You know how you spend months planning a vacation; obsessively reading tripadvisor reviews and interrogating friends and family who have visited your destination for tips, scouring the hotel's web site and examining every single photo? Then you think you have everything all planned, expectations are set and then you arrive and ... humph. Sometimes things do not live up to our expectations. This trip was really everything we expected. It was relaxing, fabulous and we were quite pleased with our choice.
Our good experience began when I called to make reservations. I wish I had noted the name of our reservation agent. She was so nice, friendly, knowledgeable, sweet and helpful. We were equally happy upon arrival. We were greeted by a cadre of staff and our luggage was unloaded from the car, tagged and whisked off. It was delivered to our room, placed on luggage racks and opened up for us. I got the feeling they would have unpacked for us if I had even hinted about it.
The front desk agent also greeted us warmly, wished us a Happy Anniversary and offered us a room with a FANTASTIC center view of the pool and beach even though it was 4 hours before check-in time. She also gave us a jogging map and offered to answer questions about the area, attractions, shopping. Lovely, lovely.
The lobby smells delicious. They must pipe in the scent of cinnamon buns or something. I am still dreaming about it 3 weeks later.
We were thrilled with our view. The room and common areas are all very clean. No complaints there and I usually find several when it comes to cleanliness.
The room was large, my only complaint is the small amount of hanging space in the closet because half of the closet was taken up by a shelf with a safe and a full sized ironing board. There were also only 3 drawers for clothes.
The sleep quality was ok. The pillows are very flat, like pancakes. We asked for other pillows and they sent up a pair of down-alternative ones and it was much, much better.
Service everywhere we went was terrific. Employees all smiled, greeted us with "Good Morning," "Good Evening," etc. Those with whom we had previously interacted called us by name. This was a very nice touch.
The pool area is very large and has plenty of lounge chairs, umbrellas and cabanas. Service out there is fantastic. There is a self-serve station with sunscreen and delicious water (mint/lime, basil/grapefruit, strawberry/lemon) set up and replenished throughout the day. You can order all manner of food and beverages out there.
The beach area is also fantastic. The service out there is terrific. There is a large area for kids, tons of lounge chairs, umbrellas, cabanas, beach service, and is very well-staffed with attentive servers. Get a cabana on the beach. It is worth every penny. Especially when a typical Florida passing shower passes overhead, you are cocooned inside your own little cave.
Be aware that even though you are paying top dollar to stay here and 18% gratuity is automatically added to each and every tab, you should still tip the staff on top of that or you will not see them again. We made the mistake of heading out with just a room key one day. We ordered a cabana and food, signed the check and then lost the attention of our server. I felt terrible, went up to the room to grab $25 cash, but I was so avoided for the remainder of the afternoon that I was not even able to give the cash to the guy. Ooops.
The food and drink on site are ok. The French press coffee is FANTASTIC. The bar drinks are strong and not the best (go to The Setai for the best cocktails!). We ate breakfast and lunch on site and it was fine, but for the price I am sure you could do much, much better in the area. We did not eat dinner at the hotel, so I cannot comment on that. Doré South Beach is located just off the lobby of the hotel and was a very nice find. We stumbled upon it for dinner one night and had the best meal of our trip. Service was also very, very attentive and good. The girls are all models and lovely, but sure are good at what they do. We also ate at OLA and The Dining Room at the Villa by Barton G (Gianni Versace's mansion), but Doré beat them both.
The 17th Street location was much nicer than our stay at the Bentley Hilton. We loved the walking path outside the hotel and hotel-hopped one afternoon and had drinks and snacks at different hotels along the path. It was fun and just reaffirmed our choice as the best one out there.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.