Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
The staff is polite, but guests shouldn't expect above-and-beyond service.
Every staff member I encountered was polite, but with just one employee at the desk (either singing to the constantly looping Gloria Estefan music videos or trying her best to ignore the muted screen), there's no one to pamper guests.
I did encounter an all-around runner -- someone who would sporadically carry bags and open doors, plus he showed me a few different rooms -- but I never relied on him being there. Most often, I was left to fend for myself.
On Ocean Drive, across the street from Lummus Park and the beach, Cardozo is beside some of the more sedate Ocean Drive properties. However, the scene nearby is of the novelty thong and eight-ounce shot glass variety, not the posh, couture-seeking set (which is about six blocks away in either direction).
As 1930s architecture failed to account for the Bikini-tini, the rooms don't block the noise. Guests in rooms facing the street can expect to hear traffic and cell-phone screaming at night. Still, the Cardozo is certainly at the South Beach epicenter. To say the least, it is in a premier, people-watching position.
Minimal light, earthy accents, dark-wood furnishings, leopard-print headboards, and terra-cotta stucco walls create some ideal mood-lighting inside the room. But they also made getting any of my work done in the dark a little tricky.
Though clean, the rooms were clearly from another era -- when Gloria Estefan was topping the charts. In a shameless attempt at self-promotion (or perhaps this was the brainchild of her co-owner, husband, and producer, Emilio Estefan Jr.), Gloria stacks her CDs for sale (and only her CDs) in every room, just beside an outdated boom box, and beneath an archaic, standard-screen TV.
In keeping with the original Art Deco architecture, the bathrooms are extremely cramped.
There's no pool and no gym, and the on-site restaurant needs to rethink its dinner menu.
Lacking a pool or gym, the Cardozo's only draw is its location on Ocean Drive (although, this ignores its since-hip celebrity owners' kitsch appeal, worthy of a VH1 reality series).
Throughout my trip, the restaurant remained empty. Against the advice of all my Miami friends, I resolved to eat there and find out what was so horrible about the Oriente restaurant's "Cuba meets Far East" entrées. Gratuitously overpriced and poorly prepared, everything I sampled was, in the words of a photographer who accompanied me, "Bad, it was all just really, really bad." (Clearly, she wasn't hired for her poetics.) I did, however, enjoy the Oriente's breakfast.
It can be difficult to keep outdated Art Deco looking clean, but housekeeping is on the ball.
The Cardozo housekeeping runs a tight ship. Anyone who can keep outdated Deco looking like new (or at least not that old) deserves a medal. So many other hotels tend to appear somewhat decrepit one year after their renovations, but the Cardozo manages to keep the rooms, and even the bathrooms, looking clean.
Owned by Gloria "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You" Estefan, the outdated (but clean) Cardozo is across from the beach on vivacious (and noisy) Ocean Drive. Lacking a pool or gym, the Cardozo tries to compensate with a Cuba-meets-Serengeti-meets-Bhutan décor and a restaurant that makes equally little sense.