Holy cow. I mean what else can you say after a brunch which took us three hours to fully profit from and most of the afternoon to digest? It was really splendid. Pastries, oysters, caviar, fresh crab and shrimp, fresh sushi and sashimi, roast pork, prime rib, omelets, pasta, loads of fruits and salads, pancakes, waffles and French toast, and probably other stuff I forgot, not to mention the wide selection of deserts. All served with a choice of prosecco+strawberries (fragoli) or mimosas or champagne or caipirinhas à volonté…incredible and definitely worth the price, and in such a beautiful setting with the fountain and the courtyard. The music was a little annoying at times – a sort of Spanish-style guitar doing cover of anything from Blackbird to Hotel California – but added a little atmosphere to the experience.
Another highlight today, besides finally swimming in the largest swimming pool in the US (really!) was a visit to the 13th floor suite – Al Capone’s Speak Easy during prohibition for some time. No kidding. The suite costs about $25k or $38k depending who I asked and has been used by loads of VIPs visiting Miami including most recently Obama himself. The bellman giving us the private tour (you have to coax the front desk staff and then if you are lucky and the suite unoccupied a bellman takes you up) told us several stories as my wife and I “oohed and ahhed” at the views and the hand-painted ceiling, etc. Our guide said that Obama was really friendly and down to earth whereas Dubya was arrogant and eccentric. You may have seen the suite in any number of Latino TV novellas but more likely in the Bad Boys movie or in the Miami Vice movie. So, here are two anecdotes he related: one of Capone’s bodyguards took exception to a guy in the entourage named Fats Walsh and Mr Fats was murdered in the table in the center of the room and his body stuffed down an elevator shaft. There are bullet holes that are filled in on the gorgeous coral fireplace if you look close enough to attest to the story. Stories of Fat’s ghost haunting the Biltmore were already alluded to in a previous post, but this is the first time I heard the story particulars. The bellboy also pointed out the several secret passages in various parts of the room (false closets and doors) where folks could disappear if the cops came. His dad works in the church across the street and just recently found an underground tunnel that Capone used as another escape route. So, back to the ghost stories, during the filming of the movie Miami Vice, either Jamie Foxx or Colin Farrell had rented the suite and was awakened in the night by the piano playing and the TV – but there was no one there. He freaked and abruptly left the hotel screaming it seems. His co-star heard the story and took the room for the following night but no ghastly piano man came calling. To make a long story short, the visit was fascinating and captivating. I really like sitting in the same chair that Obama did looking across the suite at the green expanse of the Gables. Pretty unique experience to say the least.
More on my walk to the Grove tomorrow.