Photo: Construction on the new Grand Bay Hotel in Coconut Grove.
The Wyndham Grand Bay Hotel was built in 1983, a 12-story pyramid shaped hotel which featured Mediterranean and traditional European touches with a tropical flair. Inside, the lobby featured crystal chandeliers, a huge tree-truck slab table, oriental rungs which covered the terra-cotta tiled floors and tropical plants throughout. More of a boutique hotel, only 177 rooms were offered, 47 of those which were suites. The rooms were described as having baby grand pianos, spiral stairways, canopied beds, and bathtubs as big as volcano craters.
Michael Jackson and his entourage occupied two floors during their stay in 1984 before the late singer’s Orange Bowl concert. It was said one of the penthouse suites were decorated with an Egyptian flair to accommodate his needs.
The Grand Cafe sat on the ground floor, where French chefs served Everglades frog legs with sheep’s cheese polenta and other delicacies. The top floor was occupied by the prestigious Regine’s night club. A private elevator, apart from the regular elevator serving the hotel, brought members to the club. The carpets were burgundy and gold, the walls were glass engraved with 1930s Art Deco design, and the ceiling were mirrored. Sliding glass doors separated the restaurant from the dance floor, where the most exquisite French cuisine was served.
In 1987, the Grand Bay Hotel was the only hotel south of Palm Beach to win a coveted fifth star from Mobil travel inspectors.
Photo(Miami Herald, 1986): Doormen at the Grand bay Hotel.
The hotel was sold in 1989 to ‘Continental Companies’, the group which built and managed the hotel since it opened in October 1983. It was sold by Equitable Real Estate Investment Management Inc. for an undisclosed amount, but was estimated to be more than $35 million; the cost of building and furnishing the hotel.
In 1998, renovation work was done to the building which included the addition of 90 rooms and suites, a new restaurant and a 7,500 square foot ballroom.
Merco Group, a Miami-based real-estate developer, bought the Grand Hotel in 2005 with the idea of renovating it to restore it to its glorious status of the 1980s. Needing a renovation loan, Caixa Galicia stepped forward in late 2006. At the time time, the bank was riding the real estate bubble in Spain and had established a branch in Miami, who largely made development loans in South Florida.
Photo(Nomeus, 2010 – Flurbex.com): The hotel was closed in 2008 for renovations but never reopened.
Merco Group closed the Grand Bay in 2008 for renovations, but the project stalled as the bank cut funding due to Merco Group defaulying on the loan by not making monthly payments, not paying property taxes, not maintaining insurance and allowing te property to “go to waste”. That same year, Merco Group lost the trademark rights to the Wyndham name in a $5 million judgement from Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. The judgment called for Merco Group to change the name because it stopped paying the franchise fee in 2006.
Caixa Galicia filed a foreclosure lawsuit against Merco Group in 2009 for failing to repay the $38.7 million mortgage. Merco Group had been hit with multiple lawsuits that year on many of it’s other projects in South Florida and would have to deal with another foreclosure lawsuit a year later on one their residential projects.
In 2011, the rotting hotel along with Merco Group’s office building next door were surrendered over to the newly merged bank, Novacaixiagalicia.
Terra Group, who have built a handful of condominiums, paid $24 million for the run-down hotel and $3.4 million for the adjacent office building. The group planned to build two 20-story glass and steel, twisting towers on the property; the north tower would have 59 units and the south tower will have 37 units. Demolition of the Grand Bay Hotel occurred in January 2013.
Photo: The Grand Bay Hotel was demolished in January 2013 to make way for a $400 million condominium project.
Year Taken: 2010
The Miami News, May 31, 1983 – Regine; One of her famous jet-set watering holes is going up in the Grove
Boca Raton News, Jun 12, 1989 – Equitable Sells Grand Bay Hotel