Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
The 390-room Trump International Beach Resort caters to both families and business conferences. When I visited, dozens of kids were frolicking in the hotel's pools, while 200-some consultants were locked inside all day. The vibe for both families and professionals is casual and accommodating. There's a resort mascot named Globie who wanders around the pool entertaining kids, and the hotel brought in a pretty local singer and a comely Cruzan Rum girl to entertain the business boys one evening when I was there.
The hotel strikes a balance between luxury and casualness throughout. Sure, the hotel restaurant, Neomi's, has white tablecloths but it's also the sort of place that parents feel comfortable wheeling in their twin toddlers on a wagon for breakfast. Service at the beach and around the pool is unfailingly friendly and helpful, but more low key than higher-end Miami hotels. Attendants give guests towels, but at the pool they don't make up chaise longues for them.
Guests I talked to, from young families to businessmen to a woman who'd brought her soon-to-be married daughter, seemed very happy with the hotel generally and the service in particular. Most of the guests who report unhappy experiences on TripAdvisor seemed to feel that it doesn't rise to the level of a genuine five-star property but is rather "a solid four-star oceanfront resort." Fair enough: That's precisely what it is, and an affordable one at that.
Perhaps the source of the confusion is the hotel Web site, which mentions "five-star service." But when I spoke with hotel management, it became clear that the resort aspires to a solid four stars with the occasional five-star service flourish, like the handwritten note from guest services and the beef carpaccio appetizer that was left in my room on the first night. Those who know other Trump properties might have higher expectations. But when evaluated independently, the resort proves to be a solid value with wonderful service and ample amenities.
With four-star service that is truly friendly and refreshingly casual, the staff at the Trump makes everyone -- not just beautiful people and big tippers -- feel welcome.
At some Miami hotels, you could be forgiven for feeling that the staff caters only to high rollers and regulars. That's distinctly not the case at the Trump, where the staff seems truly happy to help and isn't always looking for a big tip.
Service is top-notch but casual. The porter who brought my bags to my room showed me around, quipping that consuming something from the minibar would cost me only my first born child. This is a departure from the Trump International Hotel in New York, where service is quite formal ("Yes, sir" and "Hello, Mr. So and So, what can I do for you?"). The Trump in Sunny Isles takes a more beach-inflected approach -- but the staff is no less helpful. When I had problems with my room's TV, a technician was at my door to fix it in just three minutes. Turndown service went beyond the chocolates on the pillow, though those were there too. On my first night, I found in my room a tasty beef carpaccio appetizer topped with microgreens and a dollop of asparagus pudding, and a handwritten note welcoming me to the hotel.
Service at Neomi's restaurant strikes a fine balance. It offers white-tablecloth fine dining -- amuse-bouche, anyone? -- but also plastic, character-festooned sippy cups for the kids. Waiters earnestly recommend their favorite dishes, not just the most expensive ones, and water glasses never go empty.
Some may feel the service is a bit too casual. It typically took about four rings for the front desk to answer the phone, and the receptionist didn't address me by name when she picked up. Nor does the staff descend on beach-goers as soon as their feet touch the sand. Still, as soon as help is requested, it is unfailing friendly and helpful.
The Trump International Beach Resort is located in Sunny Isles, about a half-hour drive from South Beach, and right on the beach. Don't confuse the Sunny Isles stretch of Collins Avenue with the far different pedestrian portion in South Beach. Here, it's a busy six-lane road that can only be crossed at a stop light at the end of the long block.
Aside from the beach, there's little to explore on foot around the hotel. A large, unappealing strip mall full of fast-food and casual restaurants sits across the street. There's also a Publix supermarket across the street for stocking the kitchenette.
For shoppers, the hotel provides free shuttles to Bal Harbour mall, 10 or 15 minutes away, and to Aventura mall, five or 10 minutes away. There's a also a free, 30-minute shuttle to South Beach that makes its last run at 8 p.m. With a focus on young families and older people, there's next to no nightlife in Sunny Isles.
Sunny Isles Beach features calm waters and an equally mellow vibe. It's a public beach, but the hotel claims a stretch of it with chaise longues, towels, and food-and-drink service just for guests. The beach lacks the crowds and frenetic energy of Miami Beach, but the hotel's plot of sand feels pleasantly private.
Guests easily access the beach down a set of stairs from the pool area. The pool bar, Gili's Pool Bar and Grill also has an outpost on the beach. Attendants set up chaise longues, umbrellas, and towels, and bring drinks and sandwiches.
A city lifeguard is stationed next to the hotel's stretch of beach. The lifeguard I spoke with said the water was usually calm and safe for kids, with a slight undertow on occasion.
The only negative, especially for families, is the prevalence of smokers, something TripAdvisor reviewers have noted. The reason, I suspect, is the resort's popularity with Europeans and South Americans.
Rooms at the Trump don't compare to the modern, highly stylized rooms of the more expensive Acqualina next door, but they did undergo a decor renovation in late 2011 that added some much needed color to the space.
My suite featured a king-size bed dressed with soft Egyptian cotton sheets, and a perfectly light down comforter. The pillow-top mattress added to a dreamy night of sleep.
The room's 42-inch Philips HDTV is big and beautiful, and broadcasts a number of channels in high-def, something I didn't see at the Acqualina next door. A few bugs were still being worked out with the HD. Channel changes can be slow, and my TV went on the fritz a few times during my short stay. Rooms also feature Timex alarm clocks with MP3 player connections.
Large bathrooms feature waffle robes and Ecru toiletries. Standard guest rooms feature standalone showers with glass doors, and junior suites have a tub as well. Like the rest of the room, the bathroom is expansive and comfortable but lacking in high-design features.
All rooms feature kitchenettes, and suites have full but minimally stocked kitchens.
The hotel's biggest and best feature is the huge, dramatically arched grotto-style pool that overlooks the beach. It also has a family-friendly beach-entry area. Attendants don't set up each guest on a chaise longue as they might at a higher end resort, but attentive food-and-beverage service available from Gili's pool bar and grill.
The hotel gym has nearly a dozen cardio machines, a maze of weight machines, and a large free weight setup. It's a fine, no-frills place to get a workout, but looks out onto Collins Avenue and the strip mall across the street -- no beach views for gym bunnies here. After working out, guests can use the shower, sauna, and steam room in the Aquanox Spa next door, which provides a full range of treatments, from a caviar facial to a moor mud wrap. The locker rooms show their age in the tiled floor and worn metal doors.
The resort also has two artificial tennis courts in good, but not pristine, condition.
As befits a Trump property, the business center stands out: Not just a windowless room with a few computers but a dramatic circular room with a 360-degree view of the lobby.
The hotel's biggest and best feature is the huge, dramatically arched grotto style-pool that overlooks the beach. It also has a family-friendly beach-entry area. Attendants don't set up each guest on a chaise longue as they might at a higher end resort, but attentive food-and-beverage service available from Gili's pool bar and grill.
While the fancier Acqualina next door charges $55 per day for its kids' programming, the kids' club at the Trump is free. With large rooms, kitchenettes in every one of them, and washer-dryers in many suites, rooms are also family-friendly. The resort's large grotto-style pool has a beach-entrance shallow area that's great for little ones in water wings.
The main restaurant Neomi's, is fancy but also family-friendly. I saw parents wheeling their twins in on a wagon one morning. During dinner, waiters bring amuse-bouches to adults and sippy cups to kids with equal panache. The room-service menu also features options for the kids like French toast sticks ($7), chocolaty milk ($4), and a grilled cheesy sandwich ($8).
The hotel also has a mascot named Globie, after the globe sculpture that decorates the hotel's entrance. I didn't catch Globie on my visit, but I'm told he often roams around the pool area entertaining kids.
Clean but not spotless, the Trump International Beach Resort shows some wear and tear, and the occassional bit of dust.
As one would expect at a four-star resort, the Trump International Beach Resort is quite clean. But it's also showing a little age. Hallway carpets have the occasional stain, furniture the occasional scuff. A very minor offense.
A bigger slip was the severely battered and crumb-laden room-service tray on which my otherwise beautiful breakfast arrived one morning. Gross.
The hotel's main restaurant, Neomi's is a white tablecloth sort of place with nary a dinner entrée under $32. Still, it's also the sort of place where you can take the whole family. And when I visited, there was a $36, three-course prix fixe available with many bottles of wine in the low $30s. Everything I tried was beautifully presented and tasty, if not life-altering.
Some TripAdvisor reviewers have complained about the food options -- or lack thereof. Neomi's happily accommodates families, but many will find it too formal and expensive for routine meals, especially with kids.
Outside of the hotel, nearby dining options are limited. I tried the sushi place in the strip mall across the street one night and had some predictably mediocre fare.
Room service is available 24 hours per day. Prices look somewhat reasonable until you add the 20 percent service charge, 9 percent sales tax, and $3 delivery fee.
Around the pool and at the beach during the day, Gili's pool bar and grill, serves moderately priced sandwiches and wraps, but it closes as the sun sets, leaving guests to find dinner elsewhere.
A well-priced, amenities-packed hotel right on the beach in Sunny Isles, the Trump International Beach Resort offers service that's extremely friendly and professional, but more casual than at other Trump properties. Limited dining and nightlife options, plus kid-friendly features, make it a better fit for families and business travelers than scene-hunting sophisticates.