Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators.
The Loews draws an eclectic crowd that doesn't exemplify the sexiness usually associated with South Beach. The 790-room behemoth lets conventioneers, families, and older travelers have their fun, too.
The massive Loews literally overshadows much of South Beach's small-scale charm (as well as the hotel's own pool after 3 p.m.), but it has some of its own to spare. In 1997, ownership refurbished the abandoned 12-story and added an 18-story balconied tower in keeping with the St. Moritz's future-of-tomorrow design. The hotel was renovated in 2009, and terrazzo floors, , and rich, fragrant colors add a lavish touch. But I still needed a map to navigate the 790-room mega-complex.
It's effectively South Beach's first truly family-friendly hotel -- a bold, in-your-face rebuke to its posh, party-focused neighbors like the Delano. It's the only South Beach hotel to offer organized pool games and a kids' club. But the Loews is here to stay. Even the Delano needed to fashion a beachside play area to keep up with it.
With 65,000 square feet of function space, the Loews is extremely popular with conventioneers (fun-loving vintners during my stay). I also saw international businessmen and their families enjoying crazy American things like cheese fries and beers from a plastic, ice-filled bucket.
The service is a little prefab, especially during high-volume conventions, but the staff is generally friendly and accommodating. Be sure to get vocal about any inconvenience: Management is generous with vouchers.
Service across the Loews is very friendly, and the staff really makes an effort to personalize interactions despite the hotel's large size. Perhaps this is in part due to the 20 percent gratuity that is added on to room charges.
The concierge was equally gracious and accommodating, making sure to save a place for me on a guided tour that was about to start, and even having them hold the tour until I arrived.
Room service was also impressively prompt. When I placed an order at 10:40, I was told it would arrive no later than 11:10; it was at my door at 10:55.
Service is prompt right through to the end of the day; housekeeping stops by at 6 p.m. to turn down beds and provide complimentary bottled water and mints.
The Loews’ convenient location is guests’ favorite feature of the hotel. It’s on the beach, shopping is around the corner, and Ocean Drive is five minutes away.
The hotel is conveniently located across from the Anchor Shops, half a block from a 24-hour Walgreen's, and just a block away from .
The area's only drawback:, a South Beach institution (pun intended) known for its salty tenants and shady front-porch dealings, is across the street from the hotel.
There is plenty of beach space in front of the hotel, and guests never complain about being able to find adequate space to sun themselves, but to get a chair guests have to pay Boucher Brothers $10 -- like anywhere in South Beach. The same company also rents out Jet Skis ($80 per half-hour) and offers parasailing ($60 for a 10-minute ride).
Rooms (starting at 350 square feet) are larger than many other Art Deco hotels in the area.
Many guests on TripAdvisor complain about small rooms. To get a bigger rooom at a comparably family-friendly hotel, unfortunately, you have to leave South Beach and head up the coast to either the Fontainebleau or the Newport Beachside.
The St. Moritz Tower is touted for being quieter and more "boutiquey" (and is the site of the spa, , and the kids' camp, but those concerned about space will probably prefer the . Incidentally, the Tower is also cheaper.
My deluxe city view room (the smallest, least expensive room available) had 300-thread-count sheets and a safe large enough to fit my laptop. Modern touches included an iHome and a 32-inch LG flat-screen TV. Wi-Fi was also available, at a cost of $12.95 per day. Bathrooms come equipped with a hairdryer, LATHER bath products, an "Ultimate Doeskin" robe and cotton terry towels.
I had a chance to take a look at somerooms in the Loews Tower, which was built in the late '90s. With clean carpeting and modern light wood furniture, these rooms felt lighter and more spacious than my room in the St. Moritz Tower.
The resort's enormous zero-entry pool is lushly landscaped and decorated with -- sort of like the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Both it and the are open 24 hours, and many guests mention enjoying the hot tub in particular at midnight or later, once the kids have gone to bed. Fruit smoothies, frozen grapes, and Evian mists are distributed to guests on the hour -- for free! -- and the hotel even has "pool concierges" to send faxes for guests who prefer to work poolside in the sun.
One gripe that a number of guests do have, though, is that the pool deck can get quite crowded, as it would at any 790-room resort.
The lovely Elemis Spa, located in the Moritz building, offers treatments like facial acupuncture to reduce wrinkles (allegedly), and hair and scalp conditioning treatments with rare oils from Tahiti that I can't even pronounce. Don't worry -- there are also good, old-fashioned manicures (starting at just $20, not a bad deal!), pedicures, and massages. I received a friendly welcome at the spa, which even sells its own line of products. The nail and hair salon are in one room, with treatment rooms in another area.
The spa'sis also shared by the Loews, but guests must pay $10 a day to use the facility's dozen cardio machines (which include personal and ), free weights, and resistance machines. The facility also offers personal training sessions, Pilates classes, and yoga on the beach.
More than any other South Beach hotel, the Loews works to accommodate business travelers.
With enough space to accommodate groups of 3,000, the Loews is a popular choice with conventioneers -- a much cheaper alternative to the chichi Fontainebleau further up the beach. Other amenities include oversize desks, notaries on-site, and a “pool concierge.”
Calling itself "the most pet-friendly hotel around," the Loews provides a room-service menu for pets, maps of local dog-walking routes, and even a bevy of beds, toys, and accessories (at extra cost, of course). Per the fine print, guests are required to pay $10 an hour if a pet is left unattended and needs to be removed from a guest room (if it's barking its head off, I guess).
Kids stay free, play at a daily activities camp, and can eat off their choice of special menus. The Loews definitely lives up to its slogan, “Loews Loves Kids.”
The Loews offers kids' menus at all of its dining establishments, organized poolside games, and a kids' camp that gives parents some alone time (for a fee of $40 to $80).
At the, housed in the , enthusiastic counselors host activities like sandcastle building, water balloon tosses, and Nintendo Wii competitions from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and until 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays) for kids ages 4 to 12. Rates are $40 for a three-hour morning or afternoon session ($55 if lunch is included), and $80 for a full day.
There is also a toy library for small children to borrow beach toys, and a repository of age-appropriate DVDs and PlayStation games for kids to use in their rooms. There are even restaurants and bars so that Mom and Dad can booze in peace. In the 2010 renovations, the hotel installed a lobby aquarium and a SoBe ice cream shop and plans to create more family friendly services.available for kids in the
All kids under 18 stay free in rooms with existing bedding; cribs and rollaway cots are $25 per day, per availability.
Choices abound with six restaurants and bars, but nothing comes cheap.
Preston's Brasserie serves up traditional hotel fare -- overpriced breakfasts (including a $28 buffet), surprisingly delicious quesadillas, and attentive service. Servers call guests by name, but it's only because the hostess writes it on a small card and places it on the table while seating you. Still, very thoughtful.
The poolside restaurant, Nautilus, offers all the poolside standards -- burgers, wraps, salads, smoothies -- but the large portions don't make up for the pricey, subpar food.
The new Sushi SoBe in the lobby didn't seem to pull in the crowds. (It never requires reservations, not a good sign.) In fact, I didn't see anyone eating there during my stay, and I wasn't going to be a guinea pig at a raw fish tasting. At least one Yelp reviewer can vouch highly for the food, however.
The nearby Hemisphere Lounge serves fantastic drinks and gives out a complimentary plate of cheese, olives, and nuts.
An extravagant, 790-room beachfront giant geared toward service, the Loews has the features of a mega-resort -- a huge free-form pool, organized kids' activities, and four on-site restaurants -- all in the heart of South Beach. A great pick for families who don't want to be stranded in a remote resort further north, like the Fontainebleau or Newport.