By Nina and Tim Boxer
Photos by Tim Boxer

Nina catches the ocean breeze on
her terrace

Just North Of Miami Beach
You’ll Step Into The Future

E HAVE seen the future. It is called Sunny Isles Beach, located just north of Miami Beach. Of course, Donald Trump wasted no time in stamping his imprimatur on this prime vacation location.

Until recently this sleepy strip of oceanside land, east of the main artery of Collins Avenue, was dotted with a row of rundown two-story motels. The residential community west of Collins was in sleep mode.

Trump International Sonesta
Beach Resort

Developers with vision discovered it and rushed to reinvent the place as the City of Sunny Isles Beach. The seedy motels were demolished and in their place began to appear high-rise condos and tower hotels, which has now become the lifeblood of the community.

Entrepreneurs Michael Dezer and son Gil are putting up a three-building complex on ten acres of beachfront property at Collins Avenue and 180th Street to be called the Trump Grande Ocean Resort & Residences.

The $600 million project makes this the tallest oceanfront property in Miami. The Dezers and others like them are enthusiastically welcomed. Their ambitious development translates into an expansion of the tax base, pouring new revenue into the city coffers for civic improvements.

Two residential buildings are under construction, the Trump Royale to open in winter of 2005 and the Trump Palace to open in winter 2006. The condos are selling at the pre-construction prices of $425,000 to $11 million. Interested? Call 305 932-1000 or visit

General manager
Alan Sonnabend

Nina and I spent a weekend at the newly completed first phase, the hotel. It opened in May as the Trump International Sonesta Beach Resort. We were duly impressed.

We found it an overwhelming experience in ultramodern facilities, state-of-the-art accommodations, generous amenities and extra-friendly staff. What more could you ask for?

Anticipating long-staying guests, each of the 398 luxury rooms (including 76 suites) has a washer/dryer and microwave oven. Studios contain two queen beds; junior suites have king beds. Oceanfront suites come with outdoor Jacuzzis.

“We are creating a high-scale destination,” said Alan Sonnabend, vice president and general manager.

“In winter we appeal to northerners who flock down here. In summer we get Europeans and the locals.”

Trump pool adjacent to the beach

Rates from December to April range $325 to $1200. Summer prices are $195 to $500. For reservations call 305 692-5200 or

Sonnabend anticipates heavy convention business. The hotel has attractive meeting rooms and a gorgeous ballroom.

Built and owned by the Dezers, the hotel is deftly managed by the Sonesta hotel chain. Sonesta is named for its founders, Alan’s grandparents, Sonny and Esther. Alan’s father, Roger Sonnabend, is chairman of the board.

The luxurious Aquanox Spa has sauna, steam room and private rooms offering an  extensive list of massages, facials, body treatments with waxing, eyelash and eyebrow treatments and mud therapy, all under the direction of spa director Angee Smithee.

Executive Chef
Philippe Boutinet

Go all out and pamper yourself with a Grande Day, consisting of Aromatherapy Massage, Lavender extract Sea Peel, spa lunch, and Sea Champagne Facial. It will set you back $349. That includes gratuity and a personalized take-home gift.

I opted for the AromaOcean Therapy, a 50-minute massage for $110. After that I felt like a new man.

The hotel’s signature restaurant, Neomi’s Grill, offers an extensive menu at breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you are on any diet, the talented chef will meet your needs.

Entrees include grilled salmon, $13.25; capellini pasta, $12; vegetable stir fry, $13.50, and many more selections.

Executive chef is Philippe Boutinet who came to the United States 15 years ago from Cognac, France. His father, a cognac maker, wanted his son to follow in the trade, but Philippe had other thoughts.

“I couldn’t stand working on the farm with the mud, the winter,” he said. “It’s not for me. I always wanted to be a cook.”

He’s a happy man in the kitchen. “Sonesta is the best company I ever worked for,” he said.

Philippe is looking forward to catering the wedding of Gil Dezer this fall. The outdoor swimming pool will be covered with a glass top, and the bride will walk over water to join her husband under the chupah.

So does he cook at home too?

“Absolutely not! My wife Rosi does the cooking.”

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