Maintaining unity through webinars and industry-specific virtual talks

Maintaining unity through webinars and industry-specific virtual talks

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read April 2020The novel coronavirus forced a global halt to major international, regional and local events. From the NBA season to networking conferences, all gatherings of any size stopped abruptly in an effort to flatten the curve and prevent COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, from spreading further. However, as the population at large becomes accustomed to social distancing, stay at home orders and self quarantining, many events went from a hard stop to full speed ahead virtually. As the business community adjusts to the challenges of the disruption caused by the coronavirus, many institutions are building value and maintaining relationships with patrons by maximizing the use of webinars, online classes, video conferences and even virtual happy hours. 


In South Florida, a region known for its events and conferences, different institutions have embraced virtual meetings to build value and maintain close relationships with clients in the midst of social distancing. For the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, a chamber known for its networking events focused on covering top-of-mind issues for its members, virtual meetings and webinars have become the go-to instrument to stay connected to its members and coach them through this new business landscape. “At this point in time, in an era of social distancing, we are gearing our efforts toward creating webinars that give our membership and beyond a chance to find out what resources are available to them, how to maintain their business in this socially disconnected economy and coaching them on how to bounce back when that time comes,” Spokeswoman Morgan Mongelia told Invest: Miami. “All our regularly scheduled monthly programming had to be moved to a virtual platform and format,” she said. As part of its virtual offerings, the chamber has a full slate of virtual webinars, in addition to industry-specific teleconferences. “We are also using this time to support fellow community organizations and businesses via personal phone follow-ups to ensure the long-term success of the Coral Gables business community as a whole,” Mongelia said. 

The video conference platform, Zoom, has quickly become ubiquitous across the virtual events space. Across economic sectors, different institutions are taking advantage of Zoom and similar platforms. To host a successful virtual event, event planners must decide between hosting a virtual meeting or a webinar. “If you expect attendees to mostly just listen,” the best option is a webinar, Zoom advises as part of its digital event best practices. “When you need more back and forth between the audience and the host,” planners should choose a virtual meeting, the platform advises. 

Once the type of digital event has been narrowed down, hosts should hardwire the internet connection to prevent any Wi-Fi-related hiccups or virtual lag. In terms of audio, hosts should test speakers and audio prior to the meeting and minimize any background noise, according to Zoom. Additionally, hosts should dress to impress and make sure to start the virtual event on time. It is important to set the tone of the event and encourage Q&A’s during the virtual meeting or webinar. As a best practice, Zoom recommends the use of the Chat function to keep track of questions and comments. For larger webinars, Zoom offers a PayPal integration to charge the registration fees seamlessly. 

Social distancing will be part of the mainstream business landscape until at least May. However, many institutions are adjusting and pivoting more and more to the virtual hosting model to build value, share information and regain a sense of community in a time where residents are being asked to self-isolate as much as possible.  

To learn more visit:



Spotlight On: Mike Allen, President, Barry University

Spotlight On: Mike Allen, President, Barry University

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read March 2020 — Higher education must consistently and constantly look to innovation and diversification in order to differentiate and remain a top option for incoming students. Mike Allen, the first lay president of Miami’s Barry University, discusses how the school fosters a more diverse environment by attracting students from many different backgrounds, as well as working closely with the private sector to insert its students naturally into the workforce.


 What are Barry University’s top near-term priorities?

 If there is one area that’s really driven my time, energy and priorities, it’s our external presence as a university. This is a really impressive university in terms of our faculty, what we teach, how we teach it and the quality of experience that our students have, but not nearly enough people know about us, about how special this place is.

We have 65,000 living alumni, and they are not nearly as connected to the university as we would like them to be. That is unusual, because every time I meet some of these alumni, they are so passionate about their school, they more than like it, they love it. They had a great experience and they are excited and want to be involved, but we just haven’t had that presence out there.

Another aspect of that is our role in South Florida. Barry University is a really important part of the South Florida community. The educational institutions are pivotal to South Florida’s economy and to its families. We are working hard to increase our visibility in the South Florida community. 


How does Barry University insert itself into South Florida’s larger higher education environment?

One of the big misperceptions about Barry University and other schools like Barry, particularly in South Florida, is who we serve. People tend to think that, because we are a private institution, our students tend to be very well off financially. Certainly, some of them are, but by and large, we serve some of the most financially disadvantaged students in South Florida.

That does not say anything about their abilities. They are talented and prepared, eager to learn and bright students, but they don’t always have the financial means to fund college for themselves. We’ve become very affordable as an institution. One of the most irrelevant figures out there these days is the sticker price of admission. One hundred percent of our students get some degree of financial aid. In fact, a heavy majority of our students receive a substantial discount on their tuition, and it has become very affordable because of that.

With that, we are also able to serve one of the most diverse populations of college students that you’ll see anywhere in the country. That is a source of great pride for us. As a result, our students learn so much more than just what we teach them in the classroom. They learn from the person to their right and their left, from their roommates, because everyone is coming from such a different place.


How is Barry preparing students to enter a more demanding workforce?

One of the things that we really try to emphasize here is experiential learning. Here in Miami, I’ve been really impressed with the intentionality by which the universities and business leaders work together. I give a lot of credit to the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, the Beacon Council, the Executive Roundtable, among others, for a great dialogue between higher ed, industry and nonprofits about universities doing a better job in meeting the needs of employers. That is really critical to what we do.

We have a program called SMIF, the Student Managed Investment Fund, which is a group of students, led by one of our faculty members, that invests a portion of the university’s endowment. They invest almost a million dollars of our endowment every year, working alongside our investment committee and our board of trustees, as well as our professional advisers. Their earnings have mirrored or have been better than our professional advisers and this year we allocated them another $100,000 because it fits our needs in every way possible. 

We also have a really impressive media lab. The field of communications is another example of people in a liberal arts setting who want the foundations of theory but at the same time they want to be broadcasters, they want to be on the radio, on TV, reporting the news. Our media lab has a live studio, and it serves not just the “talent” folks, but also the control-room folks, putting programs on the air.

We also received a $650,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for STEM education. It provides scholarship support for students to major in STEM areas here, with the goal of increasing degree completion for low-income, high-achieving undergraduates.


To learn more about our interviewee, visit:



Face Off: Understanding Unforeseen Change

Face Off: Understanding Unforeseen Change

By: Max Crampton- Thomas

4 min read March 2020 With the global economy in a state of flux caused by COVID-19, it is important that both the community and industry leaders work together to not only flatten the curve of coronavirus but also help to understand its impact on the various sectors of the economy. It is just as vital to continue looking to the future, post-COVID-19, at what other continuing or emerging trends could have an impact on a specific industry throughout 2020 and beyond. In regard to real estate, Invest: Miami spoke with two of the region’s industry leaders in real estate, David Diestel, regional president, south for FirstService Residential, and Michael Fay, principal and chairman of the U.S. Capital Market Executive Committee for Avison Young. While they work in two seperate areas of real estate, both discuss how the coronavirus has affected their industry, other factors that will continue to spur change and trends they are keeping a close eye on in 2020. 

David Diestel 

How is the coronavirus outbreak impacting your industry?

Dave Diestel: The outbreak of the coronavirus has brought the country to a screeching halt. I don’t know if anyone was prepared for something of this magnitude that has impacted basically every industry. As the leader in property management in North America, it’s our job to provide support to the board members and residents of the communities we manage. We immediately formed task forces throughout the organization, continuously monitored reliable information from the CDC, World Health Organization, as well as local authorities and health agencies. And the key to our support: communication. On everything from preventing the spread of the virus to working with boards to enhance cleaning and sanitation at our properties to working with attorneys to discuss any change in community rules and regulations. This situation has helped cement the importance of communication during a crisis – to report facts and to keep people calm. And to let our customers know that we’re in this together.

Michael Fay: We are such an international city at this point that we need to look at how we fit on the geopolitical stage, as well as how the virus will shape how we live in the future. We are always looking at the Latin-American influence within our market, as well as the European, Asian and Canadian influences, given Miami has become such a major, global city. When I first did this interview, the COVID-19 virus was just an Asian problem and not a global pandemic.  I truly believe the two asset classes that will provide opportunity and stability as we move through this will be real estate and well-positioned stocks. With Miami being such a global city, and having been through many other crises, we tend to bounce back quickly with resilience. We will continue to see strength in the multifamily sector as well as the industrial sector as we understand new, global supply chain issues. Retail and hotel will see weakness as we move through this pandemic and new way of life for the foreseeable future. There is more capital in the marketplace overall, outside of opportunity funds, with lots of mezzanine equity, loans and regular equity creating a sizable amount of capital. The interest rate environment we are in is the lowest we have seen in the United States. Distressed will have a new meaning.  

Michael Fay

What other factors will continue to spur or change your market’s growth? 

Diestel: The demographic shift in this region is challenging our communities to keep up with the times. New owners and residents are challenging those communities to invest more in technology and in amenities. People are looking for investment back into their community,  and also looking for investment into community spaces. These demographics do not just want the standard gym or card room, they want thoughtful programming, focusing on wellness and convenience. One of the drivers of real estate values ultimately comes down to a building’s reputation. When people feel good about living where they live, realtors know people feel good about it and there is a great sense of community. This all drives property values up.

Fay: I’ve been in this business for 36 years. When it’s good, it’s good for everybody, but when it’s bad, it’s great for us. We are highly cognizant of inflexions and disruptions in the marketplace. We built a major business on understanding the bad times better than the good times. We understand how to operate in a bad market better than others. Anybody can be good in a winning streak. Year in, year out, decade after decade, issue after issue, we spot early, watch early and see how things are going. In my own opinion, we will be seeing a recession; however, I believe it will be short-lived because of the strength of the economy going into the crisis.  On the negative side, we saw a 14% rise in the homeless population in 2019. The lion’s share of this increase is coming in from other cities in the Midwest. Absent thoughtful solutions, it can really hurt the city. Also, we need to take care of our environment. Global warming is a slippery slope if we do not understand it and deal with it by making rash decisions. Sea rise needs to be studied further. If we have any narrative of investors, owners or companies leaving Miami due to sea rise, our city will have a major issue. We need to think about ways to mitigate it and work around it. 

What is a trend in your industry that you are keeping a close eye on moving forward? 

Diestel: Short-term rentals are a hot topic throughout Miami, especially in Miami Beach. It’s also constantly talked about in the Florida legislature. Investors are looking to own real estate with the purpose of using it as a short-term rental. Innovations like Airbnb aren’t going away. In fact, communities built for short-term rental are starting to pop up. We are actually in talks to manage two of these types of properties. This is a trend that will continue to evolve. Some cities are not quite there yet in terms of understanding it. We are very active in Tallahassee because there are bills being introduced in regard to short-term rentals. Our position, as both FirstService Residential and as the industry, is to allow the homeowner association the right to govern as they were set up to do. We are educating the legislature and are working to help protect the rights of an individual community.

Fay: The Opportunity Zones will come into much more focus in 2020, and we will gain a real understanding of how it fits into the market. In 2019, many guidelines and an interpretation of the tax code were not available. When Opportunity Zones were laid out initially, they were based on basic census tracking, with governors approving wherever that might be. Several developers were left in the dark and as a result, lots of Opportunity Zone funds slowed raising capital given the uncertainty. There is a lot more clarity now, which is key. The new guidelines issued will have much more effect going forward and an increase of funds and transactions.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

Spotlight On: Michael Chin, General Manager and Regional Director for Eden Roc Miami Beach/Nobu Hotel Miami

Spotlight On: Michael Chin, General Manager and Regional Director for Eden Roc Miami Beach/Nobu Hotel Miami

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read March 2020 — The hospitality market in Miami-Dade may have started to feel a level of oversaturation but the market overall is still at an advantage in comparison to other large markets across the nation due to location and a friendly tax environment, Michael Chin, general manager and regional director for Eden Roc Miami Beach/Nobu Hotel Miami Beach, told Invest:. He also discussed embracing the sharing economy as an alternative rather than increased competition in the market and the difference in demographics that options like this attract. 



With new entries into the region, do you believe the hospitality market in Miami-Dade is nearing a level of oversaturation?  


Miami is in a position where some hospitality entities feel a level of oversaturation, but I don’t think we are in that kind of market yet, especially when compared to markets like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or Las Vegas. We have a mix of boutique and local hotels, and we are starting to see developments for the larger hotels coming into the area. This includes the expansion of some larger properties in the Downtown  and Brickell areas. The demand is still there in regard to new hotels in Miami-Dade.


What is the biggest advantage to your location in Miami Beach? 


Our biggest advantage in regard to where we are located is right out our back doors: the beach. The number of properties that have direct beach access is what people come to South Beach for. Right now, some of the hotels, like in Downtown Miami, aren’t as attractive to certain visitors coming to Miami because they don’t want to be in an urban area. They do not want to just see the water, they want to be at the water. This is why our location on the beach is probably our biggest attraction for new guests. We also have an advantage thanks to our offerings in comparison to our neighbors. We thrive off of the proximity to the Fontainebleau. We may not have the capability to have a nightclub on our premises like the surrounding hotels, but the people who come in here and visit us prefer us as an alternative place to go to eat and have a different type of experience.


How do you view newer entries into the hospitality market like Airbnb and the sharing economy? 


My background comes from a corporate hospitality structure and we addressed the issue of the sharing economy on a corporate level years ago. Since then, my stance really has not changed. We cannot view services like Airbnb as competition, they are simply just an alternative. The consumer is going to stay where they want to stay. If their preference is to have longevity and a lot of space, then they are going to choose an option like Airbnb because it is something that they will not get in a hotel. People who stay at hotels, stay based on what they are looking for. Today, the demographics related to age, income and food preferences are going to determine where a person stays more than the price of a hotel or its location. The hospitality industry has corporate executives who sit in a room and  determine how they are going to capture every type of traveler out there and how they are going to define every generation, demographic and region to find a suitable hotel choice for them. At a hotel like ours, travelers are going to stay here because they want the features of convenience in regard to housekeeping, room service, amenities and entertainment. Hotels have the consistency value. You have expectations when you stay in a hotel. There are a lot of factors that go into why a person picks and chooses where they want to stay but it all comes down to preference. 


How does the hospitality sector in Miami have an advantage over other large markets across the nation? 


People still want to go to places like Orlando, Dallas or Las Vegas, but every city has its issues, whether that’s overtaxation like in California or overpopulation like in New York. We have the opportunity to attract those tourists to a new market like Miami that doesn’t have these issues. It is about us getting out there to advertise Miami as a viable option to host both tourists and business travelers. Events like the Super Bowl help strengthen this idea.


To learn more about our interviewee, visit:



Miami’s Events Calendar Rocked by Coronavirus Concerns

Miami’s Events Calendar Rocked by Coronavirus Concerns

By: Sara Warden

2 min read March 2020 — Sunshine, beaches, cruises, outdoor festivals … this is Florida’s bread and butter. But what happens when a global health crisis crosses international borders? Miami’s tourism industry is now finding out.


When the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak began spreading in China at the end of January, there was very little overseas impact and China seemed to bear the brunt of the outbreak, shutting down logistics and imposing quarantines. But as cases began popping up globally, with Italy, Iran and Southeast Asian countries particularly affected, governments started to take action. The tourism industry, as a result, is suffering. The United States currently has 140 active cases of the virus, with 11 deaths, and officials confirmed two cases in Florida on Sunday. 

Florida very much intends to maintain open borders and air travel. Two of its economic strengths are international trade, with 40% of all U.S. exports to Latin America passing through Florida, and tourism, which added an estimated $111.7 billion to the state’s economy in 2016.

Already, Miami is feeling the impact of the outbreak. This week, the city was meant to host Zendesk Relate, a 2,300-attendee conference at Miami’s conference center held by San Francisco-based customer-service software company Zendesk. But the company announced the event’s cancellation on Monday, on the same day American Airlines suspended its Miami-Milan service as the number of active cases in Italy ballooned to 2,706, with 107 deaths registered.

Another event impacted by the virus is the annual Ultra Music Festival, which organizers have reportedly postponed – potentially for a year, according to the Miami Herald. The electronic dance event typically attracts 55,000 people per day and the 2020 edition is due to be held on Bayfront Park. With tickets starting at around $300 and going up to $1,500, the impact of cancellation would be significant. “I agreed with the decision to postpone it,” City Commissioner Manolo Reyes told the Miami Herald. “And now I’m worried about the Calle Ocho Festival,” referring to the Latin music festival scheduled for March 15 in Little Havana.

Some conference organizers and attendees are attempting to postpone events until May, when there is hope the virus will be contained. But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is less optimistic about the impact on Florida, predicting more cases will emerge shortly.

The Medical Affairs Professional Society is scheduled to host a conference on March 9-11 but has already experienced some cancellations, according to CEO Travis Hege. The conference is still going ahead as scheduled, he told the Miami Herald. “Any deaths in Florida or outbreak in Florida is the biggest thing we are monitoring,” he said. “We’re continuing to monitor the latest developments. Otherwise, we will be proceeding as planned.”

And while cancellations of events like Zendesk Relate are not ideal, this is far from the biggest event Miami is due to hold this year. Art Basel may or may not take place in June after the Hong Kong edition was canceled and Miami Pride events will take place at the end of March and beginning of April.

But Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Tuesday there is no need to cancel major events, and instead there needs to be a specific focus on protecting the elderly and vulnerable populations. “We will step up and make sure that those elderly get those services,” he told Local 10. He added that arriving visitors will be more thoroughly screened and that residents should “live your normal life (and) take just common-sense precautions.”


To learn more, visit:



Miami’s Top 5 Fantastic Food Festivities

Miami’s Top 5 Fantastic Food Festivities

By: Max Crampton Thomas

4 min read February 2020 This weekend on Miami Beach there are guaranteed to be three things – food, wine and good times. While this is the recipe for most memorable times had in one of Miami’s top tourist destinations, this weekend in particular is heightened by the annual The Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival. In most markets, a festival like this would be an outlier as the premier food and beverage event for that year, but Miami is not most markets. The fact is, Miami-Dade is home to an onslaught of premier food and beverage festivities that would make any culinary connoisseur’s mouth water. Invest: explores five of the top foodie festivities in the Miami-Dade region. 

South Beach Seafood Festival  

To be considered a Top 5 Speciality Festival by USAToday, listed by Forbes as a Top 5 thing to do in fall and recognized by Travel Channel as the best seafood festival in the United States is no small accomplishment. This four-day festival features three nights of culinary events that lead up to the ultimate seafood festival experience. These preliminary events include an exclusive VIP experience, An Evening at Joe’s, brought to life by food from the historic Joe’s Stone Crab, a cocktail hour-type event called Crabs, Slabs and Cabs featuring Surf N Turf favorites paired with various cabernets, and finally the VIP Chef Showdown, which showcases 14 of the best local chefs cooking up their greatest culinary creations. All of these lead into the big event on the fourth day that spans over four blocks of Miami Beach, features 30 bars, music, culinary demonstrations and enough delicious seafood to please the over 15,000 attendees. This event takes place from Oct. 21-24, 2020. 

For more, visit:



Seed Food & Wine Week 

Plant-based diets may not be for everyone, but this four-day event features culinary dishes and experiences that could make even the most devout carnivores consider incorporating more meat-alternatives into their meal plan. Spanning the course of four days, this event touts itself as more of an experience than just a festival as it features a plant-based burger battle, a plant-based pitch off, taco tailgate party, rise and shine yoga experience and meditation, and finally the big event: Seed Festival Day Tasting Village. This vegan-inspired week is also unique in that its events are not centralized and take place in various spots around Miami-Dade, including Wynwood and Downtown Miami. The event runs from Nov. 7-10. 

To learn more, visit:

Doral Food & Wine Festival 

This food and wine festival is going on its fourth year, and while the event has grown significantly since its inception in 2016, this year promises to be bigger, better and even tastier. Over the course of two days, families are encouraged to come out to Doral Central Park and experience live entertainment and live cooking demonstrations. While wine may be in the title, the event is geared toward the entire family, with free entry for kids and an entire area, referred to as the Kids Zone, dedicated to fun activities and games for the little ones. Taking place over March 21 and 22, this year’s event looks to attract over 10,000 people. 

For more, visit:

South Florida’s Taste of the Nation

This culinary adventure is a one-night experience that is not only delicious and fun, it also supports a great cause. Described as an elegant evening with some of South Florida’s greatest chefs and mixologists, Taste of the Nation offers guests a chance to try food and drinks from over 50 different South-Florida based restaurants and bars. While normally the best parts of these events are the food and drink, it is actually the impact of dollars collected from the night that is most significant as 100% of local proceeds support the No Kid Hungry campaign’s work to bring an end to childhood hunger in Florida. The event takes place the night of May 16, 2020. 

For more information, visit:

The Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF) 

SOBEWFF is a five-day gathering of “who’s who” in the culinary world, over 100 different festival events and over 65,000 people in total attendance. This world-renowned festival has an event for everyone, from the casual food and wine fan to the highest class of food critic. While many of these events could be considered the “big event,” perhaps most well-known is the Goya Foods’ Grand Tasting Village showcasing offerings from more than 50 restaurants and a variety of wines and spirits as well as a closing cooking demonstration by well-known celebrity chef Guy Fieri. The festival is in full swing Feb.19-23. 

To learn more, visit:

The Real Winner in Super Bowl LIV

The Real Winner in Super Bowl LIV

By: Max Crampton Thomas

2 min read February 2020 Over the course of last week the excitement for Super Bowl LIV was palpable throughout Miami-Dade County, which was not surprising with over 200,000 people visiting South Florida to watch the Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers. Ultimately the Chiefs came from behind to snatch their first Super Bowl title in 50 years. While the final numbers aren’t yet in, the early indications suggest another winner from the NFL championship: Miami-Dade County.

 The expected economic impact for the Miami-Dade area when the final numbers are reported from the past week’s events? $500 million. This would be a significant boost from Miami’s last Super Bowl (XLIV) in 2010, which generated $234 million for the region, and the 2007 Super Bowl (XLI), which accumulated $463 million in economic impact.  

The stellar financial results are thanks to well-thought-out events and years of deliberate planning by local leaders and organizations, like the Super Bowl Host Committee. Events like Miami Beach’s Super Bowl Experience and Bayfront Park’s Super Bowl Live were glowing examples of why this Super Bowl was a major win for Miami-Dade. 

Equally impressive was the windfall from “free publicity” that was afforded to Miami, thanks to media coverage of the game and the surrounding large-scale events. In fact, according to the South Florida Business Journal, during a panel discussion on Feb. 3 between local leaders for Super Bowl LIV at the University of Miami’s Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility, Miami Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman Rodney Baretto said the figure related to free publicity would be “in excess of $200 million” for Miami-Dade. 

This Super Bowl also provided an opportunity to some of the smaller, local businesses in the region through the Business Connect program. This program afforded close to 300 South Florida-based minority-owned businesses with vendor contracts in order to help in supplying their services and products for the events happening in the region and on the day of the game. 

Another opportunity resulting from Super Bowl LIV was the Super Bowl Legacy Grant Program. This program consisted of the NFL Foundation donating $1 million to the host city, which was then supplemented by funding from the Miami Dolphins and the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee, bringing the grand total to $2.4 million. The money has since been distributed to five capital improvement initiatives throughout the South Florida area. These include new lighting for Bayfront Park in Miami, new synthetic turf for Gwen Cherry Park and a new Outdoor Fitness Zone for Plantation Heritage Regional Park in Broward County. 

One of the biggest winners from the Super Bowl events was the hospitality sector in Miami-Dade and Broward County. With room rates in the Downtown Miami and Brickell areas ranging anywhere from $500 to $5,000, the Super Bowl provided local hotels with an opportunity that couldn’t be missed. The South Florida region was prepared for this onslaught of new guests into the area, with more than 10,000 new rooms being added since the last Super Bowl in 2010. 

While the Chiefs may be walking away the official winners of Super Bowl LIV, Miami-Dade and the South Florida region are the true beneficiaries of a job well done. 

To learn more visit:



Miami Beach Welcomes Two New Hotel Developments to Usher in 2020

Miami Beach Welcomes Two New Hotel Developments to Usher in 2020

By: Sara Warden

2 min read January 2020 — Miami Beach’s hospitality industry entered 2020 with a bang, with two high-profile hotel openings. Both the Greystone development and the Hampton Inn at The Continental are refurbished versions of the Art Deco and Miami Modernist styles of the 1930s and 1940s, combined with a cool beachy chic that is synonymous with Miami Beach.


The Hampton Inn at the Continental was acquired by the Hampton by Hilton brand, which subsequently invested $25 million to give the hotel an overhaul to make it not only align with the brand but also to maintain the historic relevance of the building. 

“As renovation experts, we’re proud to present this completed project alongside Pebb Capital,” said Alan Waserstein, principal with LeaseFlorida, in a press release. “The historic component of this hotel, coupled with the Hampton by Hilton brand will make it a mainstay in Miami Beach’s hospitality scene.”

As well as the 100-room hotel, the development has embraced the multiuse concept that makes or breaks hotel chains. The ground floor will become the Piola restaurant, and future updates will incorporate a parking garage and retail space, according to the developers. 

This strategy has also been adopted by the Greystone Hotel in Miami Beach, which was opened for reservations this month. Conscious of the need to offer a more unique experience, the hotel is adult-only and eco-friendly, and offers a rooftop pool, mixology lounge and courtyard café. And although human babies may not be allowed, patrons should feel free to bring their furry four-legged babies (up to a maximum weight of 25lbs). 

There are 91 renovated guest rooms for most tastes and budgets with private decks and hot tubs (the Hot Tub Terrace Suites come in at over $600 per night). You can also interact with hotel facilities through your smartphone, including locking and unlocking the door, ordering room service and contacting the concierge through the hotel’s bespoke app. The Golden Gator basement speakeasy completes the lineup in a nod to the hotel’s 1930s roots. 

Vos Hospitality is the developer behind the $70 million renovation, which partnered with private investment group the B Group in 2018 to purchase the adjacent building on 20th Street, giving the development an impressive total 54,000-square-footprint.

“We will bring in an alternative to the area’s club scene,” said Vos hospitality owner James Vosotas to the Miami New Times. “We are catering to young-minded professionals with a nontraditional luxury of high-quality without the white glove. Everything has been upgraded cohesively so that locals and guests will have plenty to explore within the property.”


To learn more, visit:


South Florida to Address Heavy-Hitting Priorities Ahead of Election 2020

South Florida to Address Heavy-Hitting Priorities Ahead of Election 2020

By: Sara Warden

2 min read January 2019 — With its status as one of the most important swing states in federal elections, Florida’s voting pattern generally serves as a bellweather for the overall outcome. With President Donald Trump running for re-election in November 2020, South Florida’s agenda for the year is packed with contentious issues, such as gun reform, climate change and foreign policy.


 On Dec. 23, an appeal was filed by the state government against several Florida cities, including Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, arguing the cities were flaunting the law by applying harsher restrictions on guns than exist on a state level. “If allowed to stand, the decision will not only invite the development of a patchwork regulatory regime in the area of firearms but also render the Legislature impotent to deter power grabs by local officials in other areas,” the brief argued. The issue of gun reform is set to remain a key issue as the 2020 election nears.

Another issue coming back to the forefront is climate change, and South Florida is disproportionately affected by rising sea levels and potable water availability. In November, Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed the state’s first chief science officer and the 2020 legislative session is expected to put more emphasis on climate issues. “State agencies are now beginning to collaborate on these important issues and gather at a leadership level to talk about resilience and how to plan for sea level rise,” Noah Valenstein, secretary of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, told the Herald Tribune.

But by far, one of the most headline-grabbing issues leading up to the election will be President Trump’s flagstone immigration campaign. According to the most recent census data, about 23% of the population of Palm Beach County identify as Hispanic or Latino, and the same is true for around 19% of the Fort Lauderdale population. The Democrats chose to host their first presidential debate in Miami, a city where more than 70% of the population is Hispanic, partly because of the immigration platform.

“Latinos are still seen as a monolith,” says Liz Alarcon, a Venezuelan-American Democratic activist and author of Caracas Chronicles, told TIME magazine. “Politicians as a whole still don’t get it, and that’s a problem.”

U.S. Latin America policy is expected to play a major role in the South Florida 2020 electoral result, and Trump has been largely praised by the Latin American community for his tough stance toward Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. “Florida elections always come down to margins,” Frank Mora, a professor of politics at Florida International University, told the New Yorker. “Foreign policy is intensely local in South Florida.” Because of the high concentration of Latinos in South Florida, foreign policy related to Latin America hits close to home.

It could also help decide who wins Florida in 2020.


To learn more, visit: