I received a photo of a gorgeous woman in white sitting in the lobby of the Acqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles, Florida. Interestingly the location looked more like a fabulous Italian villa. On her neck was a diamond necklace estimated to be worth more than two million dollars. I’m a private detective and one of the cases I’ve been working on involves this necklace. The children of the deceased, whose parents were killed when their private jet crashed while flying into Aspen, went to the insurance company when they discovered it missing. The kids, who were in their 20’s, asked me to help. They knew me and also knew I was a close friend of their father. James Harper was my best friend in high school and after many years we reconnected again at, of all places, the opera. After meeting him I never sat in the balcony again. Jim had a parterre box and because of our past and our discovered mutual love of the opera he insisted that I join him with whoever else he invited that night. That meant we spent 7 or 8 nights a season together. That’s a lot for New Yorker’s.
I had heard that Acqualina Hotel and Spa was the iconic hotel in the new Miami. Jim had gone there a number of times so when I received the photo I knew I had a good lead and had to make the trip. While I was booking on ClassicTravel.com I discovered that Acqualina was offering a complimentary 4th night until the end of April that included Virtuoso amenities. Perfect! Nothing I liked more than mixing business with a little pleasure. Later that night I read an article in Forbes that Acqualina had just received the 2013 Forbes Travel Guide 5 Star Award. Impressive!
April is a great time of the year in Miami. Days are sunny and dry and nights balmy. I arrived at 3PM and when I entered the lobby it was even more impressive than the photo. The woman in white’s beauty and that diamond necklace most definitely took precedence in that photo. This was clearly not the Miami I remembered as a child. My suite was beautiful, spacious and well-appointed. However, I was intent on going to the beach which was a stretch of powdery white sand fronting the calm aquamarine waters of the Atlantic. I was escorted to my red chaise lounge and after I raised the prerequisite flag for service a beach butler took my order. I could get use to this and yes, it would be easy to forget the purpose of my trip. That night I went to the their Espa 20,000 square foot spa and had a great 90 minute sports massage. After, I stopped at their Piazzetta, a sort of marketplace that is Tuscan inspired and where I had the perfect brick oven pizza and a glass of my favorite Chianti.
The next day I showed the concierge the photo and asked if she recognized the woman in white. All I received was a professional smile. It was clear that she was not about to reveal anything. I politely backed off and said “she’s just a friend that I’d like to reestablish contact with”. I was going to have to take a different approach. I thought it best to wait and approach another concierge or maybe a manager when the moment was appropriate. After all, it’s my job to get information from people in a very discreet manner. I spent the afternoon by Acqualina’s tranquility adult pool, in my private poolside cabana working on my tan and planning my next move.
Cocktail time at Acqualina is what you would expect. A relaxed bar with great music, the sounds of drinks being made while people are chatting and laughing in the back ground. I was so relaxed; nothing could jar this blissful moment. While I was calmly having my gin and tonic I turned around and there she was, the woman in white. I nearly fell off the bar stool. She walked slowly past me, made eye contact and smiled subtlety. She was more beautiful than the photo, if that was possible. Maybe because she was standing now and moving with complete control and confidence. Her eyes were a color green I had read about but had never seen. I got totally lost in the moment. Then, she was gone. My mouth was open and I felt a fool to become so mesmerized all at once. I looked at the bartender, pointed at my drink, and nodded for another.
It was my third day and I approached a different concierge and told her how much I liked the hotel. “I’d like to come back next winter and I was wondering if you could show me some of the other suites.” Again, so professional, well-groomed and pleasant. I thought ‘they must have all gone to the same Concierge School in Switzerland or whatever other place hotel professionals train at.’ She explained that there were only two that were not occupied and available to show. I was beginning to forget the purpose of this exercise. The suites were pretty incredible. One of them, on the 31st floor had three bedrooms, a designer kitchen and floor to ceiling windows with a terrace and spectacular views of the Atlantic. I was about to ask the price but she was way ahead of me and simply said “Classic Travel Service will be more than happy to discuss pricing with you.” She knew how I booked my reservation. How so cool and excuse the word, classy. I was learning one of the reasons why Acqualina received the prestigious Forbes award.
That afternoon as I was walking back from Acqualina’s oceanfront gym (I love a view when I’m working out) I went by the concierge desk. I was now on first names with Jennifer. As I walked past she smiled and said. “Mr. Gordon I have a package for you”. I took the package and thanked her thinking it was some sort of press kit about this marvelous hotel. When I got to my suite and opened it there was a velvet box and in it was the diamond necklace. I called Jim’s daughter Leslie immediately. She was ecstatic and wanted to know how I managed to find it. “Leslie, I’ll explain it all to you when I see you but tomorrow I’m going to enjoy my complimentary 4th night at Acqualina.” The truth was I wasn’t going to explain it because I would never know. I fantasized a bit about meeting the woman in white. Then I thought to myself very quickly. Never! Why? I accomplished what I came here for. Sometimes its better not to delve too deep and especially when it serves no purpose. This was one of those times. That night I burned the photo of the woman in white.