Uncategorized

Miami. Doggie. Style.

While traveling to Miami to research her upcoming book, Fido’s Florida (Countryman Press/fall 2011), Ginger Warder told us that her 100-pound German Shepherd, Tipsy, usually gets the short end of the stick.

“Since many hotels have strict weight limits for canine visitors, I often take my Min Pin mix, Max, on trips,” said Ginger. Surprisingly, there are places in chic Miami that welcome four-legged visitors to trendy boutiques, restaurants, and luxury hotels, some without weight restrictions. The following is an excerpt from Ginger’s book as it appears in the summer issue of The New Barker dog magazine travel section:

For my visit to Miami, I was booked at the Mandarin Oriental, whose pet policy includes a 25-pound weight limit, so once again, Max, my Min Pin mix, lucked out. Miami does have several luxurious hotels and resorts that welcome large dogs however, including the iconic Fontainebleau Resort, Kimpton’s EPIC Hotel, the Loews Miami Beach, and even trendy boutique hotels in South Beach like Hotel Ocean.

Located on prestigious Brickell Key, the Mandarin Oriental is known throughout the world for its upscale Asian décor and superb service. Both are extended to their four-legged visitors who are welcomed by name from the moment you enter the atrium-style lobby.

When Max and I pulled up to the Mandarin Oriental, one bellman opened my car door and asked my name, while another was unloading Max’s crate and our luggage. As we crossed the lobby to the registration desk, two more hotel staffers greeted both of us by name, calling out a cheerful “Hello, Miss Warder…hi Max.” This happened throughout our entire stay, no matter what floor we were on or where we were, from the spa level to the elevators.

Dog Amenities at the Mandarin Hotel, Miami, FL
Both Max and I found welcome amenities in our lovely room. For Max, a colorful Asian-inspired bed and bowl, surrounded by gifts of gourmet doggie biscuits and toys; a fan-shaped, gold Mandarin Oriental dog tag engraved with the hotel’s phone number in case he slips away; a personal welcome note from the hotel manager; and his own room service menu. I was treated to a lovely tray of cheese and fruit, garnished with purple orchids.

In addition to the stellar service and welcoming attitude, the Mandarin Oriental has excellent resources for its four-legged guests. Directly in front of the hotel is a waterfront park, where hotel guests and local pet lovers gather in the afternoons for informal yappy hours. The hotel offers a 15-minute complimentary pet walk per day for your buddy, just in case you’re occupied at the stunning spa or lounging by the infinity pool. This is such a pet-friendly environment, with a mile-long walking trail around the property that runs along the water. Perfect for those morning and sunset strolls.

During our visit, Max and I explored South Beach, window-shopped along fabulous Lincoln Road, and visited several of Miami’s bark parks and pet-friendly establishments.

Best Bowls
Catalina Hotel & Beach Club.
This is not only a favorite South Beach breakfast spot on Collins Avenue, but a dog lover’s as well. Maxine’s Bistro hosts a “Must Love Dogs” brunch every Sunday from 10:30-2:30. Your pooch gets a water bowl and tropical gourmet treats in the shape of palm trees, umbrellas, and fish. Humans choose from Maxine’s breakfast favorites on a prix fixe menu ($20) that includes a cocktail, fresh fruit, home fries and bread along with a brunch entrée. Locals rave about Maxine’s signature Challah French toast, but you can also get omelets, eggs your way, a bagel platter, or pancakes. http://www.catalinahotel.com/eat.htm.

Michy’s.
You can taste celebrity Chef Michelle Bernstein’s culinary creations at her modern bistro on Biscayne Boulevard. It’s appropriate that Michy’s is located in the up-and-coming “upper eastside” of Miami, in what’s being called MiMo, short for the Miami Modern District. Sourcing the best local produce and seafood, Bernstein spurns the pretentious and calls her food “luxurious comfort food.” Short ribs that fall off the bone, chicken cassoulet, whole yellowtail snapper with mangoes and Malaysian curry. Small, well-behaved dogs are welcome to dine alfresco. http://michysmiami.com.

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink.
This unpretentious bistro in the Design District on 40th Street, draws locals back time after time with its reasonable prices, excellent wine list, and contemporary American cuisine. Chef/Owner Michael Schwartz changes the menu daily to feature the freshest local products and was recently awarded a Slow Food “Snail of Approval.” Try the oven roasted double egg yolk, rabbit terrine, or the decadent pot de crème. Dogs are welcome in the outdoor seating area. http://www.michaelsgenuine.com.

News Café.
This restaurant-bar-newsstand has been serving Miami 24/7 for more than 20 years. You can get breakfast around the clock, buy your favorite paper, or anchor a sidewalk table with your pet pal and people-watch. Their substantial menu runs from soups, salads, sandwiches, and burgers to banana splits. The newsstand carries a wide variety of national and international magazines and newspapers, and you can pick up an iconic News Café book bag at their shop to put them in.
http://www.newscafe.com.

The Doggie Bag Cafe in Miami takes dog dining to new levels.
Tail Waggers
Doggie Bag Café and Boutique
On Saturdays, locals take their dogs to brunch at this canine café on Biscayne Boulevard, where all the meals are made while their pups socialize and chow down. You can also pick up some vacuum-packed meals to take home for Fido. Don’t be surprised to see the mobile Doggie Diner at a local dog park, serving its signature meals and gourmutt ice cream, or dogssert as they call it. The charming boutique has fun Fido accessories and a self-serve dog wash. This veterinarian-approved canine restaurant is one of a kind.
http://www.DoggieBagCafe.com.

Dog parks
Flamingo Bark Park. Located at the corner of Michigan Avenue and 14th Street, Flamingo was the first bark park in Miami Beach and is still a local favorite. This park has agility equipment for the athletic pooch, as well as standard amenities like running water, benches and separate dog runs. Park outside along Michigan Avenue. 1245 Michigan Avenue, Miami.

Tropical Park. One of the newest bark parks in Miami, Tropical is divided into two areas, one for dogs under 35 pounds and one for dogs over 35 pounds. Both areas have play equipment including a tire jump, king-of-the-hill ramp, and window jump in addition to water sprays, doggie water fountains, waste bag dispensers, and shady structures. There’s a promenade along the lake with walkways that connect all areas of the park, making it ADA accessible. Enter through the Miller Drive gate on the north side of the lake. 7900 SW 40 St., Miami. http://www.miamidade.gov/parks/facility-dog-parks.asp

Where to Shop with Your BFF
Dog Bar.
For more than a decade, this hipster pet store has been on the cutting edge of canine trends, from spiked collars to organic foods. With locations in South Beach, Midtown Miami and Coral Gables, you’re never far from Fido’s fashion-central. And local deliveries are free. They also carry an extensive selection of raw, natural, and organic foods and treats, as well as collars, leads, dinnerware, and travel bags.

Lincoln Road. Originally designed by Miami developer Carl Fisher to connect the east and west sides of Miami Beach, Lincoln Road was said to rival New York’s Fifth Avenue for chic shopping and gourmet dining. Today, it’s still thriving as a pedestrian mall between Alton Road and Washington Avenue, filled with boutiques, restaurants, and cafés. Dogs are welcome at outdoor dining areas of most cafes and restaurants and at some dog-centric boutiques. But if you’re planning to power shop, you might want to leave your pooch lounging in his hotel room.

IF YOU GO TO MIAMI:
EPIC Hotel, 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Miami. 305.424.5226. No weight limits or additional fees for pet stays. http://www.epichotel.com.

Fontainebleau Resort, 4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. 305.538.2000.
A one-time $100 non-refundable fee, but no weight limit for canine guests.
http://www.fontainebleau.com.

Hotel Ocean, 1230 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach. 305.672.2579.
Welcomes large dogs, up to 80 pounds and the fee is moderate at $50 per stay.
http://www.hotelocean.com.

Loews Miami Beach, 1601 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. 305.604.1601.
Dogs of all sizes are welcome here with a modest one-time $25 fee.
http://www.loewshotels.com.

Mandarin Oriental, 500 Brickell Key Drive, Miami. 305.913.2888.
There is a 25-pound weight limit, with a $200 advance deposit, $100 of that refundable at check-out. http://www.mandarinoriental.com.

IMPORTANT NOTES:
Miami-Dade Parks offers three different types of parks for dog owners: Dog Friendly Parks (for leashed dogs); Dog Parks (off-leash parks with facilities) and Dog Run Parks (fenced off-leash area but no facilities like water and waste bags). Dog-friendly parks are marked with a green sign and in all parks, you must display a rabies tag or proof of vaccination and clean up after your pet.

It is illegal in Miami-Dade County to own or keep American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, or Staffordshire Bull Terriers. This includes mixed breeds who may have similar characteristics to purebred terriers. Unfortunately, not only are these breeds forbidden in the area’s accommodations, but also there’s a hefty fine for just having one of these types of dogs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s