This is not a bad hotel, by any means. But it falls short of the expectation created by the famous name of Don Shula on the marquee.
Clean, safe. Friendly front desk. Fairly large pool in the inner courtyard. Walking distance to Miami Lakes "Main Street," including shops and a movie theater. Sports bar and restaurant off lobby. Plenty of free parking, and valet is optionally available. Golf course very close by. Rooms facing the courtyard have balconies or a small porch. Rooms are decent size, with one sink in the bathroom and another outside it, which is helpful. The towels, although not full size, are passable.
I'll prioritize the factors that added up to some disappointment for me. In the hospitality business, it's the little touches that can signal a great place to stay. Attention to detail is not evident here.
1. You'll read about recent "renovation." To me it looks like a minor freshening at best (I've stayed here in past years). The main visible change is that the renovated rooms now have fake-wood laminate floors. It's a matter of taste, but they don't represent much of an improvement to me since they're obviously fake. There is also an (apparently fake) granite counter around the second sink outside the bathroom. There is a 32-inch wide-screen TV that has a low-quality (non-HD) signal coming to it, so the picture is nothing special. The chest of drawers might be new, but in our room it was not level, so the drawers coasted open on their own and would not stay shut no matter what we tried. It provided some entertaining whack-a-mole moments but didn't class up the room.
2. The rooms have either one king or two double beds. Why didn't they go for two queen beds when they "renovated?"? Double beds may have been the norm in the 1970s, but now you can find low-priced chains with queen beds, and for families sharing a room, that makes a huge difference. After the first night, two of us arranged to stay with family members, one in a nearby town, so the other two could get some sleep. Of the other three hotels in Miami Lakes, only one (the C---tyard) has any queen beds, so maybe Shula's didn't feel the competitive pressure to offer queens. I don't know if the beds are new. The mattresses are pillow-top, but they're a bit lumpy and did not provide enough support at least for me. Pillow top mattresses, plush though they seem in the showroom, inevitably form depressions over time.
3. The room has only one AC plug that is free and easily accessible. Otherwise you have to unplug one of the very few lights in the room, or fumble behind the heavy dresser. What was management thinking? Any hotel built in the last ten years has lots of AC plugs for all the PCs and other gadgetry modern travelers carry around with them. The "renovation" forgot this one.
4. The primary color for the resort including the rooms is a mustard yellow. Yes, it's an earth color I guess, but I found the room dark and therefore a little depressing. If you are in the room only at night, this won't matter much, but even then the lighting in the room is dim at best. The little things matter: when you enter the room, the wall switch controls only a small light over the doorway. To turn on any room lights you have to walk through the semi-dark to the bed and fumble for the bedside light switch. When you leave, you can't turn the bedside light off from the doorway. The renovation did provide management with a cost-saving tool, however. The rooms have motion sensors so the AC will shut itself off when you leave the room. On a 95-degree summer day you may have mixed feelings about this. Temperatures were in the 70s during our stay so it wasn't a problem for us. The curtain covering the window does not wrap around at one end, so morning daylight targets the eyeball of the person in the adjacent bed. However there are slatted shutters you can close to fix this problem. It just takes extra hassle.
5. The air conditioning unit is a typical hotel all-in-one box with vents near floor level along the outside wall. Ours made a huge racket when it was on. It wasn't broken, just naturally loud. When we checked in, we couldn't get it to shut off, and the thermostat on the wall was dead. The hotel engineer who fixed it told us that the previous occupant complained about noise from people at the pool, so they hard-wired her air conditioning unit to stay on 24 hours a day, disabling the thermostat, so the AC would drown out the fun at the pool. I guess this qualifies as highly responsive hotel management. But when the previous party checked out, they forgot to rewire our room. So we waited while they returned the AC to its normal function. It does cool effectively. Whether you will find the loud fan a benefit is a matter of personal taste.
6. Another baffling room design flaw: The sink-and-closet alcove outside the bathroom has no door, but also has the only light switch for both the alcove and the bathroom. So when someone gets up in the night to use the bathroom, they have to turn on the light in the alcove in order to get the bathroom light on, which spills light into the bedroom to annoy others who are sleeping there. And if you are in the bathroom with the door closed, and someone else shuts the alcove light off, you are in the pitch dark with no recourse but yelling to get the light back on. Bathroom lighting consists of two bright and industrial-looking vertical florescents on either side of the mirror. Gets the job done, but without class. The toilet stops up incredibly easily. The shower head is an inexpensive, low-flow unit that sprays hard enough, but unevenly, and it's not adjustable. In our room there was a rusty metal plate near the ceiling that the "renovation" did not replace, just to remind us what things used to look like. The bathroom ceiling vent (AC or fan) was caked with dust, and obviously had not been cleaned in a long time. Fortunately, there was no noisy fan in the bathroom that in some other hotels is annoyingly hardwired to the light switch. This might explain why they left the light switch for the bathroom outside the bathroom.
7. The shower curtain is not long enough to reach from one end of the shower to the other. Huh? Flooding is the inevitable result.
8. The walls between rooms seemed quiet enough to us, but the door to the hallway does not block noise effectively. This is a problem shared by a great many hotels. Two nights in a row I was up for hours because a group came back from evening revels and decided to discuss their day outside my door at 2:00am.
9. We had one of the more desirable room locations, on the ground-floor opening directly onto the courtyard pool deck. That was nice, but the door to the pool (at least in our room) only closed or opened with a great deal of force, and thus a loud bang. This was a noise issue but more importantly a security issue, since the door does not latch by itself. It has to be forced closed. When they "renovated" our room, why didn't they fix this?
10. Running along the baseboard of our door to the pool area, inside the room, was a small exposed electrical wire that had been pulled away from the wall, cut, and then closed up again by simply twisting the leads together. How could an exposed electrical kludge like this persist unnoticed?
11. The pool is fairly big and in good shape, but it is surrounded by acres of naked concrete that's not visually inviting. This design decision was made decades ago. A management comment on another review here says that they will be upgrading the pool area in 2012. However nothing they do will fix the pool's most fundamental problem. It lies directly under the final approach path to an active runway at Opa-Locka airport, which is very close by. Several times an hour, a business jet will cross directly over the pool at about 300 feet in altitude. On some days there are also small training planes buzzing in. Opa Locka has no airline traffic, but it is one of Miami's busiest non-commercial airports. The planes are a major distraction for sun-worshippers at the pool.
12. There are no pool towels, so if you swim you have to use the room towels and then request more towels from housekeeping.
Bottom line - not a bad hotel, but could be a lot better, and the "renovation" seems like a missed opportunity.
Rooms facing the pool and courtyard have direct access (ground floor) to the pool or a balcony with...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.