Travel & Leisure Moves Design Awards to Miami

Travel & Leisure took its annual Design Awards to Miami this year, hosting the fete at the billion-dollar-rehabbed Fontainebleau hotel.

By Courtney Thompson February 20, 2009, 12:25 PM EST

Travel & Leisure's awards party at LIV

Photo: Seth Browarnik/Red Eye Productions

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After five years in New York, Travel & Leisure packed up its annual Design Awards and took the 450-guest party to Miami's newest hotspot, the Fontainebleau—home of a recent billion-dollar renovation—on Wednesday. Nestled in the property's lobby-level LIV nightclub, the event kicked off around 6:30 p.m. with lots of passed hors d'oeuvres and cocktails like the Prairie Dust, a lemony, limey, citrusy (read: Florida-appropriate) concoction named after the fete's vodka sponsor.

While one obvious reason for the move might be to jump New York's freezing ship, mag spokesperson Jill Davison clarified, “We're in Miami because it's hot, literally and figuratively. It's 70 degrees today. ”

Ascribing to the notion that design and architecture affect one's travels, each year the magazine's Design Awards dole out kudos to (you guessed it) designers and architects with accolades like Best Travel Fashion (this year awarded to Norma Kamali and her trench coat for Wal-Mart), Best Restaurant (New York's Delicatessen by Anurag Nema), and Best Travel Gadget (Steripen Journey's LCD handheld water purifier).

Produced by Travel & Leisure director of special events Penni Bonaldi, the cocktail party featured some remarks and video clips, and aimed to channel 1950s-esque glamour with the help of a bevy of Esther Williams-style models. Clad in black Kamali one-piece swimsuits and pink bathing caps, the models circulated the party with plexiglass trays, each holding a 10-inch photo cube representing one of the evening's winners.

The Fontainebleau, profiled in a feature article in the March issue, was an obvious venue choice, according to Davison. “We're here at this iconic hotel that speaks to the design and style of the people we're honoring,” she said. “The sweeping staircases, the vaulted ceilingsit all embodies what we're celebrating.”

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