After a wonderful cruise aboard the Carnival Breeze, we opted to spend an extra day in Miami before rushing home. We were lucky to win a bid on Priceline to stay at this hotel, which honestly was the hotel we wanted from the start.
We arrived at the hotel around 11:30am hoping to check-in early and spend a day relaxing around the hotel pool. Upon entrance to the hotel we were greeted by Jesus, the bellhop who had the most addicting smile and upbeat attitude, thrilled to offer us assistance with our luggage. Unfortunately the morning front desk staff member advised we couldn’t check-in as our room wasn’t quite ready but that we could check back an hour later. A little upset we turned to the door not sure what to do or if we should just sit and wait in the lobby. Jesus could tell we didn’t have the same smiles that we arrived with – in striking up a conversation he was happy to hold our luggage in security storage, suggested we could check out the flea market next door and even offered to let us in the Business Centre to pass a little time.
The Business Centre was well equipped with about 6 computer stations each with a comfortable chair to sit on, 2 printers, a wall map of Florida and a television playing the local news. The access to the internet and even printing was free! This was a big plus for us as we needed to check-in for our flight and print our boarding passes. Once we finished in the Business Centre, we headed to check out the local flea market being held next to the hotel property a very short walk away. The market was full of friendly people selling fresh fruit, vegetables, clothing, shoes, furniture, paintings, music, souvenirs, etc. From what we gathered, this market was only available on Sundays and most only spoke Spanish.
It was almost 1pm when we decided to check with the front desk again to see if we could check-in and head to the pool. Jesus was no longer around, nor was any other bellhops for that matter and Linda greeted us at the front desk this time. She seemed confused by our request to follow-up on the status of our room and after 10 minutes of trying to find our reservation advised us our room still wasn’t ready but offered to give us a key card granting us access to the pool area.
Not wanting to get our luggage from security to dig out our swimwear in the lobby area, we decided we would lounge around the pool and read our books instead. On our way to the pool, we came across the Fitness Room where we were pleasantly surprised by the top of the line, high tech fitness equipment supplied! They also offered small towels and a cold water cooler with little paper cups. If only we were staying more than one night, we would have made good use of this room!
We passed by his and her bathrooms before the door to the pool area. The pool was much smaller than photos online made it seem, but with only a couple patrons sun bathing, it was big enough. We sat along the pool’s edge and dipped our feet in to help cool off. The pool was unheated and clean. We noticed a large shelf of pool towels, plenty of loungers for sunbathing and 3 patio tents that each had a patio table set with 4 chairs. There was also an outdoor area for smokers on a lower patio area that was quite large. The pool area had nice upbeat music set on a repeat cycle, though you could hear the music from the flea market happening next door as well. We found a quiet spot to read and watch the market goers. I will mention there are no food or beverage services in the pool area – something we actually inquired about when we called the hotel prior to departure on our trip but no one seemed to be able to give us an answer. I ran inside to the gift shop of the hotel to grab a drink to share, 2 popsicles & 2 small bags of chips ($9). It wasn’t until later that we noticed some of the other patrons went to the lounge to get beer – again had we only known this in advance. The pool area is open until 10pm.
At 3pm we decided our room had to be ready by now and was happy when we were told by Divet that our room (Room 601) was finally available. We ordered a 4:30am wake-up call and confirmed the first shuttle to the airport was 5am. We will note that we were thrilled with the additional key card security access in the elevator – meaning only those with a room key on your floor could gain access. This doesn’t hold true for the 1st floor (lobby) or 2nd floor (pool / fitness access).
It wasn’t until the elevator arrived at the 6th floor that we noticed the hotel was undergoing renovations. Mostly touch-up work in the hallway and you could tell a few rooms on the pool side of the building were being worked on, but once we were in our room we only heard the crew twice before they went home.
We were pleasantly surprised by the new renovated look of the room. Very clean and modern. The colours and art was very tasteful, inspiring a relaxed environment. The room had the usual essentials – desk, alarm clock, coffee maker, coffee mugs, ice bucket, full length mirror, plenty of towels, closet safe, hangers, iron, ironing board and the Holy Bible. The shower had good water pressure and plenty of hot water. The shampoo, conditioner and soap by Templespa made the bathroom and my hair smell wonderful! The hair dryer worked perfectly with plenty of power. There was also the offer of additional essential toiletries if you forgot to bring your own including shaving cream, disposable razor, comb, toothbrush or toothpaste. The bed was king size with plenty of extra pillows – mattress had good support and provided a comfortable night sleep - a nice treat was the Sleep Tight kit that we found on our bed. This included Repose Aromatherapy Resting Cream, Quietude Calming Mist and AAAHHH! Soothing Foot Balm – all by Templespa. Sadly the view out the window was nothing wonderful to look at - just a parking lot full of cars, though you were able to see the odd airplane in the sky departing every so often. As for noise from the airport, it was barely noticeable even with the planes flying closer than we expected at times. We heard more noise coming from the hallway through the thin door – hopefully this improvement will be part of the renovation. We did attempt to connect to the free wifi from our room, though were unsuccessful due to lack of signal. Our room was as far away from the Lobby / Business Centre as possible, so we were thankful we stopped into the Business Centre earlier.
We decided to check out the renovated Buena Vista Lounge in the lobby for dinner as Café 950 wasn’t open quite yet, but we noticed they have the same dinner menu. We sat at a table with oversized armchairs for two near the front windows to watch new guests arriving. Our waiter Jorge was very friendly, even took the time to strike up a conversation even though the place was starting to fill with the dinner rush. I put my trust in Jorge to pick me out his favourite white wine and wasn’t disappointed. Jorge suggested my husband try the special mojito from the menu and he enjoyed it so much ordered a second. My husband and I shared a calamari appetizer – the sweet chilli sauce on the side was an amazing combination! For our main meal, my husband had a large bowl of pasta with a large number of good sized shrimp plus garlic bread. I enjoyed the Parmesiana Chicken that also came with spaghetti and garlic bread as your sides. Sadly we didn’t have the room to attempt a dessert we were so full, though Jorge did tempt us to take a piece of cheesecake back to our room. Overall, even with a good sized tip for Jorge and a huge thank you for making it memorable - dinner cost $90.
Our wake-up call came through on time and we were one of the first in the lobby to wait for shuttle service to Miami International Airport for the 5am shuttle. This seems to be a very popular time to catch planes with over 20 people waiting by the time they told us to head outside to the shuttles. After loading our luggage and securing a seat, we were told to get off sighting the shuttle we got on was for a particular group that stayed at the hotel and he had already taken our luggage off. I will note there was still available seating on this first shuttle so we were less than pleased to get on the second shuttle. The second shuttle was unsafely overloaded with every seat taken, leaving my husband and I plus 3 additional people standing with nothing but the wheelchair lift to hold onto for stability. The driver never buckled his seatbelt so we were left to listen to the alarm going off until the shuttle arrived at the airport.
Overall Reflection –
Positives – A huge thank you for the warm welcome and suggestion of the Flea Market from Jesus. We truly enjoyed our meal and service in the Buena Vista Lounge – Big kudos for Jorge for making it truly memorable. The amazing spa inspired sleep tight kit, shampoo, conditioner and soap by Templespa plus the offer of additional essential toiletries if you forgot to bring your own.
Negatives - We would warn people not to arrive early wishing to check-in – when they mean 3pm check-in that is exactly what is meant. Definitely management needs to review customer service techniques with front desk staff and road safety laws with shuttle staff.
If you get the opportunity request a room with a view of the pool.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.