A couple weeks ago, my boyfriend and I decided to book a spontaneous vacation. We picked Miami Beach (even though I really want to go to Disney World…), a place I’ve wanted to go forever because it is close to tropical islands, but is still part of the US. YAY!
We got an awesome deal on the famous Fontainebleau, a luxury hotel in Miami Beach, and had an amazing time there. However, it was very expensive once we were onsite and since we only stayed 4 nights, there wasn’t much time to explore Miami’s mainland and the nearby Keys. Nevertheless, we had a very relaxing vacation — even though it was Urban Beach Week (we’ll get to that later). Here’s my review of The Fontainebleau and Miami Beach in general.
At The Fontainebleau
Hotel Room: It was awesome. We stayed in the Sorrento Tower, which was away from the clubs, bars, and action (aka the main tower) so it was quiet — but it was still close enough to the pools and beach. Not to mention, it was just NICE. It’s the tower on the left below:
We had a junior suite with a king bed, couch/coffee table area, iMac, furnished balcony, full bathroom with a jacuzzi, and a fridge with a microwave and silverware.
Of course we didn’t spend too much time in the room, but going out on the balcony in the morning, middle of the day and night was key. The view was unreal — the ocean and the city. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss it…
Restaurants: The hotel had many restaurants, some considered ‘fine dining’ and others ‘casual.’ The problem: Casual did not mean casual. The take out place, Fresh, had smoothies, sandwiches, and apps. It would have been great if one salad wasn’t 14 dollars and a burger and fries wasn’t 18 dollars. We ate at the American style restaurant, Vida, twice for brunch and let me tell you — it wasn’t cheap. For two people, we paid a total of around $70 each time! We didn’t eat lunch or dinner there, because with those prices, we might as well have gone to one of the fine dining restaurants! La Cote, the poolside restaurant with the gorgeous ocean view, was amazing. Well — the view from the second floor was at least. The food was just good. If one drink wasn’t $16+, I would have totally sat up there ordering drink after drink after drink staring into the ocean.
Solo, their coffee/bakery shop, was great to grab something really quickly. Bagels with cream cheese were under $4 (that was a deal), but everything else was still kinda pricey. FINALLY, we indulged at one of the fine dining restaurants. We thought about going to Scarpetta, the Italian restaurant, but decided on Gotham Steak because we love steak. It was AMAZING. Filets, parmesan truffle fries, mashed potatoes, and a bottle of sparkling chardonnay. Food coma fa dayzzz. We even got to pick the wine from an iPad menu that had information about allll the drinks.
Yeah, the bill did come to over $200, but it was worth it… and I would do it again! If I had the money of course. I wish I was kidding.
Drinks: I ordered one margarita on the beach. It was $25. That was when I realized THIS PLACE IS EXPENSIVE. One margarita is not worth $25… Well depending on the size of course, but this one wasn’t.
I also got a ‘sno bar’ on the beach AKA a frozen margarita popsicle (YUM) and it was only $10. Not bad, right?
One night at Bleau Bar, we ordered two drinks — a beer and a vodka/red bull — and it came to $33! And I thought city drink prices were bad…
Things To Do: Our days were pretty much full without having to leave the resort. I went to the beach after I woke up every morning.
My BF grabbed coffee and breakfast, went to the gym, and then met me at the beach — or pool if I ventured over there already. When you arrived at the beach, a staff member always was there to set you up with chairs where you wanted to be with two towels and an umbrella, if you wanted, for an extra $25 or so. Staff members also came around after 11:30 taking drink and food orders, so basically you could lounge all day with amazing service.They even brought over ice buckets for free! Not to mention, you could get free tap water all over the pool area. It was hot!
After the beach, as you could assume, I went over to the pool.
The chairs at the pool generally filled up pretty quickly in the morning, but I always seemed to find two chairs with an umbrella (free of charge). I must be clear — I never sat under the umbrella. I always was sure to find one chair under an umbrella and one in the sun for me! There were multiple pools and hot tubs to choose from, and pool lounge mats which were fun to ‘play’ with because I’m actually 5 years old.
If the pool got too packed, on the 5th floor of the tower we were staying in, the Sorrento, there was a pool deck. This came in handy, as not that many people were ever up there and it was super close to our hotel room — and they had free water! The view up there was also unreal.
As for water sports, there was jet skiing, but even though we really wanted to do it, it was pricey and we knew we were already spending way too much money on food and drinks. The Miami Beach Boardwalk is great to take walks or runs on, and it’s right between the pool and beach area. And, umm, what else is there to do at the Fontainebleau? Eat, drink, people watch, and… go out.
Night Life: Well, if you haven’t heard of Liv, it’s one of the top clubs in the world (Reuters voted it number 2) and it’s located right in the Fontainebleau.
We didn’t go, because my boyfriend is a dude and couldn’t get in for free… but I would love to go back with girls and make that happen. One of the night’s we were there, Busta Rhymes had his birthday party… We tried to stalk in the lobby, but saw no one cool. Oh well. There’s also the club at the pool, Arkadia, which had some pretty raging day parties going on during our stay…
Finally, there’s Bleau Bar, the large, pretty, round bar in the lobby that’s open basically all day.
It’s a fantastic meeting place. My friend from home was staying at the hotel next to us, so we met up there. Convenient and trendy — yet expensive (like everything, right?).
Other Things: Stepping into the Fontainebleau is like stepping into a sea of luxury. Everything and (almost) everyone is beautiful. Because of that, there’s a few things you have to know/do before staying there.
Be sure to bring dressy outfits because even if you don’t go out, you’ll feel weird not being dressed up walking around the Fontainebleau at night! I had read that everyone dressed up all day long at the Fontainebleau and in Miami Beach in general, but found that a lot of people were actually casual. Perhaps it was because of the weekend I was there (Urban Beach Week), but I really think I just had higher expectations for fashion and beautiful people there. DEFINITELY buy sunscreen, medicine, and ANYTHING else off site! Sun screen at the hotel was about $32 for a bottle! That was ridiculous. The hotel is also great with luggage storage. Meaning if you get there before your room is ready or you check out of your room and have the rest of the day to hang before your flight leaves, they will store your luggage and you will be free to use all of the hotel amenities, including pool and beach access, until you leave. And if you ever need to charge your phone or something, the people at the front desk are really nice and will help you out. You do pay for service at the Fontainebleau!
Outside The Hotel
Miami During MDW: We had no idea prior to arriving… but MDW in Miami is home to Urban Beach Week, also known as Black Beach Week, also known as Rapper’s Weekend. You have no idea how many chains, baggy pants, du-rags, grillz, and dreadlocks we saw. I don’t even know. It was intense. And kind of scary. Streets were shut down. Cops were everywhere. Like, wtf Miami? Afraid of rappers much? I mean, sure, it might have looked like the ghetto moved into South Beach, but… Anyway, cab drivers actually told us it ‘wasn’t safe’ for us to go out in South Beach at night during the weekend, which was ridiculous, but we didn’t. I guess it wasn’t our scene anyway (hehe)… and our hotel had tons of stuff to do.
Shopping: If you go on vacation with a boy, don’t expect to go shopping. You probably won’t. Sure we went to all the shopping hot spots, but it’s really awk to shop with a boy who is just standing there clearly wanting to leave. If you don’t mind doing that, props to you, but I need to go shopping by myself. Anyway, we checked out the Bal Harbor Shops, which were ridiculous. SO MUCH FASHION.
I had, like, multiple fashion-gasms. I didn’t even have time to be on the lookout for celebs. I was too busy window shopping at Oscar de la Renta, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Lanvin, and Carolina Herrera… We also went to the Lincoln Rd Mall and down to the Collins Ave ‘Shopping District.’ All of the stores are outside and almost all of them are chains I have at home. It’s still fun to walk around outside though!
Oh, and of course we saw Dash too, but I didn’t go in. These girls were taking pictures in front, so that’s why this girl is there…
Food: Obviously we couldn’t eat at the hotel every night. In fact, we only ate there one night. So we had to make alternative plans! Our first night, we went down to Ocean Drive, which was a good choice because I guess the rest of the weekend it was taken over by Urban Beach Week celebrations. The street is basically restaurant after restaurant after restaurant, so there’s a lot to choose from.
It can be overwhelming, especially with the people at each sidewalk restaurant trying to get you to eat at their place, but eventually we chose a place, Primetime, and it was good.
The best part about the street was the fact you could drink on it! I got a margarita on the street at a sidewalk fro-yo place and got to drink it while walking down the street. Talk about awesome!
The next night we ate at a restaurant on Lincoln Rd. It’s not just shopping on that street. It’s free of cars, so sidewalk restaurants are everywhere. I learned from the night before and took the chance to scan each restaurant’s menu (I’m very picky) until I found something I wanted — which I ultimately did. Quinoa spaghetti with pesto, zucchini, and sun dried tomatoes. Hello awesome, gluten free friendly dinner! The meal was great and not too pricey.
The next night, we ate at the famous Joe’s Stone Crab because we love seafood and had heard about it from multiple people. It was at the other end of Miami Beach in a very quiet, pretty area. It was nice to head down there and get away from the Urban Beach Week madness. I got fried shrimp, and it wasn’t greasy at all — just really good. The shrimp was huge too. My BF got a lobster roll and claimed it was the best one he’s ever had. They even had cute outdoor seating. We sat inside though because we had just walked 2 miles and it was hotttt.
Eating/Drinking On A Budget: So yeah, we splurged on dinner the four nights we were there, but because we knew we couldn’t keep eating out for breakfast and lunch, we went to Walgreens, basically the only place in walking distance, to stock up on a bunch of stuff. We got Chobani yogurts (a staple in our every day diet), bottled water, snacks, easy mac and other microwavable goods (I claimed this was for ‘drunk food’ so I wouldn’t order from the pricey 24 hour room service) and my BF got a sandwich and some other lunch items. We should have gone to Walgreens the minute we stepped in Miami Beach because this helped to save a lot of money (and calories), but we waited 2 days. That was a mistake! Walgreens also has beer and wine, so my BF got some beer. Another way we saved some money was getting lunch at the Sheraton, the hotel next to us. No it was not nearly as nice, but my friend from home was staying there and let us in for their $10 burgers and beers deal. It was definitely nice to leave the luxury for a hot minute and go to a ‘cheap’ BBQ. It was Memorial Day Weekend after all!
Do You Need A Car? We didn’t rent a car and certainly didn’t need to. We never had a problem getting a cab and they weren’t expensive. Although, if we stayed longer than 4 nights, I might have considered renting a car to explore the Miami area more. We would have loved to check out downtown Miami, UMiami, the nearby Keys, and maybe the seaquarium (I’m telling you — I’m actually 5 years old). There were also boat tours and sunset cruises, but they all left from the mainland and we didn’t see the point of going there. There was also kayaking and other water sports on the other side of Miami Beach, on the mainland, and some of the Keys — but again, we were only there 4 nights and our hotel had, like, everything you would ever need for a relaxing vacation. However, I would love to go back to explore the surrounding area more, and I don’t think I’d need to stay at a resort that you don’t really need to leave. However, it was very nice. The cars that DID use the valet service at our hotel were NICE, so I guess that says something…
All in all, we had an an amazing, relaxing 4 night/5 day vacation. I would totally go back to Miami Beach again (just not during Urban Beach Week… or Biker’s Week, because I guess that’s a thing too) and would definitely stay at the Fontainbleau again (when I have more money). I definitely recommend going out at the Fontainebleau for other 20-somethings as well as shopping on Lincoln Rd and drinking open containers on Ocean Drive! Next time, I would love to go longer… and I would love to have more money… but wouldn’t we all?!