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Nestled between the pale sands of South Beach and the hustle and bustle of Collins Avenue sits the vibrant W Hotel South Beach. The seemingly hidden gem located steps from the Atlantic Ocean is one of several W Hotels where tourists and locals convene to enjoy live music.
“Music has been such a big part of our DNA,” Carly Van Sickle, senior director, global brand marketing at W Hotels, told Billboard during a visit to the South Beach location last week. “We’ve always supported up-and-coming musicians and artists. More recently, working with Leah ‘LP Giobbi’ Chisholm [global director of music at W Hotel], our team has really been focusing on the electronic and dance scene, but also making sure that [the experiences are] still varied and connected to local culture.”
With electronic and dance music surging in popularity, and megastars like Beyoncé and Drake exploring the space, the hotel is digging even deeper into the genre by way of W Presents, an “innovative live electronic showcase” featuring artists handpicked by Chisholm, including opening acts from her organization, FEMME House, which creates “equitable opportunities” for women and gender-expansive individuals in the music industry.
The live music series, announced Wednesday (March 28), will take place in the W’s lobby/lounge area called Living Rooms. Rapper and producer Channel Tres will kick off the series with a performance at the new W Hotel Toronto on April 6.
The live music series comes on the heels of the W South Beach’s Miami Music Week celebration. The hotel hosted a series of events attended by influencers and tastemakers in the EDM scene, including Diplo and Frances Mercier.
Fans from all over the world flocked to Miami for the 10-year anniversary of Miami Music Week. The annual celebration, which was held from March 21-26, coincided with this year’s Ultra Music Festival.
W South Beach invited Billboard to attend its Miami Music Week events and installations, the first of which was an invite-only dinner at Irma’s W South Beach on March 22. The hotel teamed with Senza Fine to present a fine-dining experience co-hosted by Chisholm and Senza Fine co-founder Carlita and sponsored by Volcan De Mi Tierra Tequila.
Attendees included EDM titans and VIPs such as Diplo, Pete Tong, Damien Lazarus, Bedouin, Thomas & Julien de Bie (a.k.a. the “Parallells”), Ape Drums of Major Lazer, Anfisa Letyago, Mercier, Joplyn, Arielle Free, Spotify head of electronic dance development Ronny Ho, WME head of electronic music Stephanie LaFera, and Nü Androids founder Nayef Issa.
The menu, courtesy of DJ Tennis, featured small bites served on tennis rackets and seafood dishes such as blue crab with polenta, wild-caught swordfish, ragu paccheri pasta and fish cigars.
Day 2 kicked off with a yoga session on the beach, led by Ahana Yoga, followed by a breakfast mixer with sounds provided by a guest DJ. New York City wellness company WTHN provided cupping and custom ear seeds, while guests enjoyed fresh fruits, breakfast bites and sips of cacao.
“We want to make sure that W is showing up during cultural music moments, but showing up in a way that isn’t just always a party,” explained Van Sickle. “That’s why we had the dinner and wellness event. We know that it’s super important to take care of artists and people in the industry at large and to take care of mental health and wellness.”
For night 2, the W partnered with Mercier’s Deep Root record label for “Deep Root Tribe,” an Afro-House music event at W South Beach’s WET Deck, sponsored by El Cristiano 1761 Tequila. The event, which was held March 23 and open to the public, featured intimate sets from EDM stars including Major League DJz, &Friends, Bontan, HoneyLuv, Nico De Andrea, Ninetoes, samblacky, D’WITCHES, Gianni Petrarca, Sam Haze and a special performance from Mercier and Diplo.
“Our Wet Decks and pools are a really good platform for music too,” Van Sickle noted. “In Barcelona, for example, they do what they call their Wet Deck summer series. Every summer [there’s] a different lineup, again, free to the public. We want the locals to come in. We want people traveling to know that if they’re looking for music experiences, they can go to W Hotel. We’re popping up in a lot of different ways. Just making sure we’re always activating around that passion point of music.”
W South Beach’s Miami Music Week event series commenced with a panel presented by FEMME House and a cocktail industry mixer at W South Beach’s Living Room. The panel was hosted by FEMME House co-founders Chisholm and HERMIXALOT and discussed creating opportunities for marginalized communities, providing safe spaces for diversity and building “authentic community” in music.
Apart from special events, exquisite rooms and sprawling views, the W Hotel further caters to music fans and creators by offering private recording studios and writer’s rooms. The Sound Suites are available at a few locations, including the W Hollywood, W Seattle and W Bali.
“Ultimately, our goal obviously is to have people stay with us, but we want to make sure that our experiences are open to others too,” said Van Sickle. “We don’t want [these experiences] to be exclusive. We’re inclusive. We want everyone to come, be themselves, have fun and experience the music.
“So it’s both sides of the artist community,” she continued. “It’s a creative space for the community, kind of like a mix of both: fans, but also for artists as well.”
Tapping into the local community is a large part of creating live music experiences at W Hotels around the world. “Local culture is a really big thing for us that we want to tap into,” added Van Sickle.
“I think that post-COVID, we want to make sure we’re bringing these experiences back in a really accessible way, but a fun, innovative, culturally relevant way too.”