Now & Then: A Miami Time Machine - Part 2

Part Two: From sun therapy to divorcee singledom, and now, serenity… the history of The Standard Spa, Miami Beach on Belle Isle is anything but standard.

Hey, time traveler. Following Part One, we’re going back again…in time, that is, so hop into our cozy time machine and journey with us. We’re exploring the history of The Standard Spa, Miami Beach. We covered its humble beginnings, from becoming the doorstep to Miami Beach in the late 1800s to evolving into a playground for presidents and tycoons in the 20s and subsequently a wellness haven—and now we’re venturing further into the future. Hold on to your hats and martinis…we blast off in 3, 2, 1…

A Quintessential Miami Motel & A Spa is Born
In 1953, The Monterrey Motel opened on Belle Isle at 40 Island Avenue, welcoming a decidedly less posh and more proletariat era for the excursionists visiting the island but still hip and happening. This destination was a drive-up motel resort for vacationers looking to flock and indulge in the same sun-worshiping activities as those Belle Isle vacationers decades previously sought. Notably, a nightclub was opened which was not only a getaway emblematic of 50s recreation, but also became a hotspot for revelry and creativity. It was said that Josephine Baker was an entertainer at the club/cabaret, and legend has it she only agreed to sing only if the audience was desegregated.

Architect for the location Norman Giller provides the footprint for the property we enjoy today, with two wings of rooms radiating from a central point. Giller is celebrated for his MiMo (Miami Modern) architecture style. Later in 1960, the motel was acquired by new ownership and became known as the Lido Spa. The initial outline of the property and radiating structures remain but augmented with a three-story spa facility being erected, as well as the iconic glass frontage and gold accents, attributed to architect A. Herbert Mathes. Again, this 1960s structure is the heart of the property and spa today, providing the bones and character of the iconic front entrance and lobby.

The next phase sees the space, and Miami Beach as a whole, lose a bit of its luster. During this period, a period of marked decline in the ‘80s, the Spa became a respite for the elderly and notably divorcees, with the previous owner describing the clientele as “80 percent … were seniors, and 80 percent were women.” However tired, the space remained beloved, a retreat for, as the Miami New Times put it, “hundreds of lovely Jewish ladies of a certain age.” A certain charm abounded amidst this clientele, “the Lido has been not a hotel, but a second home.”
The Standard Spa, Now & Forever

With the official closing of the, at best, beleaguered; at worst, outright decrepit Lido Spa in 2002, the property which was considered to be “frozen in time” began to thaw under the creative direction of The Standard brand. The Standard had a grand vision for the hotel, spa, and recreation space. Reimagining it as a finely curated wellness retreat, boutique hotel, and boisterous haven for bon vivants, the illustrious history of the island seemed to bless the new venture. Additionally, some of Lido’s previous patrons found their “home” still offered them a welcoming center for relaxation and wellness and joined as members. The old Lido Spa was truly transformed with an artistic new finish and was officially inaugurated as The Standard Spa, Miami Beach in 2006. 

Since its genesis as the iconic The Standard Spa, Miami Beach, the hotel has retained the charm of its past, while welcoming the future with an attitude of joie de vivre, and of relishing moments, both past and present. The inviting and recognizable facade of 40 Island Ave. has been a beacon of welcome for over 50 years. From parties to play, culture and conversation, wellness and wonderment, we love, we adore, and we cherish The Standard Spa, now and forever.

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