Beach Life

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Beach Life

By Leila Stocker

In life, as the saying goes – sometimes an orchid does really grow from a storm. And quoting my late Grandmother – work hard enough at something, and you’ll reap the rewards. The above two sayings couldn’t be truer for Nikki Beach – the laid-back, sophisticated lifestyle brand – its poignant beginnings emerging from the stormiest of starts.

In 1997, the renowned, Floridian nightlife entrepreneur Jack Penrod, was enjoying the fruits of two successful beach bars in Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. Famed for their no-holds-barred party reputation, these were a favourite with spring-breakers. Then tragedy struck, with Jack’s beloved daughter Nicole being involved in a fatal car accident. The life-changing event resulted in a paradigm shift, with Jack deciding to change his business model and clientele – from the beer-crazed youth, to the affluent barfly.

Taking the Miami property and re-modeling, Jack created a vision of white sails, soft sand, day beds, and wooden carved cabanas, which today is known around the world as signature Nikki Beach decor.  He also found seasoned chefs who could create an international menu, to which he aspired. In 1998, he named the whole venue in honour of his daughter, and the first  Nikki Beach, was born.

There are now eight permanent Nikki Beach locations around the globe and six resorts in development – and this December 2013, the brand will celebrate its 15th birthday. The firm is very much a family affair – and its name carries a core message of a ‘celebration of life’. Like so many organisations it has diversified – becoming an umbrella concept that offers music, dining,  fashion, clothing, hotels, residences,  nightlife, a magazine, pop-up locations around the world during prestigious Film Festivals (Cannes, Toronto & Sundance) and events. And Nikki Beach is no stranger to famous faces – recent celebrity visitors include Al Pacino, Beyonce, Bono, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, Leonardo Dicaprio, Madonna, Rihanna and Ryan Gosling, to name just a few.

However, partnering with label Defected and working with the best DJs (recent compilations have been mixed by the Shapeshifters and ATFC), Nikki Beach has kept it finger firmly on the dancing pulse. And dancing you will do, if you visit – the venues recreate the magic of the Balearics, with beautiful backdrops, and DJs playing uplifting beats from dusk til dawn.

When visiting the brand’s flagship Miami Beach venue located at the end of the famous South Beach Strip, what struck me first was the size – the two-tiered venue has a 2,800 capacity. The complex combines an ocean front restaurant – specialising in seafood, lobsters and a rotisserie station – an outdoor lounge space, and upstairs event space known as Pearl – that opens weekly.

Sunday is the liveliest day to visit – with sprawling brunch stations open from 11til 4, and a mix of music that builds in tempo, throughout the day into their famed Sunday beach party. We tried an artwork of a starter – three tiered coconut shrimp, presented on a decorated coconut shell, served with a delicate mango salsa. Next, the Nikki specialities for mains were both delicious. Seafood Padella – a creamy curry dish adorned with an orchid, and Chicken Satay – not skewered as you would expect, but served in a bamboo steamer – was sweet, with a peanutty kick.

We washed it all down with Nikki Beach’s very own wine – made in French vineyards, and a signature Nikki Beach mojito. As we retired to the white daybeds to watch the Miami sun set, listening to familiar house classics mixed up ‘Nikki-style’, I realised why so many are signing up for the Nikki lifestyle – I also want in.

Return flights to Miami from London start from around £488 next January 2014, searching on travel search site<>.<> (Prices true at time of publish and may vary)

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