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isemida Jan 9th, 2020 06:09 AM

3 Romantic Nights in Miami/Miami Beach
This is the trip report for part 2 of our babymoon in Florida. We started the vacation with 5 nights in St. Petersburg before driving to Miami. I think this was the right order, as Miami is much glitzier compared to the down-to-earth vibe in St. Pete.

Day 1

We arrived at The Cadillac Hotel in Mid-Beach around 5PM. The hotel was crazy-busy, and our room still wasn’t ready. To be fair, it was New Year's Day and they were fully booked. We decided to wait on the beach right behind the hotel, where the cabana/lounge-chair guys were closing up for the night but nicely gave us a few towels to lay on. After an hour of sunset bliss, we checked in with the front desk again.

Here I must describe an experience that to me epitomizes Miami. This city seems to revel in brazenly flaunting inequality and exclusivity. No matter how much you spend, the message seems to be, the guy next to you is going to be richer, fancier, and getting something you can’t have.

We’d splurged for an oceanfront room at the Cadillac. This category actually encompasses a wide variety of rooms so, at booking, we specifically requested a room with a balcony. We were told, “We’ll try, but no promises.”

At check-in, we ended up next to a couple who was making a big stink because they’d reserved a specific room but had been upgraded to a better one. The check-in staffer was describing the glorious view and balcony that awaited them, while they sniffed haughtily.

“Can I have that room if they don’t want it?” I asked.

“No,” our check-in person said.

“Are we going to get a balcony?” I asked.

“No,” our check-in person said.

“But we asked for one at booking,” my husband cut in.

“Well, we can’t guarantee anything.”

“But you guaranteed them one!”

“They’re return guests and staying for six nights. But don’t worry, you’ll love your room!”

Thus faced with the facts of our inferiority and running late for dinner, we took our room keys and joined the elevator line. In the New Years check-in craziness, one of the two elevators had broken down with a guest inside, leading to much frustration from guests looking to make their way up and down the floors.

Personally, I’d have walked if we didn’t have our luggage with us (and, since I’m pregnant, lugging my carry on up nine flights was a no-no). However, it seems that the Miami luxury hotel crowd does not like to walk up and down stairs. Indeed, when we had dropped off our luggage, we began mostly using the stairs to get to and from the room, and never once encountered another guest!

Moving, we finally get to our room, and, alas, it is right next to another elevator. Every couple minutes, we hear a calm but persistent “whooosh...thud; whoooooooooosh…thud” as the elevator travels up and down.

We returned to the front desk, where we were assured that those elevators were secondary and would be turned off by 10PM so we could sleep. Mollified, we headed to dinner at the Matador Room, a 12-minute walk away on the boardwalk connecting the various Miami Beach resorts.

The Matador Room was located in a resort even fancier than ours. We oohed and aahed at the decor on our way to our seats. For dinner, we enjoyed a variety of inventive tapas. Food and ambiance here were excellent, though our server was not the greatest. But overall I highly recommend this restaurant!

After dinner, we walked to listen to live music at Faena’s Living Room bar. The ambiance here was just overwhelmingly perfect. The hotel was gorgeous, the bar was stylish and cozy, and the drinks and desserts were delicious. All the tables were taken, but we improvised by borrowing an unused chair from a table for me and setting it up by a leopard-print pouf for my husband. We listened to an excellent jazz set while enjoying a deconstructed cheesecake dessert and fruity cocktails/mocktails and headed home.

After all the adventures, we were ready for bed, but it was not to be. Though it was nearly midnight, the elevators by our room had not been turned off, and we were greeted by the regular melody of their whoosh-thuds. We called the front desk a few times and were promised that the engineers were working on it (overall, this all seemed quite sketchy to me). Finally, we dropped off to sleep -- whether the elevators were actually ever turned off will forever remain a mystery.

Day 2

Though the insidious elevators by our room seemed to have quieted down at night, they were certainly back in business in the morning, waking us up bright and early with that now-familiar whoosh-thud. I threw on a bathrobe and practically ran down to the front desk. Miraculously, the manager promised to help us find another room. Feeling optimistic, we packed up our things and headed to the breakfast buffet.

The benefit of getting up early was easy access to the front row of lounge chairs on the beach - we reserved a couple with a perfect unobstructed ocean view and ran down to the water. It was surprisingly warm, and the waves were just perfect. We spent a blissful day alternating between dips in the ocean and relaxing on the shore.

It was late afternoon when I spotted a purple creature bobbing in the water a few feet away. Nervously exiting the water, I made inquiries and determined that it was a Portuguese man-of-war, which apparently often appears in the Miami Beach waters at this time of year! Fortunately, I’d somehow managed to spend the whole day in the water without getting stung or even realizing the danger I’d been in. Another little miracle, methinks.

Oh, also, at about mid-day, we had gotten keys to a new room. It was probably one of the best rooms in the whole resort, leaving us shocked and happy. We had a balcony with the perfect view and no elevator noise!!! And guess who we spotted on the balcony just below ours? The fancy couple from check-in. Somehow we’d ended up getting the same royal treatment as them.

We had tickets to a Miami Heat game, so we showered, changed, and headed to downtown Miami. There, we ate a delicious dinner at the Perez Art Museum’s cafe and then checked out the art (there were 3 excellent exhibits going on while we visited, plus a few rooms displaying pieces from the permanent collection).

We walked over to the basketball stadium, awed by the gorgeous spectacle that is downtown Miami at night - all contemporary architecture, white facades, and buildings lit up in all colors of the rainbow. The game was excellent, even from our nosebleed seats, and cheering a Heat victory, we made the arduous journey to our Uber and back to the hotel (arduous due to several closed-off streets and crazy traffic!)

Day 3

After a good night’s sleep, we ordered room service and enjoyed it on our balcony. Then, we headed off to a boat ride that my husband had booked. The idea was to charter your own boat and cruise around the bay for a couple of hours. We’d done boat rides before, but never in a private boat of our own.

I think renting a private boat is a cool activity if you can swing it, but I don’t think we did it exactly the right way. Here are my lessons learned from our experience:
  • BYO food and drinks or order some to be waiting for you on board (note: if the boat has no bathroom, pace your liquid intake if you are pregnant and have to pee all the time)
  • Figure out itinerary ahead of time so you have a general idea of where you can go and what you can see
  • It is a million times better to do this in a group, because it comes out super-expensive for one couple
  • Importantly, read the fine print about costs! If you’re expected to pay for fuel, ask how much it will cost...otherwise you’ll get a bit of a shock realizing that 2 hours of boat fuel costs over $100!!!!
Having finished our boat ride, we opted for some lunch. We tried to return to the Miami Edition hotel (home of the Matador Room) to eat at their more casual restaurant, but were unceremoniously kicked out since apparently that restaurant is for hotel guests only. Fortunately, Essencia restaurant provided a delicious lunch just down the boardwalk at the Palms hotel.

After lunch, we retired to our room to enjoy the balcony and views and also to take a nap. By the time we got up, it was dinnertime, and we opted for a simple al fresco meal at our hotel’s Bungalow by the Sea.

We decided to enjoy our final night in Miami by going out. Our initial plan was to return to Faena for more live music, but it was quite crowded and we discovered that we weren’t even really allowed to sit unless we paid $100 each in food and drinks...which is hard to do if you are not a big drinker (or pregnant like me). We decided to check out some other hotels instead.

We walked down Collins Avenue looking for music. First, we stopped at the One Hotel, where the atmosphere was relaxed and a band was playing Cuban music in the stylish lobby, chock full of art installations. After a while, we checked out the Setai, which had a DJ, a light show, and breathtaking performances by acrobats and fire breathers. At this point, our energy ran low and we returned to our room.

Day 4

Alas, our babymoon was coming to an end. We got a room service breakfast delivered to the adults-only pool to enjoy al fresco, relaxed on the lounge chairs for a bit, and took a quick swim before heading upstairs to shower and pack up.

After checking out, we went to the Bass Museum, which exhibits contemporary art right on Miami Beach. The exhibits were pretty unique, though my favorite piece was probably the famous Miami Mountain sculpture outside. Before long, it was time to head to the airport, where we caught a flight back to NYC.

Overall, we loved our time in Miami and were already plotting a return trip as we made our way home. Despite all the exclusivity, it is just such a beautiful place with the unique allure of the beach and the big city all in one place...and there are whole huge parts of the city we haven’t had the chance to explore yet!

Some Photos

Miami Mountain

Perez Art Museum

Downtown Miami at night

Evening entertainment at the Setai

BuffaloGirl Jan 10th, 2020 10:58 AM

Nice report and pictures....thanks for sharing! I've been to Florida a gazillion times but have never made it to Miami. We are finally going in March and really looking forward to it.

BuffaloGirl Jan 10th, 2020 11:15 AM

I just looked up the Setai and the Friday night Asian bazaar. Can you enjoy the performances by acrobats, fire breathers, etc. if you just stop in for a drink or do you have to order dinner?

isemida Jan 13th, 2020 06:48 AM

Originally Posted by BuffaloGirl (Post 17043520)
I just looked up the Setai and the Friday night Asian bazaar. Can you enjoy the performances by acrobats, fire breathers, etc. if you just stop in for a drink or do you have to order dinner?

Yes, absolutely, it's all one big space and the bar is in the middle of the action :)

BuffaloGirl Jan 13th, 2020 10:15 AM

Thank you isemida!

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