Ralph de la Portilla recently led a group of 52 Hospitality Management students on a sightseeing tour of Miami. From Miami Beach to Coral Gables, students traveled by bus and experienced Miami as many of the region’s tourists do with their instructor Nancy Del Risco, Ph.D., tourism lecturer at the Chaplin School.

In Miami Beach, the group received a comprehensive understanding of the city’s history, its Art Deco architecture, visited cultural landmarks such as the Versace Mansion and hotel properties.

After a short trip over the bridge back to the mainland, the tour continued into Downtown Miami and Miami’s financial district in Brickell. As the tour wove in and out of the narrow Downtown streets, students experienced a bit of past and present with sites like the Freedom Tower, Tequesta Indian history in the area, the American Airlines Arena, and the new Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts which all sit in close proximity. Students also went on a walking tour of Little Havana’s Domino Park and stopped to have a classic guarapo (Cuban sugar cane drink), cafecito, and croquetas as the locals would do. They also visited Cuban art galleries and a tobacco factory. In Coral Gables, students got a glimpse of the landmark Biltmore Hotel.

When asked about his experience leading his peers, student Ralph de la Portilla said:

“In my 10 years of guiding visitors throughout South Florida, this particular tour was unique: the group was comprised of locals! I really didn’t know what to expect. It turned out to be as pleasurable as any other group I’ve worked with over the past decade! The pleasure I’m afforded being a professional guide is that I get to see Miami each and every time that I do a tour through the eyes of the traveler.  Doing it for fellow FIU students went beyond that: it served as a renewed look into the city where we live, work, and study.  I believe every Chaplin student should take this tour once.”

Check out some of the stops from the tour.

Freedom Tower
Biltmore Hotel
Calle Ocho and Domino Park