BEEP BEEP BEEP.
It was still dark. I vocalized a small groan as I pulled the blankets over my head and melted into the stillness of my small Brooklyn apartment.
BEEP BEEP BEEP.
Is there anything more irritating than an alarm clock at 3:30 in the morning?
I didn’t have time to ponder the answer. I had a flight to catch.
Some background for the reader: my boss had recently awarded me a fantastic opportunity to assist closing a deal with a high-profile client down in Miami, which was a supremely welcome confidence booster, considering that I had just moved to New York, where I knew no one, and had a three-year relationship end all within a month. I had since thrown myself whole-hog into my career and left precious little time for anything else, including social events, painting, sightseeing – all of the things I used to enjoy.
I landed in Miami around 10:00 a.m., and hopped in a cab.
3265 NW 107th Ave, Doral, please.
We arrived at the hotel 9 miles later. It was warm and sunny – a welcome change from the winter snow in NYC. My employer had chosen the Aloft Miami Doral Hotel. I passed through the doors and immediately wished I was there for play instead of work. The lobby was massive and modern, with splashes of neon color and light festively tossed here and there. Vacationing families and exec-types speckled the space, and I noted how unique it was that they all seemed to fit in here. The rooms were sleek, and perfectly married contemporary convenience with retro inspiration. I dropped my suitcase on the bed and peered out the window at the pool and palms below, angling my mind optimistically toward the future.
I will spare you all the details of that day. Suffice it to say that the aforementioned meeting with the high-profile client did not go as well as I had hoped, and I was having an increasingly difficult time remaining positive. All of that work. I had spent the last two months preparing for that meeting. It’s not personal, it’s just business, I told myself as I returned to my room with a sigh. Then it hit me: it’s Thursday night. I’m a solo, 30-year old art-and-culture-and-sun enthusiast in Miami. I rearranged my flight and booked three more nights at Aloft Miami Doral.
At the risk of sounding saccharine, I will say that the next three days were actually life-changing. For the sake of the reader’s attention span, I will stick to the highlights.
Heeding his suggestion, I made a beeline for the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens – a Euro-inspired retreat and staple in the Miami community. It’s a tourist destination, but I was still able to wander peacefully through the gallery and gardens. This experience was particularly enriching, since I had been largely ignoring my love for both art and nature since moving to Brooklyn.
On my way back to the hotel, I stopped into Little Havana, which is just about 11 miles away. It was also fairly heavy on tourists, but I was totally enamored with the culture there – Latin music spilling out of the local record shops, seasoned men standing in doorways, smoking and discussing Cuban politics (or that’s what I liked to think they were discussing, anyway), the large, iconic ceiba tree in the center of the main boulevard. I felt transported.
When I returned to the hotel, I ran into Sam in the lobby. We had spent a good deal of time chatting the night before, and we decided to continue the conversation over some wine, jazz, and one killer cheese plate at Le Chat Noir in Downtown Miami. That was the most relaxed I’d been in the last year.
4. Sunday, I hopped over Biscayne Bay to Miami Beach – because how could one go to Florida and not spend a day on the beach? Incidentally, there’s also a fantastic museum of contemporary art over there – the Bass. Let me tell you, there are few things better than a day split between art and a sandy shore.
By the end of my stay, that horrible meeting seemed like a distant memory. Before all of this happened, I had focused on Miami solely as a jetpack for my career, and Aloft Miami Doral as just a safe place to land, but both ended up being pretty integral in some much-needed personal introspection, development, and relaxation. What a weekend.
Aloft Miami Doral is located in Miami’s Doral area, less than one mile from International Mall and Dolphin Mall and just nine miles from Miami International Airport.