Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
The Churchill Suites hotel company leases condos from the Intracoastal, so guests share the space with many permanent residents, including retirees, young professionals, college students, and families with young children. The wide demographic appears to coexist peacefully. The Sunday poolside barbecues are the hottest social events. When one resident spotted me photographing the pool, he asked if I was there to "take pictures of the nudie chicks." I said I hadn't seen any. "You should've come on Sunday, man," he replied. The building is comprised of many young, hip residents (as evidenced by the Tupac playing one floor below us and the flashy cars in the parking garage), but the real nightlife is a half-hour drive away in South Beach.
Families and seniors splash about in the full-size, statue-flanked pool. Others laze on the many chairs hidden behind planters that surround the red-brick deck. There's an on-site marina, but the beach is a 15-minute walk away.
Churchill Suites feels more like a condo than a hotel. Guests must check in at a leasing office, which can be a long process. However, most of the staff is very attentive.
Offering on-site service geared toward long-term renters, there's not much consideration for short-term stays. To check in, guests have to go to the leasing office. During my stay, I got the impression that the leasing-office staff wasn't prepared; they asked to see my confirmation printout and made multiple calls to the Churchill Suites office off-site to sort out the process. I even called the Churchill Suites myself, but no one picked up. Eventually, I called the emergency number and learned that the keys to my suite were in the guardhouse at the front of the property. Problem solved -- and it only took about an hour of rigmarole. Fortunately, the property manager was attentive from then on. She gave me her cell phone number and called back multiple times to make sure everything was fine: "If you need anything else, just call."
Fortunately, there's little service to request. The rooms are pretty well-designed to provide guests with anything they might need in advance.
Parking is included in the room rates.
True to its name, the Churchill Suites Intracoastal Yacht Club sits on the Intracoastal Waterway, on the western shore of suburban Sunny Isles. As such, the property overlooks plenty of fancy yachts, but guests don't see sand unless they make a 15-minute walk to the beach -- a long block east to Collins Avenue and several blocks north to the public entrance.
Dining options are limited, but the Intracoastal's rooms are equipped with full kitchens. Many guests said they do a great deal of food shopping at the on-site Marketplace convenience store. The strip malls along Collins Avenue do offer some possibilities. I enjoyed the Porterhouse Bar and Grill on 70th and Collins Avenue, half a mile away. It's been featured in the Miami Sun-Post's 2008 "Best of Food" article for its three-for-one happy hour. The portions are large, but dinner for two, including a few beers and a $38 12-ounce steak, runs about $90. Also nearby, there's the New San Telmo Argentinean Steak House, located by the Papa John's in the local strip mall on 169th and Collins. There, a Coke and a chicken Caesar salad runs about $19.
There isn't much doing in terms of nightlife that far up on Collins.
The Intracoastal is on the Intracoastal Waterway, across the island from the beach, so it's a 15-minute walk to the sand -- at least the public access area. The views from the balconies take in the on-site piers where renters park their boats. At the 170th Street entrance, there were no vendors selling food or beach chairs available for rent. The pier just off 167th Street is worth a look. There's a restaurant called Pelican on the Pier, which is a fun place to grab a beer during the day (it's closed after the sun goes down).
The rooms, or rather apartments, at the Churchill Suites Intracoastal Yacht Club are large and in charge. (I stayed in No. 806, a two-bedroom suite.) Spacious and comfortable, they're particularly well-suited to families or long-term guests; suites have full kitchens including a full-size fridge, cooking utensils, and even a dishwasher. Add to that a tasteful, conservative décor, and the place quickly feels like a home.
There's no Wi-Fi in the room, but I was able to hook into the complimentary wired Internet without a problem. There are two large flat-screen TVs -- a Sylvania in the living room and an LCD Emerson in the master bedroom. A Philips CD stereo system and VCR-DVD player round out the entertainment center, and there's also a modest clock radio in each of the bedrooms.
The fitness center boasts a separate room for its nine cardio machines and a full complement of upper- and lower-body Cybex equipment. A pair of flat-screen TVs hangs from the ceiling in the cardio room, and there's an additional tube TV in the weight room.
The spa was under construction during my visit, so I didn't get a chance to check it out, but it is now open and offers steam and sauna rooms as well as massages.
Although the Churchill Suites Web site says the property contains a game room and sports club, I wasn't able to access those facilities during my stay. Management subsequently informed me that hotel guests are normally supplied with an electronic key to those areas, and can use them as freely as longer-term residents can.
Property has a dry cleaner and a DVD rental machine on the premises.
Parking is included in the room rates.
A 15-minute walk for an adult isn't 15 minutes for a child -- the beach is a long way away. A car would help, but even then, children would have to cross busy Collins Avenue. Aside from this, though, families would generally fare well at the Intracoastal Yacht Club. The in-room kitchens and washers and dryers are a great way to save some cash (and hassle), and the private bedrooms are ideal for both parents and kids.
The suites were impressively clean with only one minor flaw.
The full kitchen, coupled with the on-site convenience store, allows for basic meal preparation in the rooms. Beyond that, the nearest restaurants are at the Town Center mall, a long block away on Collins Avenue. There, there's the Porterhouse Bar and Grill, but this is a rather pricey option (dinner for two is about $90). The food at the nearby Argentinean restaurant New San Telmo isn't bad, however, and a single meal costs about $19. Generally speaking, the area is sprinkled with chain stores such as Papa John's and Einstein Bagels, all located in strip malls; nearby offerings aren't too impressive.
The Intracoastal Yacht Club offers a quiet, bayside experience with fully equipped, family-friendly apartments that include kitchens, washers and dryers, modern electronics (but no Wi-Fi), and great balconies. But beyond in-room cooking, meals are a bit of a hassle, as is the 15-minute walk to the beach. Also, these are condominiums, so don't expect traditional hotel service.
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