With COVID-19 cases hitting new lows and the country’s vaccination rate steadily climbing, it looks like the end of this godforsaken pandemic is finally on the horizon. And no one is more pumped than David Grutman. The Miami hospitality mogul and brains behind buzzy hotspots Komodo, Swan, Papi Steak, LIV, and Story — many of which saw business boom over the past several months as New Yorkers migrated south for the winter — is ushering in “Shot Girl Summer” with the newly-opened Goodtime Hotel, a joint venture with none other than Pharrell Williams.
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Situated on a prime block of real estate in South Beach (Washington Avenue and 6th Street, to be exact), the 266-room waterfront property has all the trappings of luxury and escapism: Hand-painted tropical wall murals, an Instagrammable pool deck dubbed Strawberry Moon replete with private bungalows and cabanas, and a library inspired by Margot Tenenbaum.
“There is something for everyone at The Goodtime Hotel,” Grutman says. Even a nod to Wes Anderson, it seems. Here, Grutman talks to The Manual about his latest endeavor, working with Pharrell, and the most important lesson he learned last year.
What made you decide to open a hotel?
David Grutman: I first partnered with Pharrell on Swan, our restaurant in the Design District. We have such great synergy and are really able to work together to elevate a brand. I knew we could do the same with a hotel.
How did you come up with the name?
DG: Everyone has their own energy and ambitions, and we wanted to give you a space where you can recharge and let loose! The point is to come here and be a part of what is going on in the entire building. This is where you can come and genuinely have a good time.
With COVID-19 travel bans, lockdowns, and curfews, hotels have had a tough year. Why now?
DG: It actually took five years to bring our vision to life. The developers, Eric Birnbaum and Michael Fascitelli, saw the potential of this space and brought [Pharrell and me] in. Even through COVID, we decided not to stop, which I think says a lot about our team. We know the importance of being part of the community.
Do you have a favorite area of the property?
DG: Strawberry Moon is the heart and soul of the hotel, with two split pools, two bars, multiple cabanas, daybeds, and, of course, the restaurant that offers authentic Mediterranean food.
How has your experience in hospitality influenced your personal taste?
DG: Throughout the years, the most important thing I’ve learned is to put our customers’ experience at the forefront of everything we do. From the second they step inside, to the second they leave, we are curating an experience for them so they always leave satisfied and wanting more.
What’s the past year been like for you?
DG: I’ve definitely learned the importance of teamwork — I’m happy to say that my team has grown incredibly and is coming out stronger and more united on the other side. Thanks to my wife, Isabela, I have also learned how important it is to always give back. We’ve been working closely with [fashion nonprofit] Style Saves for some time now, and I look forward to continuing that relationship.