This was out second stay at the Z Ocean. Our prior visit was July of 2010. A few things have changed so I figured I would post a follow up review. We stayed at this location for three nights on an extended weekend getaway.
The hotel in the heart of the action of South Beach, on Ocean Drive, just minutes walk to Lincoln Road Shops, Spanish Quarter, clubs, and dining options. The main entrance is on Collins with a back entrance on Ocean Drive. Due to the cost of parking and the fact that we know how great the location is, we rented a car at FLL and returned it about half a mile from the hotel, and then did the same thing on return....no point in paying for a car and parking, and never using it. The valet did keep our car for 20 minutes while we checked in. We arrived early, and our room was not available (no problem). They assured us that they would call us when our room was ready, which they did, but it was about 45 minutes after normal check in time. That was a small price to pay for the ability to get the room location we requested.
There is a small but nicely decorated lobby with a small front desk. Also on the first floor is the restaurant and a bar, which is now operated by Front Porch Café, which was located a couple of blocks down the street on our last visit, and one of our favorite places for breakfast and Happy Hour, so we were really happy to have it available right in the Z Ocean, though we missed the dining experience along the busy section of Ocean Drive. They have a small yet nicely equipped exercise room on the first floor as well, but I can not see wanting to use it given is open air....I would imagine too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. With the promenade along Ocean Drive, just go out for a nice run like I did. You can head right out of the hotel and get about a 2 mile one way, or head left and go 2.5 miles along the beach boardwalk and then about as far as you want along the marina on Collins. New this year are the ability to use IPads at each front desk station. You can research, print boarding passes, etc, right from the IPads...very cool! The hotel has a daily charge for internet, but provided us with free internet access as a Platinum Priority Club member
As with our last visit we really enjoyed the small pool and hot tub. Even on this sold out holiday weekend we were always able to find loungers easily at the pool. They have a pool attendant who quickly clears up any towels left behind by others and ensure that there is no staking out of loungers all day. There is also food and drink service available at the pool from Front Porch Cafe. The beach chairs included in your resort fee (they waived the fee for us as Priority Club Platinum members, which was a nice improvement over last year when we were charged the fee) are on the beach front about 3 minute walk from the hotel. You get beach towels right at the beach, versus lugging them to the beach last year. The beach chairs are only available till 6 pm and the hotel pool closes at dusk pm. I think the pool should be open later in the evening.
The staff at the hotel was excellent once again.. As with last year, we called down to ask for a second lounger for our balcony the hotel happily obliged and had one up to our room within minutes once they verified that our balcony had enough room. (Some do not) I did notice that housekeeping was not as efficient or detailed this year. Small things not followed up on, bed not well made, extra (requested) towels just left on the couch, toiletries not replenished, turn down service gruff one night and limited the other nights. This is the only thing that I would say was not up to the same level as last year. That being said, if you called down and asked for them to refresh at a particular time they were always helpful. The hotel has electronic do not disturb / please make up room signs. When we requested extra pillows one night, a nice man from engineering came promptly and even took me to the pillow closet so that I could select exactly what we wanted. Great service.
Our room was on the third floor. The room we requested overlooked Ocean Drive and was a great place to have a cocktail with friends and do some people watching. There was absolutely no traffic or noise from the revelers through the excellent thick glass windows lining the balcony. The pool is located on the second floor so it was just one level down. The balcony is equipped with a round dining table, two chairs, and one lounger. (but had plenty of room for the second one we asked for.) I would not want one of the rooms on Collins or 15th. At first on check in there was some confusion on our request for Ocean Drive side (not like we we were requesting a roof top suite) but once the check in clerk looked more completely, she realized that yes, they did in fact have us in an Ocean Drive suite. I think that the rooms on Ocean or the Rooftop Spa Suites would be best.
The rooms are exactly as described on the hotel website and nicely decorated plenty of storage and a nice bed. The rooms have two HDTV's, a surround surround sound system, and a speaker system in the bathroom. Unfortunately there were no audio jacks to connect your MP3 player. There is a sitting area with a love seat (becomes a one person sleeper), high back chair, and coffee table. There is also safe, wet bar, microwave, cocktail glasses, and cooler. The cooler was plenty sufficient to keep our drinks and a snack cool. There is no real work desk in the room, but given this hotel is not really set up as a business hotel, rather a boutique leisure travel hotel that makes sense. You can work on the table on the balcony. The climate control seemed to work well and you can leave the blower motor on for white noise while the climate control is still functioning. The AC shuts off when the balcony door is open but that is fully understandable. The room had no discernable noise from nearby rooms.
The bathrooms are very nice, with two separate sink rooms, (his and hers) separated by the toilet. (doors between each section) The shower is in the right hand side and is a large walk in shower, with a bench, rain shower, side jets, and traditional shower head. Awesome Shower! The floor tended to fill with water a bit with all the shower heads on but not badly. They provide Aveda products in the bathroom and a traditional blow dryer which beats the wall mounted hotel type any time.
For some good breakfast head downstairs to (independently operated) Front Porch Cafe. Front Porch also has great happy hour cocktails. Jerry's Deli across the street from the main entrance is open 24/7 and has a full menu, bar, and take out. (We grabbed drinks, pastries, and desserts there a few times) There is a Walgreens a few blocks down the street so you can buy some drinks and snacks as well as a Liquor right next door so you can buy mixers for your room. There are so many other good dining options available you can read Yelp or Trip Advisor for those reviews. (To avoid the scam tourist traps!)
All in all a great stay at a great hotel.....if we are in the area again we would absolutely stay here! You can not go wrong with this hotel. I would just like to see the housekeeping service polished a bit.