Bal Harbour, established in 1946, is a dynamic international destination comprising just one square mile on the northern tip of Miami Beach. With perfectly manicured streets, pristine beaches, luxury design, extraordinary Bal Harbour shopping, superior dining and location, this stunning village is one of the globe’s wealthiest with hotels that have long been visited by the world’s dignitaries, celebrities and presidents.
Bal Harbour Florida offers exclusivity, prime location and one of the most select zip codes in America. It is conveniently positioned 18 miles from two international airports (Miami and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood), and near South Beach, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove and Miami attractions. Even its first name had to be created since a word to describe its location didn’t exist. The “b” was taken from the word “bay” and the “al” from “Atlantic” to create “Bal,” signifying a city running from the bay to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Village boasts an immaculately landscaped beach with snorkeling, wind-surfing, parasailing, swimming and deep sea fishing. In addition, there are dozens of championship golf courses, including the Miami Beach Golf Club, minutes away. For more strenuous exercise, the $3 million jogging track along the beach is the only beachfront path of its type in South Florida.
Bal Harbour, A Timeline
The vision for the Village of Bal Harbour began in 1929 when Miami Beach Heights, a Detroit-based real estate development corporation, purchased the raw land. Headed by industrialist Robert C. Graham, Miami Beach Heights hired one of the era’s leading urban planning firms, Harland Bartholomew & Associates, to design the master plan. From the beginning, the Village was envisioned as a modern community that would maintain exceptionally high standards, provide superior services and foster civic pride.
The advent of World War II brought plans to an abrupt halt and Graham leased the land to the U.S. Air Corps for $1 a year. The area that would become the site of the Sheraton Bal Harbour became a center of year-round training, complete with barracks and a rifle range, and a prisoner-of-war camp – on the current site of Bal Harbour Shops – housed German prisoners. Soldiers stationed up and down Miami Beach marched north for maneuvers to the area known as “tent city”.
In the 1950’s, Bal Harbour and Miami Beach were America’s Riviera and a magnet for the nation’s top musicians and entertainers. Count Basie and Guy Lombardo could be seen having drinks at the Ivanhoe’s Pump Room Lounge. Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack frequented the Americana’s Carnival Supper Club. Arthur Godfrey brought media attention to the area when he broadcast his radio and television shows from the Kenilworth Hotel. Other television personalities, including Jackie Gleason and Ed Sullivan, followed suit.
Over the years, many important events and national conventions have taken place at Bal Harbour’s hotels. The Americana Hotel – which became the Sheraton Bal Harbour in 1980 – was an ideal location and one of the most glamorous resorts in South Florida. Designed by Morris Lapidus, the legendary architect of neo-baroque modern Miami, and built by the Tisch family in the 1950’s, it hosted three nationally televised AFL-CIO Constitutional Conventions with Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon at the podium. Later, the Sheraton was President Clinton’s favorite hotel and a venue for the Summit of the Americas in 1994.
For 50-plus years, the Sheraton Bal Harbour graced the Village’s coastline. The hotel was demolished in 2007 to make way for the new St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort.
Recently, the Village of Bal Harbour came full circle when the highly-anticipated St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort – one of the nation’s most impressive oceanfront developments – lead the renaissance and opened to reveal the affluent enclave as a coveted international destination; a discerning traveler’s secluded escape with unrivaled amenities and at the intersection of the world’s best art, design and fashion. The opening also represented a significant moment for St. Regis – the modern expression of the brand and a defining vision of a St. Regis flagship carrying forth time-honored traditions to inspire its next chapter.