Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Business travelers mix with the locals coming to dine at the restaurant.
I saw a lot of locals coming in to dine at Shula's Steak 2 or work out at the gym. I also saw a lot of businesspeople in town for meetings. In fact, one of my editors remembers accompanying her mom to a meeting at Miami Lakes when she was a kid and spending the night at Shula's.
Staff members help out when asked for help, otherwise they're hands-off.
On arrival, I heaved my bags through the main entrance and down a long hallway with the front desk at the far end. The staff directed me to my room, but that was about the only interaction I had with them.
The few employees I encountered were very polite, but they weren't exactly eagerly waiting to come to my aid. As the hotel is primarily known by locals for its restaurant, so most folks flowing through the building know where they're going. Still, when approached, the staff was very helpful, giving me directions to the closest pharmacies and stores and sharing their recommendations on places to eat outside the hotel.
It's easy to get lost in this remote residental area where all the buildings look alike.
At the corner of Bull Run Road and Main Street, the hotel is surrounded by a residential community where all the buildings look alike -- it's easy to get lost.
Large, comfortable and clean rooms with fast Internet for $10.
The room where I stayed is through Shula's Steak 2 and inside a U-shaped building adjacent to the main building.
I swiped my key by the door to enter said building, which reminded me a little of college. Well, OK, the long hallways are much cleaner than any dorm I've ever lived in, but the vending machines and strictly functional stairwell bring back memories.
Hard-wired Internet is $9.95 a night, but it's fast enough to be well worth it.
There's everything but the beach -- a pool, hot tub, beautiful garden, and huge spa and fitness center.
Don't expect to see any ocean at the far inland Miami Lakes. To make up for it, Shula's has a bunch of facilities.
First off, there's a beautiful garden right by the main building with lush vegetation and bougainvillea galore. This classic scene is spoilt by Shula's penchant for kitschy cast-iron sculptures, but the grounds are so well-manicured, I was willing to forgive the gaudily painted baseball scene.
A tennis racquet-shaped pool at the other end of the garden has a lot of room on the patio to lounge in the sun. But the pool isn't large enough for swimming. It is better used for cooling-off after a soak in the hot tub at the far end of the courtyard.
Computers are available at the Steak 2 Cyberzone for free, but they're tucked away in the corner of the Shula's Steak 2 restaurant. It's a little weird -- and very distracting -- to be browsing the net right next to the buffet table.
Shula's enormous spa and fitness center is across the street from the main building. The spa is run by Aveda and has its usual range of organic, new-age products and services. Both the spa and fitness center are frequented by more locals than guests. The security guard told me that the neighborhood's housing committees offered a complimentary one-year membership to new residents. So expect to see a gaggle of kids pulled along by their parents to various classes in the huge wooden gymnasium or the eight clay tennis courts. But cardio and weight-training rooms were kid-free.
World-class greens are a mile away, but there's a free shuttle.
Most guests come to Shula's for their top-notch golf courses. They're lush, they're huge, and they're a mile away from the hotel! Fortunately, there's a free shuttle. The smaller, Executive course is free to use. But the Senator course, the prestige course originally conceived by golfing legend Bill Watts and redesigned by Kipp Schulties, can cost as much as $115 for hotel guests (though rates are considerably less expensive after 2 p.m.).
No complaints -- the hotel is perfectly clean.
Everything is spick and span as far as our eyes could see!
The steak restaurant attracts both locals and travelers. There's also a basic breakfast café.
Apart from the Vie de France café on the curb, Shula Steak 2 is the only real restaurant at the hotel. It serves a cheaper and more casual fare than the original Shula's Steakhouse that's out by the golf course -- a mile from the main building.
For a quick bite in the morning, pick up a fruit cup, freshly baked pastries, or a Starbucks coffee at Vie de France. But there are no sandwiches or savory food.
The legendary Shula's (the inspiration for a nationwide chain of steakhouses) was completely renovated and re-opened to the public on the day we arrived. It's quite expensive, but the rooms are beautiful and have great vistas of the Senator course. Take the complimentary shuttle over for finer dining than the casual Shula's Steak 2.
Great golf, business amenities, fitness activities, and family features, but Miami's attractions (and beaches) are a world away. The suburban Miami Lakes lacks the vibrant flair of South Beach, and there are nothing but chain-restaurants nearby. But Shula's steakhouse is good enough to draw locals in from the greens.