The 243-room St. Regis Bal Harbour is one of the most luxurious beachfront hotels in Miami. Highlights include lavish decor, spacious guest rooms with oceanfront balconies, two infinity pools, three on-site dining options, and a prime location across from Bal Harbour Shops. The hotel is an excellent choice for visitors who are indifferent to the South Beach party scene. Rooms are among Miami's priciest (for good reason); travelers looking for a cheaper alternative should try Fontainebleau Resort, 10 minutes south, which has less impressive rooms but more pools, restaurants, and nightlife. Those wanting to be closer to the action could also try the comparably luxurious W South Beach.
Forget the palm tree wallpaper and seashell art. Design-wise, this ultra-modern St. Regis could easily be in Hollywood. From the Rolls Royces and Bentleys parked out front to the twinkling décor inside, this $1 billion property is all about luxury -- and it attracts a high-end crowd. Many anonymous celebrities have reportedly stayed at the hotel, and rumor has it some even own apartments in two residential towers on-site.
Upon arrival, guests staying in suites are likely to receive a glass of champagne before being escorted to their rooms by personal butlers. Two swimming pools and a white sandy beach lie just outside, where a variety of cabanas, bar snacks, and free foot rubs are available. One ocean-view restaurant is open in the evenings, and a jazz band plays nightly in the St. Regis Bar.
Beachfront location in a quiet neighborhood north of South Beach
The St. Regis is located on the beach, directly across the street from Bal Harbour Shops. This shopping complex is far more significant than a typical mall (when Googling “Bal Harbour,” the Bal Harbour Shops website is the first result). Home to seemingly every high-end retailer in the world, the mall is considered by many to be the most exclusive outdoor shopping destination in the country. (Rodeo Drive? Fifth Avenue? Nope. Bal Harbour.)
Beyond the mall, there is little else near the hotel. The pier down on the inlet is a nice place to people- (and bird-) watch. Those who feel like bonding with the locals can bring their fishing pole and join the fishermen out on the rocks. Free village-sponsored activities are also available to visitors, including yoga and Pilates lessons on the beach, outdoor movies, and art events. The livelier South Beach neighborhood is about eight miles south of Bal Harbour, and the hotel car (a $200,000+ Bentley) will transport guests most of the way there (it will take guests to any destination within a six-mile radius).
Two-minute walk from Bal Harbour Shops
20-minute drive from South Beach ($25 cab ride)
25-minute drive to downtown Miami
25-minute drive from Miami International Airport (taxi flat rate of $43, not including tip)
25-minute drive from Fort Lauderdale International Airport (taxi flat rate of $45, not including tip)
Stylish, high-tech rooms with large bathrooms and ocean views
From the bathrooms to the balconies, the St. Regis’s 243 rooms are large. Each has a sleek marble bathroom, oceanfront terrace with lounge chairs, and a digital tablet that controls everything from lights to room service. Touch-sensitive panels on the walls also allow guests to dim the lights and close the drapes, but they can be tricky to use.
The bathrooms have standalone bathtubs and a separate alcove for the toilet, and most also include TVs embedded into the mirrors. In addition to the typical toiletries -- shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion -- guests will find mouthwash, nail files, exfoliating sponges, and emergency sewing kits.
Minibars include over a dozen types of liquor, wine, and beer, as well as sunscreen, candy, chips, and a “Love Box” for couples. Suites also come with kitchenettes and personal butler service, available 24 hours a day.
The St. Regis has eight types of rooms and suites, and they vary primarily by the number of beds and floor space, ranging from 650 square feet to 2,800 square feet. No rooms sleep more than four people, so larger groups may want to book two rooms or consider a different hotel.
St. Regis sits on a lovely stretch of public beach, but the hotel's attentive staff makes it feel more like a private club.
The hotel sits on a quiet stretch of Bal Harbour Beach, easily accessed by walking past the main pool. All beaches in Miami are public, but the hotel claims a stretch as its own, with purple lounge chairs, umbrellas, daybeds and food and drink service just for guests. The beach lacks the crowds and frenetic energy of South Beach, and to most visitors, that's a good thing.
Towels and umbrellas are available free of charge, and beach attendants bring food and drink orders from the poolside bar, Fresco. Cabana rentals are also available for a fraction of the cost of their fancier poolside counterparts.
The sand is soft and relatively clean, with the exception of some dried kelp and seaweed at the waterline. The water stays relatively warm all year, and those who like gentle waves should enjoy swimming here. Unlike some Miami Beach hotels, there are no kayaks or water sports available through the hotel, but the concierge should be able to direct guests elsewhere.
The Ocean Pool sits closest to the beach, and swimmers can dine poolside at tables or in their lounge chairs, courtesy of the bar/restaurant, Fresco. An assortment of Roman-looking stone cabanas lies just beyond the pool. These can be rented for the day and -- despite providing little more than shade, curtains, fruit and a futon mattress -- cost nearly as much as a room at a cheaper Miami hotel. The Ocean Villa Cabanas, available around the corner from the Ocean Pool, are much more elaborate (and expensive). These air-conditioned beauties come with a wet bar, TV, full bathroom, outdoor daybeds, personal butler service, cocktails, fruit, and a whole bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne.
The Tranquility Pool has no cabanas or dining tables and is noticeably quieter than the Ocean Pool. The hotel’s only whirlpool can also be found here, discreetly hidden beyond a row of potted palm trees.
Foot massages, suntan lotion, and fruity water are available free of charge at both pools. Fresco Beach Bar & Grill serves guests at either pool, the cabanas, and the beach.
State-of-the-art equipment with panoramic views of the pool
A spacious 24-hour fitness center is located next to the main pool. The facility is equipped with state-of-the-art TechnoGym machines, including treadmills, a Kinesis machine, and cycles. Many of the cardio machines also have built-in TVs with Internet access, so guests can surf the web and answer emails during their workout. Personal training and group fitness classes like yoga, Pilates and cardio boxing are also available.
A decent luxury pick for small families, the hotel features a Children’s Club, babysitting services, and kid’s menus in two restaurants.
Children ages four to 12 can be dropped off at "Day Camp" at the hotel's Children’s Club on weekdays, and a "Night Camp" is available on Friday and Saturday nights. The club has a playroom with educational activities, and staff members take children on excursions to the beach and pool. The camp is reasonably priced, with a full day of childcare and dinner costing less than a 30-minute massage at the spa.
For children under four, in-room babysitting services are also available by the hour. Two of the hotel’s restaurants, J&G Grill and Fresco Beach Bar & Grill, have kids' menus. Rollaways are available in rooms with king-size beds for a small fee, and one crib is allowed in each room free of charge.
With only one family pool and a limit of four people per room, the St. Regis isn’t one of the most family-friendly hotels in Miami. However, the affordable Children’s Club and quiet beach still make the St. Regis a suitable luxury pick for small families.
Three pricey restaurants on-site: one fancy, one for breakfast only, and one poolside.
J&G Grill, an upscale restaurant serving Asian- and French-inspired cuisine, is a worthwhile restaurant destination even for those not staying at the hotel. It features panoramic ocean view, indoor and outdoor seating, and dishes such as crab cakes and black truffle pizza. J&G is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner. In fact, it’s the only place to order dinner after dark (excluding the 24-hour room service).
Atlantico has indoor and outdoor seating and only serves breakfast. Most dishes are overpriced versions of standard breakfast foods, such as omelets, cereal, and French toast.
Fresco Beach Bar & Grill is the most casual dining option. It’s open during the day for outdoor dining at the pools, cabanas, and beach. Fresco primarily serves snacks, sandwiches, burgers, and expensive cocktails.
For those who want to venture off-site for food, half a dozen more restaurants are located across the street at Bal Harbour Shops.
With a 2,500-bottle wine vault, two bars, and over a dozen alcoholic drinks in every guestroom, visitors are unlikely to go thirsty at St. Regis.
Outside, Fresco Beach Bar & Grill serves an assortment of cold drinks, wine, champagne, and beer to those lounging at the pool and beach. Inside, The St. Regis Bar offers afternoon tea and an assortment of cocktails. Its signature drink is the Bloody Mary, and the menu offers four different varieties using tequila and vodka.
A 2,500-bottle wine vault is connected to the main bar, and private wine tastings can be arranged.
As for non-alcoholic drinks, virgin cocktails are available in both bars and free water is offered poolside.
An art gallery, boutique clothing store, and butler service
Many extras at the St. Regis are expensive, but there are a couple free services worth trying out. The hotel car is a black Bentley worth over $200,0000, and riding around town in it doesn’t cost a thing (within a six-mile radius). There’s also no need to pack sunscreen, because an unlimited supply is available at both pools. Poolside foot massages are another nice perk.
The on-call butlers included with every suite are attentive, to say the least. Not only will they unpack luggage and deliver fresh coffee at any hour, but you might return to your room to find your toiletries organized and dirty underwear folded (as was the case during my visit).
The hotel was designed from the ground up by Yabu Pushelberg and finished construction in 2011.
Construction on the St. Regis began four years before the 2009 recession, so no corners were cut on this $1 billion property. It was built from the ground up, taking the place of a Sheraton Hotel. Lightning-fast, key-controlled elevators and digital room controls give the hotel an especially modern feel.