Florida’s Ever-Changing Hotel Landscape

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Another jackpot for Downtown Miami is the debut of the JW Marriott Marquis Miami, which opened last October and has gotten a lot of buzz, and rightfully so. In fact, Crawford from Tempo says, “Downtown Miami is becoming a much more attractive place to come. I think you can see that with these other hotel companies moving into Downtown Miami, like the Epic and Marriott. Sure it’s competition, but that only reinforces that Downtown Miami will continue its acceleration.”

In fact, the JW Marriott brand, purports the company, “is reserved for select luxury properties in key gateway cities and distinctive resort locations.” Adding to the glitz is the onsite 44-room Hotel Beaux Arts Miami, located on the 39th floor of the JW Marriott and providing its guests private check-in and personal escort.

The JW Marriott itself, though, is a complete 180-degree turnaround from boutiquey Tempo, with 313 rooms and 56 suites, three concierge floors, several restaurants and one of Miami’s most talked about new “places to hang”—a 50,000-sq.-ft. relaxation and fitness area with a pool, 10,000-sq.-ft. NBA-approved basketball court, Jim McLean Golf School with virtual golf and lessons, a bowling alley, media room, billiard room, fitness center, and the 4,000-sq.-ft. Rik-Rak Salon & Spa.

What it does have in common with Tempo, though, is abundant luxury amenities, including fabulous views of the city and bay, pillow menus, Italian marble baths and TV embedded in the bathroom mirror. The hotel currently has a Rik Rak Laid Back package featuring 25 percent savings, a complimentary upgrade, spa treatments and more. Rates through April 15 start at $569 per night (lower in summer).

family time Ok, so Downtown Miami’s not for everyone. Families, in fact, might not be the best bet for a Downtown Miami hotel stay, but they’re the perfect candidates for a resort that offers everything from a circus school to talent shows, wave runner outings and kids’ clubs. The Club Med Sandpiper Bay, with more than 337 guestrooms and located on the state’s east coast along the St. Lucie River, has just come out of a $25 million makeover—it re-opened this past December—and as the only family all-inclusive resort in the U.S., it’s just as perfect for families as Tempo Miami and the JW Marriott Marquis are for uber-luxe couples.

“Club Med Sandpiper Bay offers guests a unique family vacation experience,” says Xavier Mufraggi, president, Club Med North America. In fact, he emphasizes that the resort’s “target clientele are families and active vacationers.

“A typical day here for one of our guests could be for them to start the day by taking a yoga class overlooking the river, then enjoying a made-to-order omelet and freshly baked croissants, followed by a walk over to tennis or golf, relax by the infinity pool (exclusively for adults)….” While adults are doing all of that “grownup” stuff, including getting a treatment at the Serenity Spa, children can be taking advantage of The Kidz Village, with a variety of kids’ clubs that cater to kids as young as four months old and up to 17 years of age. In fact, one of The Kidz Village’s most unique features is the BRITTO Art Center, where Britto’s “Mias Garden” art piece is on display. “It is a spacious art studio with large windows that overlook The Kidz Village and bring inspiration to their pieces,” says Mufraggi. “The art center allows children to creatively express themselves in a fun environment.”

Adding to this Club Med’s unique facet is the fact that it is the flagship of Club Med “premium sports” resorts. What that means, says Mufraggi, “is an undisputed large number of activities, and a presence of world-class academies that can provide programs for novice to professional athletes.”

So what’s the ideal accommodation for families looking to rest after an activity-filled day? The Family Club Rooms or Deluxe Family Rooms with two separate bedrooms and a balcony or terrace offering water views. Although, truth be told, we can tell you from experience, at a Club Med, families will be seeing very little of the guestrooms—it’s all about the great outdoors and boundless activities here.

“We offer a tremendous value,” says Mufraggi, “as everything for the entire family is included in one price.” Call for packages and rates.

did you know… Comprised of two renovated Art Deco hotels, the 108-guestroom Dream South Beach, part of the Vikram Chatwal Hotels collection, is slated, as of press time, to open April 1 and according to the press material, the ambiance will be a surrealistic “dream state.” Located on Collins Avenue, the hotel’s decor is a throwback to the late-70s with, as the hotel company defines it, “a hint of poolside glamour.”