Six miles away but an easy drive from South Beach, the barrier island of Key Biscayne is handy for a quick escape when you’ve had your fill of Ocean Drive’s exuberance and shopping on Lincoln Road. The hotel sits amid copious tropical foliage on a 12-acre stretch of Atlantic beachfront, offering plenty of quiet corners to hide out.
All rooms received a full refurbishment two years ago, although the hotel had then been open less than eight. Marble tubs and spa toiletries lend a European feel to the bathrooms, while beds are dressed in the finest grade Frette linens. iPod docking stations, now obligatory in any hotel makeover, complete the modern touches.
The two pools couldn’t be more different. An adults-only, cabana-surrounded tranquillity pool designed for relaxation is shielded from the lively, zero-entry family pool by judicious use of bamboo screening, which absorbs almost all the noise. Inside, wooden framed furniture and period décor evokes a feel of 1950s Havana, particularly in the unusual rum bar that offers regular tastings of 52 rums from 18 countries.
Eating and drinking
I loved the idea of “moonrise dinners” on the outside tables of the Cioppino Italian restaurant. Star-spotting tips from the resident constellation concierge, and a telescope on every table, complement the wonderful Tuscan cuisine. But the hotel’s culinary gem is the beachfront Mexican-themed Cantina. The snapper cerviche is a must, and executive chef Andres Palange squeezes every lime by hand. The restaurant also boasts the country’s first and only tequilier, who can advise on more than 85 varieties.
I’ve seen entire hotels smaller than the 20,000 square feet spa, where darkened, candlelit hallways set the scene for the tranquillity therein. The more adventurous head for the 11 tennis courts, where former Wimbledon semi-finalist Cliff Drysdale is the resident professional. One of the biggest tournaments in tennis, the Sony Ericsson Open, takes place on Key Biscayne every March and it’s not unusual to see the game’s biggest names staying at the hotel.
Every staff member carries a credo card with the motto: “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” It shows.
Who stays there
Families, couples seeking respite from the party-pace of South Beach, tennis professionals and those who would like to be.
Themed packages offer significant savings on daily rates, and can include breakfasts, tennis court time, spa treatments and bicycle and kayak rentals.
- Business Centre
- Fitness Centre
- High-Speed Internet
- Room Service
- Swimming Pool
- Families with younger children
- Sporty types
- Escaping the crowds
- Special occasions
- No fuss
- Chilling out
Pros & Cons
- Wide range of activities
- Immaculate bedrooms
- Premium service
- Public areas get crowded at busy times