Best of Miami®

Best Of 2006

Neighborhoods

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Best Of :: People & Places

Best Not-So-Cheap Thrill

Take a vacation without leaving town, but don't leave home without your wallet (or before requesting a higher limit on your credit cards). Experience a weekend of relaxing in hotel paradise and think of it as a meager sampling of the life of a celebrity. Walking into the lobby of The Setai, you are immediately transported to a tranquil plane of harmony. Good Chi flows from the teak wood and the antique bricks transported from Shanghai. The design of the hotel, described as "Art Deco Fusion," melds the architectural standard of classic South Beach -- it is, after all, a replica of the historic Dempsey Vanderbilt Hotel -- with soothing elements of Asian flair. Talismans adorn the walls to ward off evil spirits, so you will experience nothing but positive energy throughout your relaxing weekend stay. You will sleep on luxurious Dux beds with Irish linen sheets, watch your cable shows on flat-screen LCD or plasma televisions sets with Bose surround-sound, and make your morning java jolt with a Lavazza espresso maker. If you forget your bathing suit, simply go to the gift shop and buy one of the very cool Blue Glue bikinis ($120 each). (You decide you want both the purple one with the cute cutouts and the one with green iridescent sequins, so you splurge. You're on vacation, right?) After a hard afternoon of chilling by one of the three pools, you can return to your suite for a soak in your big tub or a scrub under the shower, which is equipped with Acqua di Parma products. Enjoy delicious Asian cuisine or comfort foods prepared before your eyes from The Restaurant or Sushi Bar (about $240) and a Zen-like, mind-altering spa treatment including shiatsu massage and aromatherapy oils, followed by a Jacuzzi soak ($450 per couple). Although weekend packages normally start at $3900, May 1 marks the off-season, which means deep discounts for locals. Two nights will set you back only $1220, which brings the total to $1890 (before the two bathing suits are tacked on to your bill). The effect it will have on your demeanor is priceless.

Personal Best

James "Jimbo" Luznar opened his joint on Virginia Key, Jimbo's, a half-century ago. And there's no better place on the water to take a toot.

What is your greatest triumph?

We used to be where the Herald building is, but then they said our boats would have to go. So we looked at Snapper Creek, Mart’ Park, then we ended up on Virginia Key. It stunk sometimes, and there were mosquitoes, snakes, coons, opossums, and iguanas. It cost us a lot of money to be there, but we stayed. They've been trying to get me out of there for a long time, but now everyone all over the world knows Jimbo.

Personal Best

Born in Homestead, Kevin Wynn is the producer and cohost of Downtown Dade, a TV talk show that covers the arts and culture and airs on the county's government access channel. He is also the coprogrammer, with Barron Sherer, of Cinema Vortex, a nonprofit organization devoted to screening unusual, significant, and neglected film and video works. And he's the creator of Public Domain Playhouse, a continuing series of screenings he curates with Sherer.

What is your greatest triumph?

My greatest triumph? I don’t do “triumph.” I’ve never had one. I can’t tell you how it feels to triumph, or what it looks, tastes or smells like. I wouldn’t know “triumph” if some guy ran over me with a TR4.

Best Dog Park

There are several safe, clean places where we can let Fido run off-leash in Miami-Dade. Coconut Grove has several dog-friendly parks; the Beach has some nice locations; there's a spot on Virginia Key where dogs can swim and sunbathe; but of all the canine treats in my Miami, the mac daddy of all dog parks is in Aventura. Two years ago the city, which is burgeoning with young dog-owning families, built the expansive new Veterans Park. The $600,000 two-acre expanse has a wonderful, well-kept, welcoming space. There are pooper-scooper dispensers throughout the space. There are doggy water fountains and doggy showers. And the most endearing detail: red fire hydrants. All of this greatness, of course, comes at a price: You have to live in Aventura, and show proof of residence, to gain access. It's almost reason enough to move there.

Best Local Politician

It is a dark time for Miami-Dade County's executive mayor. The evil lords on the county commission annihilated Carlos Alvarez's bold offensive to strip them of some bribe-making abilities. Then the Galactic Empire displayed the true power of the Dark Side when it crushed Alvarez in the Boundary Wars. Beaten but resolute, the good mayor fled to the outer rim of the county's suburban wasteland to regroup and complete his training. Upon his return, Alvarez successfully destroyed the Imperials' diabolical device: The Public Silencer. In time, this Obi-wan of the Swamp may finally bring balance to the county.

Best Listener

Come one, come all, to the "Read to Farley" sessions at the children's section of the North Miami Beach Library, the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month at 4:00 p.m. This is no ordinary dog. This shaggy mop o' unconditional love once suffered from crippling agoraphobia, owing to early abuse. But his patient handler, Margo Berman, a professor at Florida International University, worked tirelessly, training him to overcome his fears and earn his Therapy Dog badge. Now Farley helps shy children who have trouble reading aloud. Once the youngsters sit down with Farley on the colorful rugs, they don't want to stop reading him stories because he is a great listener, mispronunciations be damned!

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Best Not-So-Cheap Thrill: A weekend at The Setai

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