Our History

The City of Miami was born in 1896 with the arrival of Henry Flagler's Florida East Coast railroad. The town of Miami Beach was incorporated in 1915, following the opening of Collins Bridge (today’s Venetian Causeway) and the beginnings of tourism from the mainland. Miami Beach’s Art Deco hotel development started in the 1930’s with small scale hotel development in the present South Beach Art Deco Historic Direct, and finally larger hotels along the shoreline.

The Palms Hotel & Spa originally opened its doors as the Sea Isle Hotel in 1940. Designed by renowned architect Roy F. France – the American who is credited with creating the Miami Beach skyline – the hotel is a beautiful icon of the Art Deco period. His advice regarding design was “Let in the air and sun. That's what people come to Florida for.”

The hotel was purchased by its current owners in 1989, renovated and re-opened as The Miami Beach Ocean Resort in the summer of 1992, continued to be modernized and re-positioned by the family throughout the years. In 2010, the hotel was re-launched as The Palms Hotel & Spa, a luxury wellness resort for all ages “Inspired by Nature”.

Below are some milestones in our history:

a small wooden structure with a canopy

2011- Now: Focus on Wellness & Sustainability

  • 2023: Joining Beyond Green, a collection of Planet Earth’s Most Sustainable Hotels
  • 2022: Achieving Green Globe Certification
  • 2018, 2020, and 2023: Hosting of Slowfood Miami’s Snail of Approval Freshest Night Out and receiving the Snail of Approval for sustainability efforts
  • 2014: Green Key & Green Key Meetings certification
  • 2014: Greater Miami Hotel Association Sustainable Communication & Education Award
  • 2013: Hosting South Beach Wine & Food’s Farm-to-Table Brunch
a person sitting on a chair

2010: Repositioning as The Palms Hotel & Spa

  • Completion of another major renovation
  • Addition of The Palms AVEDA Spa and Essensia Restaurant & Bar signature natural gourmet dining concept
  • New Mission: To provide a guest experience of total well-being, inspired by nature
  • Embarking on a sustainability path as one of the first Florida Green Lodging Program participants, a Tripadvisor Green Leader and Green Key accredited property
  • Hosting prestigious events such as the South Beach Food & Wine Festival farm-to-table brunch and Art Basel closing party
  • Joining Preferred Hotels & Resorts “Lifestyle” Collection for hotels with approachable luxury, chic style and local flair
a large room with a large white pillar and a couch and chairs

2001: Renaming to
The Palms South Beach

  • Completion of extensive renovations and renaming to The Palms South Beach
  • Focus on a new domestic and international markets, meetings and weddings
  • Hosting a variety of important events, such as the Miami Heat Family Festival in 2006, the Elite Model Look USA Finals, a performance by famous Cuban pianist Paquito Hechavarria, and many more.
a high angle view of a building

1992: Reopening As The Miami Beach Ocean Resort

  • Under new ownership by German travel industry entrepreneurs Hans-Joachim and Ursula Krause, the Sea Isle undergoes extensive renovations and reopens its doors to mainly German tourists as The Miami Beach Ocean Resort in the summer of 1992.
  • The renovated hotel was the first property on Collins Avenue to extend its gardens all the way to the wooden boardwalk, prioritizing green space and tropical landscaping.
  • Category 5 Hurricane Andrew hits Miami but the hotel was miraculously spared.
a building with a blue sky

1984: The Sea Isle Closes

  • The Sea Isle closes its doors and almost undergoes demolition after a fire destroys much of its interiors.
  • The popular NBC TV show Miami Vice is filmed in many locations in Miami and Miami Beach for five seasons between 1984 and 1989. Today it is credited with the renewed interest in Miami as a tourist destination.
people in a pool and sitting by the pool

1950s-1980s: The Sea Isle and Miami Beach Flourish

  • 1979: Much of Miami South Beach area becomes a historic preservation zone.
  • 1964: The Beatles come to Miami Beach to perform on the Ed Sullivan show
  • The Jackie Gleason show moves to Miami Beach.
  • 1963: The Hotel receives the Gourmet Society Culinary Merit Award for culinary quality.
  • 1961: The Julia Tuttle Causeway between Miami and Miami Beach opens.
  • 1959: Miami International Airport opens
  • 1958: The Miami Beach Convention Center opens.
  • 1950: After the conclusion of the war, the Sea Isle expands its arts and entertainment options, adding a modern shopping plaza.
a tall white building by the beach

1940s: The Sea Isle Hotel Is Born

  • Designed by notable Illinois architect Roy F. France in the Streamline Moderne style, the hotel opens its doors as the Sea Isle Hotel. France is credited with the design of various historic masterpieces throughout Miami Beach, including the Cavalier Hotel, the St. Moritz Hotel, the National Hotel, the Lord Baltimore Hotel, the Saxony Hotel, the Versailles Hotel, the Cadillac Hotel, and many others.
  • The original owners were Ben Turchin and Morris Swinger, who had previously owned and operated the Sands and Edgewater Beach Hotels.
  • The property originally opened with “135 rooms, a sun room, and pool and cabana club”, according to a 1940 Miami Herald newspaper article. The following years saw an addition of 126 rooms, a cocktail lounge, a game room, a men’s lounge, a roof garden, and an observation deck.
  • During WWII, it played a significant role in providing valuable services for enlisted men, such as dances/musical entertainment, outdoor movie viewings, and various religious services.
a white building with palm trees

1930s: Art Deco Historic District Development

  • Miami Beach’s Art Deco starts gaining momentum and investors constructed the mostly small-scale, stucco hotels and rooming houses, for seasonal rental, that comprise much of the present "Art Deco" historic district.
  • 1935: Many of the famous Art Deco hotels along current day Ocean Drive are built between 1935 and 1941 before the onset of WWII ends construction.
  • Colony (1935), Savoy Plaza (1935), The Tides (1936), Surf Hotel (1936), Beacon (1936), Cavalier (1936), Leslie (1937), Park Central (1937), Barbizon (1937), Waldorf Towers (1937), Victor (1937), Clevelander (1938), Crescent (1938), Carlyle (1939), Cardozo (1939), Winterhaven (1939), Bentley (1939), Breakwater (1939), Imperial (1939), Majestic (1940), Avalon (1941), Betsy Ross Hotel (1941), St. Charles (1941), Clyde Hotel (1941).
a woman lying on a beach

1920s: Development of Miami Beach as a Resort Town

  • 1928: Al Capone buys property in Miami Beach.
  • 1925: Venetian Causeway replaces the Collins Bridge
  • 1920: County Causeway (now MacArthur Causeway) connecting Miami and Miami Beach opens.
a woman sitting on a beach

1910’s: Miami Beach Is Born

  • The Collins/Pancoast families see the potential in developing the beach as a resort together with the Lummus brothers and Indianapolis entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher making the beach a destination for day-trips by ferry from Miami, across the bay.
  • 1917: Miami Beach becomes a City
  • 1915: Town of Miami Beach becomes chartered and becomes incorporated
  • 1913: The Collins Bridge, the world's longest wooden bridge at the time, connects the island to the mainland.
A map of Florida

1896: City of Miami Is Founded

  • The City of Miami was founded with the recent arrival extension of Henry Flagler's FEC railroad

Peek into History

a tall building on a beach