Driving north from South Beach along Miami Beach’s famed Collins Avenue will lead you right into this .6-sq.-mile neighborhood, and if you think you’d miss such a tiny “village,” think again. You’ll know when you’re in it, because although it’s petite in size, it offers up quite a different personality from the surrounding area and what a personality that is. Talk about knowing how to push the envelope when it comes to offering up a great Wedgewood platter of luxury.
Indeed, this is where sought-after, top-notch brands such as Jimmy Choo, Stella McCartney and Marc Jacobs come to show off their oh, so, divine masterpieces in the renowned 40-year-old Bal Harbour Shops, which jostles for attention with the twinkling blue Atlantic Ocean. And sprinkled throughout this gem of an enclave are a few select resorts, including one of our favorite beachside properties, ONE Bal Harbour, a member of Benchmark Hospitality International’s Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels and Small Luxury Hotels of the World. What an oasis—and we know first-hand, because just a few short months ago, we were lucky enough to kick-back and take in all the pampering.
Amenities? They know no end here, and it all starts at the winding driveway that serves as the entry point to the 5-acre property, where guests are attentively welcomed into a world of pure bliss. The 2-story lobby awaits, and this is no mere lobby. Here, guests are greeted by an exceptional and warm staff for which going “above and beyond” is second nature, as well as Jatoba columns, leather-upholstered walls and marble flooring topped off by 22-ft. ceilings and oversized glass windows that present picturesque views of the surrounding waterways. Those views, in fact, play an integral role in the resort’s setting and ambiance.
“We sit right at the corner of Bal Harbour—unobstructed views of Intracoastal and Atlantic from all areas of the property,” says Kanwaljeet S “Rikki” Boparai, the hotel’s general manager. “In addition, we are one minute away from the world-renowned Bal Harbour Shops. Design-wise we feature only two accommodations per floor. Each accommodation offers floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the water with stand-alone egg-shaped tubs. There are also full kitchens in our suites, offering a more residential feel.”
And yes, you read correctly—that’s two accommodations per floor (how’s that for sublime?). And upon entering the accommodations, it’s truly a sanctuary within an oasis. The 124 oceanview guestrooms—in studio or suite layouts and accessible by semi-private elevators—range in size from 510 to 2,800 sq. ft. and are outfitted with the best of the best: European wood cabinetry and granite countertops, 42-inch flat-screen TVs with Bose SoundSpace surround sound, feather-top mattresses—a delight after all that exploring around town—draped in luxurious 350-threadcount bedding and a living space that flows out to large panoramic terraces with views that are heavenly, especially during sunrise. Our favorite part of the accommodations, though? The bathrooms—it was our guilty pleasure during our stay to wile away the late-afternoon in the freestanding tub while perusing life beyond our glass tower via the 10-ft., floor-to-ceiling windows, which look out over the inlet and the ocean. Mesmerizing.
Beyond those stately accommodations, lies a world of pure pleasure, including a whimsical dining experience, Mister Collins, and an indulgent retreat filled with out-of-this-world treats, the 10,000-sq.-ft. Spa at ONE Bal Harbour, as well as the secluded beachfront pool with comfy furnishings and attentive staff, not to mention private cabanas with individual hot tubs.
“Our amenities are vast,” says Boparai, pointing out that, “we like to say we have everything for the jet-, wet- and pet-set. We are pet friendly and have a complete Posh Pet program including bedding, amenities and services such as grooming and veterinarian services available through the ‘Pawcierge.’ The spa has been awarded four stars by Forbes Magazine and is a soothing centerpiece, and offers complimentary yoga and Pilates on the beach. Beach lovers have access to an insulated nook of North Miami Beach, with full service, and the pool area offers cabanas and private jacuzzis in addition to a well-lit, clearly marked running path throughout the property. If guests want to venture off property, we have two complimentary shuttles—one that extends all the way to South Beach, at the ready.” He adds that adding to the exclusivity is the fact that there are no resort fees, “although we are replete with amenities,” including 24-hour concierge service, personal shoppers and a multi-lingual staff that can help accommodate guest requests that range, the resort says, from “evening-out attire to private jet and yacht charters.”