Changing The Model
There was a time when travelers would use their hotels to sleep and spa—and then head out on the town to hit the dining hotspots. Even fine hotels had to struggle to keep their guests in-house, but once their restaurants partnered with pedigreed restaurant brands, earned Michelin stars, and lured celebrity chefs, their efforts often succeeded. But Nobu Hotels is doing something pioneering by actually baking the coveted dining experience (forgive the pun) into the lodging experience itself. Case in point: Nobu Hotel Miami Beach, which features 206 guestrooms. Nobu Restaurant debuted several months before the beachfront boutique hotel even opened its doors in 2015. That was the master stroke.
This disruption of the hotel model was an inspired idea, but it wouldn’t have worked with just any gastronomic brand. People trust in Nobuyuki "Nobu" Matsuhisa. He’s a one-named star, like Madonna, who is, incidentally, a big fan of the Japanese chef herself. (The star’s oft-quoted praise—“You can tell how much fun a city is going to be if Nobu is in it”—was emblazoned on the wall of one of Nobu’s numerous global venues.) But even non-celebrity foodies are fully conversant in the language of Nobu, speaking of the incessantly copied miso black cod—one of his signature dishes—with reverence.
The illustrious Rockwell Group was tasked with a unique design mission: create a Japanese beach house in the middle of Miami Beach.
The illustrious Rockwell Group was tasked with a unique design mission: create a Japanese beach house in the middle of Miami Beach. The effect is neutral and rich, with walnut, bronze, linen, glass, and washi paper used liberally. The guest rooms feature cerused live-edge wood furniture and subtle accents of blue and purple; hallways glow with lantern-like fixtures. The walls are adorned with black-and-white photography of Japanese landscapes. And the bathrooms are earthy and top-shelf, boasting soft-edged stone basins by Apaiser, Grohe fixtures, and Natura Bissé products infused with a rosemary white tea fragrance custom-designed for the hotel.
The Esencia Wellness Spa was likewise customized with the Nobu sensibility, with a treatment menu that includes the Nobu Nagomi Ritual (an Asian-inspired foot bath, exfoliation, and massage), Nobu Zen (a customized aromatic oil massage) and Japanese Silk (a stimulating treatment featuring a hot stone massage and hair mask).
In the restaurant, Rockwell Group upped the Nobu ante. The design aesthetic is handcrafted, emphasizing texture rather than color, with natural materials like teak and reclaimed oak. In homage to Nobu’s heritage, the restaurant ceiling is clad in back-lit washi paper, with custom paper floor lamps guiding guests into the restaurant. The healthy utilization of washi paper is a first for a Nobu restaurant, and the effect is soft and otherworldly. In such an environment, signing for the rock shrimp on a hotel slip is an exclusive act to be sure—and the 10-seat teppanyaki room offers even more discretion. But it is understood that some guests might opt for an arguably more rarified dining experience: simply ordering up Nobu’s cuisine from room service.