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Party Like a Rock Star at the Clevelander Hotel

April 29, 2009 By Carlos Miller in Miami: Travel News  | 10 Comments


Angie, aka Angiebaby on Miami Beach 411 forums, sits between her friend and her sister inside the Rock Star Suite of the Clevelander Hotel.

I knew I was onto something when I told Angie that I was staying at the Clevelander Hotel and she shrieked.

“You’re staying at the Clevelander!? You don’t know how hard I tried to get a room there this weekend.”

And then when I later told her that I had been upgraded to the Rock Star Suite, she could have strangled me.

But then she would have never gotten a tour of the hotel.

It was Saturday night and I was one of the few lucky guests staying at the Clevelander for its soft opening.  After a two-year, $40 million renovation, the Clevelander was finally open for business.

And I was one of a handful of guests who were trying out the hotel before its grand opening Thursday night, which kicks off four days and nights of continuous partying.

Just like the Clevelander of the good old days.

Angie and her friends were in town from Wisconsin to celebrate her 25th birthday. For months, she had persisted in trying to rent a room at the Clevelander but they told her they would not be open to the public that weekend.

She wanted to go all out on her birthday. She wanted a hotel with a lively pool. She wanted a hotel near the beach and the near the clubs. She wanted them to install a stripper pole in her room. 

And she hired me to photograph it all.

Friendly bar staff

“If you’re staying in the Rock Star Suite, they provide you with a host who is supposed to supply you with anything you want,” a pig-tailed bartender informed me.


“Yes, anything,” she said with a wink.

I was sitting at the outside bar of the Clevelander enjoying a strong breeze sweeping across Ocean Drive. I was on my second Bacardi and Coke.  I was waiting for Angie and her friends to show up.

And I was chatting it up with a few women who were sitting at the bar.

“The Rock Star Suite, huh?” exclaimed the dark-haired beauty sitting to the right of me.

That’s always been the highlight of the Clevelander. It’s always been one of the most unpretentious venues on Ocean Drive. And its outside bars are designed to allow one to easily strike up conversations with strangers.

It is the perfect bar for the lone traveler.

Angie and her friends arrived and we had a drink, then took a few photos inside the new sports bar, which has a multitude of TVs allowing you to watch any match in the world.

Then I gave them a tour of the hotel, including the Rock Star Suite, which I learned that Angie had reserved for $500 a night, only to be eventually told that her reservations had been cancelled due to delays in construction.


The Rock Star Suite of the Clevelander Hotel. Another plasma TV is behind the wall with the plasma TV.

“Is this all there is to it?” she asked once she stepped inside.

The truth is, the Rock Star Suite is not exactly an executive suite at the Four Seasons. There is no Jacuzzi, no mini-bar and not even a bathtub although there are two large screen plasma television screens that drown each other out if you happen to be looking at different channels.

What sets it apart from the other rooms at the Clevelander is that it comes with its own Rock Star Host who is supposed to hook you up with whatever you need. I needed a bucket of ice because there is no ice machine on the third floor, so Kevin, the bellhop, retrieved it for me.

Being a local, I figured I could hook myself up with anything else I needed.

Also, the Rock Star Suite along with the other rooms at the Clevelander, have been made party proof. The sinks are unbreakable, the bedside lamps have been replaced with ceiling lights and a silicone seal has been placed beneath the beds to keep vomit from seeping under.

This is not your father’s Clevelander Hotel.

But still, none of the rooms come equipped with stripper poles.

So I took a few photos of the girls inside the suite, then continued the tour upstairs to the new rooftop terrace where they placed beds and installed a step-in waterfall.


Three women sun themselves atop the new rooftop terrace at the Clevelander Hotel.

During the day, it is the perfect place to sleep off a hangover, but at the time it was empty so I started shooting some video as the Birthday Girl started using one of the bedposts as a stripper pole - twisting and climbing and kicking her legs up in the air. It is the latest fitness craze, after all.

But then a Clevelander security guard emerged out of the darkness and demanded to know what we were doing, as if it wasn’t obvious. Then he demanded to see my room key.

I showed him my key, stressing that I am staying in the Rock Star Suite. The Rock Star Suite sans stripper pole.

He was respectful and allowed us to carry on after that. But it just wasn’t the same having a security guard breathing down my neck as I am videotaping three young women on a bed.

We continued the tour to the sundeck on the fourth floor, which was also empty except for a couple of workers, one who appeared to be a manager and demanded to know why I was filming.

Yes, some things never change for me.

After I explained the situation, he insisted I go downstairs to sign a “release” which immediately put a damper on the party. He was at least respectful about it.

We walked back downstairs and the girls decided it was time to go to Club Mansion where they had reserved bottle service. Angie had called the manager earlier in the day to see if they would allow me to take photos inside but they refused, telling her she could hire one of their photographers instead.

They probably didn’t have a stripper pole either.

After walking them to Mansion, I went back to my pigtailed barmaid who makes strong drinks and offers fun conversation. And I struck up another conversation with another pair of Miami ladies who were ecstatic that the Clevelander had re-opened for business.

I couldn’t resist telling them about the Rock Star Suite, neglecting to tell them that the only reason I was staying there was because my original room, which was the size of a Manhattan studio apartment, lacked air conditioning, just one of a few minor glitches that I’m sure will be straightened out before the grand opening.

The bar staff, waitstaff and hotel workers were extremely efficient and courteous. Earlier that day, I ordered a hamburger and when I was handed the check, the waitress made it a point to tell me that there was an 18 percent tip included. South Beach restaurants are notorious for slipping the tip in and not telling the
customer in the hope they receive an additional tip.

I ended up calling my friend Rafael, who lives on the Beach, and we ended up making friends with half the people in the bar, including a pair of Cuban American women, a pair of Brazilian women, a group of London lads and a lone Miami Cuban-American man.

Rude security guard

After pounding a few more Bacardi and Cokes, a large group of us ended up walking to The Playwright for a couple of pints before I staggered back to the Clevelander.  Alone. So much for my rock star status.

By that time, the outside bar had been closed and shut down. I entered the pool area through the rear entrance on the south side and was immediately accosted by a security guard.

Unlike the other guys, this guy was a total ass.

“Come here!” he yelled.

I stopped and looked at him. Surely he wasn’t talking to me like that.

“Come here now!” he continued yelling.

I’m not one to succumb to aggressive authoritative demands, so I didn’t budge.

“I’m staying here tonight. Room 314,” I told him, not even bothering to mention the damn Rock Star Suite.

He walked up to me and got in my face.

“When I say ‘come here’, you come,” he said.

He then berated me for having the gall to walk onto the property from the side entrance, which was not even gated, mind you.

“You need to walk through the front door,” he yelled.

I calmly asked for his name.

“I don’t have to give you my name,” he said.

I asked again and he repeated his answer.

So I’ll give you his description instead.

He was African-American. About 6 feet tall. About 260 pounds. And he was wearing a blue shirt.

Up until then, customer service at the Clevelander had been magnificent.

But I wasn’t about to allow an overbearing security guard ruin my stay at the Clevelander. Everybody else was very professional and courteous. And new.

Most of the staff that I talked to had been on the job only one day. Yet they all seemed to share an enthusiasm for customer service, which tells me that trait was a priority in the hiring process.

I know it’s the honeymoon period so everybody - or at least most everybody - is still on their best behavior.

But I have a feeling this customer-friendly attitude will last.

After all, that’s the way it’s always been at the Clevelander.


Related Categories: Hotels Miami: Travel News,

Carlos Miller is a featured writer at Miami Beach 411. He also operates Photography is Not a Crime, a blog about photographer rights, New Media and First Amendment issues.

See more articles by Carlos Miller.

See more articles by Carlos Miller

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10 Comments on

"Party Like a Rock Star at the Clevelander Hotel"

Sungal says:

Great photo of the girls Carlos! Next time a girl is looking for a stripper pole go to the tequila bar on 15th, where Ocean meets Collins. I admit I took a spin on it! Thats what happens after shots of Patron! If it’s late night, head to Club Madonna and if it’s after 3am they may let you dance on stage. No making fun, this was 4 years ago and the place empty except for me and my friends!

And Carlos, the security guy was just doing his job. Unless you chatted with him prior to leaving, how would he be aware of your rockstar guest status? In the future when a 260 lb man asks you a question, answer.

Posted on 04/30/2009 at 3:03 PM

Sungal says:

I re-read the part about the security guy, and he was in fact rude. He should have said something like, “Sir, can I please see your room card?”

Posted on 04/30/2009 at 7:19 PM

Carlos Miller says:

Yes, he was rude. The type of person who gets a little power and takes it way too far.

It wasn’t like I hopped a fence or anything. There are stairs that lead to the patio that I’ve taken many times.

I just walked up those stairs and was on my way to the door when he stepped of another door and started yelling at me.

Posted on 04/30/2009 at 7:59 PM

Kristine says:

WOWWW!!! You were upgraded to the rockstar suite because of the no AC problem?!?! I wish I had known that earlier! hahaha. When we stayed there that Friday, I woke up sweaty because it was so hot in the room and there was no AC!! Since I work in hotels, I always feel so bad complaining about things that aren’t life threatening! Gees… I need to start voicing my opinion moe often! lol

I loved your article. I’m happy Angie got to live out her rockstar birthday weekend!!

Posted on 05/02/2009 at 5:25 PM

Burt says:

The Security Guard should be fired.  It’s time all Americans stop making excuses for bad behavior.  The Guard’s response was simply unacceptable. Management should not tolerate this type of treatment from a person they are paying. Attitude needs to stop.

Great review/post.

Posted on 05/03/2009 at 9:00 AM

Carlos Miller says:

Apparently, the guests are not the only ones partying like rock stars.

Posted on 05/04/2009 at 12:00 AM

jonathon george says:

I think angiebaby tries to act hotter then she really is !!!  plus if she lost about 15lbs she would alot better

Posted on 05/11/2009 at 6:03 PM

Joe says:

Is this a really bad hotel to bring your wife when ur young but want to party but no swingers are nothing

Posted on 05/11/2013 at 7:30 AM

Gus says:

Hi Joe,

The Clevelander is a good hotel, if you are looking for a festive place to stay, and no, you won’t find any swingers banging on your door. How crazy and loud the hotel will be, depends on when you’ll be here. Keep in mind, Memorial Day is approaching—and that is by far the craziest weekend of the year.

Posted on 05/11/2013 at 8:57 AM

Seniao says:

I see a. Nipple

Posted on 06/11/2014 at 5:10 PM

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