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Editor’s Note: June

I feel as if I’ve known our June cover subject, Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos, for decades, and not just because we’re both from New York and launched our careers there. As a newish travel writer, I went on the first hard-hat tour of The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach before it opened in 2003. My love affair with luxury hotels had begun before then, but this experience—to see how a venerated, old-school brand would integrate and celebrate the MiMo architectural style of Morris Lapidus—kicked it up a notch.

What I didn’t understand at the time was that in this collaboration between the Lowenstein family, Flag Luxury Group and Ritz-Carlton (carefully watched over by the Miami Beach Historical Preservation Board), Dayssi—as a founder and now president of Flag Luxury—had the taste and expertise that moved the needle.

The story constitutes a study in art meets commerce. The Ritz-Carlton wanted to remake Lapidus’s midcentury DiLido Hotel in their clubby, traditional style. That made no sense to Dayssi and her developer husband Paul Kanavos (or to the preservation board). Meanwhile, the preservation board, which undeniably provided some excellent input, advocated for a big, wrong move: to renovate the hotel in a midmarket, as opposed to a luxury, style. That made no sense to Dayssi, either. She knew luxury, esteemed both the grandeur of European palace hotels and the cutting-edge style of the new Amanresorts, which did tropical modernism decades before the term existed.

One of Steve Jobs’ more-famous quotes is, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Well, no one had to hire Dayssi, Paul or Flag Luxury; they actually put the deal together. Yet throughout the design process, they still had to audition their smarts to their stakeholders. In interviewing Dayssi, I was struck by how Flag Luxury was able to get their (correct) vision of luxury over the top: They didn’t take no for an answer. “My husband and his brother actually tracked down Morris Lapidus personally and invited him to the Historic Preservation Board,” Dayssi recalls.

The beloved architect—so identified with the midcentury style of Miami Beach—was in his 90s but vigorous, and he read the board the riot act in a succinct two sentences: “Anything not luxury was imposed on me by the developer. This property was always meant to be luxury.”

Case closed.

I graduated law school at NYU, didn’t like it much at all, but what I learned from Dayssi’s story is that having expertise isn’t enough. At times, you really must brandish it, and even prepare to make your case like a lawyer. You’ll rarely have a bombshell witness like Dayssi had in Morris Lapidus, but Flag Luxury’s commitment to its case is something we all might want to emulate.

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.