Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A self-proclaimed "art hotel," the Sagamore doubles as a gallery for owners Cricket and Marty Taplin's personal art collection. Stepping into the large, open lobby feels like walking into an art opening -- before the party has started. Colossally tall ceilings and vast white walls showcase a funky collection of modern art. But unless the hotel happens to be hosting a special event, you'll likely see fewer guests mingling in the lobby than at the nearby party hotels, such as the Delano and Shore Club.
The tiny front desk sits demurely off to the side and back of the lobby, which makes for an apt metaphor for the relative attention focused on guests and atmospherics. The small wooden desk is barely staffed, but guests can gaze at an arrangement of mounted seashells and stones as they wait for the person ahead of them to finish complaining about their iPod dock not working or asking where to put their luggage.
Though the lobby doesn't get much use, the pool deck and outdoor restaurant host a mix of 20-something vacationers and all-age art nerds, here to relax in the big guest rooms (all suites) or soak up the fancy but low-key SoBe surroundings. And, of course, this is a hot spot when Art Basel Miami Beach, the mammoth contemporary art exhibition, comes to town in December.
Overworked front desk staff and seldom-present bell staff are a bad start. You might find a friendly pool attendant or two, but service is otherwise underwhelming.
The service at the Sagamore evokes the kind of treatment you might get if you walk into a snooty art gallery wearing flip-flops or a T-shirt. The front desk staff could barely be interested in checking me in, and my reasonable requests at the front desk and concierge were treated as a nuisance. Porters are only occassionally present. Even the concierge desk was inconsistently staffed, and when I asked for a hotel brochure, she told me to just go online. Several TripAdvisor reviewers were also disappointed with the service.
The exception to this parade of bad attitude is the friendly and helpful pool staff.
The self-proclaimed "art hotel" has an impressive collection on display throughout its grounds, including wall-size photos by Massimo Vitali of the Sagamore filled with nude guests on the day it opened; a limited-edition chair by Richard Artschwager; and an outdoor helicopter installation. The Stairwell Project is one of the coolest staircases I've ever seen.
Unfortunately, the art is the only exceptional feature of the Sagamore. The zero entry pool, which the hotel's website describes as "beachfront," is pretty but small, and while the ocean provides nice background sounds, it isn't visible from the pool itself. Instead, the pool is bordered by well-manicured hedges and palm trees on one side and views of neighboring Loews and National hotels on the other. A few beach loungers are lined up around the pool, and funky wicker loungers with pop-up shade hoods are lined up along the path leading to the beach. Towels are available and the pool bar offers poolside service.
The Sagamore Plan, which costs $10 per day per person, gets you continental breakfast, in-room Wi-Fi, local calling from your room, and a beach chair from one of the Boucher Brothers stands on the Lummus Park beach in front of the hotel. This is actually a pretty great deal, but I didn't learn about it until I left -- the front desk staff never offered.
There's an on-site gym across the garden, but it's small, minimally equipped, and (worst of all) not air-conditioned. I met a guest there who had finished a short run on one of the treadmills and was really unhappy about the hot, stuffy workout space.
The small spa has a couple of treatment rooms for massages and facials and an outdoor massage table with an ocean view. But it doesn't hold a candle to top South Beach spas like those at the Hotel Victor or Delano.
The Sagamore's 93 suites and bungalows -- furnished, like the rest of the hotel, mostly in white (with some cream thrown in here and there) -- all have full kitchens and separate living spaces and bedrooms. My standard suite was a spacious 550 square feet, with the rooms divided by sliding doors, a bathroom, and a kitchenette.
The bed lived up to the grandeur of its giant padded headboard: the king-size pillow-top mattress was dreamy, the sheets crisp, clean, and smooth.
Kitchens feature full-size fridges, stoves, microwaves, coffee machines, and toasters. There is plenty of counter space for cooking, and dishes and cutlery are provided in the cabinets and drawers.
Minibars consist of towering glass shelves stocked with everything from disposable cameras and mints to a collection of liquor nips and Pringles. The fridge is also stocked with a convenience store's variety of beverages; Heineken, V8, Frappuccino, and Red Bull spice up the ordinary collection of juice, soda, and water.
The clean, ample bathroom conveniently opens to both the entry hallway and bedroom. It has a Jacuzzi, but a plastic shower curtain undermines the otherwise luxurious feel.
In-room Wi-Fi is available under the Sagamore Plan, which costs $10 per day per guest.
Lincoln Road Mall, an outdoor pedestrian mall with everything from pharmacies and Starbucks to designer clothing shops and premier cuisine, is just a short walk away. Busy, sceney Ocean Drive begins just south of the hotel and is lined by restaurants with aggressive hosts and hostesses offering discounts on their giant mojitos and overpriced food. Quaint Espanola Way, also nearby, has more low-key, affordable dining options.
Nightlife abounds in just about any direction along Collins Avenue or south on Ocean Drive. The Clevelander and Delano all offer classic Miami hotel-lobby party scenes, and giant blended cocktails line Ocean Drive most nights.
Guests have access to the beach via Lummus Park’s pathways and boardwalk, and get "free" chairs with the $10 Sagamore plan.
The pool deck has direct access to Lummus State Park. Cross it and you're on world-famous Miami Beach, with its miles of clear, blue waters and soft, white sand 100 meters wide. This part of the beach is somewhat calmer than the area to the south, but the whole thing is public, so it's not immune to South Beach's jumbled horde of families, couples, tanned muscles and seminude sunbathers.
Under the Sagamore Plan, guests get free lounge chairs, but umbrellas cost an extra $20 per day. Towels are provided next to the pool.
The grounds are pristine and the linens are clean -- but the stark white furnishings have begun to show signs of use.
The Sagamore is very clean and well kept -- sheets and towels were impeccable, and the grounds were very well maintained. But white walls, floors, bathrooms, and furnishings all too easily show even the slightest bit of wear and tear. Slightly weathered deck chairs look grimy around the edges. And tile grout is glaringly dark in the otherwise white bathroom.
Rooms here are particularly well suited to accommodate families: All rooms have pullout couches and kitchens, and there's plenty of space for rollaway beds or cribs, both of which are free of charge. And the pool has a toddler-friendly beach entry section. On the other hand, the gallery-like atmosphere of the lobby and hallways really isn't hospitable to kids.
Whitehall, the latest reincarnation of Sagamore's in-house restaurant, opened in February as a replacement for China Grill's Social Miami restaurant. The Italian-based menu serves mediocre food in an unwelcoming and frequently empty dining room. The sadly wilted lettuce in my salad at lunch somehow captured the essence of the place.
Not far from the hotel, of course, are plenty of good restaurants, especially around Collins Ave and Ocean Drive. Lincoln Road Mall's outdoor pedestrian mall has everything from Starbucks to upscale dining, and Espanola Drive, just three blocks south of Lincoln, has affordable restaurants and charming ambience away from the loud beach scene. There's also a 24-hour Walgreen's half a block from the hotel to stock the rooms' spacious kitchens.
A fairly priced, fashionable option for oversized rooms
A self-proclaimed "art hotel," the beachside Sagamore boasts an impressive private collection of paintings, sculptures, photography, and even video art. But back to the hotel: The suites and bungalows are huge, and the SoBe location is prime. However, the pool is small and service is borderline negligent.