Miami Airport North Terminal Shopping

Miami North Terminal opens for business

Duty Free Shopping Miami NorthIt may have taken six long years to see it through, but the phased renovation of Miami international’s North Terminal has transformed the southern US hub into one of the country’s best airports.When the last lick of paint finally dries by July this year (2012), the total bill is set to come in close to a whopping $3bn. Yet at least travellers can see where the cash has been spent: a new high-speed baggage-screening system, faster check-in and security, 30 new gates and best of all, 20 new stores and restaurants.Miami international once had a terrible reputation for crowding and congestion, but the new-look North Terminal effectively doubles the number of flights the airport can handle. Intended to be American Airlines’ Latin American and Caribbean hub, the new North Terminal now boasts over 80 shops and restaurants, covering some 9,000 square metres of concession space, much of it with a suitably Latin flavour. The line up of brands and retailers has attracted rave reviews in the local press, and the terminal’s concession programme was voted the best in the country for 2012 by US trade magazine Airport Revenue News.

Impressive stuff, so let’s start our shopping tour of the new facility with some of the more recent retailers to set up shop here. The undoubted highlight among the crop of new store openings is the Shoppes at Ocean Drive at Gate D17, a massive 10,000 square-foot shop serving up an intriguing mix of sporty fashion apparel from the like of adidas, Nike, Puma and Hugo Boss Sport, alongside a sunglass shop-in-shop called the Solstice Sunglasses Boutique, a confectionery concept (It’Sugar), a toy store (Let’s Play) and finally a gourmet food corner called Prive Gourmet Market. The latter offer’s famous Miami’s delicious (and enormous) stone crab claws, as well as other delicacies such as gourmet cheeses, truffle oils and caviar.

Latin Americans love to follow the latest fashions and with the region’s economy booming, many have the money to treat themselves while on their travels. Miami international has responded to this trend, beefing up the fashion offer at the North Terminal with new stores from blue-chip brands such as Coach, Montblanc, Emporio Armani (the brand’s first standalone shop at a US airport) and Thomas Pink. Existing fashion shops in this part of the airport include the ubiquitous Bijoux Terner, where everything costs ten bucks no matter how much it sparkles, and the more upscale Fashion Gallerie (note the French spelling there), which stocks big European names such as Hugo Boss and Lacoste.If you are looking for a last-minute gift Miami gifts to Go (Gate D21) is possibly worth a try. It stocks the usual range of t-shirts, sports memorabilia and toys of the ilk you’ll find at many other airports, but the store’s selection does run to cigars, but don’t expect them to be Cuban. For something a little more distinctive, head to Shop Britto, a store dedicated to Brazilian pop artist Romero Britto, whose prints, posters, souvenirs and clothing are nothing if not colourful and life-affirming.Duty Free Americas (DFA), the US’ largest airport retailer, has raised its games to open four rather attractive duty-free shops in the new terminal (Gates 16, 25, 34 and 41). White spirits is particular highlight with some impressive displays for the latest Absolut and Grey Goose vodkas, while on the beauty front, look out for brands such as Kiehl’s, Juicy Couture, L’Occitane, Victoria’s Secret and Biotherm, which can be hard to find at other US airports.

At Miami international duty-free is big business, which is something that can’t be said for almost every other large US international airport. Duty-free sales topped $100 million there last year and with the number of Latin American travellers passing through set to soar over the next few years, that figure is only headed one way. It’s nice then to see the guys DFA making a bit of a better effort with its consumer website, www.dutyfreeamericas.com, which at least mentions the brands its stocks, and gives travellers the chance to sign up to a regular e-newsletter, which details promotions and new launches.To finish up this retail round up let’s turn to technology and high-tech gadgets, a hot product sector in this digital age, and one represented in the North Terminal by Tech on the Go (Gate D39), where wireless headphones, mobile phone accessories, games and digital cameras are the order of the day. Alternatively, Sound Balance (Gate D24) aims blend cool and worthy, offering lifestyle technology with an environmentally conscious focus. Examples of eco-friendly products sold here include solar-powered chargers and mobile phone covers made from 100% renewable materials.As well as the great retail choices at the North Terminal, the concession programme planners at the airport should also get credit for putting some local flavour into the line up of bars and restaurants. Eateries include Latin-influenced outlets such as Kuva Cuban, the Corona Beach House sports bar and Shula’s Bar & Grill, a steak and burger joint set up by NFL coaching legend Don Shula. Cuban restaurant La Carreta also gets rave reviews, dishing up a slice of Cuban Miami fare with delicacies such as yucca fries, pork chops and of course, rice and peas.

All in all, Miami’s North Terminal with its beautifully decorated terrazzo floor and light, airy feel, is a great addition to this rapidly improving US airport. The range of shops is now excellent and yet more stores and restaurants are set to open as the facility gears up to be 100% operational later this summer.

What more can we say? Well done, MIA, keep up the good work.

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