Archive for July, 2012

Tranquil Tuesday: W South Beach Hotel & Residences

This summer is your chance to vacation like a celebrity with VIP status. Enjoy a freshly muddled mojito and an ocean view that stretches for miles at the W South Beach Hotel & Residences — my pick for this week's Tranquil Tuesday. 

Guests who book a stay in one of the VIP Suites at W South Beach will enjoy various unique services and amenities, including a dedicated VIP concierge that the hotel calls a "W Insider." 

Rumor has it that the package includes plush bathrobes and slippers, a Nespresso coffee maker with milk frothers, electric trouser presses, and live orchids. You can even get guaranteed admission to WALL, one of South Beach’s most sought-after nightclubs. 

“We are constantly developing new and forward-thinking ways to take W South Beach to the next level and are very excited to announce the VIP Suites at W South Beach,” said George Cozonis, W South Beach General Manager. “We are introducing the VIP Suites at W South Beach just in time to commemorate the hotel’s three-year anniversary.” 

So celebrate the W South Beach's anniversary celebrity-style by booking a VIP luxury suite. And be sure to check back next week for another VISIT FLORIDA Tranquil Tuesday escape. 

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Summer Art Exhibitions in Central Florida

Visiting Central Florida this August? Take a break from the heat and browse these great art collections and exhibits:

Melbourne: Lexus of Melbourne is hosting the Brevard Cultural Alliance Temporary Exhibit program now through Nov. 25. The exhibit features artwork of 24 Brevard County artists and features the work of Fritz van Eeden. 

New Smyrna Beach: Arts on Douglas presents a group exhibition of the McRae Studio artists. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, Aug. 4, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. and the exhibition will be on display until Aug. 25. 

Vero Beach: The Artists Guild Gallery presents “Paint the Town Red,” paintings by Artists Guild Gallery members with the dominant color red. The show will run throughout the month of August, with an opening reception Aug. 3 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. The reception coincides with Downtown’s First Friday Gallery Stroll.

DeLand: The Museum of Florida Art is participating with Blue Star Museums, a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 1,800 museums across America to offer free admission to all active duty military personnel and their families now through Labor Day 2012. 

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Travel Channel Films Show at Datz Deli in South Tampa

Meatloaf anybody? This week the Travel Channel filmed a segment about meatloaf for a show called "Food Paradise" at Datz Deli in South Tampa. 

One of Datz's specialties is the appetizer "mac and cheese bites" which combines macaroni and cheese and meatloaf. Sounds delicious! Maybe we can get VISIT FLORIDA Food & Dining Insider Rachelle Lucas to give it a try and let us know her take on the dish. 

"They're fried mac and cheese balls," Co-owner Roger Perry said to My Fox Tampa Bay. "We take two of those, put them inside a bread pan on meatloaf, so it's an individual meatloaf with mac and cheese inside. It's like meatloaf to the next level."

Roger and his wife Suzanne Perry moved to Tampa from Ocala in 2007 and opened the deli two years later. Datz Deli has been known to attract celebrity clientel, especially Tampa Bay Buccaneers players. 

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Celebrity Sightings: Kim Kardashian at Miami Swim Week

The celebrities flocked to South Beach for sizzling Miami Swim Week where luxury designers premiered their latest swimwear collections. 

  • Kim Kardashian hosted the Midori Beachside Bash at the fabulous and very chic Delano hotel. 
  • Scott Disick, also of Kardashian fame, hung out with Lil’ Wayne, Mally G, DJ Scooby, Mack Maine, Troy Johnson, & Christina Milian at LIV at the Fontainebleau.
  • Trina Turk, with Alexandra Wilkis Wilson of Gilt Groupe, hosted an exclusive dinner to celebrate Miami Swim Week at the Tiki Bar at Soho Beach House.

Not all the stars spent their time on the runway. Karina Smirnoff from Dancing with the Stars participated in the Muscle Milk Fitness Retreat on Miami Beach where Oakley pros taught her how to ride a stand-up paddleboard. For pictures of Karina and other celebs including television star Dania Ramirez, check out World Red Eye.

In case you missed it, here are Three Luxury Designers to Watch at Miami Swim Week

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Photo: James Bond’s Aston Martin. Dezer Collection Car Museum, North Miami

At the Dezer Collection Car Musuem in North Miami, you can view the Aston Martin used by James Bond in ‘Die Another Day.’

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Tranquil Tuesday: Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach

Looking for a couples beach escape? The Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach will sweep you off your feet and shower you with romance

One of the first things that struck me was how pampered I felt from the moment I stepped through the grand entryway. The staff is attentive and will stop at nothing to make your stay perfect.

Here's how I suggest you spend your romantic escape — whether you are celebrating your honeymoon, a milestone anniversary, or just because . . .

  • Book one of the expansive ocean-view suites and make sure to ask for a bottle of champagne on ice to start the day off with a special toast. 
  • Unwind under a beachfront cabana and order the Pescado Tacos made with fresh Mahi Mahi, pickled onions and slow-roasted salsa. 
  • Explore the island together and skim along the water's edge on a couple of the resort's stand-up paddleboards. If the waves are too big, then hop onto the Four Season's complimentary bicycles to complete your island tour. 
  • Relax side-by-side during the "Couples Experience" where you're treated to the soothing Ocean Bliss massage. Add a little private relaxation time in your own private spa suite. Then enjoy the private steam room and rain shower.
  • That evening, celebrate with a private dinner for two in your own candlelit cabana overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Ask the staff to make your time together extra special by adding romantic details to dinner like freshly cut flowers and live music. The chef will ensure that your dining experience is unforgettable.

Plan your romantic getaway to the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach and experience a luxurious couples escape. Check back next week for another Tuesday Tranquil escape. 

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License to Thrill: Miami's Dezer Automobile Museum

Michael Dezer's 1949 Plymouth didn't stay gray for long.

His father owned a rental car agency near his home in Israel, so he got to see all types of cars from the '40s and '50s. But this one was different. He bought this one. This one was his.

Eager to transform his new car into a real hot rod, Dezer painted over it – dark blue on the top and light blue on the bottom. And when he was through, it was like no other car in Tel Aviv.

When Dezer, then 18, purchased the Plymouth from a local doctor in 1959, his love affair with the automobile was just beginning. More than 50 years later, the Israeli-American real estate developer now houses a collection in North Miami of about 1,200 vehicles – from cars straight out of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous to classic Schwinn bicycles.

In fact, the Dezer Collection is the largest private exhibition of vintage automobiles, motorcycles, bicycles, scooters and fantasy vehicles in the world – with planes, helicopters, submarines and a Russian T-55 tank thrown in for good measure. The museum, which opened in February, encompasses more than 225,000 square feet and has an estimated value upward of $80 million.

Dezer is a self-professed addict of postwar American pop culture. Accordingly, his facility has party and event rooms with '50s paraphernalia and a '50s diner where Elvis still lives and where you can eat in "cars" as if you were in a drive-in. Here, you'll find gasoline and automobile signs from companies that haven't existed in 50 years.

"As I got older, I really fell in love with that time period and with the great American cars from that period," Dezer says. "To me, it spoke of America and the freedom to hit the open road. And when I was able to, I started collecting cars from that period."

But the Dezer Collection is hardly restricted to the '40s and '50s.

The museum is home to the largest collection of Bond items anywhere, much of which were brought here by Doug Redenius, the Dezer Collection's managing director/curator. Redenius is former vice president of the Ian Fleming Foundation (named for the creator of the fictional spy), and the museum includes 15,000 items from his Bond collection.

Here, you can find the iridescent green Jaguar that villain Zao drives in 2002's Die Another Day – complete with mounted machine gun and missile launchers. There's the T-55 Russian tank that Pierce Brosnan drives in GoldenEye, the helicopter flown in From Russia With Love and the jet owned by one of the original Bond bad guy, Goldfinger.

And that's just the tip of the Bondberg.

You'll also find the small, three-wheeled taxi, called a "Tuk Tuk," that henchman Gobinda used to chase Bond in Octopussy. Plus, there are two Aston Martins from The Living Daylights, the space shuttle from Moonraker, Q's boat from The World Is Not Enough – and the two-passenger plane from Licence to Kill that, according to Redenius, sat outside on U.S. 1 for 20 years as a prop for an advertisement for a long-forgotten sky diving business.

The Bond section, however, is just one of nine exhibitions. There's a Hollywood section, with items such as Diana Rigg's Lotus from The Avengers and Mel Gibson's black Ford Falcon from Mad Max. If you're a fan of Burn Notice, you'll love the pink Jeep. And if you saw Starsky and Hutch, you'll recognize the Gran Torino. The car from the Green Hornet movie is here as well, along with 14 Batmobiles from the TV show and the movies. And so is Tom Selleck's red Ferrari from Magnum, P.I.

Something from the lighter side? How about Grandpa Munster's car? Or the "Mase-rocky" from The Flintstones movie?

The Dezer Collection includes a 37-foot-long pink Mercedes convertible with a heart-shaped hot tub, as seen on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. It also features the world's smallest drivable car, a Bamby Peel (4 feet 5 inches long, 3 feet 3 inches wide and 3 feet 10 inches high), of which fewer than a hundred were made in Great Britain in 1963.

"You'd be amazed where we find some of these cars," Dezer says. "You can find them at auctions and car shows, where someone is really anxious to sell. We found our first Duesenberg that way 25 years ago. The car was worth $500,000, but we paid $81,000. We bought one of our Batmobiles from an elderly woman who needed the money. We've even found some cars on eBay. And sometimes, people just find us."

Dezer loves all his cars. But there's a gleam in his eye when he speaks of his favorites: the classics from the '40s and '50s, the ones he fell in love with as a teenager.

"My hope is that the collection gives other people the same pleasure it gives me," Dezer says. "Even after so many years, I still get a great kick out of it. And I still enjoy occasionally taking one of them out on the road!"

If You Go

The Dezer Collection, located at 2000 NE 146th St. in North Miami, is open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The collection is divided over two buildings, and regular admission to a single building is $25 for adults, $10 for children and $15 for seniors. Regular admission to both buildings is $40 for adults, $15 for children and $25 for seniors. Tickets and special offers are available at dezercollection.com. For more information, call 305-354-7680.

Steve Winston has written/contributed to 17 books. His articles have appeared in major media all over the world.

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Old Is New at St. Augustine's School of the 16th Century

St. Augustine – If you've learned about centuries-old battle tactics by watching Hollywood interpretations of Robin Hood and William Wallace, don't bother bringing that knowledge to St. Augustine's School of the 16th Century.

The seminar, offered a couple of times a year, instructs participants in how soldiers of the era dressed, fought, ate and navigated their way around the New World. And authenticity is the star of this show.

"One of the first things we tell people is, 'OK, forget every movie you ever saw,'" says Chad Light of the Fountain of Youth, a professional re-enactor who portrays such critical Spanish explorers as Ponce de Leon and Pedro Menendez de Aviles. "Whatever you do, don't raise your hand and say, 'But in Braveheart, they did this.'"

From pike drills and horsemanship to how to navigate using only the stars, the seminar exposes participants to 16th century soldier life in one- or three-day training exercises. The next School of the 16th Century will take place over three days in January.
 
Information about upcoming offerings of the school is available at fountainofyouthflorida.com. Typically, one-day seminars are offered in July and cost $30; three-day seminars are offered in January and cost $150.
 
Some participants who complete the course are simply St. Augustine visitors looking for a hands-on learning experience. Others go on to use their re-enactment skills at venues around St. Augustine, from Castillo de San Marcos to the St. Augustine Lighthouse.

In fact, part of the schooling focuses on how to develop a historical personae.

"I think the evidence is self-evident, when you look at role-playing games and all the things people do," Light says. "Historical re-enactment is a more academic way of doing that same thing. Rather than pretending you're some pointless character in a computer environment, you have a chance to make it real yourself. It's a fascinating and interesting way to learn, both for the people who are portraying and for the people who watch them."

The School of the 16th Century is offered at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park in St. Augustine. Like so many sites in St. Augustine, the lush, 15-acre waterfront park is rich in history all its own: It was the site of a Timucuan Indian village before the Spanish arrived in 1513; later, when Menendez came ashore in 1565, he founded St. Augustine on the property.

Centuries later, the property became known as the Fountain of Youth when its enterprising owner, Dr. Louella Day McConnell, took advantage of St. Augustine's arrival as a tourist destination and began charging visitors admission to drink from the natural springs found on the site. But in the 20th century, archaeological digs uncovered evidence that the Fountain of Youth site had historical significance as more than just a tourist destination.

Light is the instructor at the park's School of the 16th Century, and his life experiences make him the ideal person to train others. Growing up, his father was a professor of history and ancient languages, and they commonly had antique arms and firearms hanging on the walls of their home.

When friends were learning Asian martial arts, Light was learning European martial arts from the medieval period. "My dad brought me into this as a child," Light says, "so by the time I was an adult I had an extensive knowledge, and that's been extended by formal training."
 
At the School of the 16th Century, students benefit from training by learning such skills as how to handle swords, tomahawks, muskets, cannons and matchlock weaponry. Students also participate in pike drills, involving legions of soldiers fighting with 14- to 16-foot piles with spear tips.
 
Typically, the class includes about 50 participants, but Light says he could accommodate as many as 150. "No commander in history," he says, "has ever said he had too many men."

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Photo: 1989 Batmobile at Dezer Collection Car Museum, North Miami

The Batmobile used in the 1989 movie starring Michael Keaton, on display at the Dezer Collection Car Museum in North Miami.

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Photo: DeLorean, Dezer Collection Car Museum, North Miami

See the DeLorean used in the ‘Back to the Future’ movies at Dezer Collection Car Museum in North Miami.

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