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TPG contributor Nick Ewen recently stayed at the luxurious St. Regis Bal Harbour in Miami. Here’s his review of the property.
The rain was coming down in buckets as my wife and I pulled up to the St. Regis Bal Harbour, the first stop on our “stay-cation babymoon” in South Florida. Little did I know that the torrential downpour would be one of the only setbacks during a fantastic–albeit too short–one-night stay at the property, which further cemented our love of the St. Regis brand.
Check-in and First Impressions
As we pulled up to the gloriously covered valet stand, we were immediately greeted by a parking attendant and bellman. They welcomed us to the hotel and assisted us with our luggage. The initial entrance is slightly underwhelming, a sparsely decorated room with a strange piece of silver modern art suspended from the ceiling. However, my disappointment soon turned to amazement as we entered the actual lobby.
The lobby consists of three different octagonal shaped open rooms with double ceilings and dark marble floors. Each one includes a stunning chandelier that is rendered even grander by the prism-like decorative mirrors on the walls. The bellman pointed out the wine vault and casual bar/restaurant with live jazz in the evening before showing us to the check-in desk.
As is the case with many luxury hotels, our check-in was processed while seated in comfortable chairs. The friendly agent pulled up our reservation and was delighted to confirm that an early check-in (it was about 12:15 p.m.) was available. She thanked me for being a Platinum member and went through the on-property benefits we would receive, including a welcome gift (Starpoints, a bottle of champagne, or free breakfast), complimentary internet, access to the Reméde Spa facilities (a $35 value), and a late check-out. She then informed us that we’d been upgraded to a Grand Luxe Oceanfront Suite, gave us the key and wished us a pleasant stay.
The hotel shares an elevator bank with the property’s luxury condos. Instead of pressing a button to call an elevator, you swipe your key and are told which one to board. Our room (1401) was one of just two on that floor accessed using Elevator 4, giving it the exclusive feel of a penthouse.
The suite, at over 1,200-square-feet, was simply stunning. There’s a full bathroom upon entering the hallway and the room quickly opens up into a full dining/living room with a direct view of the first of two outdoor balconies. The glass dining room table is illuminated by a quirky light fixture that looks like large copper tubing hanging from the ceiling, and just behind it, tucked expertly into the wall, is a full kitchen, including a dishwasher, wine fridge, and full set of dishes and silverware. This area also houses the exorbitantly priced minibar ($10 for M&M’s? No thanks).
A narrow hallway to the right leads past a well-hidden washer and dryer and into the second half of the suite. The humongous bathroom is to the right, and includes double sinks, a large walk-in shower, and one of the deepest soaking tubs I’ve ever seen. Bath products in both bathrooms are Laboratorie Reméde and quite lovely to use.
The bedroom consists of a large sitting area and plush king-size bed. Sliding glass doors give access to a second balcony, which includes slightly different (and more comfortable) loungers. The lingering rain hurt the initial view from the balconies, but the next day was quite an improvement.
Dining & Bars
Since it was lunchtime, my wife and I chose to grab a quick bite in the St. Regis Bar, which serves Asian-inspired fare in a casual lobby setting. This is also where you find the Wine Vault and its 19-page wine list, ranging from $28 half bottles of a French rosé to $8,000 for a bottle of 1990 Petrus.
For dinner, we opted to stay on property to dine at Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s J&G Grill located on the lobby level, overlooking the ocean. Since our stay coincided with Miami Spice, the restaurant was offering a three-course meal for just $39, an excellent value considering this is one of Miami’s true fine dining institutions.
I devoured my first course of roasted quail with goat cheese and an apricot puree, my entrée of cider-braised short ribs with yogurt polenta and a marrow and mushroom fricassee (paired with a 2012 Roth Pinot Noir), and a key lime pie for dessert. My wife ordered a la carte and was equally impressed with her roasted carrot salad over mixed greens with avocado, citrus, & sour cream and her filet mignon was cooked to perfection.
Breakfast is also served at J&G, and though my Platinum welcome letter indicated that there would be an $8 upcharge for the full buffet, our waitress included it at no charge. The spread is impressive, with the usual hot dishes, cereals, and pastries, plus some unique items like mixed greens with grapefruit, cranberries, walnuts, a Caprese salad, Nutella crepes and bread pudding.
Pool & Other Amenities
The ground floor is located one level down from the lobby, and that’s where you’ll find the spa and fitness center, as well as the pools and beach access. There are three pools on premise: one for condo residents, one for hotel guests, and an adult’s only pool. My wife and I spent a few hours lounging at the adults-only Tranquility Pool, which is on a separate level from the other pools, and thus a true oasis. I tried a Bloody Sunrise, their twist on the chain’s signature drink. Take a traditional Bloody Mary, add Clamato juice, fresh key lime, and a key lime ice cube, and you have a perfect South Florida poolside beverage.
The little personal touches made a big difference. A couple of hours after check-in, our butler delivered a welcome gift to our room: four baby girl-themed cake pops. At dinner that evening, the bartender mixed my wife a fantastic non-alcoholic grapefruit martini, and the waiter offered it at no charge.
The service was outstanding throughout the property. We accidentally wandered into the residents’ pool area at first, and the attendant not only pointed us in the right direction, but actually walked us over to the Tranquility Pool. From there, we were taken great care of by our waiter and pool attendant. Then, after a short walk on the beach, we were rinsing our feet when a different attendant came running over with a towel and dried our feet for us. Talk about pampering.
On the downside, we checked in around noon and checked out at 3 p.m. the following day and never received any maid service. It wasn’t a big deal (since we had everything we needed), but an interesting observation, nonetheless.
We really enjoyed our stay here, and we were quite sad to leave after just one night. The hotel definitely caters to high spenders who value luxury–nothing is cheap on or around the property, so be prepared to pony up. And speaking of the surrounding area, there’s not much to offer by way of activities, save for Bal Harbour Shops–again, the most luxurious shopping in town. For these reasons, I wouldn’t recommend it for families, although we did see a number of kids during our stay.
Points & Pricing
The St. Regis Bal Harbour is a Category 7 SPG property, requiring 30,000 – 35,000 points per night. If you book a five-night stay, the fifth night is free, dropping your nightly redemption rate to 24,000 points. Room rates during the month of November start at $829 per night on weekdays and $2,477 per night on weekends. It’s wise to use your Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express in order to earn double points on your stay.
Have you stayed at this St. Regis or others? How do you like this hotel brand?