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The Best of Florida

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The Select Choices for the Perfectly Enjoyable Weekend Getaway

By Ivy Diel

Photography by: David Diel, Mark Surloff, Anthony Baratta

Given its pristine beaches and virtually perfect weather, Miami is not just a favorite of vacationers but locals can’t keep away from this paradise on earth. No doubt, Miami is recognized for gorgeous getaways, deluxe resorts or charming places to stay, creative cuisine, eclectic boutiques and beautiful people to wine and dine and fill their shopping bags with an assortment of mementos from our beautiful city. With so many choices, it is a difficult decision to find the perfect destination for an evening out or to select the most natural and appropriate hotel accommodation. We have experienced and recommended for your vacation pleasure some of the most wonderful and luxurious signature venues of Miami, including the surrounding cities of beautiful South Florida. We hope you will find each venue as memorable and unique as the people who frequent them.

Before one can even think about relaxing poolside with a cocktail or a chilled smoothie, there is no doubt about it: your attire has to be appropriate for the venue, especially in one of the most fashionable cities in South Florida. What better to wear at one of the many beautiful resorts Miami has to offer than a beautiful bikini from Bikini Brasil on Miami Beach. This versatile boutique carries such upscale and popular swim and resort-wear brands such as Ellis, Mulata Brasil, B Basics and more. These beautiful designer bikinis can be paired together for a modern and sleek look or mixed and matched for the bikini-goer who wants to get visually creative and have two different looks in one by choosing different patterns or perhaps two different solids for the top or bottom. The owner, Maria Regina Azevedo, prides herself on carrying lines that “can be mixed and matched with a variety of styles and sizes to find that perfect fit.” Maria’s mantra is “Bikini Brasil is the one-stop-shop for beach and resort wear anywhere in South Florida.” Bikini Brasil is very conveniently located in the heart of South Beach amongst the bikini-clad streets full with tourists and local models alike, all who want to look great while strolling along the beach paths. If one cannot find the perfect bikini at Bikini Brasil along with all the accessories to go along with it, then they must not really want a bikini after all. To purchase one of the many collections Bikini Brasil has to offer, the website is: www.bikinibkbrasil.com and see them on Facebook at:www.facebook.com/bikinibrasil

When that innate feeling overwhelms you to leave your daily routine behind and venture out to a resort that has all the lavish amenities one could hope for, look no further than the gorgeous PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where the avid golfer can have his own personal playground over sprawling and lush greens or the spa-goer can relax and pamper from head to toe with over 100 signature spa services to choose from, over 32 Zen-like treatment rooms and over 40,000 square feet of space for the ultimate spa experience from virtually head to toe. If it’s a day of relaxation and tranquility you’re looking for, the PGA National Spa should be your choice destination. Where else might you find the exclusive Waters of the World, a collection of outdoor mineral pools where healing waters have been recreated from some of the earth’s most treasured locations? Salt waters from the Pyrenees Mountains and also from Israel are found in the Dead Sea mineral-rich pools ready to soak your muscles in pure health-benefitting minerals and salts well known for delivering numerous health benefits and are attractive to health seekers from all over the world. The Waters of the World outdoor cafe offers culinary delights while you enjoy the beautiful aromatherapy pools or just lounge at one of the comfortable chaises or couches under a palm tree of your choice.

For those men or women who would rather skip the Swedish Massages, the oxygenating facials or the Detoxification Seaweed Wraps, perhaps the award-winning one of four golf courses are the place for you. The greens are pristinely manicured with each different course giving its player different and unique opportunities to both challenge and improve one’s game. There is no stone unturned at this gorgeous golfer’s paradise and shouldn’t be missed when visiting Palm Beach Gardens, even for those who are not guests at the hotel. As Karen Cantor, PGA’s Manager of Marketing describes her passion for the resort, she says it best, “As home of the Honda Classic, the guests love to come and play golf where the legends play but the PGA has so much more to offer than just golf; from croquet to daily fitness classes, a gorgeous infinity pool, tennis courts and nine dining outlets, you will come and never want to or need to leave.”

When hunger strikes after a relaxing day at the PGA Resort, you must not miss the Ironwood Steak & Seafood at PGA National Resort & Spa. This steakhouse offers the finest in contemporary American cuisine and their award-winning chefs proudly utilize the finest ingredients to prepare their signature creations. One of Ironwood’s signature creations is the Tomahawk for Two, a 32-ounce cross of Wagyu and Black Angus beef dry-aged for 21 days and cooked to perfection in a Vulcan 1,200-degree broiler. When it comes to seafood, Ironwood chef’s use only the freshest local seafood selections such as fresh Cobia and Mahi-Mahi fished in area waters and for salad lovers, the roasted beet salad sourced in part from nearby Swank Farms should not be missed.

When it is time to pair a wine with one of their signature dishes, Ironwood’s wine selection is one of the most impressive in all of South Florida. Over 36 wines by the glass are offered including 13 different varieties from 19 different growing regions and 6 different countries. They offer a floor-to-ceiling wine room and have left no stone unturned when it comes to pleasing both the food connoisseur’s palate and the wine connoisseur’s taste for impeccable wine tasting delight and innovative pairings. Their staff continuously refines Ironwood Steak & Seafood’s wine list and incorporates new and creative culinary pairings to leave the customer both satisfied but wanting more which will certainly include another visit to Ironwood Grill on their next special evening out in Palm Beach Gardens. To visit their menu online or their website, they can be found at: www.pgaresort/ironwood-grille.com.

After a relaxing day at the spa or the beautiful aromatherapy salt pools at the spa at the PGA National Spa or the gorgeous resort pool, one should absolutely head over to Belinda’s Couture before a night out on the town to get suited in the most beautiful of vintage attire anywhere in Miami. Belinda is a Native New Yorker with a passion for beauty and a whimsical imagination and has been dressing women in gorgeous, one-of-a-kind vintage gowns made with European fabrics for over 12 years in her South Beach location. No detail in Belinda’s fantasy-like designs at her storybook boutique has been overlooked and Belinda’s Couture Bridals is an absolute can’t-miss Miami Beach boutique to visit. Belinda’s Couture has it all: From cocktail dresses to party attire to wedding gowns, every dress is unique. As Belinda says, “Every dress is made with love and passion and each gown makes a woman feel like a princess and part of her own fairy tale.” If you’re looking for that dress that no other woman will have at the party, Belinda’s is your boutique for that incredible shopping experience, the chance to own an extraordinary one of a kind gown, one that can never be repeated. It is no wonder why some of Belinda’s extensive list of celebrity clients include the likes of Stevie Nicks, Wynona Ryder, Faith Hill and Cyndi Lauper. To find your perfect gown, contact Belinda at: www.belinda’sdesigns.net.

After a day at a gorgeous resort playing golf and using the spa at the PGA and dressing up in a gorgeous dress from Belinda’s Couture, what better to do than watch a swim shoot on Miami Beach by one of the most talented swim photographers South Florida has to offer. Photography, like a diamond, has many facets and few know how to capture their subjects better than Anthony Baratta of AB Photo. Anthony is without a doubt one of Miami’s finest fashion and swim photographers and has focused much of the past 10 years on capturing beauty on the beach and shoots both nationally and internationally. Anthony has worked with high profile models including Ms. FHM, International Swimsuit Models, National Fitness Champions and many local celebrities as well. Anthony’s most recent work includes several established designers such as Anastasia Semeraro’s new swimsuit collection for Bikini 2 Go. In 2007 Anthony was selected as Photographer of the Year after being accepted into the National USA Competition. Anthony believes that every woman is beautiful and her beauty is best captured by the lens of a camera on the extraordinary blue beaches South Florida has to offer. Anthony recently was the campaign photographer for the Bikini 2 Go Collection 2014/2015 for Anastasia Semeraro, a Costa Rican Swimwear designer, and his work can be seen in her newest catalogs and websites. To contact Anthony for a shoot or to purchase some of his images, the website is: www.abphoto1.com.

When it comes to the art deco buildings and capturing the architectural beauty of Miami, there is none other than Mark Surloff. Mark is an architectural photographer who best describes his passion of photography with his mantra, “It is a fascinating visual world we live in and I try to show my point of view on this world through photography; my fascination.” It is no wonder with mentors and teachers like Ansel Adams and Morely Baer that Mark has learned the techniques of capturing strangely beautiful, expressive shapes and shadows of nature. For him, when such discoveries are made, they will be savored, but only after a photo has been made. Mark has captured the beauty of homes through his photogenic eye for over 30 years and his incredible work can be seen in various museums including the Baltimore Museum of Art, Berkshire Museum of Art, Miami Museum of Art, Agfa Corporation of New York and many more. For more information or to purchase one of his original photographic works of art, contact Mark at: www.marksurloff.com.

As far as having a beautiful eye goes, there is none with a better eye for beauty than Betty Burton, the owner of Betty’s Model & Talent Group, the founder and CEO of one of the original modeling agencies in Miami. Betty is a pioneer in her field and remains one of the most well-respected and well-known agency owners of all time. Her models and actors alike have covered the pages of fashion magazines and have been on the big screen several times over. Betty’s passion for beauty and talent are evident in the way she runs her boutique operation and how she maintains her vast client list of happy customers. For those looking for talent to hire or those looking to be discovered, there is no one to better represent the extraordinary than someone as incredibly knowledgeable as Betty Burton. To find out more information on Betty Burton and her extensive agency, her website is: betty@bettystalentgroup.com.

With all of the beauty and fun South Florida has to offer, adding a little spice and ultimate flavor to the top of anything makes it just that much better. At the top of the spice list is Taylor’s Ultimate Gourmet Sauces which come in five flavors of both hot sauces and marinades such as Peruvian-Style Garlic Sauce, Italian-Style Barbecue Sauce, Asian-Style Zesty Sauce, Mild-Habanero Sauce and the Mild-Jalapeno Sauce. With Taylor’s Peruvian heritage on his father’s side and his mother’s Southern roots from Georgia and North Carolina, the flavors in his family’s secret recipes for his incredible sauce concoctions were created. These sauces are as diverse and interesting as the family tree they originated from. As Taylor speaks about his family and their original recipes, he clearly speaks from the heart when he says, “I have grown up in a family of wonderful, talented cooks. Now it’s’ my turn to continue their tradition by taking many favorite family recipes and infusing them with my own style.” If Taylor’s intention was to bring delicious flavors to many kitchens and restaurants, that is exactly what he has accomplished. If these sauces and marinades are not used on Taylor’s Ultimate Oysters Recipe, they can certainly be used on almost anything else one wants that perfect added touch to create a culinary treat beyond measure. So heat it up in South Florida with a little bit of Taylor’s Ultimate and let your taste buds indulge in these delicious one-of-a-kind glass bottles full of flavor and decadence. Find out which recipes work for your kitchen on Taylor’s Ultimate website:www.taylorsultimate.com.

So, if you are looking for that perfect weekend getaway and are not quite certain which itinerary to follow or are in need of some creative ideas of how to spend your time in beautiful South Florida, look no further than the ‘Best of Florida’ ideas for everything from your hotel to the golf course to the spa that helps you relax at the end of all the fun in the sun. Miami and its surrounding cities have so much to offer and, just like Taylor’s Ultimate Sauces, to experience even just a little bit adds a bit more flavor and spice to just about anything and makes it all just that much better.

 


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