Recently I had some work done on my condo that required me to check in to a local hotel. The Four Seasons was running a promotion that had a reasonable rate for two nights and added a complimentary third night. I have stayed at several other nice hotels, including two other Four Seasons, several Ritz properties, a couple of St. Regis properties, and a Peninsula property. This property has become my third favorite hotel in the U.S., and definitely my favorite in Miami. (FYI -- Four Seasons St. Louis ranks first, and the St. Regis San Fran ranks second). The highlights -- service is excellent, rooms are spacious with incredible views of the water (I stayed in a "moderate" room), the food is delicious, and the amenities are top notch. Lowlights -- the Four Seasons professes not to "nickel and dime" its customers but unfortunately I saw some of that at this location -- e.g., you have to pay for wireless (approximately $12 to $15 per night), significant food delivery charges, overpriced minibar (St. Louis charges much less for same items), outrageous parking fees ($34 per night), and pencils instead of pens in the room. I understand that this is a top notch hotel and so you get what you pay for, but some of this (particularly the exorbitant parking fee) is simply unnecessary. With that said, the positive experiences far outweighed the negative ones at this property and I can say without hesitation that this is my favorite hotel in Miami.
Here is a more detailed description of my stay:
ROOM -- spacious for the price (again, I booked a "moderate" room), but not as big as the St. Louis FS property rooms. They just installed beautiful big screen LCD televisions in the rooms, but they don't have any high definition channels yet so the TVs kind of go to waste. Fortunately I brought my PS3 and was able to watch BluRay movies in 1080p quality. I'm told that high def channels will be added in early October. While they're at it they should add an electronic TV guide. The windows in the room are nice and big (though not floor to ceiling) and there's a ledge you can sit on to read, use your laptop, or chill while looking out the window, which is a really nice touch. The problem is that there are three layers of drapes you have to wade through to get to the window and the first layer covers up a significant portion of the window so the room doesn't maximize this feature. The bathroom is very spacious with a stand up shower, really nice tub that has arm rests, large mirror (no TV in them though like the St. Louis property), separate toilet room, and heated marble floor panels. There's a large working desk (which I used a great deal) and you can view the TV while using the desk or position the chair to just as easily look through the window. There is wired and wireless internet available at a charge of approximately $12 to $15 per day (this was a no-no, it needs to be incorporated into the room rate or something). There's also a very comfortable lounge chair with foot stool. The AC in my room blew out very cold air all the time, but this was promptly fixed when I brought it to management's attention. The bed is your typically incredible Four Seasons bed with linens that are made of an angel's wings, pillows that are filled with feathers of the finest geese in the world, and a mattress stuffed with clouds. One day I'm gonna buy one for my house.
SERVICE -- the service is great. Employees go out of their way to be friendly and anticipate your needs. For example, the bar by the pool makes a great raspberry lemonade drink. This wasn't on the room service menu but room service went out of their way to make a whole pitcher for me so I had it in my room throughout my stay. Special appreciation goes out to Mario (the front office manager) who went out of his way before I arrived to make sure I would enjoy my stay and followed up with me afterwards. Also Mario in room service (not the same guy) was very courteous, friendly, conversational, and was always smiling. These two employees epitomize what the FS stands for --treat others like you would like to be treated.
FOOD -- one word: delicious! Try the baked sea bass and the chive mashed potatoes. I had this meal every single evening while I was there it was so good. For lunch, the wagyu burger and bolognese were excellent. Only down side is that it's expensive. A two course meal without alcohol costs approximately $90 when you include tip and the service/delivery charges. I did not try Acqua (the on site restaurant) during this stay but I have in the past and can assure you it is not as good as the in room dining.
POOL -- the pool is really nice and the attendants there make sure your every whim is catered to with a smile. Nancy and Zola were terrific. Always there to refill my drinks or give me free samples of fruit and smoothies. If you don't fancy the raspberry lemonade (which is not on the menu) then ask for the Banana Bahia (like a banana shake with cinnamon and vanilla).
SPA -- The spa is way overpriced but the treatments are pretty good. The spa at the St. Louis property is far better at half the price.
GYM -- the gym is a Sports Club LA. I am a member since I live in Miami, so I was familiar with it. It is well equipped and the personal trainers are popular (if you're thinking of purchasing a session ask for Alan, who has been there the longest and is the most popular). Some of the treadmills are old, but they all have their own personal television screens (even if the reception is unpredictable). Busy time is between 7 and 8:30 a.m., and between 6 and 8 p.m. You do NOT want to visit the gym during those hours of the week.
PARKING -- this is where this property receives its lowest marks. The attendants and bellhops are wonderful, but the pricing is outrageous. $34 per night is simply too high even for Miami's standards, and especially for Brickell's standards. I paid $100 to park my car for three nights. This was a joke. They need to change this -- lower the rate to $15 or $20 per night max or at least give guests a decent option to self-park (the current option is $30 per night so you may as well use valet).
MISCELLANEOUS -- if you're a tennis fan/player, this is the hotel for you. They have a great relationship with the Brickell Tennis Club, which is the premier tennis facility in downtown Miami. The pros there are excellent and the clinics are a lot of fun.
In sum, I had a really great stay at this property. I'm going to return for a "staycation" at some point in the near future, without a doubt. It was a great way to unwind while being pampered for the weekend.