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 words by Mark Chipperfield

Miami is a fascinating and contradictory sort of place. Once described as “a sunny place for shady people”, the modern, flamboyant and constantly evolving city is often stereotyped as shallow and materialistic, appealing to college kids, real estate tycoons and hip hop artists.

But Miami is also highly creative, with amazing private art collections, a thriving Latino culture and its own classical music academy. Did you know that Miami has the third largest film industry in the US? Miami is also tipped to become a major high tech hub thanks to its proximity to Latin America – the city is already a major financial and banking centre.

A mecca for Cubans since the 1950s Miami is also an immigrant society, where poverty and enormous personal wealth often rub shoulders. It was here, afterall, that Gianni Versace – the epitome of 1980s excess – was gunned down in 1997.

Portrayed in gritty movies such as Scarface and Get Shorty, and used as a backdrop for music videos, fashion shoots and cop shows, Miami has burrowed its way into the world’s popular imagination. Sorting truth from fantasy is just one of the many pleasant things, along with celebrity watching, shopping and soaking up your hotel's pool scene.