Palmetto Bay’s Quality Inn Refresh

Built and opened in 1972 by Greg Levine and his father, Albert, the Quality Inn at 14501 South Dixie Hwy has been a fixture in Palmetto Bay since before it was Palmetto Bay.

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From its humble beginning, the motel has been uniquely sandwiched between the Keys and the south end of the city of Miami. Well into the third generation of Levine family ownership and management, one might say it is more than just a motel.

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With a staff that is regularly recognized online as ‘great, friendly and attentive’, you’d think the motel would be thriving, but alongside the positive words about the staff reviewers also say ‘dated, tired rooms and facilities.’ This leads to lower occupancy, and an indifference to what should be a respected family-owned local motel.

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Enter the latest generation of Levines to active management. “The last refresh was in the early 1990s, so it was very clear to us that we had to do something to freshen up,” explained Director of Operations Melanie Levine. “We like the idea of being a community fixture and so we are making a multi-million-dollar investment in the future and that ideal.”

 Melanie Levine, Director of Operations

Melanie Levine, Director of Operations

In March 2018, Melanie got married to Kevin Levine, son of Greg. Soon thereafter, she and Kevin became the main day-to-day drivers of the motel and it is with their vision that the whole family works on a vibrant future.

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“We really want to get the community back and thinking of us,” Melanie explained. “In recent years, we inadvertently got to a point where we were not meeting their needs, but with the renovations we know we will easily become the community’s go-to resource, whether it will be for visits from out-of-town friends or in-laws, a place to stay when doing home renovations, or for weddings or funerals.” The Levines will also target local hospitals, schools and even look to entice traveling sports teams to stay with them.

 Sample renovated room

Sample renovated room

Both inside and out, the renovations will touch almost every surface. Out with carpeting, in with stylish hard flooring. Update the bathrooms. New cabinetry and furniture. New TVs. The front desk, conference room (where Mike Levine runs his Comedy Inn events – see my prior stories), the pool area and even parking will see updates.

 Sample renovated bath area

Sample renovated bath area

Once the Quality Inn nears completion, they have committed to hosting several community-related events, including one from me. I’ll be presenting my Home Seller Seminar on a regular basis. The motel is also seeking a new high-quality restaurant to take place of Romanza. It will not only be a stand-alone eatery, but serve as the breakfast venue for guests.

 Sample colors on the wall as choices are made.

Sample colors on the wall as choices are made.

With 100 rooms and a full-time staff of around 30 people for front desk, maintenance and housekeeping, and as the holidays continue with the snowbirds coming for their visits, the Quality Inn remains open, working the upgrades in phases. “We are committed to offering the best value with high quality,” said Melanie. “We are family oriented and some of our staff has a 30-plus year history with us. We want to make them proud.”

You can contact the hotel and check out their rooms, starting at $125/night. The phone number is (305) 251-2000 and their website.

Alexander Montessori School Holiday Bazaar

Sure, there is Amazon, the mall and a million other stores out there for holiday shopping, but if you want something unique that supports our local community and economy, you should add the Alexander Montessori School (Palmetto Bay campus) Holiday Bazaar to your patronage list.

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On November 28th, the Alexander Parents Association brought back the Holiday Bazaar after a five-year hiatus due to great popular demand. President Carmen Contarini and Treasurer Ainsley Hetenyi proudly greeted people at the door to shop among 30 unique and vetted vendors.

 [L to R] Ainsley Hetenyi, Beverley Alexander McGhee, James McGhee and Carmen Contarini

[L to R] Ainsley Hetenyi, Beverley Alexander McGhee, James McGhee and Carmen Contarini

The all-day indoor event had several purposes. It served as a small fundraiser for the school, it allowed local vendors to show their wares to local people and, most importantly, it helped the four-campus Alexander Montessori School community to get to know each other a little better and establish stronger community.

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“Holiday items made by small businesses are going by the wayside and therefore supporting our local artisan is important so we don’t lose unique items and our sense of local community,” explained Hetenyi. “If you want rare and specialized things, you need to patronize those that make them. This is what the Holiday Bazaar helps us do, bring people together.”

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In the large multi-purpose room, one could find lots of cool gifts: a handmade python-skin handbag with a beautiful stone adornment, customized jewelry, a booth that takes your kids artwork and puts it on leggings, tote bags and T-shirts, handcrafted beauty products, customizable kids wear and toys and more. One booth really blew me away. They take full-body photos of your family and print them on figurines, posed exactly how you want. It is eerie and amazing at the same time to see yourself in mini-me form.

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Alexander Montessori mother (of two) Silvia Buraglia owns BLOP, a business that makes personalized bags. She bought a table at the Bazaar. “Things have been good! Besides supporting the Alexander community, I’m getting to know the other moms,” explained Buraglia. “I’ve made a few dollars today, but it is more about promoting my brand and getting to be known.”

 BLOP owner, Silvia Buraglia shows off her handbags

BLOP owner, Silvia Buraglia shows off her handbags

Besides the shopping, there were sponsored events like Coffee & Tea with Mrs. Beverley McGhee (the school owner brought her own silver serving pieces from home!), morning mimosas, a Wells Fargo speech on college savings, a Lunchology-sponsored discussion on how to get kids to eat healthy and Headmaster Joyce McGhee gave a lesson on motivating your kids to read. Everything was geared to have people spend interactive time together and foster community.

With hundreds of shoppers over the course of the day, the event was deemed a huge success. They plan to repeat it for next year, so put in a reminder to look for it in November 2019.

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If you wrote a book on Miami history, one chapter could easily be dedicated to the Alexander Montessori School. Started by Beverley Alexander McGhee in 1963 as a response to her husband who believed her place was at home being a mother. Before having kids, Beverley had taught in the Dade County public school system desperately wanted to be able to be with her kids and continue to teach. As it turned out, she got to do both. Her sons James and Alexander were her first students. And the rest is history.

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Beverley attended the Bazaar and smiled as she walked around to greet everyone. She is still in great physical shape and sharp as a tack, perhaps it is the strong will to educate. Now, with four campuses, Beverley has shifted focus to her Montessori Teaching Institute where she teaches other teachers.

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“I applaud the Parents Association for putting this together,” exclaimed Beverley. “It’s a great service to our community and friends.”

As part of the deal, each vendor from the Holiday Bazaar donated one item for the silent auction that will take place during the school’s April Gala. The Gala celebrates two important dates: the 55th anniversary of the school and Beverley Alexander McGhee 90th birthday.

List of Vendors (for those of you who want to shop uniquely local this year)

Vendor Type Contact Person
BLOP Kids Personalized Bags, etc Silvia Buraglia
Bella Paz Originals Jewelry and purses  Yanna Cabrera
Wanderluks Turkish towels/linens Petrell Marie Ozbay
Cathy Neuman  Jewelry & accessories  Cathy Neuman
Spark & Spark Children personalized accessories Jessica Welle
Peekolos 3D Figurines Mariana Goncalves
Bluemoon by Mariana Jewelry  Mariana Casas
Trendeelove Jewelry Veronica Diaz
Paluba Beachwear & tunics Carolina Nigro
India Hicks Handbags & accessories Janet Jordan
Rodan + Fields Skincare  Karina Tavares
Felicia  Women/Kids Clothing Rosario Ponce de Leon
The Babysitting Boutique Babysitting Services Aracelly Barbarena
Antidote Gym Lynet Aspuru
Miami Bungalow Jewelry & accessories  Carolina Garcia
Mumi Organizers  Maribel Moreno
Lilly Be Organic skin care & aromatherapy  Lissette Benitez Monzon
La Tiendita LC Children's clothing Alejandra Escalante
Trend Boutique  Kids/adult clothing & accessories Ana Canto
Safari Ltd Toys  James Henrich
Sunset Drugs Pharmacy & Apothecary Ericka Silva
Koko Tribe Kids' swim style Mari Blanes & Marga Montilla
LULO, llc Dainty Handmade Jewelry  Jelena Novakovic
Bubalu Online Children's Clothing Stefi (Estefania) Cooke
doTerra Essential Oils Lucia Pedraja
Piccoli Principi Swimwear Children Swimwear Lidia Colombo
Relevant Fashion  Clothing & accessories Margarita Pinto Alvarez
Atelier Clothing & accessories Carolina Arroyo

Vertical Senior Living at Dadeland

As our South Florida community ages, it is wonderful to see new living options that allow seniors to stay in the area, yet shed the responsibilities and maintenance that comes with home ownership.

 Rendering (there are buildings surrounding this in THE actual Dadeland landscape)

Rendering (there are buildings surrounding this in THE actual Dadeland landscape)

If you look up in the skyline of Dadeland, there is a brand-new tower right in the middle. It reads: Allegro: Luxury Senior Living. In October, the building concept changed and new management took over. It is now an independent senior community and they expect to open Spring 2019. Situated between Dadeland Mall and the busiest Publix in the entire chain, Allegro Dadeland is quite convenient for senior shopping.

With 16 different layouts ranging from 750 to 1757 square feet and 1-3 bedrooms, there are plenty of options among the 214 total units for nearly all family situations. Each luxury apartment is tastefully modern, ready for age 55+ residents able to live independently.

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Allegro is a St. Louis, MO based company that has nearly 50 years of experience in ownership, operations, development and property management, specializing in senior living.  They have 23 communities across the country and 13 in Florida, yet Dadeland is Allegro’s first vertical asset. They are also excited to be in South Florida for the first time.

“Independent living is about having it all. You enter a lifestyle and a rich offering of activities, along with getting a fabulous apartment,” explained Assistant VP of Sales Francine Bass. “We cater to those who want it all and do not want to have to pay extra for this or that. We include everything at one price point.”

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Most interesting is there is no long-term commitment at Allegro Dadeland. Residents rent month-to-month, with a $6000 reservation fee as the only special charge. After that, everything is included and you can leave with just 30 days’ notice.

A full-time Lifestyle Director will be on-site to orchestrate a wide variety of activities to include wellness, interest groups, local cultural experiences, culinary classes, happy hours and other special events. “This is care-free living and one-stop shopping,” expressed Lead Senior Living Advisor Patricia Duran.

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“With everything included in the rent [utilities, extended channel cable TV, whole-building WiFi, full weekly housekeeping, free valet parking and tons of activities], we are a unique and high value living option that enhances seniors’ lives by catering to their needs and desires.”

In regards to food, besides the free continental breakfast, residents have dining dollars that will allow them approximately 20 meals a month in the two themed on-site restaurants. There is a heated pool, state-of-the art gym, yoga/art studio, salon, billiards/activity room, theater and sky lounge.

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At first glance, the rental prices may seem high, but when you consider everything provided and compare it against your current ala carte expenses, most will see it as a viable option for a comfortable senior lifestyle.

If you are interested in seeing Allegro Dadeland or want to know more about senior living in general, I am the area expert. It would be my pleasure to introduce you to the right executive level people at Allegro or elsewhere. Of course, you can also see more about Allegro for yourself at allegroliving.com/dadeland-florida.html or by calling 786-500-5500.