I had my first in-person experience at the Faena (Miami) only a few months ago, it was exquisite. It was everything I’d come to expect from a true luxury brand and then some.
This story starts with a golden mammoth but transitions through a second-hand story about Rolex before settling for dinner on a unicorn's back.
Gone but not forgotten
The mammoth in question is real. It is also really gilded, a Damien Hirst original which now rests as the signature piece of the Faena Miami Beach’s outdoor spaces. Gone But Not Forgotten deserves its own feature-length article but let me tell you now that it is marvellous.
I had been hearing about this mammoth for some time and knew that it rested on the grounds of the Faena, exclusivity being a strong connotation I just didn’t think to simply show up and see it. I figured I needed a reason.
Luckily, I am the co-owner here at Luxury Tours Miami and one such opportunity rapidly revealed itself in leading a small group of travel advisors around some of Miami's most popular destinations. That means the newly founded Faena District but also classics such as Little Havana and the Calle Ocho section of 8th Street. We like to invest some of our time in growing business together - we love the travel agent community! Join us, click here!
Basically, I just called up and asked them to show me their mammoth
How else do you communicate your wants? I just called the Faena about a week prior to the end of the real estate cruise my then-guests would be attending and asked them to show me their mammoth.
This is where my Rolex epiphany enters the story.
A younger me recalls hearing a story, well, reading an article anyhow about the atmosphere of care which separates luxury brands from luxury brands; I cannot for the life of me recall the author’s name, but we’re going to call him Joseph Smith – original, I know. I also can't apologize for the inside joke, hope Callum's reading!
Mr Smith shared a tale of his own experience at the age of about 12, his first time in a Rolex retail location. Apprehensively, he approached the counter to ask a question about their watches.
Mr Smith is now successful, but at that time he was merely a child with an innocent set of questions and no means for purchasing a watch whatsoever.
We could all easily imagine a similar scene from Pretty Woman
We could all easily imagine the snobby store keeper scene from Pretty Woman, couldn’t we? Think, broke child wanders into store to ask the time from a retail assistant selling $10,000+ watches… what could go wrong?
But what if the expectation were different?
The story goes, Mr Smith was attended to in a kind and considerate manner. Each of his questions answered with the care and attention you’d expect was reserved for the most valued customer of the Rolex shop.
That’s the magic.
That’s the feeling, that for the entirety of your exchange you could be just about anyone on the planet – including someone supremely important. That’s a rare feeling.
And the mammoth?
Gone But Not Forgotten absolutely did not let me down. It was as strange and delightful as I had expected – the skeleton of a mammoth in 24 karat gold, encased in a luxurious glass box and nestled among palm trees on Miami Beach. Incredible.
But our hosts at the Faena weren’t finished, they were so happy to have shared the experience they arranged for our small group to view their indoor signature piece, another grisly display of gilded beauty in a part-dissected unicorn…
Mammoth meet unicorn
At the center of the Faena's Pao restaurant stands another golden Hirst, this one the Golden Myth. I’ve included an image to detail the statue – being worth 1,000 words and all of that!
The whole of the Faena Hotel complex is beyond just intriguing, it’s, dare I say it, bold.
From the well-adorned entryway, obscuring the concierge and reception, right through to the fishing-gear chandeliers of the boutique shop, I felt something at the Faena. The intensity of color used in the furnishings had nothing to do with it.
Art and feelings
I am no aficionado of fine art, but I can tell you one thing I know about every piece I’ve ever seen; if it makes you feel something, it’s art. I don’t always like the feeling, but I can at least recognize that it was there and then I must concede that what I dislike must be art!
When I write now about feelings, I try to share the positive ones; the ones which I know will make others stop and think, "wow, what a fantastic memory this will be!"
To be fair, I'm also not suggesting just anyone will be able to walk in off the street and say, "show me your mammoth" and to then expect a private, guided tour of the Faena District. The hotel and their staff did have a vested interest in sharing with our group in hopes that we might later recommend their property, much as I am writing this article now.
Regardless the motivation, the feeling was undeniable. I had enjoyed purview to this feeling without even realizing it when I had first called to discuss viewing the mammoth, that the attentive service would be ubiquitous and that it truly wouldn’t matter who I was or why I was calling (on the phone or enjoying a stay). Each and every person stepping foot on the grounds would be given equal welcome and be made to feel like a million bucks for the duration of their stay. My very own childhood Rolex moment.
I hope you too have opportunity to enjoy such an experience, even if it isn't in Miami. Just be kind enough to write me here and tell me where you found it when you do!