The newest hotels in South Florida are already making a name for themselves.
Open just since March, the Metropolitan by COMO, Miami Beach has earned the top spot for the city on TripAdvisor, followed in second place by another newcomer, The Redbury South Beach. That hotel, sister to the Hollywood Redbury in Los Angeles, has another designation to brag about: making the Travel + Leisure 2014 “It List,” which highlights the world’s best new hotels.
Despite those plaudits, the biggest hotel headlines are likely to come over the course of the next year. This fall, the long-awaited Edition Miami Beach — a collaboration between hotelier Ian Schrager and Marriott International — is expected to open, followed early next year by the first phase of the massive Faena development in Miami Beach.
While Palm Beach County is welcoming a freshly renovated resort this spring and Broward has a new chain near the airport, the bulk of the recent building has happened in Miami-Dade.
For many travelers, the new options in the area might just make a decision on where to stay even harder, said Juliana Shallcross, managing editor for web publication HotelChatter.
“My feeling is that people always love Miami,” she said, adding that visitors are likely to pick their hotel based on location, pool scene or spa.
“Miami just has so many options that it’s so hard for travelers to pick the right hotel,” she said.
Which is where we come in. For out-of-towners or locals looking to sample what’s new on the scene, here is our roundup of the latest additions.
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY• Courtyard Cadillac Miami Beach Oceanfront
What’s new: The Art Deco hotel, built in 1940 and expanded about a decade later, unveiled a $25 million expansion in February. The new wing includes a 93-room tower, extended lobby decorated with vintage Miami Beach posters, meeting space, new pool and cabanas.
Bragging rights: Two pools (the large original with an 8 1/2 foot deep end and a new infinity-like version). The 356-room property is separated from the beach by only a boardwalk. Rooms break out of the Courtyard by Marriott mold in the new tower, with bright, beachy beige and teal palettes. One of the suites we checked out in the new section has a balcony spacious enough to host small parties — and even has a hot tub outside.
Caveat Emptor: The older sections of the 356-room hotel have not been renovated in years, so make sure you know what section you’re booking. The location is a few blocks south of the clubs and restaurants at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach and a long walk (or short cab ride) from South Beach. Construction on another hotel is ongoing next door.
Best for: Business travelers loyal to the Courtyard by Marriott brand; families who want quality pool-and-beach time.
Details: 3925 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-538-3373; hotelcadillacmiamibeach.com.
Rates and deals: Weekend rates for most of June start at $239 a night in the older tower, $289 for the newer section; Florida residents with ID get a 20 percent discount, subject to availability.• EB Hotel Miami
What’s new: The former Wells Fargo bank building just north of Miami International Airport has been transformed into a high-end hotel after a major overhaul (with an attached Wells Fargo branch). The six-story, 133-room property opened last June, the first U.S. location for a company that has several hotels in Venezuela and Argentina.
Bragging rights: From the marble floors in the lobby to smart-room technology that uses motion sensors to know when rooms are occupied, the hotel is unexpectedly posh for its location. Extra-thick windows make for quiet surroundings, despite the proximity to runways. All rooms are set up for business, with free Wi-Fi and desks; business suites have a living room at the entrance, with a TV set that can be used for presentations. Most showers are surrounded by glass walls that allow a view of the bedroom TV (with a screen for privacy).
Caveat Emptor: Despite the amenities, guests are still a drive away from downtown Miami or the beach. And while a pool is a nice addition, the view is of traffic speeding by. Still to come are a spa and gift shop.
Best for: Business travelers; anyone needing a place to stay before or after a flight through MIA.
Details: 4299 NW 36th St., Miami Springs; 305-324-6835; ebhotelmiami.com.
Rates and deals: Weekend rates start at $189 a night for a standard double, $199 for a deluxe suite.• Grand Beach Hotel Surfside
What’s new: Built from the ground up, the 268-room hotel on the ocean opened in December.
Bragging rights: Two pools and hot tubs beckon on the ground level, and the rooftop SkyPool and hot tubs offer an oasis for adults 21 and older. The gym has an ocean view (motivation to get in swimsuit shape — and work off the splurge from the gelato bar). The hotel was sold out when we visited, but promotional material says most rooms include two full bathrooms and a balcony. A sandy walkway winds through palms to lead to the beach.
Caveat Emptor: Some work remains to be done: Scaffolding surrounded the entrance on a recent visit, and the spa is not yet open. An annex, expected to open around the end of the year, is under construction across Collins Avenue.
Best for: Families looking for a beach vacation away from the South Beach scene. Couples who want a resort feel with an option for privacy. Luxury shoppers looking for a getaway near the Bal Harbour Shops.
Details: 9449 Collins Ave., Surfside; 305-534-8666; www.grandbeachhotelsurfside.com
Rates and deals: Weekend rates in June start at about $263.• Lord Balfour South Beach
What’s new: The former Wave Hotel, built in 1940, has undergone a complete gutting. The new product, which opened last July, is a throwback to the old; the 64-room property was originally called the Lord Balfour, after onetime British Prime Minister Lord Arthur James Balfour. Far from stuffy, the boutique hotel is a cheeky, art-filled affair.
Bragging rights: Funky design sensibilities include a giant image of a tattooed woman gracing a wall in each room. During Art Basel Miami Beach last year, an artist painted a giant geisha in the courtyard; various works also fill the lobby, where the ceiling is covered with a screen bearing Balfour’s musings.
Caveat Emptor: See: tattooed lady, if that’s not your thing. A restaurant is still to come in the next few months, and construction will begin on an 18-room addition with pool next year. Though the hotel is located in the hip South of Fifth neighborhood, it’s not directly on the beach and is surrounded by aging condos and new construction. The hotel has a small workout space, but guests are encouraged to take advantage of nearby running paths.
Best for: Guests who appreciate playful touches and don’t mind fewer on-site amenities.
Details: 350 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach; 786-228-7217; lordbalfourmiami.com
Rates and deals: Weekend rates typically start at $279. Through Sept. 30, Florida residents can save 20 percent when staying four nights (resort fee included).• Metropolitan by COMO, Miami Beach
What’s new: The former Traymore Hotel was stripped down to the bare structure and rebuilt with interiors heavy in mint green and gray by designer Paola Navone. When it opened in March, the property became the first U.S. presence of the upscale COMO brand. (Other locations include London, Bangkok, Maldives and Turks & Caicos.)
Bragging rights: Most rooms have a water view — either of the ocean or Lake Pancoast across Collins Avenue. Locals and guests alike pack the small COMO Shambhala Urban Escape spa for treatments. A rooftop hydrotherapy pool adds another option for pampering; the ground-level pool is adjacent to the ocean, separated from the hotel by a public walkway. The Traymore Restaurant and Bar boasts more than 40 different kinds of gin and a focus on fresh, locally caught seafood, while the COMO Shambhala alternative menu offers healthy options and wellness juices.
Caveat Emptor: The hotel is proud of its quiet atmosphere — and is probably not suited to travelers who want a nonstop party. The location is a couple blocks north of the W South Beach and well removed from most of the South Beach action.
Best for: Couples seeking a romantic getaway; families who want to take advantage of one of the seven suites available now. (There will be 11 suites available by September, including the 1,113-square-foot COMO Suite, which should be ready for bookings by late July).
Details: 2445 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-695-3588; www.comohotels.com/metropolitanmiamibeach.
Rates and deals: The hotel says the best summer rates start at $319, though we found midweek offers in June as low as $261 a night and several weekends in June and July starting at $351; though Sept. 30, Florida residents get free overnight parking and 15 percent off the best available rate.• The Redbury South Beach
What’s new: The former Fairfax hotel sat vacant for years before being gutted and brought to life as the Redbury, sister hotel to the Hollywood, Calif. hot spot. The 69-room property with an emphasis on old Miami Beach glamor opened in December.
Bragging rights: Rooms have a rock and roll vibe, complete with record player and vinyl curated by Capitol Records. A rooftop pool offers ample space for sunbathing. Lorenzo, the restaurant from James Beard Award-winning Chicago chef Tony Mantuano, serves handmade pasta, pizza and other Italian staples. The Redbury made the 2014 Travel + Leisure “It List” for its “sexy, Rat Pack-does-SoBe vibe.”
Caveat Emptor: The property is not directly on the beach, but guests can use the beach amenities across the street at the Raleigh, which like the Redbury is also run by hospitality company sbe. The gym at the SLS down the street (another sbe property) is also available to guests.
Best for: Young travelers who want a hip beach experience without the outsized rates; families; business travelers.
Details: 1776 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-604-1776; theredbury.com/southbeach.
Rates and deals: Weekend rates at the end of June start at $221; earlier weekends start higher. Using promo code FLRES, Florida residents save 25 percent off the room and restaurant (and the resort fee is waived) through Sept. 30, with blackout dates. Also through Sept. 30, promo code MERRY is good for 20 percent off rooms, dinner for two at the restaurant and a waived resort fee.
PALM BEACH COUNTY• Waterstone Resort
What’s new: The former Boca Raton Bridge Hotel, which closed in April 2013, is scheduled to reopen Tuesday as Waterstone Resort & Marina — A Doubletree by Hilton, after undergoing $10 million in renovations. The work includes a new lobby, construction of a waterfront promenade, a revamped pool area, and updated guestrooms.
Bragging rights: All 139 rooms and suites have private balconies with water views — the Atlantic Ocean, Intracoastal Waterway or Lake Boca. With the addition of a 270-foot seawall and promenade, boaters will be able to dock at the hotel and dine at one of its two waterfront restaurants.
Caveat Emptor: The opening and a preview of the property were both delayed, so we can’t characterize the property.
Best for: Ditto.
Details: 999 E. Camino Real, Boca Raton; 866-909-2622 or 561-368-9500; www.waterstoneboca.com.
Rates and deals: The hotel will open with rates of $127 weeknights, $169 weekends and stay in that range, with some variation, until Labor Day.