Once located on Belle Isle, the only natural island on the Venetian Island—the rest are man-made, the Monterrey Motel and Yacht Club was built in 1953 and designed by architect Norman Giller. Norman Giller’s name is familiar to many South Florida architecture buffs. Giller’s hotel designs are considered groundbreaking works of Miami Modern or MiMo architecture. His other works include the Ocean Palm and Thunderbird Motels in Sunny Isles Beach, the Carillon Hotel and the North Shore Bandshell in North Beach.
The Monterrey Motel became the Lido Spa at 40 Island Avenue, a sun-baked retreat for retirees. It officially opened on December 27th,1960 at a cost of more than $500,000. At the time, the owner took advantage of a recent government ruling that recuperation for “businessmen” may be tax deductible. So essentially, a businessperson could list a stay at a health spa as a legitimate medical expense, provided the visit was advised by a doctor.
This was the first health resort on Miami Beach with an emphasis on individually controlled diet and supervised exercise in conjunction with check-ups of one of the three on call 24 hour a day doctors. The new owner of the 109-room Lido Spa added the three-story lobby and spa building with the classic sign and gold grille panels with other additions such as two gymnasiums—one for males and one for females, steam rooms, mineral baths and two pools, one steaming hot and salted, the other cold. There were also docks on the bay, sundecks, pitch and putt golf, a handball court, shuffleboard, ping pong tables, a beauty salon and a solarium.
In 1961, “Miami Undercover” was an American crime drama series that aired in broadcast syndication for a total of 38 episodes. The series starred Lee Bowman and boxer-turned-actor Rocky Graziano. The Lido Spa was used many times as a site for filming this series.
Excerpt from a June 10, 2003, Miami Herald article entitled, “For Lido Spa a New Lease on Life”…..”Eighty percent of the crowd were seniors, and 80 percent were women,” said Chuck Edelstein, 67, who bought the spa with his father and brother in 1963. The Edelsteins’ opening party was on Nov. 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was shot. About 10 people showed up. But the inauspicious start did not stop middle-aged, loyal Northeasterners from returning year after year….as South Beach grew up, the Lido stayed frozen in time. Its activities leader was a 78-year old former show singer. Its lobby featured framed pictures of various grandkids. And its prices – well below $100 a night, meals included – were blessedly within reach.”
The Lido closed in 2004, when bought out by Andre Balazs, the hotelier who bought the Raleigh on Collins Avenue, who had a history of restoring hotels to their former glory. The historic “Lido Spa Hotel” entry building design that was credited to A. Herbert Mathes, still remained on the building’s facade, even after the 2005 renovation by Alison Spear of Arquitectonica. The hotel is currently known as The Standard Spa, Miami Beach