How to be a culture maven: The Betsy, Miami’s South Beach

On bustling Ocean Avenue in Miami’s South Beach, there is a 1940’s era hotel called The Betsy.

3 Score’s guest blogger Paula Forman shared her experience there in 2017. This time I  joined her and two other friends for a mid-winter get-away.  It was the tonic we needed, but for reasons that surprised me.  Ready for an update?

I knew The Betsy to be a luxury hotel. I did not anticipate it to be such an oasis of culture

This is what I expected…

College spring breakers robust in their hard-body youth and vitality, retirees in knee socks and sandals.  Sun-seekers of every hue, class, identity and economic strata pass the hotel’s broad veranda and sidewalk cafe.

A broad lawn, magnificent beach, and brilliant azure waters …

 

I anticipated snazzy motorcyclists blasting music; tourists wobbling astride stocky rental bikes.

Vintage gas guzzlers preening.

Photo credit: Jane Trombley

Sleek, low-slung specialty cars gliding past with panther-like stealth.

Services at The Betsy are what one would expect of a luxury hotel. The staff friendly and most definitely ‘on it’.

Taking breakfast on the veranda was a daily ritual, when the weather cooperated (and the umbrellas helped).

The LT Steak and Seafood restaurant  lived up to the accolades.

The pizza found in the Alley adjacent to the hotel has earned Zagat’s “best Pizza” honor.  There’s gelato, too.  Who could ask for anything more?

Miami’s Cultural Scene

This mirror of America is more than a holiday destination for sun and fun.

Plaza of Perez Art Museum Miami
Photo credit: Jane Trombley

Miami is a cultural beacon with a pervasive Cuban influence  

Take, for example, the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) nestled along Biscayne Bay.  A striking sculpture graces the museum’s plaza.

sculpture on plaza, Perez Art Museum Miami
Photo credit: Jane Trombley

Beyond the Pérez  is a plethora of cultural institutions that make Miami a popular home to the Arts: The New World Symphony and the Miami City Ballet each have a robust schedules.

A proud distinction that signifies Miami’s place in the international art world: Don’t miss Art|Basel Miami December 6-9, 2018.

The Betsy’s  literary  legacy

The Betsy is a creative oasis for writers, with a singular fondness for poets.

Writers and artists find a rare opportunity at The Betsy to nurture their craft in a residency program: the Writer’s Room.

Photo credit: The Betsy Hotel

The program offers up to 7 days’ residency with minimal community-minded requests designed to share their experience with the greater Betsy community.

The Writer’s Room is a throwback to an earlier era. In the first decades of the twentieth century, it was not uncommon for Miami hotels to provide a space for writers.

Writing — memoirs, long letters home, personal journals — was, at one time,  an established practice among travelers. Professional writers — and the wannabes — enjoyed the change of scene; the tropical air seemed to tease the muses to come out to play.

Call it the Hemingway mystique.

Photo Credit: The Betsy Hotel

The Writer’s Room residency is offered to thought leaders, artists, and writers at any point along their career arc. It is the legacy of Hyam Plutzik, thrice-nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry and father of The Betsy Hotel owner, Jonathan Plutzik.

For inspiration, the poet’s desk graces the Writer’s Room, a touching salute to those perfecting their craft during their stay.

Desk at The Writer's Room
Photo credit: The Betsy Hotel

Call it the Hemingway mystique.

The elder Mr. Plutzik, who knew the power of a descriptive phrase, captured the essence of the place, long before he could have known he’d be its patron saint: “Expect no more. This is happiness.”

He was right.

In sum…

The hotel rightfully prides itself as a cultural beacon; poetry is in its DNA, intellectual curiosity is its North Star and music is its soul.

I was bowled over by the cultural offerings at the hotel. I was awed by the mini library in each room; books to relax with, to be inspired by and to “borrow”.


Most of us aspiring writers/bloggers,  poets, recorders-of-life enjoy the luxury of unscheduled reading. Often, it’s a guilty pleasure.

So, leave the back-breaking pile of paperbacks at home. There’s a pile here waiting for you. You won’t be disappointed.

Oh, and they love dogs. Yours are welcome, too.

Enjoy,

Jane

© 2018 Three Score & More  All rights reserved

 

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