W South Beach, Miami Review
In May, Starwood ran an interesting Twitter promotion, where they announced hints for a hotel via tweet and the first 10 people to show up would win 2 free weekend nights. Being NYC based, I knew NYC would be picked for one of the cities. Sure enough, the tweets came through something like "Alicia Keys and Jay Z Sung About this Concrete Jungle", then something about 4 Points by Sheraton and then a clue about being south of Houston.
I was the 8th person to enter the Four Points SoHo and said some dorky "phrase that pays" and the GM took my SPG number and within a couple days, two free weekend nights posted to my account.
My travel schedule was pretty packed, but I decided to spend the Friday/Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend at the W South Beach. I stayed there in July of 2009 after it first opened and I thought it was impressive, so I thought I'd do it again and hope for hot weather (which we did have).
I am a Starwood Platinum, which means I generally get upgraded to a nicer room and even a suite if available. Suites in Europe/Asia are pretty easy to get, but properties in the US can be very stingy. On my last W SoBe visit, I got an 1,100 sq foot, 2 balcony Oasis Suite, which was really nice. I wasn't expecting it this time, but sure wouldn't have minded it. Actually, the great thing about this hotel, is that the standard rooms are 600+ sq ft, well appointed studio suites- most of which face the water.
Taxi from MIA to hotel was $30. Last summer I got car service from FLL, which was around $75. Obviously, MIA is much closer. Trip took about 20 minutes with no traffic.
Check-in: Arrived at 4:30pm and since hotel check-in was 4pm, I didn't anticipate any issues. However, I was told I was upgraded to a really nice studio suite (which I knew was a standard room) and that it wasn't clean yet. When I asked about an upgrade, they pushed back and said none were available. Fair enough- it was a holiday weekend and the White Party (LGBT event) was that weekend, so the W did indeed seem packed.
The agent was apologetic and gave me a $75 room credit and took my cell phone number. The $75 was generous, so we immediately went to the bar to blow it on overpriced cocktails and snacks at the outdoor restaurant adjacent to the pool. The cocktails were decent and the people watching was stellar. The pool scene was a mixture of LA entertainment people, NYC finance people and Miami socialites.
Speaking of LA entertainment people, we watched some singer (possibly will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas) run up to music industry legend Clive Davis and make a big scene. The "attacker" was apparently on some sort of global conference call/ radio interview and even put his cell phone up to Clive and made him wish "the world" happy Thanksgiving. Clive begrudgingly obliged and was quickly on his way. Minutes later we saw another music industry veteran Russell Simmons walk by and join Clive for a pool-side meal. There were probably some more celebrities, but at that point the mojitos were starting to take effect and the people watching become less interesting. 8)
Over an hour flew by and no word from the front desk, so I stopped by to see what was up. Immediately an agent gave me my keys and had me on my way. I asked why I wasn't called and the person shrugged. Up we went to our ocean view studio suite, which I actually really liked. (Pictures below). The rest of the weekend was a blast, though if you want a poolside chair, you need to get down there by 10am at the latest (which wasn't in the cards for me). Instead of waiting hours for a chair, I used a beach chaise, which was available immediately and was free.
The only downside of this hotel is the 11am check-out. We had a 9pm flight home, so it would have been great if the hotel honored the Starwood Platinum perk of 4pm check-out (they are a resort so they technically don't have to offer the benefit, though many do). I asked for a one-time courtesy since our room wasn't ready, and the best they could do was 12:30. I even escalated it to a manager and they still gave me the same canned speech, so I decided it wasn't worth it to waste my time.
Overall, its a great property in a great location (22nd and Collins- away from the major SoBe traffic/crowds, but close enough to walk). There is a Mr. Chow in the hotel, which I didn't get a chance to visit. I have eaten at Bond St sushi nearby (excellent) and Phillipe (not good). I also highly recommend lunching at the Raleigh Hotel- their ceviche and moules frites were both excellent and the ambiance is nice.
W South Beach Exterior
W South Beach Lobby