My husband and I spent a long weekend here (4 nights) in February 2013. We spent most of our time at the hotel and really only left for dinner. As hhonors gold members, we were given "gold" bracelets and an upgrade to a suite on the top floor. As a gold member, I have been given upgrades to nicer rooms, but this was over the top. The room had a full kitchen - including dishwasher, washer and drier directly outside, a jacuzzi tub, two large rooms, and a large balcony. There were also chocolates waiting for us along with water, compliments of the management. The bracelets allowed us to get 25% off of food and drinks while we were there. I believe that it also applied to the spa as well, but I didn't have a spa treatment, so I can't say for sure. I did get a good look at the spa facilities as I showered there on the last day because our flight didn't leave until 6pm. The spa and workout facilities are beautiful!
There were a few things that I think should be noted as out of the ordinary - not bad.
1 - and this is a pretty big deal - THERE IS AN AUTOMATIC SERVICE CHARGE ADDED ON ALL FOOD/DRINK. Miami gets visitors from all walks of life and from all places in the world. American businesses generally pay their servers less figuring on added income from tips. Other places in the world do not work this way. When a small hotel is serving clientele from everywhere, there is no guarantee that the waiter/waitress will get a tip. This is just them taking care of their people. EVERY other place that we went to in Miami Beach worked this way. If it were only at the hotel, I might be shocked. The servers also reminded me that there was a charge being added on. I imagine that they may get complaints.
2 - chairs on the beach were $12 each. It was extra to get an umbrella or a cabana to shade you from the sun. This is pretty standard all along Miami Beach (in fact, it's twice as much in South Beach), but in case you weren't expecting it, it might shock you. The pool chairs were free, although hard to come by if you weren't there at 8am to throw your towel on one. (I will NEVER understand this practice.)
3 - The room wasn't in the most amazing shape. There was a little wear and tear on the walls and carpet, but it wasn't dirty. Properties on the beach are hard to keep up because of all of the salt. It seemed a little old, but everything was comfortable and safe and clean which matters more than a small mark on the wall where someone accidentally bumped their suitcase.
4- Breakfast was a buffet where you could choose cold food (free with our bracelet) or upgrade to hot food (like $6.50 more). The hotel probably is thinking that more people will upgrade to the hot breakfast, and they want to offer the option, but it comes across as cheap only offering guests half of what's there. If only the continental were on the buffet, people would be very happy. The breads were wonderful. There were 6-7 different kinds of fruit. Nothing was wrong except that you had to look at something better.
5 - Just so people know, the pool loses sun at this time of year at about 1pm. The beach stays sunny until about 3pm. It can get chilly at that pool in the middle of the day in Feb.
6 - CABS!! Good God! This was a BIG BIG BIG problem. We went to dinner three times, and cabs showed up late twice - and by late, I mean over an hour. My husband and I don't know whether the valets were the issue or the cab company. We had a car service bring us to the hotel thinking that we would take a cab back to the airport. There was NO way we'd risk it. We had to call the car service when we left. (On a side note, we didn't rent a car because we were really only going out for dinner and not sightseeing at all - but the cost to park a car overnight was like $27.00. That was one reason that we didn't rent a car.)
All in all, this was a great place to chill out on the beach for a few days. I thought that the staff was lovely. They seemed to go out of their way to make sure that we were comfortable - especially the housekeeper and the beach chair guys (who told us daily about the lifeguard flags, what to do if we got stung by a jellyfish, etc.).
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