The Raleigh, an Original Miami Icon, Will Reopen as a Rosewood

Nikki Ekstein, May 03, 2022

Architect Peter Marino goes into detail for the first time about his design plans.


If Miami is having a moment now, just wait until 2025, when city reclaims one of its original icons, the Raleigh. Closed since 2017, the landmark art deco hotel aims to reclaim its standing now that the ambitious plans of its trio of superstar collaborators won final approval on March 31.

Crafting the $243 million real estate deal is developer Michael Shvo; in charge of visuals old and new is the iconoclastic architect and designer Peter Marino.

But the news that will matter most to travelers is that the Raleigh will operate under the umbrella of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, whose luxury portfolio includes New York’s Carlyle and the Crillon in Paris.

Historic Raleigh Hotel Facade Credit: Samuel H. Gotttscho from the Gottscho-Schleisner Collection in the U.S. Library of Congress.jpg

For Marino, the project is personal. “My mom used to do backstrokes in the pool, saying ‘I’m just like Esther Williams at the Raleigh!,’” he recalls. Decades later, as a friend and creative collaborator of LVMH, he sat by the hotel’s pool—with its sinuous, art deco shape enunciated by a thick, black-tile outline—for Chanel’s 50th anniversary resort-wear show, in which Karl Lagerfeld’s retro-meets-rock collection was displayed alongside underwater theatrics from the U.S. Olympic synchronized swim team.

That pool is properly legendary. Under Marino’s preservationist eye, it’ll go virtually untouched, with “The Folly,” a seashell-like building at one of its corners, revitalized as a funky pool bar.

Alongside it, Marino is building out a number of complementary features. Most notably, he’s adding a 17-story condo tower—the first beachside build approved by Miami’s strict historic preservation board in nearly two decades—whose 44 sprawling Rosewood residences, also designed by Marino, will all face the beach. (Prices are yet to be disclosed; Shvo says the waiting list has more people than units.)

members-only beach club, Marino says, will resemble “a Brazilian lima bean.” Rambling gardens, likely to be filled with Les Lalannes sheep sculptures, will connect it to the Raleigh’s neighboring hotels, the South Seas and the Richmond. Altogether, they’ll make up a three-acre site giving Marino and Rosewood  space for all the amenities required of a modern-day urban resort.

“With all three of those elements—the club, the restoration project, the condo tower—it’s an architect’s dream,” Marino says.

The hotel seems poised to become a traveler’s dream, too.

Rosewood has a track record for bringing warm hospitality to markets where that can be difficult to find. (Think Beijing or Paris.) Miami is also unique in its ability to draw partiers and families in equal measure; groups with such disparate needs can be difficult to reconcile. The company produces best-in-class kids’ clubs through its Rosewood Explorers program—Chief Executive Officer Sonia Cheng is a mother of four—while creating spaces for unforgettable nights out, such as  Bemelmans at the Carlyle. (Not long after the Crillon’s official reopening in Paris, Mike D of the Beastie Boys took over the DJ booth in its historic, chandelier-bedecked bar, Les Ambassedeurs.)

Marino says that by taking over the adjacent hotels, Rosewood will have enough space to create multiple dining venues—the Raleigh used to have only one restaurant—along with a full-scale spa and three new (rectangular) pools that he is designing with custom mosaic art along the bottoms.

The Martini Bar, almost as essential a space to Miami culture as the main pool, will get a full restoration. “We want to recapture its legacy and spirit, like what we’ve done at the Carlyle with Bemelmans,” says Cheng. “The type of gathering place that the Carlyle is for New York, we want to give to Miami.”

Marino is already reveling in the period details. “We found this hilarious sketch of a martini glass in the original tilework in the floors—I am definitely putting it back in,” he says with a laugh. “Something like that just makes you smile. It would never occur to me in 2022 to do that kind of thing.”

He’s also recreating the original bar’s look by installing a series of back-painted mirrors, each done by a different contemporary artist this time. And in the Tiger Room, a former events space named for the two-tone columns around it, custom tiger-striped murals will adorn a new restaurant with nightclub vibes. “Is there anything sexier that tiger stripes?” Marino asks. “I defy you to think of something more fun.”

Ultra-luxurious fun, though, is not hard to find in Miami. Competition awaiting Rosewood already includes the exuberant Faena and the historic Four Seasons Surf Club, with its Thomas Keller restaurant and imported-from-Amalfi Champagne bar. In 2023, Aman is slated to open in the art deco Versailles Hotel building that will include a newly built residential tower designed by Kengo Kuma.

Except for the forthcoming redo of the Delano, none of those restorations is as high-profile or high-stakes for Miami Beach as the Raleigh’s. So how will Marino know he’s done justice to the job? Seeing the kind of headline event that rivals mermaid swimming acts and Lagerfeld couture might help, he says. “I want there to be a bodybuilding contest at the pool—full of really sexy, semi-naked bodies—followed by a Brazilian samba party where everybody gets to dance,” says Marino. “Wouldn’t that be perfect?”