A tranquil 450-room island resort off the Miami mainland on Key Biscayne, the Ritz provides some of the traditional "Ritzy" benchmarks -- impeccably kept grounds, huge pools, a brilliant spa, a world-class tennis center, a kids' club, and elegant (if generic) interiors. Too bad service is uneven and the sliver of beach is covered in seaweed.
Something for everyone: a world-class golf; a full-service spa; a 125-foot waterslide. And it's all graced with warm, friendly service in a scenic resort setting. Just know that you're isolated on-site, you're nowhere near the beach, and everything costs extra -- often quite a bit extra. Expect prices to rise even more after a $200 million renovation in Fall 2013.
Built in 1926, the iconic Biltmore (a national landmark) brings timeless luxury to a hotel scene overwhelmed by skin-deep glitz. Though far from any beaches, it offers doting (tip-free) service, a miraculous pool, a prestigious golf course and a catalog of amenities. Unfortunately, its residential neighborhood can get boring.
A clean, lively beachside resort in sleepy Miami Beach, the Palms takes style lessons from the hip boutiques -- think poolside house music, a fun tiki bar, updated rooms, and an Aveda spa. But for nightlife, revelers must head to South Beach, a five- to 10-minute taxi ride away.
Located inside "the Grand" -- a business district complex of offices, condos, convenience shops, and five so-so restaurants -- the 152-room Doubletree is a good but not great choice. It has an Olympic-size pool, a huge Jacuzzi, and a modern gym, but cleanliness is questionable and the rooms are mediocre. Nearby, the similarly priced Hyatt Regency offers bigger, cleaner rooms.
Completely renovated in December 2008, this towering, 601-room Downtown Marriott caters mostly to business travelers. The pool, brand-new fitness center, business center, and free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel make it a great pick. Though more stylish, the Epic and Intercontinental hotels both have similar amenities, and often cost considerably more.
Comparable to its next-door neighbor the South Beach Marriott in both price and quality, the Bentley places stately decor (marble floors, fringed drapes) within beachside condo-style suites -- a curious combo. The amenities are nice, but if you're looking for quiet luxury in South Beach, take that $300+ a night and head 15 to 20 blocks northward.
Renovated in 2004, the South Beach Marriott meets the standards of its parent company (clean, comfortable rooms; competent service) while providing a few pleasant surprises of its own (an aviary; a scenic patio), all in a hip SoBe neighborhood. But for the price, you can usually find a South Beach hotel that also offers doting service and innovative design.
The Marriott's 363 guest rooms are clean and comfortable and it offers a free shuttle to Miami International. But nice touches -- in-room air purifiers/humidifiers and hypoallergenic upgrades, a large pool and fitness center, a quality restaurant, sports bar, and a Starbucks -- make it a cut above. But breakfast and Wi-Fi both cost extra.
Mr & Mrs Smith
Preferred Hotel Group
You will be signed out of Oyster and Facebook