The Perfect Miami Day

By Michelle Payer

With decades of experience in luxury New York and Miami hotels, membership in the exclusive Les Clef’s D’or and South Florida Concierge Association, Acqualina Resort Chef Concierge Randy Ross is one of the top professionals in the business. Who better to tell us how to spend a “perfect Miami day”?

When Acqualina guests ask Chef Concierge Randy Ross where they should go to explore a day out in Miami, he first inquires about their interests and then offers tailored suggestions. Yet we pressed him, “If you could consolidate the most frequent guest requests and design the Perfect Miami Day, what would it be?” Here are the Magic City treasures that set his heart aflutter:

First, fuel the day with breakfast at IL MULINO, with its robust selection of European and American cheeses, charcuterie, French toast, warm bread, freshly squeezed juices and many more delicacies prepared that morning as you dine with unparalleled views out to the pool and Atlantic Ocean.

ANCIENT SPANISH MONASTERY – an easy 10-minute drive from Acqualina, yet a world away, this serene monastery and garden was originally built in the 1100s and shipped to the U.S. stone-by-stone by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. “It’s a zen oasis in the midst of one of the world’s busiest cities,” says Ross. “Spanish masons reconstructed the monastery here; every column is a work of art with no two exactly alike; it’s a magnificent treasure,” he says. Ross says guests can explore it on their own in under an hour or he can assist in scheduling private tours by appointment.


VIZCAYA MUSEUM AND GARDENS – This Gilded Age estate on Biscayne Bay’s shores has been considered Miami’s own beloved castle since James Deering of International Harvester built it as his winter home in the early 1900s. He spared no expense for the most modern interior of the time, sourced treasures from around the globe, constructed coral rock-walled and hand-painted tiled pools and fashioned a labyrinth of romantic gardens that some liken to a mini Versailles. “It was one of the first places I came when I arrived in Miami and I can’t recommend it highly enough,” says Ross, “the magnificent gardens, views, docent-led tours that bring history alive; it’s a treasure beyond treasures,” he says.


Head to the DESIGN DISTRICT for some shopping, where each store is a piece of art.  Here is what Ross loves about the area:

“The boutiques I mention below popped into my mind because they’re appealing to the eye without even walking in; their aesthetic simply fits with the whole area by taking art to the next level through their design. The Design District is such a unique neighborhood I think everyone should visit, and don’t forget to explore all the passageways that cut through the neighborhood. There you’ll find public art, which is always changing. Some of these installations are enormous and it’s remarkable how quickly they’re replaced. Now onto the boutiques: Alexander McQueen (because his fashions are amazing to look at and the store is gorgeous); Louis Vuitton (for the outside of the building – it just pops at you); Balenciaga (the store’s spiral staircase is magnificently unique); Tesla (it’s an unusual showroom with no cars inside – they’ve all be sold!), Chrome Hearts (I wish I were wealthy, I love their eyeglasses & their jewelry for men and their store is beautiful); Chanel is definitely worth checking out; Turkish jeweler Sevan Bicakci (his one-of-a-kind pieces are coveted by museums and collectors around the world and are brilliant masterpieces). Some boutiques were open by reservation only during the pandemic, so check with me before you go.”

After a robust morning, Ross recommends lunch at popular Design District spot, LE JARDINIER, whose chef was a protégé of celebrated French chef, Joël Robuchon. Ross says the food is “almost a work of art as there is so much thought going into every dish.” The indoor/outdoor garden oasis brings tropical Miami to the forefront, but Ross insists it’s the food that keeps guests coming back.  “It’s a clever menu. It’s not formal or elegant, but not casual, either,” he says. “It’s one of my favorite places in the area for the menu’s freshness and myriad options. I had their Quiche Lorraine, which was unbelievable; my dining companion had a cauliflower vegan dish and it was phenomenal. They were over the moon happy.”

After lunch, Ross recommends exploring a few more places in the Design District before leaving, because as he says “Art is everywhere, from museums, private collections and galleries to exhibitions and cutting edge public art.”

With that in mind…

“Stop into either the MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, the DE LA CRUZ COLLECTION or the RUBELL FAMILY MUSEUM.  All are in close proximity within just a few blocks and are absolutely worth seeing. As a very last Instagram snap, take a photo of the unique parking garage across the street. Once you see it, you’ll know why,” says Ross.


From here, Ross recommends returning to Acqualina to freshen up before an early dinner at Francis Mallman’s LOS FUEGOS Argentinian restaurant inside the Faena hotel. “I’m a New Yorker and this is a special Argentinian restaurant; in fact, I don’t think I could go to another Argentinian restaurant, as it simply wouldn’t measure up,” says Ross.  Beyond the South American-style grilled steak, seafood and vegetable dishes, Ross says, “The world falls away when you dine there. It’s elegant. When you walk in, your jaw kind of drops. It’s a stunning room.”

After dinner Thursday through Saturday, Ross recommends the TRYST CABARET show at Faena Theater for a walk on the wild side and “risqué journey into suggestive tales of love and seduction.” Master of ceremonies, Postmodern Jukebox’s burlesque queen, Ariana Savalas, leads guests into a fantasy world of “explicit escapades, spellbinding music, riveting cirque nouveau, teasing burlesque and Miami’s most captivating performance that ignites the luscious flame of plush eroticism before your eyes with tantalizing specialty acts and outrageous charm.”

For late night fun, walk a few steps into THE LIVING ROOM for a night cap – still in the Faena — it’s one of Miami’s most sizzling hotspots in a most lavish, intimate setting filled with plush couches and opulent fixtures. Either a DJ or live band plays every night and entry may sometimes be difficult, so check with Ross about getting on the list at least a day before you go.


Experience Miami from a different perspective with a PRIVATE SUNSET DINNER CRUISE along Biscayne Bay, the Miami River and up the Intracoastal Waterway with Golden Yacht Charters. “They have great menus, and it’s incredibly romantic, starting from Miami Beach Marina, going around Star Island, watching the sunset up the Miami River and seeing the Miami skyline, Venetian Islands and city’s best restaurants from the water,” says Ross.

For an unforgettably romantic evening – or family gathering – Ross can help organize a special Acqualina BEACHFRONT DINNER that takes fine dining to another level on one of South Florida’s longest and most pristine stretches of sand. Exquisitely arranged tables are dusted in white linens while fresh flowers sparkle in candlelight. Surroundings are illuminated by glass lanterns, while attentive waiters serve a special menu created in advance to guests’ specifications. Reservations are required seven days in advance and Ross can help coordinate the details with the resort’s Food & Beverage team.  Available Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

Consult with Acqualina Resort & Residence’s Chef Concierge Randy Ross about reservations and travel times for The Perfect Miami Day. We wouldn’t want you to miss a thing!