- Almost no amenities
- Unreliable service, no designated concierge
- Spa is sometimes unstaffed and by appointment only
- No pool
- No lobby lounge area or bar
- Features exaggerated on website
More a temporary-stay condo building than a hotel, Casa Grande is in a prime location but lacks the amenities, atmosphere, and public spaces of a traditional destination property.
A large group of 20-something women squeezed into the lobby with their luggage, gossiping about a brother's divorce suit and a friend's latest tiff with her boyfriend while the ringleader negotiated an upgrade at the front desk. And that was the liveliest the hotel ever got during my visit. Casa Grande is a sort of pseudo-hotel: The privately owned condo suites have a gorgeous lobby, housekeeping, and a sporadically staffed spa, but it feels much more like an apartment building.
Without a bar or restaurant, the building is largely devoid of atmosphere. Presumably many guests are partying behind closed doors, but except for the occasional run-in with other guests in an elevator, it's easy to spend time here without seeing another soul.
Minimal at best. Getting answers to questions can take some nudging.
If you don't expect much in the way of service, you won't be disappointed. After check-in, many guests will go the rest of their visit without staff interactions.
The front-desk staff is sometimes there, sometimes not, and doubles as concierge only in theory. When I asked about getting access to a local gym, the guy at the desk offered complimentary passes but didn't know where the gym was located. He promised to look it up while I settled into my room, but never called with the info -- and, when I returned later, he had forgotten to look it up at all.
The hotel boasts a spa, but it too is staffed only part-time.
Housekeeping does provide turn-down service. When the munchies hit late at night and I found no minibar, I was glad for my square of Ghirardelli white chocolate.
Centrally located on Ocean Drive, Casa Grande is in the thick of South Beach’s restaurants, bars, and beach.
Casa Grande is located in the middle of the madness on Ocean Drive, across the street from Lummus Park and the beach. The street is lined with tourist-trap restaurants and bars, with hosts and hostesses luring guests in for giant mojitos and overpriced seafood, all to the soundtrack of motorcycle engines revving and subwoofers slowly rolling by in the thick of South Beach traffic.
It's also a block away from Collins Avenue, which, a few blocks to the north, is a drag of high-rise, swanky party hotels, and remodeled Art Deco heritage buildings. Collins also has a smattering of convenience shops and liquor stores, plus a 24-hour Walgreens a few blocks north of 8th Street for self-catering.
No on-site restaurant, but just outside the door is the full range of eateries -- good, bad, and ugly -- lining Ocean Avenue. Full kitchens make dining in easy.
A fully equipped kitchen, including a full-size fridge and freezer, and plenty of cupboard space make it easy to fix meals at home. But beware: The closest grocery stores are a few blocks away.
Across the street from Lummus Park's white-sand beaches and the crowds of Miami sun worshippers.
The Casa Grande is located on Ocean Drive, across the street from Lummus Park and its long stretch of public beach. The beach is huge -- it's 100 yards wide between the nearest walkways and shore, and stretches for miles along Miami Beach. Its soft white sand and blue water are surprisingly clean, even while a jumbled horde of families, couples, tanned muscles, and semi-nude sunbathers crowd the beach from dawn to dusk.
Guests can grab towels from the front desk, but the hotel doesn’t offer chairs or umbrellas. Boucher Brothers rents chairs for $10 a day and umbrellas for $20.
Casa Grande's 55 suites, all privately owned condos, come in several sizes: junior suites, with two queen beds and an open living space; one-bedroom suites, with separate sleeping and living rooms; a two-bedroom suite; and a three-bedroom suite. The decor varies but is simple (not exactly luxurious), and furnishings are generally modern and comfortable.
Bed configurations vary depending on the suite -- mine was king-size with smooth, white sheets and down pillows. They're comfortable but not luxurious -- no pillow-top mattresses, name-brand sheets, or even down comforters fluff up the bedroom.
Suites all have fully furnished kitchens. Mine had dishes, silverware, basic cooking utensils, a full-size fridge, a dishwasher, a microwave, an oven, a juice squeezer, and a stovetop. The kitchens aren't stocked with any food; the only consumable in the room was a packet of coffee. There are no minibars for emergency snacking. The hotel's website boasts about stocking the rooms with fresh oranges so you can squeeze your own juice; I found a few oranges in the lobby, but none ever appeared in my room. These two TripAdvisor reviews make the same complaint.
My suite had two bathrooms. A spacious full bathroom was across the hall from the bedroom and had a separate vanity/sink area and a shower room but no bath. A half-bath was off the living room. Towels are provided, but there was little in the way of toiletries -- just a couple of sample-size Essential Elements facial bars.
Rooms all have flat-screen televisions with DVD players. The junior suites have a single television; one-bedroom suites have two. A full cable package and pay-per-view movies are provided. My room had a CD player and an alarm clock, but there was no iPod dock -- despite a claim to the contrary on the hotel's website.
No pool, gym, on-site restaurant, bar, or cool lobby hangout. And the "spa" is by appointment only.
Casa Grande's condo suites are tucked behind the shops and restaurants on Ocean Drive, but the building itself doesn't offer much in the way of amenities -- no pool, gym, restaurant, or bar. The lobby is pretty and has a small seating area, but there's really no reason to hang out here.
Rooms have free Wi-Fi. My connection was reliable.
The website boasts a spa, so I expected a beautiful facility off the hotel lobby. I was never able to see it: Visits are essentially appointment-only. This isn't the sort of place where guests can casually make use of hot tubs or saunas.
Pet owners will also be pleased to know that the suites are pet-friendly (although some suites never allow pets, so those with allergies can request a non-pet suite). Pet service costs $50 per day; they'll arrange walkers and appointments at local grooming places.
Huge suites are ideal for families. And despite the central SoBe location, rooms are quiet, and whatever partying that happens on the premises goes on behind closed doors.
Given the general lack of amenities, it's no surprise that special kid-centric features are nonexistent. But the huge suites are perfect for families and have plenty of room for cribs. Each suite also has a pull-out couch. Cribs must be requested ahead of time and cost a one-time fee of $25. Full in-suite kitchens facilitate simple meals for kids. And the large televisions with cable, DVD players, and pay-per-view movies make for entertaining downtime. Plus, the rooms are well insulated from the noise of the SoBe raging outside.
Super-clean. Though the suites feel more like apartments than hotel rooms, housekeeping cleans daily, and it shows.
Housekeeping really seems to scour these condo suites between visits. The sheets and towels are fresh, and every inch of the apartments is immaculate.
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