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Fontainebleau Hotel
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
Fontainebleau Miami Beach is located in Florida
Location: Miami Beach, Florida, USA
Coordinates: 25°49′5″N 80°7′22.7″W / 25.81806°N 80.122972°W / 25.81806; -80.122972Coordinates: 25°49′5″N 80°7′22.7″W / 25.81806°N 80.122972°W / 25.81806; -80.122972
Built/Founded: 1954
Architect: Morris Lapidus
Governing body: Private
Added to NRHP: December 22, 2008[1]
NRHP Reference#: 08001318[1]

The Fontainebleau Miami Beach or the Fontainebleau Hotel is one of the most historically and architecturally significant hotels on Miami Beach. Opened in 1954 and designed by Morris Lapidus, it was considered the most luxurious hotel on Miami Beach, and is thought to be the most significant building of Lapidus's career.

The Fontainebleau Miami Beach is situated on oceanfront Collins Avenue in the heart of Millionaire's Row and is currently owned by Fontainebleau Resorts. Fronting the Atlantic Ocean, the 1504-room resort’s most distinguishing features include two new towers; 11 restaurants and lounges; a 40,000-square-foot spa with mineral-rich water therapies and co-ed swimming pools; and oceanfront poolscape featuring a free-form pool shaped as a re-interpretation of Lapidus’ signature bow-tie design.



Lapidus once wrote, “If you create a stage and it is grand, everyone who enters will play their part.” He conceived of the ideas for the hotel each morning as he took a subway from Flatbush to his office in Manhattan. The hotel was built by hotelier Ben Novack on the Harvey Firestone estate. Novack owned and operated the hotel until its bankruptcy in 1977.[2]

The Fontainebleau is famous in judicial circles for its victory in the landmark 1959 Florida District Courts of Appeal decision, Fontainebleau Hotel Corp. v. Forty-Five Twenty-Five, Inc. 114 So. 2d 357, in which the Fontainebleau Hotel successfully appealed an injunction by the neighboring Eden Roc Hotel, to prevent construction of an expansion that blocked sunlight to the Eden Roc's swimming pool. The Court rejected the Eden Roc's claim to an easement allowing sunlight, in favor of affirming the Fontainebleau's vertical property rights to build on its land.[3][4] It stated that the "ancient lights" doctrine has been unanimously repudiated in the United States.

In the 1970s a suite in the hotel was used by members of the Black Tuna Gang to run their operations.

The hotel closed a large part of its property in 2006, though one building remained open to hotel guests, and the furnishings were available for sale. The expanded hotel and its new condominium buildings re-opened in November 2008.[5]

On December 22, 2008, the Fontainebleau was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.[1]


Film, television and music history

The Fontainebleau Miami Beach is featured in the James Bond film Goldfinger, most notably in the sweeping aerial shot that follows the opening credits and accompanies composer John Barry's big-band track Into Miami. It was the hotel where character Jill Masterton (played by Shirley Eaton) was killed by the villainous Oddjob (Harold Sakata).[6]

The swimming pool is shown in the 1959 film A Hole in the Head. Tony Manetta (played by Frank Sinatra) comes to a party there for businessman and friend Jerry Marks (Keenan Wynn). Miami Mayor Robert King High had a cameo during the gala for Marks. Sinatra then videotaped a special, on March 26, 1960, during his regular Timex-sponsored television series for ABC, to welcome back Elvis Presley from his two years of military service in Germany, which was then broadcast on May 12, 1960.

The hotel was also the setting for Jerry Lewis's comedy film, The Bellboy. It gained a second round of architectural fame by its inclusion in critic and novelist Tom Wolfe's From Bauhaus to Our House, published in 1981, which referred to the condescending way that Lapidus was treated by the architectural profession and critics. The hotel, predominantly the pool area, was featured in the 1983 film Scarface. Other movies filmed there include Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach, The Specialist, Go for it (with Bud Spencer and Terence Hill) and The Bodyguard.

In the Woody Allen-movie Bananas the hotel is referenced when the ex-dictator Vargas flees his fictitious country San Marcos in a plane and calls the Fontainebleau to reserve a room.

The Fontainebleau was also the location of the Bravo television network's show Top Chef in the third season, and an episode of FOX's The O.C..

From May 5 – 9, 2009 Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa broadcast their talk show Live with Regis and Kelly from the Fontainebleau Hotel primarily from the pool area.

The Fontainebleau is the title subject of a song written by Neil Young and performed by the Stills-Young Band on their 1976 album Long May You Run, which was recorded at the hotel.[7]


Fontainebleau’s grand re-opening marked the end of a two year transformation. Special care was taken to preserve many of the original design elements including the "Staircase to Nowhere."

Restaurants and nightclubs in the complex include:

  • Gotham Steak
  • Scarpetta (Italian)
  • Hakkasan (Cantonese)
  • La Côte (two-level poolside bar and grille)
  • Blade Sushi Bar
  • Vida (Pan American)
  • Solo (Café & Patisserie)
  • Fresh (Snacks & Gelato)
  • LIV (Nightclub, a.k.a. '54 formerly Tropigala Lounge)
  • Bleau Bar


The local pronunciation of the hotel's name is a homophone of "fountain blue" rather than the normal French pronunciation of the word.[8]


External links


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