From its early days over 20 years ago as a small garden lunch spot by the sea to a global lifestyle hospitality company with beach clubs, hotels and resorts worldwide, Nikki Beach has come a long way. Miami-based CEO Lucia Penrod tells us about its poignant beginning, and how it stays true to its mission.
How did the concept for Nikki Beach come about?
I was born and raised in Nicaragua, and eventually moved to Miami where I spent four years working for the Diplomatic Corps, serving the governments of South Korea and Venezuela. In 1984, I joined Jack Penrod’s organisation to run the exclusive Jockey Club of Miami and a year later, Jack was invited by the City of Miami Beach to open a beach club and entertainment complex, Penrod’s, at Miami's most famous address, 1 Ocean Drive.
I was brought on as Project Manager and eventually took over as the venue’s Marketing and Public Relations Director. In 1995, Jack and I got married and in 1998, we opened the very first Nikki Beach location in Miami Beach, a tribute to Jack’s daughter, Nicole, who tragically passed away in a car accident when she was only 18 years old. We decided to honour her life by creating Nikki Beach in the former Penrod’s location with a new brand focus: Celebration of Life.
Nikki Beach was the original luxury beach club concept. Where did the idea come from, and what did you want to achieve?
After we lost Nicole, we decided to honour and celebrate her life by creating the first Nikki Beach location in Miami Beach. Everything was designed with Nicole in mind. The look is meant to be soft, carefree, beautiful and safe, and we’ve become known for our signature all white décor, tepees, and fresh, healthy cuisine.
We didn't have plans to become a global brand but the demand from our clients for our concept in other markets was undeniable. We decided to strategically expand Nikki Beach, while keeping our core message - a Celebration of Life - by ensuring each location combines our key elements: music, dining, entertainment, fashion, film and art.
How has the Nikki Beach concept and brand developed over time?
When we started over 20 years ago, our family took the beach club concept to a whole new level. We spent our first 20 years building our brand and as a result, our beach club division is incredibly successful and very unique.
But we saw a pivotal moment when we were opening beach clubs adjacent to, or part of, a hotel and we started looking into doing our own hotels. We now have a more strategic resort & hotel expansion plan.
After over 20 years in business, we’re also all about restoring our roots and maturing along with our clients. We’ve put more of a focus on the culinary aspect of our brand than ever before, too, from our menus to our chef partners. Guests love our outdoor dining experience and you can often see three generations of a family enjoying a meal together. We’ve become much more than just a beach club and we want to showcase that to the world.
Nikki Beach has 16 beach clubs and resorts in locations from Koh Samui to Saint Barth. Do you have a favourite?
I could never pick just one! This question is like asking if I have a favourite child, it’s impossible to answer. Jack and I are based in Miami and travel throughout the year to our locations across the globe. We typically spend a lot of time in Saint Barth during the winter months and Saint Tropez in the summer but I’m always excited to spend time with the teams across all of our properties.
What inspires you?
Jack and I have always been inspired by water. It’s a huge part of our lifestyle and very important to our family. Jack is an avid diver and we both love being outdoors, especially on the coast.
When we’re not travelling or in Miami, we spend a lot of time at our home in the Bahamas embracing island life and enjoying time with family and friends. This positive lifestyle is a big part of our beach club environment and has transcended into our hotel amenities and premium food & beverage offerings.
We’re so lucky to have locations in some of the most beautiful oceanfront destinations in the world which continuously inspires us to further beautify our properties and enhance our guest experience year over year.
How important is travel to you?
I’ve been very fortunate that travel has been a requirement of my position at Nikki Beach and I will always value the opportunity to get to work with so many different people across the globe. I encourage all who have the means to experience as many cultures as possible. For me, traveling is always a Celebration of Life.
Find out more about Nikki Beach here.
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