With the gleaming art-deco lodging delights of Miami Beach but a 15-minute cab ride away, the hotels of neighboring downtown Miami had better have something to lure a piece of the tourism action.
Indeed, the InterContinental Miami, in the heart of the city's downtown, has done more to stack the deck than just be convenient to the burgeoning cruise industry within picture-postcard view of the hotel's bay-side windows.
After a recent renovation, the hotel has risen from its 1980s feel into a gleaming lodging reminiscent of the new celebrity-ridden destinations of Las Vegas. The bay-front facade in fact lights up nightly with an animated iconic female dancer (not the pole variety) as well as dancing symbols and letters. The porte cochere and lobby are likewise lit up with a mesmerizing fluidity of lights and colors, while a series of multi-screen monitors in the elevator lobby display a video loop of a rushing ocean front. It works well with the lobby's original modern design and existing contemporary centerpiece sculpture.
As for the rooms, they are massive and comfortably contemporary, with dark-wood furniture, large flat screens (with actual high-def TV channels to go with them) and an opulent marble bath. A series of junior suites -- not to be confused with the hotel's signature suites touted on YouTube -- are more comfortable than stylish. But having an extra half-bath is a nice luxury.
As for four-star accoutrements, the only real draw back were the disappointing bare-bones cream-suger packs to go with the Keurig coffeemakers -- more like something from Motel 8 than an otherwise solid four-star hotel.
The restaurants are all destinations in themselves, and downtown Miami has actually developed into a user-friendly environment, with people movies connecting to another train running to the airport; a park area right out front with a fun market area not much further and even a handful of walkable restaurants.
It's not quite Miami Beach, but, again, still a $15-$20 cab ride away, and certainly enough of a treat for a pre- or post-cruise day in Florida's party-central city.