A weekend in paradise…I mean, a weekend at The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne, was tasty, fabulous, swanky and purely blissful. I “escaped” to this Miami property a couple of weekends ago for a family staycation (the resort is about 20 minutes from my house, give or take Miami’s relentlessly chaotic traffic); hands down, this five-diamond resort on one of the area’s most beautiful stretches of beach is one of my favorite properties in South Florida. It’s got the views, the service, the amenities, the spa, and the laid-back, barefoot elegant ambiance. It’s really got just the perfect Miami chic vibe going on, and the best part is, families are not only welcomed, but embraced. Here are a few takeaways from my recent stay.
- Book the Club Level guestrooms. Yes, it might cost a bit extra, but access to the stylish Club Lounge, with top-notch service, means food presentations daily for breakfast, lunch, mid-day snacks and more; and a selection of wines, liqueurs, beers and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as other goodies. If your clients book the Club Level, definitely tell them to take advantage of the food presentations, because it’s an ample and delicious spread (breakfasts are a must).
- If your clients long to stare out at the beach during their stay, then, of course, book one of the Oceanfront View guestrooms, but the 420-sq.-ft. Island View rooms are no slouch—you get something that many folks don’t equate with a vacation in Miami (a view of the sun as it descends over lush Key Biscayne). Families, however, will want to opt for one of the suites, perhaps the 800-sq.-ft. Club Oceanfront Suites (access to the Club Lounge), which features a bedroom with king bed, a living area with sleeper sofa, one-and-a-half baths, and the option for a connecting room. Know, too, that the resort is undergoing a renovation of public spaces and guestrooms. Once the 447 guestrooms get their facelift, so to speak, they’ll show off a new look that brings the blue of the ocean into the accommodations (set to be complete later this year). After September, starting rate is $629.
- Eat up! We started our morning with breakfast at the Club Lounge, and a cafe con leche, or latte, as the non-locals call it, from the adorable Key Pantry: Eat.Drink.Shop., an open-style marketplace cafe (your clients will want to take some goodies from here home with them). During our stay, the Fountain Cafe, with indoor and outdoor seating, proved to be one of the most popular spots for breakfast. For both lunch and dinner, we opted for Cantina Beach—the views, the breeze and the culinary creations, including a guacamole de mesa starter prepared tableside, are a delight. In fact, when we weren’t by the pool or hanging on the beach, we always somehow made our way to Cantina Beach (and that high-caliber Ritz-Carlton service is unbeatable). Kids will want to take advantage of the poolside Scoop ice cream parlor (there are also fresh smoothies for mom and dad, if they aren’t having the delicious vodka-laced frozen lemonade at Cantina Beach). The resort’s famed Cioppino restaurant is currently closed as it undergoes renovations. Once it reopens in December under its new name Light Keepers, it will offer an ambiance that reflects the resort’s location, serving coastal cuisine and paying homage to the nearby Cape Florida Lighthouse.
- Speaking of the stunning neighborhood lighthouse, tell clients to explore Key Biscayne itself, including taking a trek (maybe on bike) down to the Bill Baggs Cape Florida state park, home to the Cape Florida Lighthouse. They can tour the lighthouse and learn how lighthouse keepers lived in bygone times (it’s a cool experience for the kids). Of course, this being an oceanfront resort and all, there’s ample beach time, as well as hours of fun at the pool. Both the beach and pool offer drink and food service, and who doesn’t want to hang by the beach, lying on a cushy chaise longue, gazing out at the beautiful ocean while being waited on (it’s the only way to spend hours upon hours). And there are various non-motorized watersports options available. For moms and dads who want some alone time, the resort offers an adults-only pool.
- My younger kid didn’t get a chance to try it, but the resort’s Ritz Kids program is known for being one of the best of its kind in the area, with activities such as Something’s Fishy, during which they learn about animals that live in the sea, as well as outdoor games including kickball.
- Golfers will want to try out the nearby par-72 Crandon Golf Course, while tennis pro wannabes will want to hang at one of the largest tennis facilities of any Ritz-Carlton worldwide, the Cliff Drysdale Tennis Center, with one hard court and 10 soft clay Hydrocourts, as well as several clinics and lessons. Court fees are $15 pp per day, and include unlimited play, can of balls, refreshments and towels; racquet rental is $7 daily.
- Top off the day with a drink at Rumbar, a 1940s Havana-style bar and lounge with rich dark woods and fun cocktails (see photo).
For more information, visit ritzcarlton.com.