Alexander Chew's Travel Black Book

Miami nice

Alexander Chew (above) says Miami, with its neon-lit buildings, comes alive at night.
Alexander Chew says Miami, with its neon-lit buildings, comes alive at night.PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Alexander Chew (above) says Miami, with its neon-lit buildings, comes alive at night.
Alexander Chew (above) says Miami, with its neon-lit buildings, comes alive at night.PHOTO: COURTESY OF ALEXANDER CHEW

The night vibe of the city in Florida draws Alexander Chew, who fronts dance music festival Road to Ultra Singapore

Who: Alexander Chew, 30, executive producer of dance music festival Road to Ultra Singapore.

Favourite destination: Miami, Florida

Why: During the day, Miami has a beachy atmosphere and the people are relaxed, nice and down to earth. The city comes to life at night with a vibe that is more exciting than Singapore's during the Formula One weekend.

Favourite hotel: The Intercontinental Hotel ( in downtown Miami is a great place to stay at because it maintains the chain's standards of comfort and service, and at the same time incorporates Miami's party vibe through the use of sleek white decor and colourful neon and fluorescent lights in the lobby, rooms and lounges.

Rooms start at US$189 (S$265).

Favourite restaurant: Go to Prime 112 ( - pronounced "prime one-twelve" - for an awesome steak dinner. This steakhouse has a vibrant ambience - a mix of fine dining, white linen service and up-tempo music - and it is right on Miami Beach for easy access to the clubs and bars.

Try its porterhouse steak for two (US$98), with truffle and applewood smoked bacon and onion butters (US$4).  

Favourite nightspot: LIV Miami ( is the best club in the city. Despite the fact that the 1,672 sq m club centres on one huge room, the great design, decor, lighting and tiered layout make it feel intimate.

LIV is filled with a great-looking crowd who go for the club's line-up of big name DJs such as Calvin Harris, Hardwell and Afrojack.

Near Prime 112, there is a cocktail bar called The Drawing Room ( in the Shelborne Wyndham Grand hotel.

The bar is treated like an apothecary of sorts where the drinks are "medicinal" and are listed on the menu in categories such as pain-killers, stress-relievers and aphrodisiacs. It is a place to check out cocktails if you're not up for clubbing.

Day trip: Take a drive to the Florida Everglades, 607,028 ha of swamp, marsh and low-lying grassland which starts just a 20-minute drive outside the city.

It is home to lots of tropical wading birds, such as the Great Blue Heron, reptiles and mammals. If you're lucky, you might see a rare American crocodile, black panther or a West Indian manatee.

Alligators are more common in the area, both in the wild and in farms around the Everglades where visitors can see alligator feedings and shows.

If you have the time, take a day trip to the Everglades National Park (, where you can explore the Everglades on raised walkways, paved trails, or on canoes or airboats - flat-bottomed speedboats with a large propeller at the back. There are three main entrances to the park. Two - Homestead and Shark Valley - are within a 45-minute drive from Miami and lead you to the heart of the Everglades, while the Everglades City entrance on the Gulf Coast is about a 90-minute drive away.

From here, you can take a scheduled sightseeing boat tour to explore the mangrove estuary and nearby islands.

Going local: Las Olas Cafe (644 6th Street, Miami Beach, FL 33139; tel: +1-305-534-9333) is a small and authentic road-side cafe serving fantastic Cuban food. It is a popular stop for locals and tourists who go there for the empanadas - a deep-fried pastry typically filled with meat - cheap Cuban coffee and, most importantly, its Cuban sandwich, which is said to be the best in town.

The sandwich, made of freshly roasted and sliced pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard and sometimes salami on crusty white baguette-like bread, is slathered in butter and pressed on the grill. The result is a hot sandwich that is cheesy, gooey and delicious. It is hands down the best Cuban sandwich I've had and costs only US$5.

Advice for travellers: Prepare for long nights out in Miami, where dinners are late and the clubs are full of energy till the early morning. People in Miami tend to sleep in and the city doesn't really get going till mid-day on weekends.

Plan for four to five days to explore the city, with a day or two on South Beach, where all the fun is. This area of Miami, on the southern end of a barrier island connected to the downtown by bridges across Biscayne Bay, is where you will find beautiful art deco architecture, lively restaurants and bars, all within walking distance of one another, and great shopping. The energy here is at a constant high.

The city never sleeps so be sure to get enough rest before your visit.

Best time to visit: December to February is high season when people escape freezing winters up north and flock south to the city for its amazing weather.

This is when it is still hot enough during the day to hang out at the beach, but cool enough in the evening for a pleasant night out. It's a bit like Hong Kong in March.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 20, 2015, with the headline ' Miami nice'. Print Edition | Subscribe