Menin’s Magic at The Mondrian

Keith Menin follows his legacy, creating show-stopping properties that are redefining south beach one neighborhood at a time

By Sonia Tita Puopolo
Photography by Reynaldo Alés


 Menin’s family’s Sanctuary Hotel Group, led by Abraham Galbut, recently joined forces with the illustrious Morgans Hotel Group to create the Mondrian South Beach, a hotel-residence that will breathe new life into the condo-haven situated on the shores of Biscayne Bay.

Just like definitive rock band Queen’s Freddie Mercury, Keith Menin was born on September 5th. Menin is Miami’s own version of a legend, ready to rock the world. A champion of real estate development and hospitality-not only in Miami, but on a nationwide scale-Keith Menin is young, on fire, and ready to roll.

Real estate is in his blood. This fourth-generation Miami Beach-born star is making his indelible mark on Miami’s landscape at the ripe young age of just 26, thus regenerating his family’s ongoing legacy. His heritage comes from deep roots firmly planted in the Miami Beach soil, which began in 1934 with his great grandfather, Al Galbut, founder of the popular Al’s Diner, a 24-hour hardware/drug store on 5th Street. Menin is nostalgic and proud when he speaks of his family’s past. “[Al’s Diner] was the most famous place in the city then,” he states with a gleam in his eye. Just as his grandfather was able to create a landmark in a burgeoning city, Menin, despite his vernal status, has created a boutique destination that has taken Miami Beach by storm since its opening in 2005, when Menin was just 24.

Aptly named The Sanctuary, this 30-room hotel/residence has created a haven of respite at 1745 James Avenue on Miami Beach. Tucked away amidst deco apartment buildings, just a block away from the hectic Collins Avenue, The Sanctuary, a boutique condo/hotel, has been an overwhelming success since its inception, as celebrities and dignitaries alike graced the halls within weeks of the opening. It took a lot of hard work on the part of Menin, owner of the hotel-hard work that has paid off, being that The Sanctuary was recently included on the Hot List by Conde Naste Traveler.

The Sanctuary is a haven for ladies, offering a 25 percent discount for single women travelers. Keith is a man who appreciates women, and understands the importance of detail and attention when it comes to them. The hotel goes as far as arranging running companions for single girls who don’t necessarily want to venture out onto the busy streets by themselves. All hotel guests-single or not-can take advantage of the hotel’s many offerings, which include a state-of-the art salon and spa, and first-tier restaurant, Ola. Keith points out, “It is about lifestyle,” a lifestyle that indulges guests and owners alike.

Menin inherited a small percentage of his family’s building, 1745 James Avenue upon his father’s death in 1984, when Keith was just two years old. In addition to a plethora of property, Keith was bequeathed with his family’s entrepreneurial spirit, which has been running strong since Al’s Diner’s humble beginnings. During the 1970’s, Keith’s family began to invest heavily in the bustling Miami Beach real estate scene, led by Keith’s uncle Russell Galbut. By the 1980’s, Galbut became a founding partner in Crescent Heights, the largest privately held condominium converter in the United States. In 1984, the family purchased the Shelborne Hotel, leading to Keith growing up learning the ins and outs of the hospitality industry from an insider’s standpoint. Despite his real-life learnings, Keith headed to the prestigious Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration for formal schooling. Immediately following graduation, Keith was off and running, heading back to Miami Beach to put his tutelage and rearing to good use, opening the Sanctuary Hotel with a splash, attracting A-List locals, celebrities, and nationwide press coverage.

His upcoming project is already doing just the same. Menin’s family’s Sanctuary Hotel Group, led by Abraham Galbut, recently joined forces with the illustrious Morgans Hotel Group to create the Mondrian South Beach, a hotel-residence that will breathe new life into the condo-haven situated on the shores of Biscayne Bay. Located at 1100 West Avenue, the Mondrian South Beach is the Morgans Hotel Group’s first residence project, offering a fantasy-like getaway, along with all the conveniences of living in such a five-star environment. Designed by the renowned Marcel Wanders, the Mondrian is sure to be a trip into wonderland. Wanders says,  “If I have to visit the building process for a year, it better be in a fun and cool place… I love the bayside, the fantastic views it has, and the intimacy the location automatically brings.” The loft-style residences not only offer spectacular views of the meticulously landscaped grounds, Biscayne Bay and downtown Miami’s dynamic skyline, but will also be a showcase of luxury. Wanders will use a palate of white, gold, grays, blues, and blacks to create the suave ambiance that is standard in all of the Morgan Hotels Group’s projects. With the property’s purchase price of roughly $100 million, and an additional $50 million needed for renovations in order to bring the space up to the Morgans Hotel Group’s and the Sanctuary Hotel Group’s standards, no expense is being spared in ensuring that the Mondrian be stunning when completed in late 2007. The Mondrian South Beach will feature 342-units ranging from oversized studios to a penthouse hotel residence, as well as four spectacular and exclusive tower residences.

Tim Miller, chief branding officer for the Morgans Hotel Group, emphatically believes that the Mondrian represents a sophisticated whimsy that “creates a following.” The ‘condotel’ will be home to an acclaimed restaurant, bayside bar and grill, and a custom-shaped swimming pool, with a special outdoor chandelier designed by Wanders hanging overhead. A 24-hour state-of-the-art fitness center graces the property, as does Agua spa, which features wet and dry treatment options. The property will also host a 50-slip marina, private rooftop bar, and garden. Owners will have a private entrance, separate from what is sure to be a popular hotel destination. Owners not only have access to the pampering offered to hotel guests, but also receive Global Card Privileges, which guarantees card holder admittance to any hotel, bar, and restaurant at Morgan’s, Royalton, Hudson, Delano, The Shore Club, Mondrian, Clift, St. Martins Lane, and Sanderson properties.

Keith says with a laugh that prior to beginning this project, his involvement with the Morgans Hotel Group was that he was a loyal customer and exclusive global card member. But the partnership between Morgans Hotel Group and Menin has been a fun one, and beneficial to both parties. Miller says, “The combination of success of the Morgan’s Hotel Group in Miami and worldwide, along with the experience and reputation of Keith Menin and the Sanctuary Hotel Group, will ensure that The Mondrian South Beach will have no problem selling out.” In fact, superstars Chris Leavitt and Pietro Belmonte from the sales team at Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group have confirmed that the Mondrian is selling out quicker than any other project in South Beach and the response has been great.

Being that Menin thrives on everything first class, stating that, “Nothing but the best,” is his personal motto, we can be assured that the Mondrian will raise the bar of living standards on the Bay. Menin has also opened Raffaello, a hotel in Chicago, and recently returned from a trip to Europe where he was scouting for future projects. This young, charismatic hotelier will continue to rock us for years to come, taking blank canvases and creating properties that redefine neighborhoods, raising the bar for every real estate mogul out there.