Set among South Beach's understated Art Deco hotels, the groovy Fifties motor lodge recently rechristened The Creek (as in adjacent to Indian Creek) looks like it may have dropped in from outer space, or at least from Southern California. Formerly known as the Banana Bungalow youth hostel, the site is under new management and has been converted into "an alternative space meets budget hotel."
Such is the vision of Tim Ronan, an event producer who moved down from New York to serve as The Creek's creative director. "This is a meeting ground for music, film, fashion, art, and performance," says the gregarious Ronan. "A place for the new energy being brought to South Beach by young people who are really doing things."
Ronan sees the flashy glass-walled lobby and poolside bar and patio as the perfect venue in which to have some fun while fomenting the artistic energy he found here during last December's Art Basel. Taking the current trend of holding art exhibitions in hotels to the next level, an eclectic group of multimedia artists and designers was commissioned to design The Creek's Signature Rooms, creating installations that will remain in place for a year. Anyone can view the rooms -- whose concepts include surveillance, romance, memories, and play -- when they're not occupied, of course.
The Creek's low rates will still attract backpackers, but Ronan is appealing to a new crowd of locals with pool parties every Saturday afternoon where DJs spin anything from house to reggae and free burgers are served at the bar. Some of his more ambitious plans have been curtailed by noise complaints from neighbors or foiled by Miami Beach codes. (The city recently vetoed a skateboarding competition originally scheduled for this weekend.) But The Creek will still be chilling when several well-known international DJs here for the Winter Music Conference take over the resort's turntables for the next few days.
"It's got to be more loungey than clublike," cautions Ronan. "The kind of people I'm trying to bring in here are maybe a little older; I don't think anyone's going to be in here screaming and jumping around." The poolside lounge kicks off Thursday night with Finland's Jori Hulkkonen of Helsinki Mix Sessions fame, the U.K.'s Rennie Pilgrem, ex-Anti-Pop Consortium rhymer Beans, and Swedish neo-jazzmen Koop.
"Every day's going to be different," Ronan says of The Creek's programming future. "I think that what's going to happen here is there's going to be a lot of artists, a lot of different industry people. They're looking for something that's out of the way, that's not in the middle of it all. The Creek is the cool underground spot and that's why people have chosen to use it. The idea is that it's a little microcosm of a big city here. There are representatives of different scenes staying in this place, performing in this place, meeting in this place. If The Creek can be home to all of that, I'll be ecstatic."