Marco Polo Beach Resort
“The Lifter’s Marco Polo Resort Hotel once was the entertainment capital of Miami Beach”
In the 1950’s, and 60’s a key feature of Sunny Isles was ‘Motel Row’, a stretch of the north Collins Avenue that was home to some 50 motels with exotic names like the Sahara, Mandalay and the Thunderbird.
The motels were very popular in the post-war boom years when more and more people could afford cars and could travel to fun destinations like Miami. The area was also very attractive to foreign visitors who loved the sea, surf and sand and great Florida ambience.
Bennett Lifter, a real estate entrepreneur, departing from the Motel Mould and built a stunning 13-floor beachside hotel, the Marco Polo.
Bennett Lifter remembers Architect Melvin Grossman designing the spacious ten-story hotel as tall as buildings were allowed at the time – the approximate width of Collins Avenue.
A bit of a curve on the front facade and minarets columns conjure elements of the Far East.
Note: Grossman later designed the original Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
The Lifters leased the property to the Hyatt Corporation and then to the Diplomat Corporation. But resumed control of the Marco Polo in 1972.
Famous stars such as a Jim Morrison, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Sister Sledge, Betty Wright and the Pointer Sisters performed in the hotel’s Swinger Lounge and the grand Persian Room.
During the 1970’s the resort advertised 550 over-sized rooms, each with two double beds, color TV and a refrigerator. There was always free parking at the lot on the west side.
The resort has two pools, plenty of lounge chairs, tiki bar two superb restaurants. According to Mobil Guide rated “4 Star”
The Marco Polo resort & hotel was sold to Crescent Heights Aventura Beach Club and after a $7 million renovation, was converted into a condominium-hotel.
Radisson Corporation approved the hotel, Aventura Beach Associates, whose president is Mr. Richard Schechter, purchased the hotel operation.
The hotel became part of the Ramada chain owned by Wyndham but preserving its autonomy as Marco Polo Beach Resort under the Aventura Beach Associates administration.
The Marco Polo Beach Resort is still open and still doing well, the Marco Polo was among the last built of the Sunny Isles hostelries. With thirteen floors, Lifter’s Marco Polo Resort Hotel, brought new blood and new life to the strip.