- Detailed Review
- Facts & Amenities
Acqualina Resort & Spa racks up the awards. Not only is it a AAA 5 Diamond property but is ranked #1 Beach Resort in the world by Andrew Harper and it’s TripAdvisor’s #1 Beach Resort in the USA. All of this is impressive and quite something to live up to. I, myself, was skeptical. Sunny Isles was not on my radar.
But this hotel lived up to its accolades. It’s indeed a grand piece of beach side real estate, complete with lavish interiors and acres of marble. It’s through and through a beach side resort; a place where people come to both indulge and relax in equal measures. It also pulls off another trick in that it works perfectly for both families seeking a luxurious beach vacation and couples looking for a discrete place to relax and chill for a long weekend.
This is no easy thing but because of the resort’s layout and ‘adults only’ areas, it works. Combine this with creative dining, exceptional accommodations, excellent service and a long stretch of uncrowded beach, and the result is a unique and wonderful resort experience.
After my drive from South Beach (on a very hot and humid June day) I was more than ready to drop my bags and head to the ocean’s cool waters. The hotel entrance was busy with what looked like local residents departing after a lively brunch. Once inside, all was calm in the marble clad, Italian villa-esque style lobby. Clearly, no expense was spared in decorating this area, designed to impress with large chandeliers, beautiful brocade fabrics, glowing floral displays and soaring ceilings. It’s rather like entering a luxurious, historic, beach side hotel on the Italian Coast: opulent interiors one moment, relaxed beach resort the next.
Check-in was very pleasant with front desk staff taking the time to point out various aspects of the resort and the dining options, many of which are available at almost every hour of the day and night. Spa bookings, they informed me, should be made well in advance.
Rooms and suites
The rooms and suites are impressive. Rooms are wonderfully spacious at 60 m² (646 ft²), done up in grey, teal and beige, accented with brass-based coffee tables and contrasting throws. Furniture is highly polished, dark wood pieces. The overall design is light, contemporary and very chic; these rooms rank as probably the most elegant and stylish to be found anywhere along the Miami coastline.
But where the Acqualina Resort & Spa comes into its own, is in the selection of suites. My one bedroom oceanfront suite was a stunner, decorated in the same style and colours as the rooms, featuring a large living room, a fully equipped kitchen, a dining area and a rather wonderful den come extra bedroom, with a twin-sized bed. At 154 m² (1660 ft²), space abounds. Even if you don’t use the kitchen, you will raid the freezer with its daily supply of ice cream.
Better yet, the large, oceanfront balcony became my preferred early morning coffee spot, the perfect way to start a day in the sun.
The master bathroom is large by any measure and retro 90s in style. At one end of this expansive, creamy, marble-clad space is a jacuzzi tub. At the other, a large walk-in shower and a long vanity with twin basins and space to store all your accoutrements.
What is not great, however, is the lighting. There simply is not enough of it for a room of this size. I ended up shaving using the mirror in my bedroom.
Suites also feature a guest powder room.
There are a number of dining options at the hotel, the flagship being the Miami outpost of the acclaimed Italian restaurant Il Mulino in New York. Décor is New York style with sultry lighting. Lots of dark, polished wood, gleaming glassware and heavily starched linen.
The menu consists of classic Italian dishes along with excellent fresh seafood options. I went with the veal special with vegetables and rosemary roasted potatoes. The food was good, but not outstanding and whilst the service was exceptionally professional, it was too rushed. I was in and out the door in 45 minutes. Given the restaurant was not particularly busy, I guessed my waiter was in a rush to get home to see his favourite TV show.
However, it was a quite different story at the Costa Grill. This casual, beach side location is a dream spot for lunch. Stroll along the beach, grab a salad and your favourite cocktail and then just sit back and relax. Food is excellent and staff are friendly and welcoming.
Of particular note is breakfast where the service is excellent and nothing is too much trouble. Go for the pancakes with fresh blueberries—delicious.
Spa and wellness
Sadly I was unable to arrange any spa treatments during my stay due to the spa being completely booked up.
Pool and beach
The hotel has two pools. The Beach Club pool is for those seeking poolside action, glamour and lots of splashing space and the Tranquillity pool is for those, like myself, who want the complete opposite.
What is great is that the Tranquillity pool is essentially an adults-only area with it’s own poolside service and luxurious cabanas, available for those looking to splash out.
One of the advantages of being away from South Beach is that there are considerably smaller numbers on the beaches here. And, as you head north, arguably the beaches get nicer. In my opinion that’s definitely the case as the beach here is a delight—wide; not too busy; a much more chilled feel.
Staff and service
Given the hotel’s many awards, you would expect service to be pretty top notch and it is. Staff have clearly been well trained and strike that balance between being professional whilst maintaining a warm and friendly manner.
And staff take the time to notice things. I was foraging in my beach bag for a moment when a staff member appeared and asked if I needed sunscreen. Indeed I was and no doubt seeing how white my skin is, she immediately went off to find me a choice of two strong varieties, and some cold towels.
Americans, very glamorous Brazilians and a few Russians.
The front desk was busy upon checkout and I was running rather late. To make matters worse, there was a problem with my car service. I was asked to take a seat and a staff member proceeded to deal with everything whilst I sipped on a glass of iced lemon water: slick service indeed. I was on my way in no time.
How to get here
40 minutes by road transfer from Miami International Airport