When the Vagabond Motel opened in 1953 on Biscayne Boulevard, the famed Biscayne Corridor into the Magic City was the original Ocean Drive. A hangout for the Rat Pack, the Vagabond Motel was part of Miami’s DNA and evolution as America’s Riviera. Its original architect, Robert Swartburg, also designed the swank Delano in South Beach. Half a century later, the Vagabond was abandoned and slowly began its descend into a sore eye of the neighborhood.
With an impending doom and just 11 days before the Vagabond was set to be demolished, developer Avra Jain purchased the living piece of history for $1.9 million. In a year and a half, Jain has transformed the vacant motel into the Vagabond Hotel — an establishment that anyone visiting the Magic City should want to occupy.
Pieces from the original property have been cleaned up and painted over, such as the welcoming mermaids on the street corner, which were surprisingly in tact after 50 years. The same can’t be said for the mosaic dolphin and mermaids in the pool, which was sunk in and had weeds growing out. One would never know that though now, with its glistening mermaid and dolphins restored to original conditions and corner fountains shooting streams of H20 into the watering hole. A poolside bar is already MiMo’s newest happy hour spot for the neighboring residents of Bell Meade and the surrounding areas.
The 45 hotel rooms have maintained their retro feel but take cues from the film Lucky Number Slevin. Designer Stephan Dupoux has take care of bringing the vintage rooms to date, maintaining its essence of historic retro but infusing it with tropical chic and vibrant accents. Every single room has a view of the courtyard and pool and is soundproofed to keep what’s going on outside where it belongs and vice versa.
Come December, Vagabond Restaurant will open under the helm of Alex Chang and Alvaro Perez just in time for the global art phenomenon that is Art Basel. The hotel, already fully booked for the week of Basel, will be at full capacity for the first time in decades, rightfully reclaiming its proper place in history as a playground for today’s glitterati.
For a full view of Lady V, the slideshow below will give you a tour with the exception of Vagabond Restaurant, which is still under construction.