Ordinarily, I try never to travel during Christmas-New Years. It's too hectic, everything in the US is too crowded reservations are tough and prices are high. However, when a dear friend decides to get married in Miami Beach what are you going to do? Call The Biltmore Hotel.
My husband, 16 y/o son and I had a marvelous time. We were in different junior suites separated by one floor easily navigated by the stairs. But, we preferred to meet on the lower lobby. First one up got the table for the wonderful breakfast served in restaurant on the terrace with the fountain. Traveling with a teenage boy made the all you can eat breakfast a good value for us! I was surprised and delighted by how good the food was-- definitely a cut above the average posh resort. The staff was uniformly gracious and attentive. Also multilingual. The number of people speaking, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish lent an welcome air of international sophistication to the full resort. Alas, my son couldn't discover where the Brazilian girls were hanging out. It is a very large pool....
We were relaxing, enjoying the good weather, exploring the nearby Everglades and luxuriating in the atmosphere of old fashioned graciousness and enduring beauty of the land-marked hotel. The whole experience reminded me of happy times as a child at the old Del Coronado in San Diego and last year's trip to the Hotel Maria Cristina in San Sebastian (currently my favorite vacation spot in the world).
It came time to dress for the wedding dinner. My husband could only find one collar stay. We'd learned the previous evening that Miami Beach is about 15 minutes from Coral Gables-- until you hit Collins Ave. where traffic slows to the point that if there were any old people with walkers left amongst all the hipsters they could have lapped us easily. I am often tardy but not for a Friday Night Soiree in South Beach to celebrate a marriage. I told him to stop looking for it and just call the concierge. I dress, preparing myself to run down and pick up the collar stay thinking it could easily take 15 minutes that we didn't have to spare.
Potential crisis avoided when five minutes after the panicked call to the concierge (who as it turned out had just given his last spare pair of stays to a member of the wedding party I was watching being photographed in the golden light outside our room which over looked the pool) an envelope slid under our door containing two collar stays freshly manufactured out of an old room key.
There are many beautiful and warm places to spend a few days escaping Manhattan during a cold and always hectic time of year, but I have never enjoyed such a level of intelligent hospitality. I'm looking forward to going back maybe hit the Wolfenson Museum or another part of the Everglades. Plans can and do change. But not my Florida hotel. From now on it's The Biltmore.