Grand Hotel Is Based On A Real Hotel — Just Not Any Of Its Actual Stories

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
ABC's new nighttime soap, Grand Hotel, puts a new spin on the upstairs-downstairs concept. Taking place at a family-owned hotel in Miami Beach, the series follows patriarch Santiago Mendoza (Demián Bichir), his glamorous second wife, Gigi (Roselyn Sánchez), and their grown-up children who all have different views of where the family business should go.
The Riviera Grand Hotel might look flawless, but beneath the surface there's plenty of scandal, debt, and secrets.
The series, created by Brian Tanen, is executive produced by Eva Longoria. But aside from the incredibly attractive cast, there's another gorgeous feature taking center stage: the hotel itself, which is not a completely fictional creation. Yes, technically, there is a real-life Grand Hotel (just minus all the murdery drama).
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Where Is The Real Grand Hotel?
Grand Hotel is based on the Spanish series Gran Hotel, which is set in early 1900s Spain. To put its own spin on the original, ABC series’ pilot filmed at a real Florida hotel that helped set the look and tone of the series: the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.
The Hotel Has A Storied (& Pop Culture Heavy) History
Designed by architect Morris Lapidus, the luxury hotel opened on Miami Beach's famed "Millionaire's Row" in 1954. Its curved main building is huge: It takes up 22 acres and has multiple high-end restaurants, two nightclubs, a two-story spa, pools galore, and of course miles of umbrella-dotted beach. Yeah, seems like that means it has room to host a few TV scenes, too.
It's appeared in classic movies (Goldfinger, Scarface, The Bodyguard), a Frank Sinatra TV special welcoming Elvis home from war, and even an episode of The Sopranos ("Calling All Cars").
So Does Grand Hotel Film Every Episode There?
Creator Brian Tanen, who grew up in South Florida, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that he pictured the Fontainebleau hotel when he was writing the Grand Hotel script.
“When we did our location scout in Miami to see where we could actually film and the Fontainebleau was available, we were over-the-moon excited. It is exactly the place that we imagined it," he told the paper.
The first episode features the Fontainebleau's iconic lobby and grounds — as well as its pools and beach. But while the real-life building will appear in exterior shots, production on the series takes place in Los Angeles, where crew constructed smaller-scale reproductions of the Fontainebleau on sets.
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“We built on a sound stage basically four stories of this hotel just in the middle of Los Angeles in Manhattan Beach so that lobby that you see, the iconic Fontainebleau lobby, we recreated on a stage," Tanen told the Sun Sentinel.
Does It Have Anything To Do With Jane the Virgin's Marbella Hotel?
Though The Marbella has an extremely similar look to the Riviera Grand, that's probably just because the Marbella is also supposed to be a luxurious South Beach hotel and those things tend to have a look. In real life, Jane's Marbella scenes are filmed on Los Angeles sound stages and at the Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey.
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