It’s that time of year again when people are making travel plans to someplace warm—either for the holiday break or for February vacation. Last February, my family decided to escape the cold weather and head down to Miami, Florida for five nights. We stayed at the Loews Miami Beach and we were very happy with our stay. Yes, it was pricey, but if you are looking for value based on getting a good monetary deal, then the Loews isn’t for you. If your definition of value is based on having amenities at your disposal, then maybe it is. I posted a review on TripAdvisor shortly after we got back. Below is that review, and I hope it helps readers to decide whether or not this would be a great vacation spot:
“Excellent Stay, but Prepare to Pay”
We just got back from our trip to the Loews Miami Beach yesterday. We were there from 2/18-2/23. Overall, I have to say that our stay at the Loews was excellent. The location of the hotel itself, in the heart of South Beach and steps away from all of the shopping and restaurants can’t be topped. The hotel is also located right on the beach, which makes it very easy for guests to go back and forth between the beach and the pool. There is a boardwalk (fairly wide brick walk) in between the pool and beach so that you can rollerblade, walk, or bike safely. All of the employees went out of their way to make sure that we were comfortable and had everything we needed
For example, during our last night there, we stopped at the hotel ice cream shop. My son wanted ice cream, but my daughter only wanted lemonade. One of the workers taking care of us said that they didn’t carry lemonade, but they had it at the bar and he would be right back. He came back right away with the lemonade and my daughter was very happy. We could have easily gone to the bar ourselves, but their entire point is to make their guests have as nice of a time as possible without the guests having to do much of anything.
The food was pretty good (we only ate lunch and dinner there), and there was enough of a variety on the menu so that there was something that pleased everybody. The menu is available by the pool and at the beach until 5:30 p.m. every day and the staff will take your order and bring your food right to you. That was a nice touch. However, the food was expensive, but you are paying for the setting and the experience of being able to eat by the water. There were also ample sand toys (pails, shovels, etc.) right on the beach so kids could grab what they needed and have plenty of fun building sand castles.
Other nice touches that you would expect, but were great and made you feel like you were on a vacation—somebody was always there to open the door to the hotel lobby when you approached. We asked for extra towels one night and we got them, and the housekeeper who took care of us remembered we liked that. She had them for us for the rest of our stay without us having to ask again. A copy of the New York Times was waiting outside our door every morning and the Miami Herald was available in the lobby and by the pool. Every day, a Loews counselor would run children’s games by the pool. The pool chairs and beach chairs all have cushions that the staff members cover with a terry cloth covering when you claim your chair.
Overall, the hotel is a very upscale, kid friendly, and pet friendly resort. Between the kids games, menu, and dog path, it is a great place to stay and I would probably stay there again. However, you must be prepared to pay to stay. The room rates were pricey at about $650 per night for two double beds in a small room. However, the bathroom was a good size. The shower was a basic tub shower set up, but it was fine. You are certainly paying for the location.
The hotel does not offer free WI-FI in the rooms. It is only free in the lobby and in the pool area, and it was spotty at best. We refused to pay for the WI-FI in the room as it cost about $43 for three days, for up to three devices. They charged $10 per visit to use the fitness center. It should be a given that use of the fitness center is no charge. They had a spa, but I didn’t even bother checking into any services because I was afraid of the prices.
It was $37 per night to valet park the car. You must valet because the self-parking was not great. There was very limited on-street parking, and you are definitely safer leaving it to the valets to handle (you’re definitely not dealing with the parking attendants from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off so you can rest easy). Really, if you are going from the airport to the hotel and staying there, I would advise against renting a car because everything is within walking distance.
Beach chairs, umbrellas, cabanas, and beds cost money on the beach. There was an option to rent one queen size beach bed, cabana, unlimited umbrellas and beach chairs for $100. To rent the items à la Carte was $10/chair, $15/umbrella, and $20 per cabana. The prices also change depending on the travel season, so it could cost more if you are going during Christmas break. I thought it was hilarious at one point when two twentysomething women flirted with one of the employees while hanging on the beach and scored a free umbrella. He brought it to them without them even asking.
Another warning is that you must claim your pool chair early. If you get there by nine o’clock in the morning, it is almost too late. Yesterday we got there by eight o’clock and the best spots were already taken. Do not try to get there at ten o’clock and expect to have your pick. You can claim your chair, leave to have a quick breakfast, and come back. If you don’t come back within a one-hour’s timeframe, they will put a warning sign on your chair, and if you still don’t return, they will give it away. That is only fair.
There is no charge for the pool chairs, but, of course, you should tip the person setting you up with your towels and cushion covers. Yesterday, we claimed our chairs and walked down the street to grab a takeout breakfast to eat by the pool. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but if you walk out of the hotel, go right, and it is less than a block on your right next door to a pizza place. The people who work there are extremely nice and they have a nice variety of food at reasonable prices.
The bottom line is that we had a wonderful time here. It was relaxing even with the Wine and Food Festival getting underway on the day we left. If you can get past some of the ridiculous charges and recognize that you have to open your wallet, then you will have a good time.
I didn’t give the hotel a very good value because it was extremely pricey, but it is what the market will bear. If you are looking for value for your money, then you shouldn’t stay at the Loews Miami Beach. If you are looking for value for the experience, then you should go. One last tip: If you have more than four people in a room you should definitely get a suite or adjoining rooms.