The Richmond: art deco charm delivered with a smile

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The art deco, palm-studded stylings of the Richmond's portico entering from Collins Avenue in South Beach. (Courtesy photo)

SOUTH BEACH, Fla. - The Richmond's neither the biggest nor flashiest of South Beach's many heralded art deco hotels.

However, it is may be the most authentically preserved and friendliest, thanks in part to General Manager Stuart Weintraub.

"We hire smiling faces," he said last week during a visit with The Lebanon Voice.

Weintraub has been in the hotel business his entire life, and his bosses, Allan and Patricia Herbert, are the third generation of their family to operate The Richmond, which was founded by Peres Seltzer in 1941. It is the only hotel on the beach that is still in the ownership of the family that built it.

A view from our room looks out on the pool, the hot tub and the beach beyond. (Lebanon Voice/Harrison Thorp photo)

The hotel was one of the first to maintain direct beach access and to implement air conditioning soon after the end of World War II.

The hotel has already undergone one major renovation, and projects are in the works for more, but Weintraub said they want to proceed cautiously to ensure the hotel will retain its vintage art deco flavor reminiscent of its past.

"We want the flavor of this place retained," he said. "All the other places (hotels) that get fixed, they just replace stuff. It's our job to restore and retain it. It's harder to restore than it is to buy brand new.

"We're doing renovation instead of replacement; it's a labor of love."

And the Richmond's attention to detail is clearly evident, from the attentive doorman who never missed opening the door as we approached to the crystal clear and clean patio pool and hot tub.

A beachgoer saunters toward a gate that opens onto a walkway with direct access to the beach from the Richmond.

One of the best things we liked was the hotel's direct access through a private and secure egress onto the famed South Beach, itself, where miles of pristine sand and surf await.

For $20 you can rent two super-comfy chaise lounges and a parasol for your day in the sun.

The rooms are small by today's standards, but typical of South Beach's art deco hotels in general. They all come with art deco 1930s-style radios, bathrobes, hair dyers, room safe and ironing board. Ours had a wonderful art deco easy chair. Sorry, no coffee makers. Many have views of the pool and ocean.

The hotel also offers a fitness room as well as a small poolside restaurant and lounge.

Rates are reasonable with a special going on now that includes lodging, the chaise lounges and umbrella and two free cocktails for about $180.

One downside: wi-fi costs $10 a day, so the easy fix is leave the work at home, hit the beach and have a cocktail.

A cool summer breeze under a warm sun with the sound of the surf as background noise make for a relaxing day on a comfy chaise lounge at South Beach. (Lebanon Voice/Harrison Thorp photo)

That's what we did.

For more on the Richmond click here.

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