to tell, and at the end of the day that’s what I am; I’m a storyteller.

    “Discovering the Horses of Sable Island” is on display through April 6 at Mecox, 3900 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach, 561-805-8611

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    To hone talent for Piripi, Chef Najat Kaanache rallies a group of culinary experts to live and work together under one roof.

    najat kaanache
    Chef Najat Kaanache helms the kitchen at Piripi in Coral Gables as well as in the home the staff shares in Kendall. 

    The table is set for what looks like a feast for a very big family—14 place settings to be exact. Spanish-Basque chef Najat Kaanache motions to her team that it’s time to eat, and the young stagiaires—or culinary apprentices—hustle in and out of the kitchen, trailing aromas of Northern Spain, including saffron and mushrooms. However, this is not a tasting table for customers; it’s for the cooks themselves. Not only do they all work together at Piripi (a Spanish word describing a state of dreamlike exuberance), Kaanache’s new restaurant in Village of Merrick Park; they also live together under one roof. These stagiaires are young chefs who left their lives in Spain and Greece to learn from Kaanache in the US.

    najat kaanache and friends
    Kaanache and some of the staff taking a break from tilling the tomato garden at the “chef house.” 

    The paella on which everyone is feasting is one that guests can expect to find on the menu at Piripi, which is decidedly casual and laid-back despite its impressive 1,200-bottle wine list and its address in one of Coral Gables’ most coveted retail compounds. Kaanache and her team are moving beyond molecular gastronomy to return to the basics of the rustic cuisine found in her hometown of San Sebastian at its popular pintxos, the Basque version of tapas bars. Expect dishes such as Happy Sea Bass with crispy skin, white asparagus “truffle,” and roasted cherry tomatoes; or Harvest Moon Gazpacho, marrying watermelon and heirloom tomato in a zesty broth.

    For this unusual arrangement, Kaanache might be the perfect teacher. She’s been to more than 29 countries to work in some of the best restaurants in the world, such as El Bulli, Alinea, French Laundry, Per Se, and Noma. Her journey is one of storied instructors and daunting challenges. As a woman of Moroccan descent, she had to fight for acceptance in San Sebastian as a child. Kaanache learned to find what she calls a “Zen moment” whenever an obstacle appeared, and grew up to become a TV actress in Spain. Ultimately, her love for food prevailed, pushing her to tackle culinary school and the fine-dining hierarchy. “At El Bulli, I had 51 lions [her word for chefs] staring at me,” Kaanache says of her stint at Ferran Adria’s bastion of haute cuisine before it closed in 2011. “I had to fly like the wind to be the fastest and prove why I deserved to be there.”

    najat kaanache dishes
    Cronuts de gamba con crema de mejillón (shrimp cronuts with mussel cream) cooking.

    Prior to that, while apprenticing at Noma in Copenhagen, she fought a battle with breast cancer—a setback that didn’t slow her down. After receiving treatment in Holland, she flew directly to Chicago to apprentice at Alinea, the restaurant famed for its 20-course seasonal tasting menus and one of only 12 in the US to earn a Michelin three-star rating. “I put my white jacket on and I felt alive,” she says.

    As for having all her chefs live together in one house, Kaanache calls it a “test.” The sprawling 10-bedroom home that sleeps 21 sits on an acre of land in a residential neighborhood near Kendall, where lush tropical plants separate the chefs from the outside world. The Piripi team tries to eat together at least every Sunday night, when the restaurant is closed for business. As the stagiaires sit down to eat their octopus-laden paella, Greek stagiaire Valantis Ionnis says he doesn’t mind living with his boss, and Eric Lobo, from Spain, refers to her as “the mother of the house,” from across the table.

    najat kaanache 3
    They all applaud themselves before eating. FROM LEFT: Piripi partner Charles Accivatti, Kaanache, stagiaire Lola Rodriguez, and Wine Director Matthew Reiser.

    Although from an American perspective this kind of intensive, all-consuming training might seem a bit much, in Europe it’s standard for cooks to live together. Kaanache takes it a step further by also living with her apprentices, to be “vulnerable” to her team. “We need to know each other well in the restaurant and in the house,” says the chef, whose team members stay indefinitely.

    Strict house rules are generally enforced: No drinking, no smoking near the house, no shoes inside, no walking around in boxers, and no leaving the couch without fluffing the pillows, to cite a few of the directives. As for sleeping arrangements, it’s two to a room. The house is an easy five minutes from the Metrorail, three stops from Merrick Place. There’s not a lot of downtime, but there’s a pool in the backyard for a quick dip and room to plant and harvest tomatoes. 320 San Lorenzo Ave., Ste. 1315, 305-666- 6766 

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    These days engagement rings are incredibly creative, especially in trendsetting Miami where anything goes and bigger is usually better. Whether it’s a knock-out, a rare colored gemstone, or a custom setting, here are 10 engagement rings that certainly make a statement just in time for Valentine's Day.

    An Inventive Setting

    Bulgari engagement ring.

    Platinum ring with emerald-cut diamond, 32 buff-top rubies, and pavé diamonds, Bulgari (price upon request). Miami Design District, 140 NE 39th St., 1-800-BULGARI

    The Italian gemstone powerhouse, generally known for its iconic serpenti style and its front woman, former French first lady Carla Bruni, gets creative with this east-west setting, perfect for a modern woman who wants something unique and eye-catching. The rubies, which are inlaid into the creative setting, bring a pop of color to an already stunning piece.

    A History-Laden Ring

    Chanel flower engagement ring.

    1932 ring in 18k white gold set with a pink radiant-cut diamond and 249 brilliant-cut diamonds, Chanel (price upon request). Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-868-0550

    In celebration of the 80th anniversary of Chanel’s "Bijoux de Diamants" exhibit, the house created a new 1932 collection. The year marked the first time Mademoiselle Chanel showed fine jewelry, and this beauty would most certainly be at home in 1932—and now.

    An Unusual Stone

    Chopard tourmaline engagement ring.

    18k white gold ring featuring a 41.57-carat Paraíba tourmaline and 8.8 carats of diamonds, Chopard (price upon request). Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-868-8626

    Tourmaline, referred to as the gemstone of the rainbow for its multitude of colorations, has become popular as of late. What better way to show off a massive, sparkling blue example of it than set in a ring encompassed by sparkling white diamonds?

    An Estate Ring

    Art Deco engagement ring.

    Estate 4.12-carat diamond emerald onyx platinum engagement ring ($27,000). Dover Jewelry, 169 E. Flagler St., Miami, 1-877-777-6111

    For some discerning Miamians, only a one-of-a-kind, vintage ring will do. Purchase a piece of history with a nod to Miami’s Art Deco years with this black onyx, white diamond, and emerald ring. The distinctive, round shape is echoed in three diamonds on each side and in the basket for a truly interesting take on the era.

    A Miami Tradition

    Danhov engagement ring.

    Couture platinum engagement ring with a 3-carat round center diamond, Danhov ($70,000). Kirk Jewelers, 142 Flagler St., Miami, 305-371-1321

    Miamians have been going to Kirk's since 1947, and in recent years, a fifth generation of the Neubauer family has joined to cement their future as one of Miami’s top jewelers. This Danhov triple shank platinum and diamond ring is just one example of the modern classics housed at the Flagler street location. 

    A One-of-a-Kind

    Tiffany engagement ring.

    Ring with emerald-cut red spinel in a diamond and platinum setting, Tiffany & Co. (price upon request). 342 San Lorenzo Ave., Coral Gables, 305-529-4390

    From the Tiffany Blue Book, which highlights the most spectacular pieces the storied jeweler produces each year, is this red spinel and white diamond ring that will turn heads from Bal Harbour to South Beach with its unique design and master craftsmanship.

    An Art Deco Bijoux

    Louis Vuitton Art Deco ring.

    Acte V Genesis Ring in white gold with 1.71-carat princess cut diamond, onyx, and diamonds, Louis Vuitton (price upon request). Miami Design District, 170 N.E. 40th St., 305-572-1366

    Gaston-Louis Vuitton, grandson of maison founder Louis Vuitton Malletier, was a pioneer himself of the Art Deco style, which is perfectly executed in this onyx and diamond elongated hexagon ring.

    A Royal Ring

    Sapphire engagement ring.

    Lady Di Ring with 11.21-carat oval Madagascar sapphire and princess-cut diamonds, Gumuchian ($105,000). Duchamp Jewelers, The Ritz Carlton South Beach, 1 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach, 305-695-0877

    Inspired by the Princess of Wales’ engagement ring—which Diana allegedly chose because “it was the biggest”—this stunner resembles the late princess’ sapphire and diamond ring, which currently resides on the Duchess of Cambridge’s left hand.

    An Exercise in Perfection

    Graff Diamonds

    Emerald-cut diamond ring, Graff Diamonds (price upon request). Bal Harbour Shops, 900 Collins Ave., 305-993-1212

    Sometimes all the bells and whistles aren’t needed—just pure perfection in quality and size. Graff, who touts its pieces as “the most fabulous diamonds in the world,” achieves this through a flawless, whopping 33-carat diamond ring of epic proportions.

    A Canary That Sings

    Canary yellow diamond ring.

    Platinum yellow diamond ring, Morays Jewelers ($63,000). 50 NE Second Ave., Miami, 305-374-0739

    Morays has been a fixture on the South Florida scene for several generations, and this canary yellow diamond set on platinum with diamond accompaniments is just one example of the many special engagement rings housed in the store.


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    Global sensation Andrea Bocelli settles into his new Miami Home in preparation for a three-day Valentine’s extravaganza at Hard Rock Live.

    Andrea Bocelli
    Andrea Bocelli performing at the 2014 Billboard Latin Music Awards at Bank United Center in Miami.

    Andrea Bocelli is one of the most successful musicians of all time, mastering genres from opera to classical to pop. He has sold more than 150 million records worldwide, recorded 14 studio albums and nine complete operas, has been nominated for a Grammy, Golden Globe, and Academy Award, and is even in the Guinness Book of World Records (for simultaneously holding the number-one, -two, and -three positions on the US classical album chart). This is obviously not a one-note man.

    Since losing his sight at age 12 following a soccer accident, Bocelli, 56, has spent his years devoted to his family, his music, and his Andrea Bocelli Foundation, which aims to reduce poverty around the globe. In addition to his talent and generosity, Miami’s newest resident is also a loving husband (to wife Veronica) and father of three, a newly fledged boater, and an unapologetic flirt. He sat with Ocean Drive in his breathtaking waterfront home to talk about his remarkable life, his surprising fear, and his upcoming shows at Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

    Why did you decide to buy a home in Miami?
    I love this place for the weather, the sun, the ocean—many reasons. I remember one time coming from New York, where it was so cold; I arrived here in Miami and it was like paradise. I said to Veronica, “I’ve decided tomorrow we will buy a house here.” I’m very decisive!

    What do you like to do in the Magic City?
    When I’m here, I stay at home. I walk around the neighborhood, but I don’t go out so much. I have a friend who lent me a boat, and I like to go around boating, actually, because my children like to pilot. [Veronica points out that they are headed to friends Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s house for dinner that night.]

    Tell us more about your Miami concert on Valentine’s Day.
    It’s usually a typical Italian tenor concert. Of course I like to sing about love in general, and for Valentine’s Day especially, I will do this, but exactly what I will perform I still don’t know.

    RELATED: Meet the next big (Miami) thing, singer Christian Acosta >>

    Why are you so struck by love that you sing about it so often?
    I love the women very much! I’m Italian—don’t forget it. I read something in a newspaper that called me most sexy singer of the year. I laughed, of course, because it’s a stupid thing, but I’m very happy. I love this kind of music; it’s part of my heart.

    You’ve performed for so many amazing people, from world leaders to celebrities. Do you ever get nervous?
    I’m always nervous, but not because I’m in front of a president, but because I have people coming just to listen to me. I’m very nervous, always. Stage fright. Oh, I’ve suffered a lot. Now, a little less. But I remember the first years in particular, it was terrible.

    One performance that must have been extremely difficult was when you performed for the pope the day after your father passed away.
    I’ve performed for three popes, but with that one, I had some help from above. Otherwise it would have been impossible. [My father’s] spirit helped me, absolutely.

    Tell me about your foundation. Why did you start it?
    The Andrea Bocelli Foundation was born three years ago. When you’re aware that you are a lucky man, and you’ve had a very lucky life, you feel the need to share this with others—people not as lucky. The goal is to help wherever there is poverty and suffering. Our efforts were concentrated especially in Haiti—we tried to build schools and hospitals. We have a friend [Father Rick Frechette]— an extraordinary person I met a few years ago, he is a priest and a doctor—and he lives there in dramatic conditions. For me, he is a hero.

    I heard you are possibly becoming an American citizen?
    In a sense, yes. I work a lot in America, I bought a house in America, I improved my English a little bit; I’m on my way. I like this country very much, because in this country, we breathe freedom, more than in my country. When I’m here, the only things that I miss are coffee and my language. That’s it.

    While your first two children, Amos and Matteo, are grown, you’re also a father to a 2-year-old daughter, Virginia. What have you learned from your older children that applies to parenting now?
    Nothing! It’s always the same thing—in Italian, we simply say, “Children are a piece of your heart.” Andrea Bocelli performs on February 12, 14, and 15 at 8 pm at Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, 866-502-7529

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    We caught up with Bravo’s Millionaire MatchmakerPatti Stanger to talk everything Valentine’s Day, season eight of her show, and her new wine collection, PS Match.

    Patti Stanger. Patti Stanger.

    Single or taken, Valentine’s Day can be tricky. What do you do if you’re single? What do you gift if you just started going out—or if you’ve been together forever? We turned to Millionaire Matchmaker star Patti Stanger for advice on everything you've ever wanted to know about the Day of Love: what to gift, where to eat, why you shouldn't watch Titanic, and how to throw a sexy DIY V-Day at home. Stanger also gave us the scoop on what to expect from the rest of season eight, and told us all about her new wine collection, PS Match, made in partnership with Prairie Creek Beverages.

    On Gifting for Both Sexes 
    "Guy giving girl is always romantic. So you have to set the tone: how deeply do you like this girl? Is this the wife? Or is this the showgirl that you just take out to the party? Or is she the one-nighter for the night? If it is the one-nighter, you still want to give her roses and chocolates because you want her to get juicy-goosey downstairs and you want her to be relaxed and happy. But if you know that this is somebody important, set the sentiment, which is the touchstone memory of jewelry. I’m all about jewelry. And you don’t have to go extreme and get the engagement ring—unless you are ready to propose. You can go costume all the way to really high-quality jewelry like Tiffany and Jennifer Meyer. [Get] hearts on it.

    "[Gift] fragrance for men, because you want to want him. You want to smell him. Because if women know that they don’t like the smell of the man, they won’t go near him. Women need to feel a sense of longing. Men already have the longing—they want to see it and hit it. Women need to slowly heat up; they’re crock-pots while men are microwaves. The way [women] heat up is through smell."

    On What's Too Cheesy
    "I mean, writing in the sky. You know—going crazy. You are at the Lakers game and putting 'I love you, Valentine' on the ticker tape, stuff that is embarrassing."

    On What She Wants for Valentine's Day
    "You know what I really want? The Jennifer Meyer XO necklace ($550,, which I love because I sign all my notes 'XOXO.'"

    On What to Serve If You're Staying In
    "Fish is key, which is hard because you don’t want your house to smell. So I suggest takeout sushi. [Or serve something like] little filet mignon tidbits; make them small appetizer portions. You don’t want to overload. This is not the night to have a pasta dinner—this is the night to be light and friendly. You want to be able to feed each other; you want foods you can share. You want desserts, from chocolate-covered strawberries to crème brulee, that you can spoon-feed to each other."

    Patti Stanger's wine, PS Match.Stanger suggests wine for Valentine's Day, particularly her flavors from PS Match (more on that below). 

    On Setting the Mood
    "Make your house your spa. Put the rose petals in the bathtub, take out the champagne and put it on ice. Your house should smell good; break out the Jo Malone candles. And the other thing is, you don’t want to get overly amped with cocktails. You want wine because it relaxes you. If you go tequila, you will burn out before midnight. I love tequila so there’s nothing wrong with that, but we are trying to make this experience very seductive and sensuous and last."

    On Why You Shouldn't Watch Titanic
    "[Watch] Love Actually, one of my favorite movies of all time [or] When Harry Met Sally. You could do An Officer and a Gentleman, which I love—movies that have a happy ending. Don’t do Titanic. He dies, even though I love that movie and it is romantic. If you are going to do The Notebook, you know, they struggled a lot to get there. [So] make it light and friendly. Or you can also do suspense, like Gone Girl; Gone Girl was my favorite movie of the year. You know, you are both clutching onto each other. Scary movies are great. You keep the lights on, you want to bang because you are afraid the ghosts are going to attack you.

    "And then, also, you can listen to really good sex music. […] I like really romantic music. A little Sarah McLachlan, Ed Sheeran; I’m obsessed with Ella Henderson. A little Pitbull if you want to dance."

    On What to Do If You're Single
    "Get out! The men know that’s the night you are going to be crying into your soup. So they know that they’re going to get it. Don’t give it up! Walk away before you stay too long at the party, is what my mother would say. Nothing good happens after 11 o’clock at night. Get out with your girlfriends—it’s okay to go out with the posse. Usually I say, 'Those who travel in packs don’t attract,' but that night they will. Because men know you need support. And [Valentine’s Day] is on a Saturday night this year. I mean, Fifty Shades of Grey is going to be released the night [before], so everyone is going to be in heat."

    On the Rest of Season 8
    "I can’t tell you who comes in the second half but you are going to be shocked. The finale is off the chain. And we’ve got a lot more to go—we’ve got a lot of Housewives coming back on this season, we haven’t seen them all. You don’t know everyone who is on this season [yet] and we got at least six or seven matches so far that we know about. So regular Joes are hooking up with celebs and they are dating. We also have UFC Champion Luke Rockhold. We have some sports stars coming on, [including] a very famous tennis player. You are going to see all sides of the street."

    On Her New Wine Collection
    "I’m going to have four flavors. We have a sweet red sparkling, we have a crisp green apple chardonnay, we have a cab—because we gotta have our traditional cab, but it’s a little more on the berry/jammy side—and we got to have our rose prosecco. Two of them come from Italy and two of them come from Napa; all four go with everything. These wines can be made into cocktails as well. With our sweet red sparkling, we do a sangria. Bringing people together was the big thing—bringing people together, sharing, relationships, intimacy, friendships have been built upon some the greatest wines of all time. And it is the elixir of the gods."

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    We sat down with Dr. Margaret I. Cuomo to find out why she thinks most cancers are preventable, and what she hopes for the future of National Cancer Prevention Day (happening today, February 4). 

    Margaret Cuomo, A World Without Cancer.

    Margaret I. Cuomo with her book, A World Without Cancer, at a Hamptons event in 2013.

    Margaret I. Cuomo, M.D., the oldest daughter of former New York Governor Mario Cuomo and sister to current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and CNN’s Chris Cuomo, can hold her own in her famous family. She's a radiologist, author, and health blogger, but perhaps her biggest role yet is as board member of Less Cancer—an organization that strives to educate the public on ways to reduce the risk for cancer before it starts.

    For the past three years, part of Less Cancer's mission has been National Cancer Prevention Day (February 4), and this year, Cuomo will mark the date by moderating a panel of experts in Washington, D.C. who will talk about preventing cancer. Among the attendees will be politicians from both sides of the aisle, and experts in public health, public policy, cancer prevention, and other fields.

    Personalities in attendance will include Dr. Graham A. Colditz, a pioneer for cancer prevention from Washington University in St. Louis; Deborah Raphael, Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment; and Dr. David Widawsky, who is Director of the Division of Chemistry, Economics, and Sustainable Strategies within the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Jon Whelan will receive the Less Cancer Leadership Award this year.

    We recently sat down with Cuomo to talk about how you can prevent cancer, why she got inspired to write her book, A World Without Cancer, and what she hopes for future National Cancer Prevention Days.

    There hasn’t been a lot of discussion on how to prevent cancer in particular. Why do you think this is an important conversation to have and why have it now? 
    MARGARET CUOMO: Well, it’s an essential conversation and it’s one that people like me, people involved in public health, people involved, even in scientific research, have been concerned about for decades. But you’re right. Most of the focus of the public and of our government has been on the treatment of cancer, not on the prevention of it. Now, especially with the focus brought by the Affordable Care Act, more and more light is being shined on the significance of prevention, how it’s more economically sensible for us to focus on prevention, rather than the cure. The cure, especially when it comes to cancer, is recognized now as an impossibility. You would never be able to cure all the cancers that are out there. Even in terms of just breast cancer, there are now at last count, 17 known types of breast cancer. So to say that you are going to target each one of them and knock out each one of them is unrealistic.

    Why do you think it’s important to get politicians on both sides involved in this issue?
    MC: It’s essential because without it we’re not going to make any progress in this area on a national level. That’s why I say if we cannot get the Congress to move to a point where they’re willing to protect consumers, then we’re going to have to say, “Okay, we’re going to do this state-by-state.”

    You’ve also written a book on cancer prevention called A World Without Cancer. What inspired that?
    MC: As a diagnostic radiologist, I was intimately involved with the cancer treatment of patients for so many years, and many of them were friends and family that came through my office. And it occurred to me that we’re not doing the best we can do, that so much of this is preventable. Scientific research tells us that over 50 percent of all cancers are preventable. That’s astounding, isn’t it? And the other 50 percent is that unknown area that we still have to explore, including the toxic chemicals in products that we use in our daily lives. But diet, exercise, ending smoking, limiting or eliminating alcohol, protecting our skin from the sun, and managing stress can all contribute to that 50 percent reduction in cancer risk. So that’s very significant.

    What do you think is the most interesting thing you’ve learned while writing this book?
    MC: Well, what I learned is that people are not aware [of] how much power we have in prevention. And that there is so much that we can do right now, and there’s so much more we can do to reduce our risk, if, as I say, we had the protection in terms of regulating our products from chemicals and being more careful about our produce.

    What are some everyday precautions that people can take to prevent cancer?
    MC: It really is a cooperative approach. From the moment you wake up in the morning, read the label on the products you are using to brush your teeth and wash your face. And in my book I give a list of some chemicals that are very common that you want to avoid. So start with that. Then, what are you going to nourish yourself with? Do try to buy organic whenever you can. Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables, rather than looking for things that aren’t grown in-season in the place where you live. Limit your intake of red meat. That’s going to raise your risk for cancer. And processed meats, too—smoked meats. You want to try to cut down, or eliminate those from your diet altogether.

    Try to have a plant-based diet. That means more vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. And protect your skin from the sun. Use safe products, lotions with an SPF of at least 30 to protect your skin. And of course if you’re smoking, you’re going to quit. And if you’re not smoking now, you’re not going to start. Despite all of the things we’ve read about the benefits of a glass of wine for your health, the truth is that alcohol does raise your risk for cancer. All the studies say so; so less is more. The less you drink, the better. And if you’re not drinking now, don’t start.

    How do you think future National Cancer Prevention Days will be recognized? For example, there are red ribbons for World AIDS Day, pink ribbons for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, do you foresee anything like that in the future?
    MC: What we don’t want to have happen is that this becomes commercialized. We attach a color or whatever to it, and then nothing substantial happens. That’s not our goal here. What we’re trying to do, what I’m trying to do in particular, is to gather all segments of society—whether you’re an adult or a child, member of the media, or medical community, public health advocate, cancer prevention advocate, every segment of society has to be involved in this effort. We can all do our part. People in education can teach more about good nutrition, can rid their schools of soda and machines that sell unhealthy snacks. We all have to do our part, and the focus has to be on children. If we don’t teach our children well, we can’t expect them to develop good habits as they grow.


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    On Valentine’s Day it takes more than a dinner reservation and roses to prove that you mean business. This year, impress your other half by planning something a little more on the wild side—like bathing in beer or gazing at the Eiffel Tower from above.

    Craft Beer Bath for Two

    Spa beer bath for two.

    Relationships are all about keeping things fresh, and since we’re betting you've never taken a beer bath with your boo (intentionally), how about getting love drunk together? The Maui Spa & Wellness Center in Boca Raton might be a trek but you won't find another alcoholic-laden spa treatment like this. As for the brew, it comes from nearby Big Bear Brewing Company in Coral Springs. And yes, you get to drink one if you want. 2100 NW Boca Raton Blvd., Boca Raton, 561-395-7733

    Get Serenaded at the Fontainebleau

    Fontainebleau Miami Beach.

    Frank Sinatra used to serenade crowds at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach back in the 50s, and now you can see another legendary singer take the BleauLive stage on Valentine's Day: five-time Grammy winner Michael McDonald. While you're there, make a day of it with a couples' massage at Lapis Spa and a pre-fixe dinner at Michael Mina 74 (or another on-site restaurant of your choice), which is included with your show ticket. Just make sure you catch the sunset on the beach before supper. 4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, 305-538-2000; Purchase tickets here

    RELATED: Everything you need to know about Frank Sinatra's Miami stay>>

    Love Boat

    Miami Boat Show.

    Nothing says forever like picking out your future yacht. Take your sweetheart to the Miami International Boat Show (February 12-16) for a day of smooth sailing, and after you’ve agreed to disagree on the name of your fictional vessel, stroll down Lincoln Road for some people-watching. When you get hungry, keep it classic with some claws from Joe’s Stone CrabMiami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Drive, 305-673-7311; 11 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, 305-673-0365

    A Trip Around the World

    Virtual flight.

    Always wanted to spend February 14 in Paris? With Flyanairliner's Romantic Locations Valentine's Day package, you can take your love to the moon and back without having to leave the ground. Fly around the world aboard a multimillion-dollar, full-flight Boeing 757 simulator, soaring above all the romantic sites on your bucket list. Post-flight, a black car will pick you up with a bottle of bubbly and take you wherever your heart desires—anywhere with roads, that is. 6601 NW 36th St., Virginia Gardens, 702-927-2620; Call or email to book

    Painting with a Twist

    Adult painting class.

    Remember that scene in Titanic? Well, this isn’t like that, but Painting with a Twist does involve a BYOB painting party where you'll both create a masterpiece to take home and hang on the wall. Choose the work of art you'll create ahead of time and bring along your favorite bottle (a wine chiller and cups are available)... because couples that paint together stay together. 7657 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, 786-300-6855; Book classes here

    RELATED: Pick up one of these great bottles of rosé>>

    Key West Escape

    Resort in Key West.

    Fall in love all over again in Key West. Imagine three nights of secluded beachfront dining, champagne on ice, rose petal pathways, and breakfast in bed in your suite. And if that doesn’t close the deal, a private three-hour sail on South African yacht The Lilyanna might. You'll get it all and more when you book the Love, Island Style package at Little Palm Island Resort & Spa. 28500 Overseas Hwy., Little Torch Key, 305-872-2524; Book here


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