I'm typing this review on the lovely terrace of the Gale Hotel's Room 401, overlooking Collins Avenue, with a view of the ocean and such classic architecture as the Delano, the National and the Ritz Plaza (directly across the street). There's a lovely breeze cooling the sea-smelling air and the curtains of our daybed/cabana are moving along with the leaves of the potted lime sharing the c. 15'x15' marble-floored verandah with a comfy sofa, chairs and a coffee table (provided with an ashtray handy for a cigar on this otherwise smoke-free property). (No pets, either, BTW.) Life is good.
The Gale is a cozy boutique hotel - better than just fine. The building and furnishings are spotless, in nice shape and pay graceful homage to the Art Deco theme of the district, the AC works and the hallways are kept frosty cold (appreciated when one steps off a muggy afternoon street), the rooftop pool is nicely thought-out (tho utterly devoid of shade - watch yourself). WiFi is strong and free (tho a teensy bit of a hassle, requiring a daily log-in). The smaller rooms (e.g., my aunt's Signature Terrace) are a bit cramped and don't have extra seating; the larger ones (like our Signature Grande) have a couple small seats (no desk) and a small table. There's not a lot of storage space (a small closet in the Grande - you'll want to pull the luggage rack out from under the bed and utilize the small linen bin that's under there, too) and the hotel takes up some of the flat area with a big tray of souvenir stuff you might want to buy. Nice robes are provided - there's no iron, but a provided steamer works surprisingly well.
The sleep quality was terrific - the rooms are well insulated from sound (while some of the louder Collins Avenue noises intruded, it was no big deal) and the bed is super-comfortable. The shower was fine, though the bathroom lighting was hilariously unflattering. (As you've no doubt read: there is a slider separating the commode from the bedroom in the smaller Signature Terrace rooms, a full door separates the bathroom from the bedroom in the larger Signature Grande rooms. There is a vent fan in the bathrooms.) A small, fully stocked fridge (not weight sensitive - feel free to stock your own stuff, said the bell guy), a safe and two really comfy robes (better than those at much more expensive places) round it out. Natural light everywhere, and lots of it (from the big windows, with easy-to-use and nice looking shades). When closed up, the room is totally dark, encouraging you to sleep late.
(Recommendation: if you're more traditional and maybe less hip to the idea of small boutique hotels, spare yourself trauma and book a Signature Grande room. The Signature Terrazo rooms are on the small side - but at least have a terrace.)
The location is terrific. We were concerned about not staying directly on the beach (where we've stayed on prior trips to South Beach and Bal Harbour), but found that it's faster and easier to cruise out the door of the Gale and pop a straight shot across at the light to the beach than it is to weave out through the pool and gates and clutter of the beachfront properties where we've stayed (I'm particularly talking to you, Lowe's . . . ). It's also closer to the Collins Road dining, the shopping/activity of Lincoln Road, etc., and convenient for cabs/buses to Bal Harbour shops - or to Downtown/Brickell. In our experience, the Gale's location is kinda perfect - not what we would have _guessed_, but what we found to be the case.
We found Gale's service to be mostly pretty darned great: most of the people we encountered couldn't seem happier to help with whatever we might have needed. The front desk, the bell staff, the pool bar people - they were fabulous. We try hard to be polite and understanding and tip well, but the friendly spirit was there up front, before any of these things. Nice work.
I can't be as delighted with the housekeeping staff: they were friendly and ultimately did a nice job, but some seemed either overscheduled, new to the job, or somewhat confused/disorganized. Room service was really late a couple days (the second turn-down visit isn't too handy when the initial cleaning was only an hour before) and there were some communication difficulties. Now, I hate to be critical here and I don't want any apologies or, Heaven forbid, repercussions: this is no big deal - everyone has to learn as they go, and it's a hard job. And some housekeepers we encountered were really efficient. But, this _is_ a review, and I can't honestly say that we found the overall housekeeping service was quite up to what we'd usually find in a boutique hotel of this sort. Well-meaning, sure: "on it?," maybe not so much.
Management sent an unintrusive text message a day or two after we'd arrived, asking if everything was going well and whether there was anything they could do for us. I mentioned that the latch to the patio door was in the late stages of breaking and that the hot/cold dial on the shower was coming off. Moments later, an engineer sprinted to the room. Nice - more evidence of caring management service. Oh, and while I've been typing this, I've just received another text asking for feedback on our stay. Nice.
(Now, for what it's worth, the staffs at Dolce and the Regent Cocktail Club - located in the Gale, but apparently not under the same management - were a little rockier. About 1/4 of these workers we encountered were really great, 1/4 were indifferent, and 1/2 were, frankly, pretty jerky (ignoring the only customers until approached). No big deal - it happens . . . but it's not the sort of service one would expect for the tariff and ZIP code. I mention this only because people staying at the Gale might want to know: this does not reflect on my high opinion of the Gale itself.)
(Another aside: I'd think twice before bringing small kids to the "grown up"-feeling Gale. I saw several families with small kids - all well behaved - but watched one running girl slip and fall on the marble steps, nailing her shin pretty good. She and her mom handled it well, but there aren't soft edges in the lovely decor of the Gale. While they seem to love the pool and the easy beach access, I'd personally hold off till the kids were a little older.)
The Gale itself? A solid four stars: my wife agrees we'd love to stay here again.