Thursday, May 24, 2018
Business

This hotel maid’s story inspired Drake so much, he took her on a luxury shopping spree

When Fontainebleau housekeeper Odelie Paret clocked out of her 14-room-a-day cleaning shift Feb. 6, her day took a turn for the extraordinary.

A mysterious woman who had called the previous day had arranged for her to have a massage at the Fontainebleau’s four-star spa, Lapis, and dinner at steakhouse StripSteak by Michael Mina.

Paret, who has worked at the Fontainebleau for more than two decades commuting for up to four hours a day by bus, was baffled by the offer but accepted. Who was the generous person arranging for her, a modest Haitian mother of five, to indulge at one of South Florida’s most luxurious resorts?

While she figured it out, she helped herself to lobster, got acquainted with the spa and even enjoyed the lobby at the hotel, an area some housekeepers say they never see.

After dinner, a car was waiting to take Paret and a friend to Brickell City Centre, where they waited until the shopping center closed.

It was there, standing before Saks Fifth Avenue, that a hand touched her shoulder.

It belonged to Drake.

The hip-hop star was inspired by a Miami Herald story detailing the plight of the Fontainebleau Miami Beach housekeeper, whose torturous daily commute is common for the many hospitality workers who struggle with Miami-Dade’s rising rents, subpar public transportation system and stagnant wages.

Paret said she was shocked to see him.

"I always just saw him on the TV. So I said, ‘Drake!’ " Paret told the Herald Tuesday. "It made me happy. ... I thank him so much."

Paret said Drake and Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, who grew up in Miami and attended Miami Norland High School, arranged for a shopping spree for her and two other local women.

In a video from Drake’s Snapchat, he can be seen walking around Saks with Brown saying, "We took the ladies out for a nice little shopping spree... Giving back."

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The excursion was one in a string of surprise good deeds by the Toronto native in South Florida in the past week.

In Miami, he donated $25,000 to Miami Senior High School and pledged to buy everyone uniforms designed by his clothing label. He gave University of Miami student Destiny James a $50,000 scholarship.

A homeless family got a cash gift. The Miami Beach Senior High School basketball team went to dinner at Smith & Wollensky steakhouse and went home with Nike LeBron James sneakers. Shoppers at Sabor Tropical Supermarket in North Beach got a load of groceries — all courtesy of Drake.

And homeless shelter Lotus Village in Overtown got a $50,000 check, plus $150 Target gift cards for all 130 women who live there, plus toys and games for all 140 kids.

Drake reflected on the giving spree on Instagram, writing on Thursday: "Last 3 days were the best I have had in a very long time...there’s nothing like seeing people experience a joyful moment when you can tell they need it the most."

The rapper worked with city officials in Miami Beach to identify the donation opportunities, all part of the filming for the music video for his single, "God’s Plan." Some of the stops were documented on the city’s official Twitter feed.

Paret’s shopping experience will also be part of the upcoming music video, she said. Her grandson put it best: "Grandma, you’re a superstar!"

So what does one buy when Drake is paying?

Paret said she was "frozen" when she was told she had 45 minutes and no dollar limit on what she wanted to buy at Saks.

She went for the clothes section first, but couldn’t find anything in her size. Then she tried the shoes. Heels wouldn’t work — she needs to be comfortable, she said. Nor would a pair of floral sandals.

"I said, ‘I have to go to church... [I’m not getting] $600 shoes without a strap in the back and flowers!’ " Paret recalled.

So she settled on some comfortable shoes with no heels that would offer plenty of use, though the price tag was a shock: $800. Paret also bought a small $2,000 Valentino handbag, four perfumes — including one for her son — and splurged on a $6,000, 18-karat, white gold necklace with diamonds.

Overall, the purchase came out to about $10,000.

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It was a rare treat for Paret, 63, who moved with her family from Haiti to the United States two decades ago. Since then, she has worked long shifts at the Fontainebleau to help support her five children and family back in Haiti.

In the morning, she wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to take two buses from her apartment in Opa-locka to her job in Miami Beach. The commute is so long both ways that she doesn’t arrive home until about 7 p.m. Some days, she skips lunch to keep up with her workload.

Work was on her mind when she arrived from her whirlwind night with Drake, she said.

It was 1:30 a.m. when she returned to Opa-locka, and she’d have three hours before she would have to be up to catch the bus again.

Miami Herald staff writer Jacqueline Charles contributed to this report.

Chabeli Herrera: 305-376-3730, @ChabeliH

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech

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