Eye on Travel

Radio Guest List — Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, Florida — November 30, 2019

© Terry O'Neill, 1968, Frank Sinatra, Fontainebleau Boardwalk, Miami, FL

Locations in this article:  Miami, FL
This week’s broadcast of Eye on Travel comes from the iconic Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, Florida. We’ll have another update on the Boeing 737 Max investigation. And we’ll take a look back at the remarkable history of this hotel (for starters, Frank Sinatra both entertained and lived there). And both Scarface and James Bond movies were shot there. Joining us is Wall Street Journal Travel Editor Scott McCartney, who talks about ultra long haul flights from experience — he survived the longest nonstop flight in the world on the recent Qantas record breaker from New York to Sydney. Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber on the last 20 years of evolution in Miami Beach and the city’s approach to climate change and rising water levels. Then, Josh Foer, Co-founder of Atlas Obscura (one of Peter’s favorite books), explains how they authentically source their curious “finds.” We’ll talk about the museums you don’t know about and how the Fontainebleau chef cooks for the guests in 1,600 rooms. There’s all of this and more when Eye on Travel broadcasts from the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, Florida.

Click here to listen to the show streaming live from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, November 30, 2019.


Frank Sinatra, Fontainebleau Boardwalk, Miami, FL © Terry O’Neill, 1968


Have a travel question? Then ask Peter. E-mail him at peter@petergreenberg.com, or tweet your questions to @petersgreenberg (include #AskPeter).


Tim Rodgers, Director at The Wolfsonian Museum, speaks about the museum’s focus on growing the collection of books –1850s to 1950s. The collector definitely judges a book by its cover and loves to have aesthetically pleasing pieces in the collection. The collection ranges from a postcard to the best futurist paintings. He is discerning and doesn’t pick up just anything. The museum is open every day but Wednesday.


Thomas Connell, Chef and Vice President of Culinary for the Fontainebleau, describes the challenges of creating food and menus for such a high volume of people. The hotel has just under 1,600 rooms, 14 kitchens and 9 restaurants. At the hotel, 2.3 million meals a year are created. He believes it’s not just about the food, but it’s about the entertainment. You want people to feel like they are the only people eating in the world, so he likes to create a customized experience. He gives the expert tip that acid is the enemy of green vegetables and garlic is a mouth bully because too much of it overpowers the entire dish and ruins your experience of other flavors. His goal is to interrupt a conversation with his food. He says you want people to stop talking when your food hits the table, because that’s how you know you’ve done a good job.


Elizabeth Wheaton, Environment & Sustainability Director for the City of Miami Beach, explains the issue of rising water that residents of Miami Beach combat. Miami Beach is looking to other cities for how to tackled the issue, such as New Orleans. One of the initiatives is to redesign an old golf course to catch water runoff from a neighborhood. The city is always adapting and changing. Sea level rise is just another challenge, and taxpayers foot the bill. Residents seem willing to pay that price though because they’ve seen and experienced the issue and rising water in the street first-hand.


Steven N. Adkins, President & CEO of Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, describes the amount of capital spent over the years to change minds and perception about the LGBTQ+ community. There is $1.4 trillion behind LGBTQ+ travel.  People don’t realize how far we’ve moved in such a short time. He explains how in the 1980s, the AIDS crisis forced gays out of the closest, and it was lesbians who helped the gays during that time.


Dan Gelber, Mayor of Miami Beach, thinks of the city as a place of memorable moments. He says the hotel is sort of the heart and is in the biggest hospitality region of the city. The city has changed dramatically in the last decade, and he feels like it has changed for the better. This hotel has gone through a big change over the last 20 years and that’s been great for the visitors and for the locals. He also speaks about how police have to be thoughtful because they are always under scrutiny and always on either a bodycam or cellphone camera.


Leilani Lynch, Curator at the Bass Museum, details how accessibility is very important to the museum’s mission. You can be a tourist coming off the beach to get out of the rain or an art collector and find things to love. She speaks about how its outdoor sculptures need to withstand hurricane force winds. Artists and exhibitors have to take into account forces of nature more than many other places.


Philip Goldfarb, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Hospitality Division of Fontainebleau Development, describes the Fontainebleau as the biggest hotel on the block by far with close to 1,600 rooms. The hotel has four, room towers and a fifth building dedicated to a spa, gym and restaurant. The hotel has been here since 1954. Frank Sinatra lived here numerous times throughout his career and shot many movies at the location. He used to sit at the bar and order three fingers of whiskey, a story that Jack Daniels has used to brand its new Sinatra bottle. The hotel has a Sinatra Suite you can stay in, the room he lived in during his time here. The hotel even has its own commercial fishing boat which goes out most days. On the boat, you can catch everything from Florida lobster, to yellow tail, grouper and more. Then, the lobster and fish are kept in one of the property’s six 1,000 gallon water tanks. 


Scott McCartney, Travel Editor for the Wall Street Journal, talks about the Qantas flights — which are some of the longest flights in the world. During the flight, there were test subjects wearing monitors on their wrists, being administered psychological tests on iPads throughout the flight and other ways of tracking both their physical and psychological reactions to being in the air for an extended time. There were only 49 people on the test subjects’ flight, which could have dramatically impacted their responses. He says you can’t do all of the exercises on a flight, because you’ll punch the people around you. He discusses how some airlines have talked about the potential for mini yoga studios in the back to let people stretch. He believes that if airlines are concerned for passenger health and safety, the airlines will do things to help make a long-haul into a slightly healthier experience.


Josh Foer, Co-founder of Atlas Obscura, expounds on its features and how everything highlighted is contributed by a member of its global community. It’s not a press release, but the information is coming from real people around the world. He explains that there is so much to experience in the world that you don’t know about. In addition to the website and books, Atlas Obscura hosts experiential trips around the world. In 2020, it will have over 150 trips for adventurers and travelers to journey on.