We booked here for the last night of our 8-nuight Florida vacation. We had high expectations, and a fresh comparison to be made with Four Seasons Miami, where we had stayed just one week before.
BOOKING there was easy on their web site, although the rates went up and down with yield management. We booked a Bay View Deluxe Room for $399+ in a B&B plan, with which we were reasonably happy, if not thrilled.
LOCATION : the building sits on the private Brickell Key, in a quiet area of already quiet downtown. We loved the situation, away from all hustle and bustle, yet a short and easy drive to South Beach. I do not know when it was built, but it is immaculate, having probably got a recent refurbishment, but the style of the building, and the structural treatment of some areas shows its age.
CHECK-IN was a breeze, in the opulent lobby. Acknowledged our business with Mandarin Oriental for the past 10 years, but not to the extent of upgrading us, even though I pointed that having requested the highest available floor, I did not feel 10th floor was that high ; I got back that it was the highest floor in THAT category, in the kindest way. OK, then !
ROOM 1011 was large. But we were disappointed with the view, hardly a Bay view. All we could see standing 3 meters from the floor to ceiling window was the skyline. The bay could only be seen to the left, standing close to the window. I called immediately and they offered a change on the same floor, to the same category, only further down the corridor to 1017, which offered a marginally better view. This happened in a jiffy : bell man happened to turned up as soon as I hang up the phone, and he showed us to the new room, while a new set of keys was brought up. We did not have to wait at all. 1017 still not standing up to the Bay View naming, if you ask me. Beautiful room, with a subtle Asian flair, decorated in warm tones, and fitted with the most recent technology, and a fantastic bed. Talking of the bed, the spring box is encased in a big wide wooden frame, which hurts badly ! I am not a big fan of the open bathroom, although you can bring down a shutter. The toilet is in a separate room, which is good. I did not like the too fragrant, too Caribbean orented no-name toiletry. Similar to Four Seasons : why do they go away Molton Brown and the likes ? Probably cost …
POOL AREA is not as large as the Four Seasons. The chairs are massively comfortable. The water is quite on the cold side. The beach area is an added feature, which we liked. OK, this is no SoBe, but your feet are in the sand, and you have saved the time for driving down. Service in both areas is top notch, smiling, and efficient.
BREAKFAST would be my major gripe. Not the food itself, abundant and tasty. Not the service, although they were kind of overwhelmed. But the outdoors area at Café Sambal is kind of dull, dark, partly covered, tight and noisy. It was packed with customers, lots of families with unbehaved kids, all lookind sloppy. I understand this is Miami, and a hotel on the water. But this is a Mandarin Oriental, and swim suits are beach outfits, not breakfast outfits. At least 35% of patrons were inappropriately dressed, and I believe that a minimal dress code should be enforced; this would be the major let down to the Four Seasons.
CHECK-OUT was easy, after they kindly extended a 1.00 pm check-out upon request.,
This is a great property, different in style from the Four Seasons, but equally good. It stands up to the Mandarin oriental reputation, at least outside Asia.