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“Beautiful, but the experience is hampered by understaffing, inefficiency and add-on charges.” 4 of 5 stars
Review of The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort

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The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort
5.0 of 5 Hotel   |   9703 Collins Avenue, Bal Harbour, FL 33154   |  
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Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Bal Harbour
Raleigh, North Carolina
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
95 helpful votes 95 helpful votes
“Beautiful, but the experience is hampered by understaffing, inefficiency and add-on charges.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 29, 2012

Disclosure: I am a Starwood Gold member, but I booked through American Express Platinum Travel Service because the benefits were a bit better. I traveled Thursday through Monday of Memorial Day Weekend. First off, I wholeheartedly recommend flying into Fort Lauderdale vs. Miami if you are coming to the St. Regis Bal Harbour. Fort Lauderdale is a few more miles away, but depending on traffic, perhaps less time and hassle. Check-in was smooth, I was greeted by name after checking in with valet, I received a room "upgrade" (which was really just the same room on a higher floor), and a "welcome beverage" aka bottled water. Other posters have voiced complaints ad-nauseam in earlier posts, so I will quickly agree or disagree, and add a few comments of my own.

Technology - The hotel is very "tech" intensive, buttonless elevators, property-wide wi-fi, and extensive in-room automation. I did not find anything difficult to use, but there were times I felt a bit like the mouse in the maze. "Which way do I turn?", "Which elevator takes me where?", etc. However, simple touches like plugging your iPad or iPod into the TV and surround sound are very nice. The rooms have a Blu-Ray player and large wall-mount television.

Rooms - We had a Grand Luxe Ocean Front Room. The room and view are very nice, comfortable, and well laid out. The bathrooms are spacious with separate vanities, nice counter space, a large tub, walk-in shower, and separate WC. Noise isolation between the room and the hallway is excellent. Sleep quality was very good. Decor is a modern take on art-deco in the lobby and modern beach with a twist in the rooms. The overall looks is pretty, and certainly not your traditional St. Regis decor, a la NYC.

Fees and Gratuities - The 18% gratuity on EVERY transaction at the hotel is outrageous, be it one drink at the bar, or on top of the 25 dollars they charge per umbrella on the beach. Nickel and diming people who are paying well over 500 dollars per night is a BAD idea. I felt this "cheapened" the experience, and the 38 dollars per day for valet parking didn't help that feeling either. These add-ons adversely affect ANY value perception to the degree where one finds themselves asking, "why are they squeezing me like this?". At one point we joked amongst ourselves, "Do you need my room number before I get in the ocean?".

Staffing and Service - The hotel is grossly understaffed, and we experienced issues throughout our stay. Getting setup on the beach took 15-20 minutes, including the 5 minutes or more before someone even acknowledged our arrival. Ordering water took 20 minutes, a mixed drink 40 minutes. We timed it. At the pool, things were no better. It was 5 to 10 minutes before chairs were set-up, almost 45 minutes to get a newspaper, the 3 different people involved in our food order caused it to be delivered wrong, and by the time it was sent back and corrected, almost an hour had passed since we had ordered. When I needed a second luggage rack for my room, I had to call twice. The only exception was on our last day. Eric was a standout employee at the beach, moving very quickly and efficiently to get us situated, and he checked-in several times.

Valet and Doorman - There was NEVER anyone opening the front door of the hotel. Not once.

Pool - I observed noticeable construction noise on Thursday all day and Friday morning, but quiet over the weekend. The upper level pool is unofficially called the "Tranquility" pool, however, it is not marked, and there is no formal recommendation that kids remain at the lower pool. FYI- there are a lot of children here and they do get loud. Shrieking banshee loud. One day we had an incident at the pool where there was a group of 4-5 adult individuals who felt it would be okay to bring their own music to the pool and accompany that music with very loud conversation and disruptive behavior. The minimal pool staff, and either non-existant, or invisible security initially did nothing. When another guest sitting near the music asked them nicely to turn it down, they openly mocked and intimidated him while maintaining the level of the music. After I went down to the other pool and notified the pool manager, security came quickly and asked them to turn it down. After much protest, and/or multiple warnings, they were either asked to leave, or left of their own volition; I'm not sure which. Unfortunately, the other guest left as well, probably feeling unsafe about the situation.

Room tip - The balconies are lined up on the diagonal. BEWARE. Anyone over your shoulder can see what you're doing, you can see what the people in front of you are doing on their balcony, and they can look over their shoulder and see directly into your room where your bed is right next to the sliding glass door. This is a clear design flaw. How they should address it; I don't know.

Food and Beverage - The average mixed drink is 16 dollars (before tax and 18% gratuity), J&G Grill has average food for what is billed as a Jean-Georges restaurant. Service was good both nights, but I did request the same server the second time. Breakfast in Atlantico was very good, but had it not been included in my rate, I don't know that I would've been inclined to pay the 35 dollars for the buffet or around 70 dollars for two from the al la carte menu (again, plus taxes and 18% gratuity). Food from the pool restaurant, Fresco, is decent. It's pool food.

Recommendations: Dedicated servers, food/drink runners, and people doing set-ups on the beach and at the pools. Numbered umbrellas or chairs for easier ordering and delivery, as well as a flag system or some other way of getting the attention of pool and beach staff. The hotel needs a DOORMAN. J&G Grill is not bad, but for a Jean-Georges establishment, the menu is rather uninspired. Drop the umbrella charge, it's tacky. The 18% gratuity is generally ridiculous, but paying that when you order ONE drink just feels like a rip off. PS- I've payed less than 38 dollars per day for valet in NYC and they are a bit more short on space. Increased security presence at busy times and frequent follow-ups/check-ins with guests in regard to their satisfaction should be a basic tenet at a resort of this caliber.

Overall, the setting was beautiful and the room was comfortable. I WOULD give the resort a second chance. My hope is that they are new, and still figuring some things out, but I would've expected Starwood to bring in some more experienced management to avoid some of these rookie mistakes.

Room Tip: We had a Grand Luxe Ocean Front Room, but all rooms are "ocean view". Labeling some rooms...
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
StRegisManager, Manager at The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, responded to this review, August 8, 2012
Dear Mafitch,
Thank you for your feedback and for taking the time to post your comments. We are pleased to hear you were greeted by name upon check-in, enjoyed the spacious room and view, and we thank you for calling attention to Eric at the pool for outstanding service. We do take all comments seriously and appreciate all the feedback we can get. As an update, I am pleased to let you know that beach umbrella fees are waived, we have put signage at the Tranquility Pool indicating it is for adults, and we are installing privacy screens between balconies. I am very happy to hear you would give the resort a second chance and hope to welcome you back soon. Should you wish to speak with me directly, please don't hesitate to phone me at 305-993-3310.
Sincerely,
Dant Hirsch
Hotel Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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688 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (179)
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English first
Columbus, OH
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 29, 2012

My husband and I just got back from a 4 night getaway without kids. This hotel is incredible. It's beautifully designed and decorated. The grounds are impeccable with beautiful fountains and pools.

We stayed in a Grand Luxe Suite which was perfect. We enjoyed the butler service--bringing us tea and coffee daily. The bed was SO comfortable that we pulled the sheets off the last morning to look at the brand of mattress! I can see why people could be disappointed with the privacy on the balcony but the view was so spectacular we didn't care. One slight miss for me was not having a full length mirror in our room. I kept looking and looking expecting to find one--but never did!

We ate at both restaurants. We had breakfast daily at the J&G Grille and it was delicious. (Not cheap--but you're staying at the St Regis) And we dined one night at the
Atlantico. The view/decor were spectacular on the outside patio.

My husband and I both received spa treatments. We agreed that the service itself was excellent but the spa was average. When I compare this to spas like The Ritz Carlton in Palm Beach or the spa at the Half Moon Bay in Jamaica it seemed to be lacking personality or originality -- which I would have expected from such a high end spa.

As for service: The front desk, concierge, doormen and butler service were incredible. They did not miss a beat and were incredibly helpful and accommodating every step of the way. The pool service was completely subpar. You had people in black pants just standing around doing nothing - while the staff in white shorts you practically had to run after in order to get any service. It was by far the worst pool service that we have ever experienced.

Regardless of the misses we loved this hotel--we just hope management reads this and figures out how to improve the experience at the pool!

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Qld, Australia
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 27, 2012

Recently spent 2 nights at this gorgeous new hotel which totally surpassed my expectations. The view is to die for and the size and quality of the rooms is exceptional. The balcony is huge.
The hotel is right on the beach with an up-market shopping center directly across the street. The level of service from all the staff is totally professional, yet personal - what you would expect of a St. Regis hotel, and the use of technology for lift access to guest floors adds to a feeling of safety and security. A must-try hotel for either business or leisure stays.

Room Tip: Pay a little extra to enjoy the views from the rooms or suites on the higher floors- it is worth it.
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Carrollton, Virginia
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 24, 2012

My wife and I spent two nights at the St. Regis Bal Harbour in May and could not have been happier with the experience. We were upgraded to a Grand luxe oceanfront studio on the 18th floor and it was a very nice room with some luxury details. We used SPG points for the room and although it was the most points I've ever spent on a room, I feel like they were well spent.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Ottawa, Canada
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 20, 2012

Just back from my 5 night stay at this wonderful property. From the moment I checked in until the moment I left, the service was outstanding in every way. The technology was top notch and unlike some of the previous reviews, did not find it difficult to use and experienced no problems whatsoever.My room had a nice view of the beach and Ocean and the furnishings were of the highest standard. Plenty of closet and storage space for my clothes. Bathroom was outstanding. Many thanks to all the staff for making my stay a very enjoyable one.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Arizona
Top Contributor
135 reviews 135 reviews
38 hotel reviews
Reviews in 51 cities Reviews in 51 cities
51 helpful votes 51 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 16, 2012

We stayed 3 nights for our anniversary and it is an amazing place. They are extremely attentive to any need you have. The rooms are spacious and have the latest technology. It would be hard for my 80 year old parents if they were to check and not understand the system in the room. My only complaint is the charge on the beach for umbrellas/

Room Tip: Go across the street to the mall to eat breakfast and save yourself around $50.00 per couple
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Indianapolis
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2012 via mobile

The review below me just nailed it so I will not elaborate (looooove that review,btw!). We're here now for 5 nights. It is truly fabulous. I would recommend it to anyone not needing or wanting the party/bustle-hustle of SoBe at their doorstep. I have been relieved and elated to come back to the welcoming, luxurious entrance of The St. Regis every night after dining out in Miami Beach. The rooms are outstanding. Just like the photos. The only issue is service - as described by Spades below. At the pool and even the beach... (Why aren't they pushing drinks when the gratuity is automatic??) Umbrella charge for any guest is silly. All in all, we are thoroughly thrilled with our stay and would come back our next trip if we can be so lucky.

  • Stayed May 2012
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort

Address: 9703 Collins Avenue, Bal Harbour, FL 33154
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Florida > Bal Harbour
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Bal Harbour
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort 5*
Number of rooms: 243
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Experience an exclusive enclave in Bal Harbour with luxury oceanfront accommodations, quiet unwavering taste, anticipatory service and seductive amenities. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Hotel Bal Harbour
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort Florida

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