The difference between great hotels and really great hotels comes down to service.
In a place like Miami, where service is too frequently spotty and full of attitude, I find it a breath of fresh air when I do experience great service. Sorry, but when I am having dinner at the hot-spot-du-jour I find it annoying to have some snarky waiter who is clearly annoyed to be waiting on me instead of partying with his friends. From my experience, you will find none of this at the Ritz-Carlton. Zero, it simply doesn't exist.
When staying in a four or five star hotel, you expect superior service. The expectation of a knowledgeable and friendly staff, for starters. You also expect cuisine in both variety and quality up to the standards for those who can afford to stay in a room upwards of $300 a night. There are the grounds and amenities meticulously tended to and then of course, the rooms. The rooms.
That's where I need to chime in. I never understand when I hear people say, "I don't care about the room, that's not where I'm going to be while I am in Miami." Really? You should.
If that's your outlook, then I suppose Motel 6 is a great deal for you. Give me a break.
When you stay at a Ritz-Carlton, there are no surprises. The last place I want a surprise is in my room. This is where my family will sleep, shower, use the bathroom. Um, yeah I care about the room!
My only issue with the Ritz-Carlton rooms in the past was they were starting to feel a little too "I'm an Old Rich Person" and less of "I'm a Cool Young Person who's doing well." A lot of this explains why many younger, affluent guests stay in other great hotels in Miami like the Mandarin Oriental, the Setai, the recently revamped Fontainebleau, the Viceroy and the like. They want upscale service but they don't feel cool enough in the room. I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure I'm on the mark with with my assumption. Part of Miami's allure is it's cool factor. It's a glamourous place, Miami. Beautiful tropical setting, smokin' hot bodies pretty much everywhere and the in your face Latin flavor is intoxicating for everyone. From the Jersey Shore guidos to the paunchy middle age businessman to the honeymooning couple from Oklahoma, there's a sense of "I'm cool, I'm in Miami" in the air.
I'm here to tell you, the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne is pretty cool, too. First of all, it's a resort setting which is not the norm in Miami. It's huge and the Key Biscayne location gives you that so-close-yet-so-far feeling you might wish for when you don't want to hear thumping music outside your window all night. When you arrive back to the hotel bleary eyed and tired from a sweaty night of salsa dancing, you'll be greeted by a friendly and English speaking staff. This alone might be something you will cherish after a day and night out in Miami. Trust me, señoras y señores. Trust me.
The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne has revamped their rooms and given them a fresh, new look that has not compromised the brand but rather brought it up to date for their changing demographic. Less stodgy, more stylish. Tropical, but not tacky, always luxe. I hadn't been there in a few years and I was really impressed. Rich, bold colors, mother of pearl subway tiles, hot pink fabrics (really!), unexpected decorative touches and a Club Room that didn't feel like any other Ritz-Carlton Club Room. Hand scraped wood floors felt warm and rich against the deep yellow walls and lush floral arrangements. Fabulous and refreshing. Also, it's a look I could decorate my Miami home with. For the first time in a long time, I was inspired by a hotel room. No cheesy artwork, modern, hip pieces were everywhere. No horrific seashell motif anything, please. I am so over the all white decor thing that was everywhere in Miami for so long, whose idea was that? Miami is a vibrant and colorful place. It screams color! Besides, all white decor is so ten years ago. None of that here, thank goodness.
Another cool aspect to the property is how the outdoor space is divided. On the left, there is The Tranquility Pool, on the right is The Family Pool. I'm guessing it's The Ritz-Carlton's uber-polite way of saying, "Honeymooners over here, Loud Splashing Families With Gigantic Bugaboos (Hi, that's me!) over here". This way, moms like me don't get any dirty looks when my son splashes you in your curiously heavily made up face and my three year old daughter doesn't need ringside seats of We Just Got Married make out sessions on the lounge chair next to us. I'm just saying..See you on the Bugaboo side soon, Honey!
If you are staying on the Club Level, which is worth every penny in my opinion, there is a feature I have yet to see in other hotels. The Club Level amenities are extended to the pool and beach area. This way, if you want refreshments in the middle of the day you don't have to get up and go upstairs to the Club Room. There is actually a stand with a wide selection of drinks and snacks. Love that! Especially if you're traveling with a family, you can't beat the convenience.
There are a handful of great restaurants offering global cuisine, a huge tennis facility, a spa and it's right on the beach in Key Biscayne where the hotel offers walking tours and exercise classes. An idyllic setting by any standards, I don't care who you are. I don't speak to hotel restaurants too much because it's not really my thing, I prefer to dine off site for dinner but the breakfast and lunches are fabulous. Everything from Mexican to Italian to arguably the best burger on Key Biscayne. In case you were wondering, this summer they are offering rooms starting at $199, which is an incredible deal and not a rate usually available in the peak season months.
I'm not a travel writer, I am a designer, a working mom and someone who likes to stay in nice hotels when I travel. I like hotels that are luxe, that cater to my needs and are decorated beautifully. And hey, a little ass kissing is just what I need when I'm on vacation. Especially if I can't hang at The Tranquility Pool.
So the next time you don't feel like staying in a hotel in Miami where you might run into The Situation or Snookie, take my advice and stay at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne.
Because you are way cooler than them. You might even get some redecorating ideas!
Like a paint color? Ask. Like an art installation? Ask. Dig the table lamp? Ask.
I'm pretty sure, it'll be their pleasure.
Keep up with designer and TV Personality, Courtney Cachet on Facebook, Twitter and her website, www.courtneycachet.com
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