Review: The St Regis Bal Harbour Resort, Miami Beach, Florida, USA
One of the most aspirational Marriott / Starwood properties in North America is the St Regis Bal Harbour Resort Miami Beach, Florida, United States of America. The St Regis property commands an impressive luxury high rise at the north end of Miami Beach. The property features every luxury and amenity. Would a stay here live up to it’s reputation? Our stay at the property would test almost every feature.
This post is one chapter on our trip to Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States of America. This trip was enhanced through Alaska Mileage Plan and through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
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Review: The St Regis Bal Harbour Resort, Miami Beach, Florida, United States of America
Booking the St Regis Bal Harbour:
When I was scrolling the hotels in Fort Lauderdale / Miami on the Starwood Preferred Guest (now Marriott Bonvoy) site, I happened across the aspirational St Regis Bal Harbour Resort property. It happened to have Cash and Points availability at 15,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points and $275 USD per night, in addition to free night awards at 35,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points. The regular rate for our dates was $1,217 USD per night. By redeeming Cash and Points, I managed to get a redemption rate of $0.062 cents per point; a great value!
Although I had them, I didn’t use a Marriott / Starwood Suite Night Award as the only available category at the time was to a Junior Suite; an increase in room size by 25 sq. I figured I would gamble and hope for a Marriott Bonvoy / Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum benefit upgrade at check in as the coupon wasn’t getting me a double sized room or anything. That strategy ended up paying off as we were upgraded into the room category of the Suite Night Award without actually using and loosing it.
Marriott Bonvoy Redemption Opportunties:
The hotel is currently in the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program as a Category 8 hotel; the highest tier available. The St Regis Bal Harbour Resort is one of the most aspirational properties in the Marriott system so this high rating is to be expected.
The St Regis Bal Harbour Resort makes rooms available for between a low of 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night to a high of 100,000 points per night with a standard rate of 85,000 points per night.
If you value Marriott Bonvoy points at $0.005 a point like I do, you’d be better off redeeming points if your paid rate was more expensive than $425 USD.
We departed our earlier stay at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina and self-drove to the St Regis Bal Harbour. I found the traffic in the area to be really bad. Google Maps kept saying that it was 40 minute’s drive which would end up being an hour by the time everything was all said and done.
Arriving to the St Regis Bal Harbour:
We drove up to the three-tower complex that is the St Regis Bal Harbour. The signs were clearly marked and there was an army of staff available to unload the car. The valet ticket was quickly handed over and we were led inside by a member of the valet staff.
Checking Into the St Regis Bal Harbour:
The car was parked through the valet. We were walked to the reception and were led to a chair for the seated check in. We had a glimpse of the wonderful grand entry hall which looked really elegant. The hotel did a wonderful job on this space which is otherwise quite tiny.
Once at the front desk, our check in host proceeded to start the room assignment. She picked up on our initial Your 24 request of 10 AM to 10 AM and was going to offer a Atlantic Suite if we were prepared to wait until it was ready. After learning we were going to request a late check out for 3 PM, we opted for a Junior Suite which would be ready immediately and with a confirmable late check out of 3 PM (otherwise we’d need to be “out” at the regular time of 12pm). I wasn’t in a fighting mood with the front desk for the Atlantic Suite since it’s well above the standard suite level and we were already being offered at two category suite up-grade from what we had booked. Besides, we were there at 12 PM and who wants to wait around until 4 PM for a room to be ready when we were only there for a long twenty four hours?
During the check in process, we were offered a glass of champagne or juice. We were thanked for our “many years” of our SPG loyalty; always a nice touch. Interestingly enough, the reception host commented that she “hoped” that Marriott would continue to offer the same great service to their Platinum guests. It was a bit of an ominous tone but probably the reality of what is the future to come.
The reception staff seemed to co-ordinate with the valet desk through a headset. I thought that it was a bit of a low rent touch similar to being in a GAP clothing store. The other part which was a low rent touch was the Resort Fee of $35, which included a host of items. Why there is a need to charge guests a $35 resort fee on a room that is $1,000+ a night is beyond me.
The Resort Fee included a free cocktail. a fitness class, an art tour along with access to the Remede Spa facilities “including showers sauna and steam room”.
After the check in process was completed, we were introduced to our Butler Antonio. The butler escorted us to our room, and provided us an explanation of the property features. We had an explanation of the restaurants and the elevator keypad which automatically assigned the floor.
The Room: A Junior Suite
Grand Luxe Room, 1 King
We were led to the Junior Suite #2306 on the twenty third floor. The room was categorized as a Junior Suite during our stay but is now known as a Grand Luxe Room. Even the arrival experience in the hallways was pleasant with hall couches, marble and live orchids. I happened to notice on later trip up the elevator that the regular floors do not have the same luxurious marble, instead there is just carpet. A random hallway photo accessorized by MrsWT73.
The suite is nicely appointed with every possible amenity. In addition to being well featured, the room was in excellent condition with very little wear and tear. There was a golden strawberry amenity waiting for us in the room.
The Room was decorated in fashionable but neutral colours, which led to the room having an upscale and luxurious feel to it.
While the Junior Suite Grand Luxe room was luxurious, it wasn’t all that wide. Instead, the room made up for it’s luxury through length and depth.
There was a nice and well-appointed bathroom with a champagne menu for the bath. There was also a TV in the wall for the women’s sink.
I can’t say I have ever been anywhere that offers the option of caviar in the bathtub for $200
Unfortunately, there was not much living space in the Junior Suite. It was perfectly suitable for our short stay.
A Small Kitchen Space:
There was a small kitchen area near the front door. It had a hot plate and other accessories.
The room also featured a Sub Zero chest fridge and freezer. Most of these bottles belonged to the minibar. . .
There was ever amenity in the room mini bar, including whisky, tequila among others. None of the items were complimentary, but it was a nice feature to have immediate access to it, if needed.
The junior suite faced the south side of the building (the sunny side) and pretty good view, although partially obstructed, of Miami Beach. The suite also had a peek a boo view of Miami Beach in the distance over the tops of the towers. Overall, I was happy with the room assignment given our Cash and Points rate.
Outdoor Patio Space:
The room also had a large outdoor patio at 210 sq ft. There was a functional table and chairs out there, but the best part was the loungers. The deck was accessible by wide glass sliding doors, and most times that we were out on the deck, we left the doors open to the suite.
The St Regis Floor Plan layout had all the rooms angled facing the water. The floor plan offered a layout of rooms that allowed all rooms to be angled towards the ocean view.
Around the Resort:
The Outdoor Pool Deck
There are two pool areas available to guests at the St Regis Bal Harbour. There is a family pool on the lower deck and an adult pool on the upper deck. We spent the day down at the upper adult pool deck. It wasn’t super sunny but it was relaxing.
I managed to get in the last of my book Tom Clancy Truth Faith and Allegiance. For Tom Clancy fans that haven’t read it, the last scene concludes on an Etihad A380 with a Residence flying passenger.
The Hotel Gym:
I took a poke through the gym which is situated across from Atlantikós Restaurant. It was bad timing after all that food; I never ended up using it.
After the sunshine quit for the day, we were up to the deck for 5 o clock fizz along with the sunset. With an east facing property, this isn’t much. We had a self-catered bottle of Nicolas Fueillante that had chilled nicely in the Sub Zero along with champagne flutes that were already in room. It was a super convenient way to end the arrival day. I ended up spending some time on the phone with Aeroplan (who’s supposed Elite Priority contacts 1-800 number didn’t work from my dialing zone despite being advertised on the membership card to the contrary). I had received an Expert Flyer alert opening up business reward space on our Boeing 787-9 flight from Vancouver to Toronto. I quickly called and scooped our upgrade up for our upcoming Tanzania trip
On Property Dining:
The St Regis Bar and Wine Vault:
We didn’t have any dinner plans and I hadn’t (for a change) done any research on restaurants to dine at in the Bal Harbour area so we opted to eat on property. We freshened up and headed down to the St Regis Wine Vault and Bar for our “included cocktail” that was part of the resort fee.
Our host explained that they were offering a gin-based drink with soda and rosemary, or a house white (Pinot Grigio) or house red (Malbec). I went with the gin-based drink and MrsWT73 went with the pinot grigio. Neither drink was very exciting. There was a live piano player that was playing, which was a nice way to start the evening.
The BH Burger Bar:
We were both feeling hungry by this point so headed over to the (in house) B&H Burger Bar. It’s set up in an elegant 1960’s feel with a jukebox and red leather booths. The BH Burger Bar must cater to international guests that don’t get the opportunity to experience an American Diner style restaurant.
I had a Foie Gras Burger with wagyu beef, seared foie gras, roasted shallot, swiss cheese, frisee, truffle butter, truffle aioli, served with French fries. The whole burger was excellent. I had this paired with a Californian Pinot Noir, which was unfortunately less than excellent (flat tasting – not corked, just bland). Dinner for two with two glasses of wine came to $109 with the included 18% service charge.
The next morning, we started the day with coffee on the terrace as delivered by the St Regis Butler. It wasn’t delivered by our butler Antonio today and we actually never saw him again. The South Florida January weather wasn’t co-operating with us and it was quite stormy outside.
We eventually went down to Atlantikós for breakfast. We had selected the Marriott Bonvoy / Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum breakfast benefit, which at the time included a full buffet breakfast. The Atlantikós Restaurant is a smallish space. We arrived at about 9:30 AM (on a Saturday) and were the last of the people not to face some sort of a wait as the staff turned over tables. Thankfully, there was an army of people working and the delivery and turn overs were well executed and fast.
The buffet featured the usual features for a hotel of this caliber. There was an egg omelette station, a self pour mimosa station which made MrsWT73 really happy. The label of the sparkling wine was a house label “St Regis Californian Sparkling Wine”.
There was smoked salmon and a honeycomb station.
Fruits and smoothies and parfaits. Unfortunately, I did not get a shot of the room itself due to the swirling around of customers and wait staff.
When the check was presented, we were asked to sign for a $25 X 2 SPG Breakfast tab, that included the 18% service charge. The whole bill was taken care of and did not appear on our folio.
We went up to the room and enjoyed a glass of wine on the 210 sq deck while we waited for the weather to improve. It only took about an hour and we headed down to the beach itself.
The St Regis Bal Harbour Beach at Miami Beach:
The hotel offers complimentary on the beach loungers. The day beds are at a chargeable rate. We were set up by the attendant and enjoyed a few hours of sea waves and Miami Beach shoreline. I started on my new book “Thank You for Being Late” by Thomas Freidman. The pool staff were quite friendly and chatty. I happened to be wearing a Hurley “Bali” T-Shirt and I ended up having a short chat with an hotel employee who was from Indonesia there initially and now working here. There must not be many visitors to Indonesia from Miami as I saw him more than once and he seemed really happy to chat with me about Bali. Unfortunately, the bad weather trend continued and we didn’t get all too much sun.
Our 3 PM check out time rolled around quickly. After a cleansing shower with the wonderful Remede Alchemy Mousse and a goodbye to the beautiful views from the suite, we headed down to the front desk for check out. The check out was handled promptly and professionally by our Russian host who was able to proactively have our car brought up by the valet.
The Bottom Line: The St Regis Bal Harbour Resort
From the time that we had booked it, I wondered if the St Regis Bal Harbour Resort would deliver, or would it have been an over rated mess similar to our two experiences at The St Regis Mauritius and our returning stay at The St Regis Mauritius. MrsWT73 had vowed never to go back to a St Regis property, until I showed her a version in a concrete jungle in one of her favourite cities around.
The St Regis Bal Harbour was an excellent experience. I am happy to report that both the hard product and the soft product were excellent. We were really impressed with the suite and the amount of room that we had, along with the terrific loungers on the large room deck.
The staff were very well trained in service delivery, and we felt respected and served with every guest contact that we had. That’s not something that I can say all the time, even at some of the nicer places that we’ve been to. Every staff interaction that we had was pleasant and professional.
The only negative that I can mention is the ridiculous resort fee for a high rise property that actually has, very little, resort that surrounds it. Charging guests $35 per night on an average daily rate of usually higher than four figures for the use of fitness classes, a base level cocktail, or bike rentals seems ludicrous from my perspective.
MrsWT73 enjoyed it so much, she ended up telling our check out host that we will be back. I guess the St Regis brand is now to her liking? =) This property is easily one of the best Starwood properties that we have stayed at and is priced accordingly.