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Reviewed May 8, 2009

Every year I accompany my wife while she attends a professional conference in the Miami area. In the past we've stayed at the Ritz, Loews Miami Beach, and the Setai, to name a few, so this year we decided to try the Fontainebleau. We read the reviews and even spoke to a family friend who stayed there; the consensus seemed to be that the service was beyond terrible. We figured that the hotel staff would have the kinks ironed out and its act together by the time we went, so unfortunately for us we ignored the negative opinions and booked our stay anyway - what a mistake! If you are use to staying in a Hilton or other mid-range chain hotel, this place may seem amazing, but if you are use to a higher level of service, you will be sorely disappointed!

Overall I would have to say that the location is great and the hotel, pool, and beach are all beautiful. The rooms are all new and are equipped with a nice LCD TV and iMac. However, once you actually have to interact with the staff at the Fontainebleau, one discovers that for the most part they are either poorly trained, incompetent, obnoxious, full of themselves, or all of the above. The staff is generally unfriendly and you have to ask for absolutely everything, including turn down service, which one would expect at this type of hotel. At the pool for instance, there may be four of them standing around, while you try to find a couple of chairs, and no one will approach and offer to set you up with blankets, etc. There is never anyone walking around even offering water, as they all seem too cool for that. At the pool they will actually walk right by you as you struggle to move or open an umbrella! The pool staff and restaurant wait-staff seem generally clueless, almost like they are just wandering around wondering what they should be doing, instead of actually doing something useful. They do everything at their own pace, which is a crawl; even if you tell them you are in a rush (because probably you don’t want to spend 2 hours at lunch when the weather is so beautiful). At other hotels of the same supposed caliber as the Fontainebleau, the staff is usually required to open doors/ say hello to every guest they see, which is certainly not the case here. The staff make it seem as though they are too cool to be inconvenienced by the guests’ asking for one thing or another.

In addition to this generally pathetic service, the first room that we were given was not only not the room that was booked (2 double beds instead of a king), but the bathroom was dirty. They did relocate us to a room with a king bed, but the “ocean view” room we were given overlooked the second driveway and had only a partial ocean view. When the person at the front desk doesn’t even know how to assign a room or describe it properly, there is a serious problem. And don’t even try to ask for a late check-out, as it seems they are so overwhelmed by the size of the place they need at least 5 hours to turn a room over. To say the least, they were far from accommodating, but I guess that doesn’t matter when the hotel is booked up with people attending conferences in the building.

This hotel seems to be unsure of its identity. The Fontainebleau wants to be a hotel that can charge you any amount they chose for everything, but doesn’t want to step it up and provide that 5-star level of service that makes their guests feel welcome and makes the expense worth it. That brings me to the nickel-and-diming. $5 for a coffee in a to-go cup that you would have made yourself in your room, but couldn’t because there is no coffee maker, seems more than a bit absurd, especially when it is not nearly as good as coffee from Starbucks or DD. You will find a coffee maker in a room at the Ritz or Setai without question. They are kind enough to put a computer in every room, however, should you actually try and do something useful with it, i.e., check you e-mail, you will be prompted to pay for “unlimited internet access”. I would gladly sacrifice the in-room computer for a pod coffee maker and a few computers for guest use near the lobby or conference center. Once you leave your room you’ll be overcharged for everything and then surcharged a mandatory 18% gratuity for their awful and apathetic service. So say you’d like a drink by the pool, that will be $12-16, and if you want to lounge by the pool on a bed or if you’d like two chairs on the beach, you’ll have to rent those too. Valet parking is $35/ night, which would be reasonable in Manhattan, but Miami Beach, come on. For that price you would think they would be able to locate and retrieve your car in less than 30 minutes, but no. Once our car was already sitting in front of the hotel and the valet insisted that it would be up any minute, because that is what her computer was telling her. Oh, and I forgot to mention, don’t count on using the shampoo/body wash they provide, it’s certainly not Molton Brown, the only way to describe it is as watery garbage.

In conclusion, with so many choices in Miami Beach and South Beach, especially in this price range, I would seriously wonder if they have any return guests at the Fontainebleau, but from our experience, they obviously don’t care at all about guest satisfaction. For the same money you can stay at the Loews, which has fantastic service, or the Ritz a little farther down the beach. If you have the means, by all means splurge and stay at the Setai. I personally would rather pay twice the Fontainebleau's room rate and have a truly exceptional experience. So, unless you are looking for snobby, too cool attitude, incompetent, bumbling, and idiotic staff, and overpriced substandard amenities, just about any other hotel is probably a far better option than this place.

  • Stayed: May 2009, traveled on business
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6  Thank NYer55
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2009

This review will contain my thoughts about the resort, my experience, and at the end my own list of "Things you need to know about visiting the Fontainebleau" or "How to stay at the Fontainebleau for under $100 dollars a day!" **room price not included**, things I wish someone else had written about before I went.

First of all I don't get all the negative reviews at all! Our 5 day experience at the Fontainebleau was nothing but top notch. I can only think the negative reviewers were either crabby to begin with or so drunk they ruined their own experience. We had a Jr. Suite in the Tresor Towers, the tallest of the hotels buildings, and everything was more then we could expect. Our suite had a very large marble bathroom with Jacuzzi tub and separate shower. A large and comfortable King size bed, plenty of light, a hide-a-bed love seat, three chairs, cook top, fridge, two large closets, and a balcony overlooking the ocean. The only complaint we could come up with on the room would be the never ceasing wind on the balcony. It never stopped day or night and was strong enough most of the time you had to hold your hat on your head. But that's just a part of Miami beach i guess, it was windy all 5 days pretty much everywhere, and during the hottest months I would expect this to be a big plus, but in the 70-80's of May my wife found it a bit cool out there. However the very heavy balcony door closed off all sound from outside when closed, that included resort noise and music, traffic noise and the wind.
The resort itself was amazing. Every lobby was posh, and pleasing. Marble everywhere. Lots of fountains and windows, just really an upscale experience all around. The only comment I would have here is make sure you bring comfortable shoes, and I mean it!! Don't bother packing unless you pack your walking shoes. This place is HUGE!!!! It's a hike to go anywhere, and if your on a budget and want to use some of my suggestions below this is doubly so. Good walking shoes are a MUST!
Ok, so about the food. Well, here is where the resort fell a little short for us. I'm sure if you like Miami food, or at least the blander "healthier" fare that's all the rage these days then you would love eating at the Fontainebleau, however for us the best meal we had all week was the KFC a mile down 41st street. Course both me and my wife are die hard southern fried food eaters, so there you go. Food at the resort is stupid expensive, more then I would choose to ever spend on a dinner myself at home, but it's not bad really, just, well, a bit bland. The best dinner we had the whole time in the resort was at the Vida the first night, she had meatloaf and it was pretty good, and I had turkey that was also fair. But the dinner cost us $70. We didn't eat at any other restaurants in the resort (just room service several nights, price was fair, 50 for the two of us, and food was ok) but there are several more that are more expensive but also better from what we were told by others in our group.
Ok, so moving on, as stated above and in many other reviews the Fontainebleau it VERY expensive to stay at. Everything is on the crazy side of high. I would say if you are going to be staying here and want the full experience, including drinking and eating all three meals at the resort, expect to spend around $300-$400 PER DAY PER COUPLE, and that should just about cover everything including chairs at the pool and beach ,if that's your thing, and drinking. If you don't drink much or at all, expect to save quite a bit off that. Drinks are all around 14-16 dollars a drink, but I will say they are most excellently made and very strong. Of course the 300-400 is just food, drink, and incidental expenses. If you want to use the spa, get one of the round bed thingies by the pool, or a Cabana at the pool the skies the limit. I could see the experience reaching $1000 dollars a day for the very rich or rich wanna be's.
So now I will tell you every single negative thing that happened to us. When we got there our room was ready, we went up and discovered two things wrong with our room. We had no "lawn" chairs on our balcony, and the mini bar was not working right. We got dresses for the beach, told them at the desk and spent about an hour or so at the beach. When we returned both issues had been resolved. On our last day housekeeping took our robes and didn't replace them, a call to the front desk had the problem solved in less then 10 minutes. At check out there was a 8 dollar charge for a cookie from the mini-bar, we didn't get a cookie so they removed the charge on the spot, no hassle at all. And that's the end of the "negative" experiences. Room service took about an hour, and with a resort this big that was right about what I expected.
On a side note here, every singe hotel employee we encountered, talked too, or interacted with was not only super nice and helpful, but also very quick about getting their job done and done right. I think the Kinks from the remodel have been resolved.

So, now you ask, "How did you stay at the Fontainebleau for under $100 dollars a day, including a $180 dollar trip to the Seaquarium???" Well, let me tell you how we did it. (we spent right
at $500 for 5 nights, but like I said, we spent $180 of that off resort $80 dollars for the cab and about $78 for entrance tickets and the rest was food and drinks at the aquarium)

1. Walgreen's!! Yes, your favorite little quick in and out store is just about 3-4 blocks away. They have just about everything you could need that you may have forgotten or discovered you need while there. And the prices are regular Walgreens prices, not inflated Miami beach prices. However unlike some reviewers have stated, they DO NOT sell beer or other liquor. To get there just go out any of the three front entrances and you will be on Collins Ave, go left or South until to get to the 41st street bridge (3 blocks south of hotel) turn west on 41st street (right), and walk about 1 more block going over the bridge. Right across the bridge on the south is Walgreens. Takes about 8 mins to walk I'd say. By your cokes and stuff here and take it back and put it in the fridge. You can get a 12 pack here for about the price of a single soft drink at the resort.

2. Primo Liquor store. Here is where you buy your beer or other liquor. This is also about 4 block away. It is also on Collins Ave, but NOT the Collins Ave that all the front entrances open onto. It's really a block east (seaside). For some reason Collins Ave changes into Indian Creek Rd at 44th street. 44th is the street on the South side of Fontainebleau. But if you go 1 block east on 44th st then Collins Ave starts again. 4 blocks south down this Road you will find Primo liquor store on the Left (east) or ocean side of Collins. You can also get to this part of Collins following the in resort signs for the South Entrance, that also is the ground floor entrance for Tresor towers, but it's a small entrance and not much used kinda outta the way and hard to find. So just go down Collins, take a left at 44th, go one block east to Collins again, and follow that down south. Hope that's not too confusing.

3. Eating cheap. 41st street is a treasure trove of places to eat on the cheap and what not. You just go down like you are going to Walgreens and keep on walking, Within a mile you will find a number of restaurants like the Chicken Kitchen(maybe 6 blocks), Baskin-Robbins(maybe 7 blocks) Susi bars, Deli's, and even Burger King and KFC(these are close to a mile). This is where the walking shoes come in REALLY handy. There is also a Bank of America, AT&T wireless, Verison wireless Doctors, Eye doctors and just a whole bunch of stuff someone might need. All within 15-20 mins walking distance. Not a bad walk on a nice Miami Night. And this comes from someone who chooses to DRIVE to the mailbox most of the time....

So a trip to Fontainebleau doesn't have to break the bank, if you can afford the rooms that is!! (My company paid for mine or I would have never gone) Couple of other little things, the shampoo at the hotel is not all that great if you have long hair. The water is soft so it's hard to get soap and shampoo to lather, and it seems you can never get it rinsed out all the way. That's soft water for ya. I would take a trip to Walgreens and get your favorite shampoo if your staying for many days. That should help some, the shampoo they have is very light I guess you could call it, it's thin and runny and hard to use in my opinion. Also whenever you see famous people it will always seem to be when you've left the camera in the room. We saw Regis Philbin, Kelly Ripa, Rob Lowe, Nichole Richie, and more Bentley, Lamborghini's, and Ferrari's then you could shake a stick at. We heard George Clooney was there but never saw him. We saw many people we know from some show or movie somewhere, just didn't know their names.
Last word, when Liv is open on the weekends this resort does a "change" at about sunset. It changes from a resort to a night club. This happens a little every night, people put up there beach clothes at dusk and break out their dresses and suites. But it's much worse on the weekends. Don't walk through the main lobby at night in your beach clothes or swim wear, because you going to have to walk through a sea of super well dresses people. And trust me you will get weird looks for your Bermuda shorts and beach shirts. LIV is a club for the who's who, and the wanna be's in Miami. We didn't want to pay the $50 cover charge, and I was under dressed for it anyway, so we sat out front and watched the people come in. Never seen so many 1/2 million dollar cars roll up except in movies. Was kinda cool people watching, Rappers, models, stars, a bit of everything, and a WHOLE lot a wanna be's!! Including us!! LOL
So anyway, I hope this helps someone out who like me was going the THE resort in Miami, but didn't have the bank roll of a 7 figure income.

  • Stayed: May 2009, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank doonze
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 6, 2009

I was recently at the FB for 10 days...had a switch in maid personnel for a few days, got some money stolen from my purse. I figured a place like this is safe, but I guess not! Still waiting on resolution on this...had to follow up twice regarding this...they did not contact me with updates. Hence service gets a very low grade...That goes for Miami Beach area in general...people are out to scam, so do the math when paying for things and watch your stuff closely...bathrooms have slick TVs however was surprised there wasn't a radio built in (seems if they have the TV should have a radio built in)...Hot water in tub is not hot enough, so by the time it filled up, it was lukewarm. Rooms overall were great, comfortable beds, fast internet although they need to upgrade browser it seems. Best thing...the robes!

  • Stayed: April 2009, traveled solo
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Thank snikrep
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 4, 2009

We just got back from a long weekend at Fontainebleau and loved it. I think the mixed reviews on this website are because this hotel is not for everyone. If you are looking for a great trendy hotel, with beautiful people, beautiful rooms, great people watching and really expensive drinks then this hotel is for you. I have stayed at the Lowes, and The National Hotel and can say that the Fontainebleau is better then both of those. For those that complain about drink prices and chair rentals on the beach and the competition to get a pool chair they have obviously not been to South Beach before. Every hotel charges $15 a drink and every hotel charges $12 for a beach chair. Every bar and lounge and restruant adds 18% gratuity- even the airport bars!
We found the service at Fontainebleau amazing; everyone was super friendly and happy to help you. We arrived on a Thursday at 10am and were able to check into our room right away! That has never happened to me before. We paid in the mid $300 for an ocean front balcony room and were very happy with the new modern clean room. We had a flat scene TV, new bathroom and beautiful décor. We were in the Versailles tower so it was a bit of walk to the pool but it’s such a pretty hotel we didn’t mind. We used the gym at $15.00 a day which was nice and clean, again every hotel on the strip charges for using it. You could also run the boardwalk if you wake up early enough and save yourself the $15.00.
The pool is 100% a scene. If you don’t want to get dressed up and watch the people that roll into this hotel then go stay at the Marriott. We saw multiple celebrities at the pool and the beach during our 4 day stay. The pool was definitely more relaxed on Thursday and Friday, but by Saturday the music was pumping and the pool was in full swing. We didn’t get up early enough on Saturday to get a pool chair (you need to be there by 8am) but were very happy at the beach when the pool was busy and music was loud. The beach staff was wonderful; they have a big huge jug of water that is free so now need to order bottled water. The beach staff also walked around with iced wash clothes, samples of fruit juice and Evian face spritzes for no charge.
The hotel is expensive, food is pricy but they at least give you an option where you can go and order your own food and pick it up and bring it to the pool. It saves you the extra gratuity and is the same food on the pool menu. The one other thing we realized that while staying there a hotel key gets you quick entrance into the night club Liv which is one of the best clubs in South Beach. Again Liv is expensive $80 for three people to get in and $15 a drink but it was fun and worth checking out.
In reading some of the other reviews I think we lucked out. We were there past peak and the hotel was at 60% capacity. Which means servers and staff were not as busy and they were happy to help. I can imagine if it was peak season we would have paid more for our room and we probably would not have been able to get into the night club without buying a bottle. All and all we had a great stay and I can’t wait to go back and stay there again once I pay off my credit card bill from this past weekend!

Also keep in mind any review prior to November 2008 was prior to their renovation. I didn’t realize that when I was reading the posts prior to my trip.

  • Stayed: April 2009, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank mas10023
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 29, 2009

Generally we found the hotel ok, renovation was nice. The worst part of the hotel is the TERRIBLE value for money : $7 espresso, $20 drinks, etc. We generally stay in five stars hotels and we don't mind paying for value, but this looks like a place where everybody is out there to get you. Rooms are ok, neat but small... and at $500 a night, please !

  • Stayed: February 2009, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank chicago314
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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