It's official. South Beach's historic Raleigh Hotel is about to get even swankier. None other than Macy's fashion section maven Tommy Hilfiger bought the place up back in April 2014 with plans to convert the hotel into a private club/hotel hybrid. Yesterday, Hilfiger and his business partners won approval from the Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board to go through with the needed renovations to do just that.
At 75 years old, the Raleigh remains an icon of South Beach. Its pool is perhaps the most famous on the beach, and has been featured in movies and music videos dating back to the days of Esther Williams films. But the property has changed ownership a number of times in recent years. Up until 2009 it was in the portfolio of hotelier André Balazs (best known for the Standard hotels) when it sold for $30 million to the Brilla Group. In 2012 David Edelstein and Sam Nazarian bought it for $55 million. Hilfiger Hospitality bought it last year for $56.5 million. Which is to say recent owners have made more money selling the place than actually operating it. Hilfiger, however, is in for the long haul with an ambitious new business plan.
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Hotel rooms will still of course be rented out, but the total number of rooms will be downgraded from the current 105 to just 87. The extra space will be used as a private social club to rival the members-only Soho Beach House in mid-Beach. Members there pay a yearly fee to enjoy the Soho's amenities, cultural programing, and parties.
Touzet Studio is responsible for designing the renovations. The new features will span from relatively mundane like the enlargement of existing doorways to a brand new cabana space behind the famous pool that will serve as an indoor/outdoor dining space. The pool, however, will remain untouched.
According to the Real Deal, there's no set timeline as to how long the renovations will take, when they'll begin, when the hotel will reopen, or when the private club will start taking applications.