Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators.
The Ramada Plaza Marco Polo Beach Resort ain't pretty. Fake palm trees flank the seating in the tacky lobby. A half-price jewelry store, the Petit Musee art store, and other kitschy or vacant commercial properties make the place feel like a pawn shop. The faint sound of classical music doesn't add much atmosphere. Averaging around $119 a night, the place skimps on design and upkeep but passes the savings on to the customer.
Guests include equal parts hard drinkers and families with small children from both the States and Europe. (I overheard Russian, Spanish, and German.) Much of the action takes place at the pool, which fills up in the afternoon with 20-something all-day drinkers, retirees, and family units. Funnels of beer are offered alongside in-pool smokers alongside children, whom I spotted challenging one another to reach the bottom of the 8-foot-deep pool. Despite the chaos, I didn't hear many raised voices. The main sounds were those of parents directing their children and the distant tones of '80s music from the poolside café.
Passable, no-frills service, once you get past the notably unhelpful concierge.
The concierge displayed little desire to help me find my way around the neighborhood. Taped to the back wall of the concierge desk was a sign that read "It's My Pleasure" in red ink, one word per sheet of printer paper. The first words I heard from Patrick, the concierge, were quite different: "Dammit," he whispered as he handled some guest luggage. Later I asked about a good place to eat, but all the concierge did was hand me a sheet of paper titled "Where to Dine & Drink." That's all the help he was willing to give.
Still, for simple requests, the service was solid. I asked for extra towels at 11:30 a.m., and by 11:45 a housekeeper was at my door.
Right on the beach, but it's a 15- to 30-minute walk from anything -- including a place to eat.
Located in Sunny Isles, one of Miami's Northern Beaches, the resort is basically located in a beachside suburb -- not much nighlife or quality dining around here. It's more isolated than, say, the Newport Beachside Hotel & Resort (in North Beach), which itself isn't exactly a hot spot. The resort faces a parking lot across the street; immediately south lies an on-ramp to a bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway. That's it.
Disappointed with the food options at the Ramada, I asked the concierge for off-site recommendations. He said anything worthwhile would be at least a 15-minute walk away (which, I'll add, is where I started encountering strip malls and restaurants attached to other hotels).
The strip malls along Collins Avenue do offer some possibilities. I enjoyed the Porterhouse Bar and Grill, a 10-minute drive or 30-minute walk 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.
Past the pool, the Ramada's beach is more populated than some of the stretches further south. On one afternoon, I counted 64 sunbathers and 15 swimmers in the area behind the Ramada -- a huge jump from most Northern Beach resorts. Early in the morning, I spotted some leftover litter like bottles, cans, and plastic bags, but sweepers came by later in the day to remove the refuse. At that point, there were only flecks of seaweed.
The main advantage to the rooms is the space, but it's only a slight advantage. The standard rooms (mine was a two-queen room) are so large that they almost feel unfurnished. In the standard double-queen room, the second queen-size bed lays a full six feet from the window, and there was a similar void between the entertainment center and the table. A little odd, but it gives hyperactive youngsters a bit more space to run around without hitting their heads on anything.
The beds have Serta Innerspring mattresses and are covered with worn bedspreads whose . There aren't many white materials in the room: The bedspreads are orange, red, and green, the carpets are faded blue, and the walls are dull beige. These are the best colors for obscuring stains and scratches, of which there are many. (See the for more on this issue.) The furnishings include a pretty badly beaten table, a scuffed and scratched countertop, and a fridge with rust at the edges.
The bathrooms are dated and in disrepair. In my room, one of the plastic coverings on the toilet seat's hinge had broken off the tissue dispenser was flecked with rust, and there were other stains and discolorations on the sink and in the tub.
The Apex flat-screen TV sports 41 channels and is a welcome distraction from the rest of the room.
As for noise, it wasn't an issue for me; the rooms are largely set away from traffic on Collins Avenue, which in the Northern Beaches isn't that loud anyway. Noise from fellow guests wasn't a problem for me, nor was it a common complaint on TripAdvisor.
The pool was by far the hotel's best amenity. Michael Phelps could win an officially sanctioned race. This curvy structure, cut in half by a lane rope, isn't made for serious workouts.throughout the day to drink, take an occasional dip, and socialize. It's clean, clear, and well maintained, with no leaves and little other debris. Still, to me, "Olympic-size" means a 50-meter (or, if you're feeling generous, 25-meter) pool where
The Ramada Web site advertises complimentary wireless Internet. It's true I didn't pay extra for a connection, but I didn't get a signal either. When I did muster a hookup, I couldn't load even the "Basic HTML" version of Gmail. When you can't get a signal, you can use the hotel's business center, with its typical pair of two computers with printers set up in the lobby. Internet access costs $2.99 to log on and 59 cents a minute thereafter.
The fitness center is passable, if merely because of its of the beach (though it's mostly a view of the pool deck). With numerous weight machines and free weights in great condition, there isn't anything lacking, but I did hit my head on the low ceiling doing some pull-ups.
For what it's worth, the Ramada's guest laundry facilities are among the most extensive anywhere in Miami Beach: seven washers, seven dryers, and a load cost of $1.25 each.
Some family-friendly amenities, but a dirty room and cigarette smells aren't ideal.
The complimentary continental breakfast buffet draws a great number of families, and the Ramada provides high chairs for little ones. Baby-sitting service is available with advance notice.
Pretty gross, really. More funk in here than in a James Brown song, and more stains than a church window.
This hotel is not clean. A powerful stench -- something like flatulence, paint thinner, and ammonia mixed together -- permeates the lobby. On my floor, one butt smell was replaced by another: Stale cigarettes tinged the air. For some reason, smoking and nonsmoking rooms are aligned next to each other.
The rooms' carpets are pockmarked with stains of varying colors; that dark-blue carpeting might've hidden some of the damage at one point, but by now it's time for new floor coverings. The discolorations' origins are sometimes easy to guess: the telltale dribble of poorly aimed sunscreen, for example. The rust-colored or ones, however, are harder to identify. Fortunately, barring a on one of my blankets, the bedding is better maintained. Guests looking for relatively hygienic shut-eye will find their needs somewhat met.
The continental breakfast buffet, free for two adults and two children under 12, consists of watery oatmeal, , and . , , and round out the offerings, but not by much. My Danish tasted pretty stale. Servers bring pitchers of coffee, and there are complimentary USA Today newspapers at the hostess stand.
A Pizza Bianco runs $20, including taxes and tip (not included). My room service request was at my door in less than 20 minutes. The quality is good, but not good enough to justify the price.from the on-site
At the poolside café, guests order $8.50 pina coladas and daiquiris (both served in plastic cups for safety's sake) as '80s pop plays on the radio. Much like the Ocean View Café, the Lounge piano bar is dead most evenings, barring several people who were there to shoot a quick round of pool.
A gym and bad food, made worse by the fact that you've got to walk 15 minutes for strip-mall restaurants. The pool and the beach are decent, but this Ramada is cheap for a reason. For better rooms, sacrifice features and move to South Beach or spring for the pricier Newport Beachside., smelly 250-room hotel with a drab