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November 15, 2008

Fontainebleau's motley crew

N506272616_1464468_19Last night's Fontainebleau opening was a cocktail soaked, Manolo-heeled fun house of sorts, a wedding, bar mitzvah, polygamist's family reunion and circus-all-in-one, where thousands milled around the labyrinthine mega resort marveling at its restoration, renovation and, mostly, at the random mix--a celebrity Chex Mix, if you will--of A, B, C and Z listers who were around every corner. Making the rounds, Martha Stewart, who posed for pix graciously but when it came to helping our gourmand friend out with tips for the perfect Thanksgiving pie, Stewart, who was marveling over empanadas and truffle pizza in one of the resort's many restaurants, was mum, saying, "I'm not working tonight."

Photo That not-so-subtle snub was remedied by a fabulous musical performance by actor Terrence Howard, who proved that not every actor has to play Ray Charles to get up and earn serious stage creds. Randomness prevailed at the blue-hued circular bar in the main lobby, where Breakfast Club turned Dead Zone actor Anthony Michael Hall waited thirty minutes for a glass of champagne, which he downed in less than two seconds.

Post_image80405c3_1_paltrow_g_b_gr_Inside one of the ballrooms, Mr. Tan Man himself, George Hamilton, glowing in the dark and scouting the seafood buffet line for stone crab and talent. The biggest buzz began with reported Gwyneth Paltrow sightings, which made sense since her Coldplay hubby Chris Martin, was indeed in town. We didn't buy it until we literally almost stepped on her in the lobby right before the ribbon cutting ceremony. Gorgeous Gwyneth, rocking a sleek bob and short white dress, seemed out of place in this bastion of hype and circumstance, but was ever elegant, smiling and making small talk with whomever came near her. Overheard in the crowd, gasps when one reveler discovered Paltrow also rocked some cellulite. The discovery--and the sighting-- was the party's equivalent of striking gold.

ParisposseThat is, until, after a John Stamos and Jason Lewis sighting, in yet another ballroom, crooner Robin Thicke hit the stage and wooed the crowd with a rousing rendition of the Al Green classic Let's Stay Together. Taking the song literally, everyone crammed the stage to catch the headliner, Mariah Carey, who also put on an incredible performance, a mini-concert of several hits with dancers and backing band, which had some local publicists speechless for a change. Mariah was on fire, and so were some very funny-smelling cigarettes wafting through the ballroom. Perhaps the most random spotted in Mariah's audience was none other than Deborah Harry of Blondie fame. The legend herself was seen several rows deep and when we bowed to her and asked if she wanted to move up to the stage, she motioned to us that she was fine where she was, sort of like Oprah in Grant Park the night of Obama's big win.

LesprisonnowineIn the Carey crowd, a VIP section of more scene stealers, including Paris Hilton and her real BFF Vegas showman Jeff Beacher, FB owner Jeff Soffer's BFF Brett Ratner, whose Prison Break star, Sucre, aka Amaury Nolasco, was among the most gregarious in the house. Also there, randomly, Kate Hudson with a mega entourage that could have smacked down Diddy's.

After Carey sang her last high note, the frenzied crowd crunched into Blade, the resort's subterranean lounge, which was a gawker's dream come true. At one table, Alex Rodriguez and BFF Ingrid Casares (overheard in the crowd, someone saying something about Rodriguez inquiring about some celebrities "activeness" in the Kabalah movement. He may have been asking about Paltrow, a Madonna pal); holding court at another table, the meaty Mario Lopez; in a corner table, a soigne yet sleepy Chloe Sevigny and entourage; and, at the bar, Russell Simmons, who, according to someone next to us, "was trying to make out with every hot chick there."

Arod_paltrow5 The party was still going strong at 3:30 a.m. when we banged into Thicke, sporting a ciggie behind his ear and trying to get outside for some air. We stopped to tell him how good he was, and unlike George Hamilton, who blew off some people who were fawning over his new memoirs, Thicke actually stopped to make conversation, going as far as asking our names. Classy. Just like the entire evening--give or take a few broken glasses, spilled champagne and overzealous and hungry party goers trying fruitlessly to cut the buffet lines.

Paltrow/A-Rod photo: Manny Hernandez

Comments

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lv

great wrap-up!

MarceStar

I agree and glad to see a pretty objective description of some events. I didn't have the pleasure to be there but got mixed feedback (from reliable sources) in regards of the quality of the event from a planning/organization point of view.

Tracy

I attended the Foutainbleau Grand Opening Party on Friday night, in my opinion it was one of the worst events I have attended in my 12 years in Miami.

When our limo pulled up to the main entrance, I saw a completely empty red carpet, there were no stars walking on it, there were no stars anywhere, they must have been up in their comped hotel rooms. Throughout the entire night/event, I did not see any Victoria's Secret models either.

As our group stepped out of our limo, we observed several Fountainbleau and Victoria's Secret staffers just standing around at the entrance. They were not greeting anyone or helping to guide anyone to the lobby, at one point I asked them which way to go, they pointed us to these makeshift check-in tables where everyone had to pick up a black cloth "VIP" band, it was cheap and ugly and everyone's kept falling off because the clasps on them were cheap and non-functional. As our group entered the main entrance down a long hallway to the main lobby, staffers were running through the hallways, pushing us, one actually ran past and accidentaly pushed me so hard I almost fell over.

Upon entering the main lobby, there was a small bar serving champagne to the left, I asked the bartendar if there was another bar for mixed drinks and he did not know. I later found out there was a large circular bar to the right in the lobby.

The main lobby was tacky and didn't look like the had "renovated" it at all, felt like you were walking into a 1950s tacky convention hotel with new flooring, the flooring was white with black bow ties.

The main lobby was the first room of the party, it was basically set up for everyone to mingle and get their first drinks.

We then made our way to the second room of the party, this was a large convention room decorated with 20 or 30 large fake palm trees, ugly, tacky convention style carpet, and a few chairs and couches. The only food in this room, and the only food served the entire night, was 2 small tables, one set up with small cuban snadwiches, some meat in a cup, and pineapples slices with some green leaves on them, the other table had raw seafood. I asked some of the staff/servers if they had plates to eat off of for the seafood and they did not. We had to stand in front of the seafood table and eat the oysters/shrimp with our hands and leave the shells on the tabletop, I then asked the staff if this was all the food for the night, and they told me no, that another room would be opening with more food. There was no food in the next room, and this was all the food for the night. The food was horrible, the decor tacky. I read a puff piece in the Miami Herald that day quoting the event planner stating they would be serving all sorts of incredible foods and that no one would go home hungry, no such thing was ever presented in any of the rooms.

In this second convention/food room, there was a small stage set up where Terrance Howard played, it felt like we were at a bad bar mitzvah, the decor was tacky, the guests were old, ugly, and terribly dressed.

We then made our way to the third and last room, this room was another convention style room, there was no food presentation in this room, and there was a small table set up where they were serving drinks. Keep in mind, this party had 1500 or so people attending and I only counted 3 bars total, one in each room, lines were long, drinks were watered down. I ordered a straight vodka, not chilled just to see if they were watering down the liquor and they were.

This last third room was where Mariah Carey was performing, so there was a stage set up. To the left side of the room was a VIP section, it was basically couches and tables set up on a wood/metal platform like you would see at an outdoor concert, so tacky.

The group that I attended with are true South Beach VIPS/Pioneers that started the South Beach nightlife and still lead it, owners of the major clubs here, real estate developers that started and developed South Beach during the early 90s, long-term Ocean Drive staffers, they also were not impressed and held the same opinions. There were three sections to the VIP area and we were sitting in the first one where I was sitting next to Puff Daddy, then Paris Hilton was next to me, Russell Simmons, Jeff Gordan (some famous race car driver), Brett Ratner, Chloe Seviegny (actress), etc. Paris was followed by the girls from her MTV show "Paris Hilton's my new BFF", Paris never even looked at them or spoke to them, they just followed her around and stood behind her. I am not a star-follower like many of the people in the VIP area, so I sat with my friends on our VIP couch and watched the celebrities, they looked very uninterested in the entire event and were obviously being paid to be there and did their time and smiled for photos. I agree with Lesley's comments about Russell, he was sitting right next to me on the next couch and I watched countless ugly, tacky girls coming up to him, he was on the hunt that night and was giving the eyes to any one looking his way. The whole circus was funny to watch, but got boring really quickly

We waited for Mariah Carey to go on, she came out on this small, silly looking stage and sang or lipsynched a couple of her hit songs with 3-6 dancers behind her, her nor her dancers were dressed nice, they looked very simple and casual, we were expecting a real eye-catching glamourous performance, it was boring, no one was dancing, Mariah looked bored and when the 3rd song started we left for the bathroom and many people were walking out while she was still singing

Brett Ratner introduced her and said something like "Let's congratulate the Soffer's for a great night and hotel", I overhead some people around me saying "Congratulations for losing a billion dollars, no one will come back here after these opening week events are over"

The last place we visited were the restrooms, they were awful, when we walked in, the 2 bathroom attendants were sitting on the dirty floor, talking and laughing, when we went to the sinks to wash our hands, 2 of the 3 sinks had no faucets, just a hole in the sink where the faucets were suppose to be, we tried to pump the soap dispensers and nothing came out, when I tried to pump again, the soap dispenser broke through, there were no hand towels, I asked the attendants that were sitting on the floor for assistance and they just laughed, they weren't assisting anyone because they wasn't anything to help with, no soap, no hand towels, bathrooms dirty.

So I was not impressed with this event or this hotel.

I expected the service to be top-notch for this event, on par with the Setai Hotel. Most fine hotels have staff and a level of service far beyond this typically over-hyped tacky Miami convention hotel.

Once all the celebrities and media that were paid off leave town, it will be interesting to see how this place fairs?????

Our group left in the limo and went out to eat, we were starving ;-)

Don't believe the HYPE!!

Toni

Nice to hear the real deal, we are already saturated with 600 dollar a night crappy service hotels, and sorry Tracy but I had a 300 dollar dinner for two at the Setai and that sucked to. Fountain will end up as an average family hotel which is what it should be for the size. Sounds like a night at set, privee or mansion with a bunch of celebs paid to be there hanging at the free table then leaving after the time is up to party in their suite at their comped Shore Club or Delano Penthouse.

Lissette

Sounds like it was a very interesting night! I loved the part about Gwyneth's cellulite! so funny. What a random group of people to have been there!

anon

Loved Tracy's comments. But the Setai is nowhere close to being the standard of excellent service. The Mandarin will sweep any of the beach's service under the rug.

The beach of the Fountainbleau is easily the worst strip of beach in Miami. Small, steep, eroded and constantly shaded by tall buildings. No matter how many crazy things you put in the hotel, the beach will always stink.

Fly on the wall

Mandarin, Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton-South Beach are truly the only service oriented hotels in Miami. All the others like the Morgan's Group et al are so clueless that they believe, when in doubt, Snub the guest.

Fly on the wall

P.S. I too went to the first couple of night parties @ the Fountainbleu and was not impressed at all, but maybe I am just to well traveled and know what the best means. Sorry, but may I suggest your Sales department get really busy booking that hotel to large corporate groups like Amway, Porn Conventions, among others. That is your market. Cheers.

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