With luxury already elevated to its highest levels in the real estate arena, one innovative area developer is offering a concept that has raised the bar yet again.
By Julien Sharp
Photography by Reynaldo Alés
Thanks to strong relationships with some of the strongest players on the SoBe scene, Sanctuary is also making a name for itself as one of the places to meet and mingle with the power crowd.
In Miami Beach, Keith Menin is helping to reclaim the glamour and sophistication of a bygone era with his ultra-exclusive boutique hotel, The Sanctuary (1745 James Avenue, South Beach). A true “spa resort,” The Sanctuary fully embraces – and seamlessly combines – the concepts of lavish and leisure.
HL Your family purchased this two-story building back in 1986, subsequently running it as a nursing home. Did your family purchase this property with plans of future development? And, at such a young age, what influenced your decision to manage this Sanctuary on South Beach?
KM When I was in my last year of college, I realized that South Beach retirement homes were a thing of the past. I had an idea for this property and approached a designer with a range of ideas. After we developed the concept, I went back to Cornell for my senior year, borrowed $8 million – with interest – and from then on, I was involved in every aspect of the hotel, from the marble floors to the teak walls. I had a very definite idea in mind of what I wanted, and that’s what I got.
HL What influenced you to develop this ultra-chic condo-hotel boutique? Does each unit follow a similar style, or are units that are considered condos dressed by the owner?
KM All units are of the same design, and each resident staying here receives the same service. The units are more than just hotel rooms; I really wanted to create an atmosphere that feels like home.
HL The Sanctuary sure knows how to treat a lady, offering services that cater to its female guests jogging companions, private trainers, amazing spa services and a personal shopper. How did you come up with such a magnificent concept, and do many women utilize these services?
KM I have noticed the trend of more and more women traveling alone on business, so I wanted to make sure that our female guests were comfortable enjoying all the fun of South Beach.
HL Have you sold many units in the condo-hotel, or are many of your rooms occupied on a shorter-term basis?
KM We have 30 units, and 23 of the rooms are sold to exclusive residences. At an average of $400,000, most of the units have been sold.
HL Sugo, the hotel’s restaurant, is inspired by famed restaurateurs Tommy Billante and Manuel Paucar, owners of the widely popular Carpaccio Restaurant in Bal Harbour. What influenced your decision to host an Italian restaurant?
KM I already had a concept and design for the restaurant when Tom approached me. He looked over the property and said he wanted to join my team and really make the Sanctuary successful. And what a great merger of ideas!
HL Many rave about the rooftop pool and bar – what inspired you to create that?
KM Everyone enjoys the atmosphere of the rooftop pool. We have put in a customized rive rock pool, and it is a true rock pool. No other building in South Beach has used that type of material to build the pool. That, along with the décor, location, and innovative drinks, makes it one of the most unique hot spots on the Beach.
HL With TAI Entertainment taking the helm as publicists, creating events from a launch of a new recording artist, to the debut of the newest premium sake available on the market, there seems to be a continuous draw of locals and visitors. Do you ever worry about a lull in business?
KM Thanks to strong relationships with some of the strongest players on the SoBe scene, Sanctuary is also making a name for itself as one of the places to meet and mingle with the power crowd. I say that it’s not how much money you spend on advertising, but how effectively you spend it. I focus on PR, and getting involved with brands that really cater to the clientele. It’s all about knowing who your clientele is and how you can get them.
HL You have achieved so much success for someone so young. Do you plan to open more hotels in the style of the über-chic Sanctuary, or will you focus on “your baby”?
KM We have been very successful with The Sanctuary in Miami, and because of that we have decided to expand to other markets. In addition to a boutique hotel in Chicago, we are expanding on the Sanctuary theme with a new property in the Bahamas. The property will cover six acres, with 50 condo-hotel units walking distance from the pink-sand beach. I envision it as a very relaxed island retreat from the sizzle of South Beach. Within the next three years, we plan to have at least five Sanctuary-branded hotels.
With all that looming on the horizon, one might wonder what Menin does in the precious little time off time he has. The answer? You’ll find him sitting with a group of regular guests at Sugo, enjoying his favorite dish the short ribs topped with goat cheese polenta. “The best dish!” proclaims Menin, flashing his infectious smile at the thought.