Spoiler alert: The Delano South Beach as you remember it is now long gone.
Once the painfully hip destination for locals and city residents alike, the 191-room beachfront property is being liquidated as new owners prepare to take over.
In November 2020, the 75-year-old boutique hotel was purchased for an undisclosed sum by Connecticut-based Eldridge from hotel management giant SBE Entertainment Group. Cain International, Eldridge’s real estate investment firm, has been appointed to lead “a strategic repositioning” of the hotel.
At the time of sale, The Delano — known for its hip, sleekly-lined, understated decor thanks to a 1995 makeover by Ian Schrager and Philippe Starck — had been closed for months since COVID-19 first hit the U.S.
At the back entrance of the immense pool is a sign that reads March 20, 2020, right around the time the entire world stopped: “The safety and well-being of our staff and guests is our top priority,” it reads. “We apologize for these developments and we hope to welcome you back to the property soon.”
Now someone else is running the show, temporarily, to clear the place and make way for new ownership: International Content Liquidations of Dayton, Ohio is holding a public sale until literally everything is gone. The event cost $5 entry and kicked off last weekend, so a lot of great stuff was found, but ICL spokeswoman Nicole Kabealo says they’ll stick around to the bitter end.
“There’s still a lot of stuff here,” she said. “Everyone who comes in, goes out with something.”
The Starck-designed lobby is still majestic, with its high ceilings and signature white-on-white decor. But “For Sale” stickers are plastered on literally everything from lamps and sofas and bedside tables to computer equipment and fancy martini glasses in the iconic wood-paneled Rose Bar.
Prices aren’t bad, even with our current raging inflation; they run from $1 for an en-suite plastic ice bucket to $20 for a toilet to $4,500 for the central marble sushi table, once a popular gathering spot. Homeowners with an eye for interior design can easily create the Delano glitter in their living room with a few purchases.
Yes, you may be able to grab a great slice or two, but seeing the once glorious Delano in such a fragile condition can make you feel like someone is cutting onions near you.
On a Thursday morning visit, some of the dramatic floor-to-ceiling curtains were boxed as workers transported packed carts and dollies across the previously gleaming tile floors.
In the so-called orchard, where many a fashion show, selfie session or expensive fruit cocktail took place, the famous chess game had disappeared. Instead, a dirt stain that resembles a freshly dug grave.
Fortunately, the Starck-designed sculpture remains in the family. Local publicists Tara Solomon and Nick D’Annunzio bought it for a bargain of $350. On an Instagram post, D’Annunzio posted a photo, calling it a “true piece of Miami Beach history.”
“The Delano has many special memories for me, from opening night to my first New Year’s Eve with Nick,” said Solomon, of [nightlife queen] Susanne Bartsch’s legendary bash is set in the year 2000. The couple plans to install the set at their Palm Springs vacation home.
The longer the sale lasts, the more likely you are to negotiate, says ICL’s Kabealo, adding that the hotel’s priceless collection of furniture and objects from Gaudí, Man Ray, Dalí and Charles and Ray Eames are not included in the liquidation. .
For an extra bit of nostalgia (or morbid curiosity), browse the kitchen at the back of the lobby. On Thursday, it looked more like The Overlook Hotel than a South Beach gem, with china, plates, pots, and crockery everywhere. If you close your eyes, you can almost imagine the chaotic buzz that must have existed between chefs, servers and cooks in Delano’s heyday.
For die-hard, old-school SoBe fans, this is your last chance to experience this once flashy 90s pioneer who helped transform the area formerly referred to as “God’s Waiting Room.”
“People seem nostalgic and fond of, with great memories. They’ll point to an area and say, ‘Oh, I had a drink here once,’ said ICL’s Kabealo. “I’ve heard it used to be very elegant.”
A spokesperson for Cain International told the Miami Herald that people shouldn’t worry about too many radical changes because the company “deeply respects” the Delano’s rich history and importance.
“As plans for the restoration are developed,” the statement said, “we are committed to restoring the property to its original grandeur and restoring it as one of the country’s most desirable hotel destinations.”
True: The Delano. 1685 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach.
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 12pm-5pm
Admission: $5. All credit cards and cash are accepted.
More information: www.iclsales.com, 561-525-3075.
This story was originally published January 28, 2022 2:07 PM.