The Betsy Hotel History

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The Betsy

- History

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    • Coffee

      Breakfast with Betsy

      Our most popular offer just got better! Enjoy daily complimentary American Breakfast for…

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    • Spa

      The Betsy Moment Package

      A Three Day, Two Night package for two offering luxury accommodations, signature Betsy…

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    • Sweets

      Betsy Suite Indulgence

      Reserve one of our beautiful Suites for that much-needed getaway with your sweet someone…

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    • Sofa

      Royal Suite Offer

      A Betsy Exclusive - Enjoy our lavishly stocked in-room Private Bar, complimentary and…

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      Advance Booking Offer

      Book your stay at least 10 days in advance and receive a 10% discount off our Best Available…

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    • Four Diamond AAA

      AAA Member Rate

      The Betsy was rated AAA Four Diamond and Forbes Four Star for 2014.  AAA Members enjoy…

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    • Hotel Entrance


      Betsy is filled with works of art with galleries open 24/7/365 and poems on pillows.

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    • King Size Bed


      Betsy defines culture with a global feel in ways that inspire guests to talk about 'things…

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    • Sofa


      Betsy leadership believes in community and partners with non-profits to serve the greater…

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1950s Beach

Miami's South Beach is one of the most famous architectural districts in the world, and The Betsy Hotel distinguishes itself from the curvy geometric patterns and clean lines of its Art Deco neighbors by relying on classic formations. With its expansive four-column portico and signature shuttered windows, The Betsy evokes traditional colonial architecure. But it was designed and created by the same man, L. Murray Dixon, responsible for the majority of the most famous hotels in the area built in the Art Deco style.

1950s Betsy

The 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in the 1920’s ushered in a period of nostalgia for the early years of the nation. John D Rockefeller’s restoration of Colonial Williamsburg was a prime case in point. Completed in the 1930s, it served as a catalyst for other historic preservation efforts around the country.

The past was renovated and gussied up, perhaps to magnify it as a way of renewing the faith of Americans struggling to emerge from the Great Depression. Everything from restaurants to furniture was re-created in a colonial image, and even Hollywood provided its powerful endorsement of colonial style.

A printed guide to the "colonial east," distributed by the Work Projects Administration (WPA), included images and photographs emphasizing architecture from the 17th through the 19th centuries, and created an explosion of the popularity of colonial architecture.

When Dixon got around to considering how best to embrace the colonial chic of the moment, he turned to Betsy Ross.  Opened in South Beach in 1942, The Betsy Ross Hotel stood out all the more for its stark yet graceful contrast to Dixon's Art Deco masterworks.

Art Deco on South Beach

South Beach is home to the famed Art Deco District, an area with over 800 Art Deco buildings from the 1930s and 40s and one which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

As you stroll down Ocean Drive, you’ll recognize Art Deco buildings by their gentle pastel colors, which contrast with architecture that is rigid and cubistic. Enjoy the unique ornaments and decorations too that include nautical motifs, neon lines, and terrazzo floors. (Betsy, too, has a Terrazzo Floor; while the hotel underwent a complete restoration in 2009, the Lobby's hand-laid Terrazzo floor was retained and restored to its original luster.)

The Betsy Hotel Timeline


1920: Town of Miami Beach is incorporated

Today, The Betsy Hotel's exterior stands as the lone surviving example of Florida Georgian architecture on Ocean Drive.  Yet contrary to typical colonial design, the interior design is bright, open and connected: Dixon took liberties with proportions while interpreting the colonial form.  In his re-conception of textbook colonial, he created not an opposite that didn't fit, but rather a counterpoint that did then, and still does now.


1935: Ocean Drive’s historic Art Deco skyline begins to take shape with the addition of other hotels

1950s Front Desk


1940: L. Murray Dixon builds The Betsy Ross Hotel

1942: The Betsy Ross Hotel opens

1942: US troops stationed at The Betsy Hotel during WWII

1946: "Trunkline to Sunshine," non-stop service to Miami ushers in a new era of tourism

1948: The Betsy begins its decade of management by the Lipman Family


1952: Esther Williams’ Million Dollar Mermaid, which was shot in Miami, opens at the Box Office


1960: Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack perform at the Fontainebleau in Miami

1964: The Beatles come to Miami Beach to perform on the Ed Sullivan show

1964: The Jackie Gleason show moves to Miami Beach

1965: The AFL grants Miami an expansion franchise, the Dolphins


1970: The Betsy Ross Hotel is added to the State Registry of Historic Places

1972: Gloria Steinem headquarters NOW at The Betsy Ross Hotel during the Democratic Convention


1980: Amid numerous Art Deco revival movements, The Betsy Ross Hotel maintains its classic Florida-Georgian architectural façade.

1985: Renowned fashion photographer Bruce Weber chose Miami Beach for Calvin Klein’s 'Obsession,' spurring an onslaught of fashion photography shoots in the Art Deco District.


1993: The Florida Marlins are established as Major League Baseball’s newest professional team


2002: Art Basel and Miami Beach join forces to present one of the world’s premier international art shows

2003: The Betsy Ross Hotel undergoes a complete exterior restoration while maintaining its original façade

2005: MTV Video Music Awards are held at the American Airlines Arena, making Miami the first city outside of New York and Los Angeles to host the awards show

2006: Restored as a luxury boutique hotel, The Betsy Ross Hotel becomes The Betsy Hotel South Beach

2009: The Betsy Hotel reopens after a complete renovation

2010: The Betsy receives worldwide recognition for consummate design and luxury hospitality, including four separate Condé Nast Hot List Designations: US, UK, Italy, and Spain (see Press page on this website for up to date coverage)

2011: The Betsy is host hotel for O, Miami, hosting United States Poet Laureate WS Merwin and James Franco, and receives an award for community service programming in arts, culture, and philanthropy from the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association