InterContinental Miami – luxury hospitality in the heart of the city

What are the main factors attracting visitors to Miami-Dade County, and how can it build on its strengths to attract more people?

Miami-Dade and Downtown in particular have come a long way since I moved back to Miami to become GM of the InterContinental Miami in 2009. I remember when the streets around the hotel were empty once the clock struck 5 pm, but now there is activity at all hours of the day. The residential growth of the past decade has had a positive effect on our neighborhood, because tourists are naturally drawn to areas where locals spend their time. Today, downtown is a destination for business and lifestyle, and it’s up to us to manage that growth. We’re making strides through investments in our new science and art museums, improvements along Flagler Street and innovative projects like Biscayne Green, but challenges still exist as we look for new ways to improve access and mobility. Traffic is problematic, major events cause road closures, and we need to upgrade our public transit systems, which is something that visitors from around the world expect when they arrive in a world-class city.



How well has the hospitality industry weathered the recent problems of Zika and falling currencies in traditional overseas markets?

Last year, we experienced only a nominal impact from Zika at the InterContinental Miami. Two corporate events were postponed by risk-averse groups, but our leisure travel business remained intact throughout the summer and 2016 was another strong year for us. Since then, we’ve been working year-round with the authorities and our hotel peers to create and implement a 10-point plan that will make sure we’re ready to mitigate any mosquito-borne threat that South Florida faces in the future. We’ve also managed to sustain our strong occupancy amidst a strong dollar. We credit this to our hotel’s popularity among business travelers and groups hosting large meetings and events.

To what extent does the current growth of hospitality and home-sharing apps such as Airbnb create competition for the traditional hospitality sector? Is there enough regulation to keep the playing field even?

Miami is reportedly one of Airbnb’s top-five markets in the country, and that’s no surprise given our rise as a global destination. Some have sought to ban these services outright, but that’s unrealistic. The reality is that we’re already co-existing with home-sharing services. The difference is that a property like InterContinental Miami appeals to business and leisure travelers seeking the comforts of a luxury hotel – from daily housekeeping and a top-notch restaurant and bar downstairs, to a pool deck overlooking Biscayne Bay and a luxurious spa. Short-term rentals may cater to a specific niche in the market, but there’s no substitute for the exceptional hospitality that a full-service hotel can deliver. That being said, we need to protect our visitors and residents by ensuring short-term rental properties are safe and regulated appropriately. Also, we must preserve the tourist tax revenues that conventional hotels have been collecting for years and which support critical services.

How much of an impact would the reducing of Visit Florida’s budget have on the tourism and the meetings and convention industry in Miami?

The budget was in jeopardy, but the elected officials in Tallahassee saw the value of marketing Florida’s brand around the world. We are deeply thankful for Gov. Scott’s support, as well as the support of Florida’s legislature for fully funding Visit Florida in 2018. The state legislature’s decision to fund Visit Florida means that Florida, and Miami in particular, will continue to attract millions of tourists every year, strengthening this city’s already thriving hospitality industry and growing its local economy, including new jobs.

With a growing amount of hotel rooms in the Downtown area, how can the InterContinental differentiate itself from the competition? What are the midterm goals, plans and outlook for the InterContinental in Miami?

There have been new hotels opening their doors around downtown Miami over the past few years, so we’re always looking for new ways to keep our competitive edge. Earlier this year, we remodeled and relaunched Toro Toro, complete with a new menu, an expanded lounge, and a new private dining room, “El Matador Room”. We’re also introducing new technologies. One of my favorites is an app called Zingle that allows guests to request any service – from the morning paper to milk and cookies – from their smartphone. We even host a local competition each year to choose new skyline dancers for our digital canvas (we take nothing for granted!). The InterContinental Miami has been operating for almost 35 years and many of our team members have been with us for more than half that time. I like to think that longevity and consistency define who we are and set us apart in an increasingly competitive field. Looking ahead, we’re going to keep our focus on providing exceptional hospitality to our business and leisure travelers, while ensuring the services and amenities we offer stay creative and innovative.

What can be done to further promote the meetings and conventions industry in Miami?

Miami knows how to host a large event, be it the Super Bowl, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, Art Basel, Ultra Music Festival, and more. We’re also making sizable investments in our local infrastructure through the renovation of Miami Beach Convention Center, improvements at Miami International Airport and the launch of the Brightline rail system, both of which will make getting to Miami easier. Now we’re working with our partners at the GMCVB to spread the word out and send a message that Miami is a great destination for business and vacation.

For more information on InterContinental Miami, please visit

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GMBHA Heart of Hospitality: Giving Back to our Community Panel 6.20.2017

We had an amazing event yesterday at the beautiful Miami Marriott Dadeland. We started our program with Special Guest Speaker, Peter Slatin, Founder & President, Slatin Group & Co-Founder, Slatin Media Group. Slatin Group provides education and training to improve communication and interaction with special-needs customers in any business environment. Click here for information regarding this program. We were also joined by Clio Knowles, VP of People, Virgin Hotels to share with us the importance on how to accommodate all guests. At Virgin Hotels, Clio trains and educates her staff on how to provide exceptional service to every single guests that walk in their hotels.

We also had the pleasure of hearing from our local charities. Special thanks to New American Workforce, The Hospitality Institute, American Cancer Society and Vets for Success for sharing your passion and drive for these organizations. Below please find more information.Click here to view pictures from our event. 

New American Workforce
Abbey Chase, Program Coordination,
Click here for information

American Cancer Society
Sarah Glenz, Senior Director-Mission Delivery,
Click here for more information

Miami-Dade College – The Hospitality Institute
Laura Drosdowech, Laura
Click here fore more information

Dress for Success/Vets for Success
Jeff Wahl,

Our panelists were fantastic! It was great to hear from everyone and hear about their careers and how they started in the Hospitality industry. Many thanks to our amazing panelists,Beth Foster, Vice President, Human Resources, Brightline; Amy Haug, Regional Director of Human Resources, sbe; Bobbie Mesa, Director of Human Resources, Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach; Katherine Saborit, Director of Human Resources, W South Beach; Charlie Serrano, Director of People Development, EAST, Miami.

Special thanks to Miami Marriott Dadeland team and to Maribel Vazquez, General Manager, Miami Marriott Dadeland for hosting!

Thank you to our sponsors!

Lion Services         Link Hospitality Logo 2


Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum Conference 6.4.2017

CHIEF (Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum)conference at Hyatt Regency Exchanging ideas and serving on CHIEF’s “Leveraging the Sharing Economies” panel  was very interesting l-r Brian Frontin, CEO, Trinidad Hotels, Restaurant & Tourism Association, Wendy Kallergis, President & CEO, GMBHA; Simon Suarez, VP, Grupo Puntacana; Frank Comito, CEO & Director General, Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association


2017 hurricane season

The 2017 hurricane season officially begins today and runs through November 30.

Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center say that the Atlantic could see another above-normal hurricane season this year. According to their predictions, there will be a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). An average season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

The City of Miami Beach wants to ensure the safety of all of its residents and visitors, and urges everyone to have a hurricane plan. The city is prepared – are you?

Download the 2017 Miami Beach Hurricane Guide for tips on how to stay safe this hurricane season, visit our hurricane webpage and watch our hurricane special below. Hurricane Video

MIA HOSTS WELCOME RECEPTION FOR EL AL ISRAEL AIRLINES More than 100 community leaders attend celebration for future Miami-Tel Aviv service

(MIAMI, June 5, 2017) – On June 2, More than 100 community leaders joined Miami-Dade County officials for a reception and press conference to celebrate the announcement of Miami-Tel Aviv nonstop service by EL AL Israel Airlines, scheduled to begin on November 1.

Among those in attendance were: Congresswomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz; Florida Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera; Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez; Board of County Commissioners Chairman Esteban L. Bovo, Jr.; County Commissioners Sally Heyman and Daniela Levine Cava; City of Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine; EL AL Israel Airlines President and CEO David Maimon; and Lior Haiat, Consul General of Israel in Miami.

“We are proud to welcome EL AL Israel Airlines to our community, and to be the only destination in Florida and in the southeast U.S. with non-stop service to Tel Aviv,” said Mayor Gimenez. “Miami-Dade County and Miami International Airport continue to attract air service by the world’s top airlines from the world’s most influential cities.”

EL AL will operate three weekly roundtrip flights on Boeing 777-200 aircraft with 279 seats, which will bring thousands of new travelers to Miami from Israel and the Middle East monthly. Miami will be EL AL’s only destination in Florida and the airline’s fifth route in the U.S. EL AL flies to 36 destinations from Israel and serves hundreds of other destinations throughout the world via partnerships with leading carriers.

“We deeply appreciate EL AL Israel Airlines for choosing Miami as its fifth and newest U.S. destination,” said Miami-Dade Aviation Director Emilio T. González. “In our efforts to make MIA a truly global gateway, Israel has always been one of our top strategic targets because of its unique and historically significant global location, and because of its deep cultural ties with Miami. We look forward to offering our passengers another travel option to that region of the world.”

EL AL is the seventh international passenger airline to schedule a service launch into the Miami market this year. Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris began four weekly flights to Guadalajara and daily service to Mexico City on February 1; Canadian airline First Air began charter passenger flights on February 4 from Ontario; low-cost transatlantic airline WOW air launched thrice-weekly service to Reykjavík, Iceland on April 5; Avianca Brazil will begin daily service to Sao Paulo on June 24; Aer Lingus will launch three weekly flights to Dublin, Ireland on September 1; and SAS will begin weekly service to Stockholm, Sweden on October 29. MIA currently serves 106 airlines, which is the most of any U.S. airport.