HOTELS

b2 hopes to B the place to 2be

 

The first of a new brand, b2 hotel, had its grand opening this week in downtown Miami.

hsampson@MiamiHerald.com

The new b2 miami downtown is trying to be — or “B,” in the brand’s lingo — a different kind of hotel.

Value-conscious but still catering to guests who might want a massage or room service, the hotel at 146 Biscayne Blvd. is carving out a niche between the Courtyards by Marriott and the Hiltons of the world. “It’s our ability to offer all of the amenities that a full-service property is able to deliver from the standpoint of guest rooms, amenities, culinary, spa,” said general manager Sigfrido Varela. “At the same time, we do that at a value proposition.”

The hotel is the first in the b2 hotel brand, a new category of Weston-based B Hotels & Resorts. The company has one other location open so far, and it’s an uppercase version: B Ocean Fort Lauderdale.

Formerly the site of the low-cost Continental Bayside Hotel, the 243-room b2 miami downtown across from Bayfront Park and down the street from PortMiami has undergone a full transformation. Gone are the dingy rooms, dark lobby and vacant eatery, replaced with airy accommodations, a bright, modern lobby and Biscayne Tavern, a restaurant from China Grill Management’s Jeffrey Chodorow aimed at hotel guests and locals alike.

While the grand opening was Wednesday, the hotel has been in a soft opening phase since mid-March. Some external cosmetic work is still being done to the building’s exterior, but it should be completed by May 10. An outside lighting system that will set the building aglow with different colors and patterns should also debut then.

Early reviews on TripAdvisor.com complained about the continued construction and size of some rooms, but many commenters were pleased with the location and price. WiFi is a “FreeB” throughout the hotel, which also offers loaner iPads at the front desk and a touchscreen concierge station in the lobby. Rooms range from small standards with tiny bathrooms to 16 juniors suites with beds and sleeper sofas and a large master suite with two full bathrooms.

A network of therapists is on call, though not on staff, for spa treatments that guests can customize. The hotel has one spa room and a gym, but no pool.

With mid-May weekend rates starting at $127 a night, b2 offers rates significantly lower than some of its closest neighbors, the Holiday Inn ($189 over the same weekend) and the InterContinental Miami ($191).

InSite Group and the Carlyle Group bought the hotel, which was built in 1926 and expanded in the 1950s, for $13.5 million in September 2011. InSite Group, which is also based in Weston, is the managing and investor partner in each B property.

Ayelet Weinstein, president and CEO of B Hotels & Resorts, would not say how much of an investment the renovation required. “We believe the hotel speaks for itself and should not be judged by the amount of dollars that we have invested,” she said.

Weinstein said the company is planning to expand both the B and b2 brands, initially in major markets.

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