Like the corner men of a prize fighter – prepping him for the next round – uniformed attendants scurry around your car, cleaning the windshield, checking the oil and tire pressure, while filling your tank with gas. It’s been a long hot trip and your glad to finally be close to your destination, Miami Beach. The anticipation of sandy toes and the cool ocean breeze brushing your cheeks, magically makes the drudgery behind the wheel vanish. But where to stay is still in question.
As the well rehearsed choreography around your car plays out, you stretch your legs and walk over to a dispenser and grab an iced Moxie. Between sips, you thumb through the display of a dozen or so leaflets advertising local hotels. It’s 1936 and this is your first vacation since ’32, and you’ve decided to splurge, moneys no object, even if you have to pay $1.00 a night for an ocean-front room.
These advertising rate cards from popular Miami hotels offer a very different view from todays Miami. Circa 1930’s, these cards offer restful calm for “gentile clientele.” There’s no mention of sizzling nightlife, thumping DJ’s, or Spring Break frenzy. Then, the enticements included ping pong (instead of beer pong), roof top solariums, private baths, and proximity to theaters and restaurants. All for a dollar or less per night.
Counting for inflation, $1.00 in the 1930’s is equal to about $17 today. Not a bad deal especially when the room rate today at the Crescent is $249 a night (with a AAA Discount). The Metropole is fetching $318 a night! Of the hotels on these rate cards, only the Senator Hotel didn’t make it into the 21st century. The Hotel Seymour, no longer a hotel, has survived the wrecking ball and now houses the Miami Beach Development Corporation.
The star of the group is the Crescent. She is a jewel of South Beach, restored to her original art deco beauty.