This would be my second InterContinental I would be staying at in my life. So I am kinda excited about this opportunity. Usually, the rates here are very expensive and parking costs turn me away from staying here. But right before the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, I was able to find the cheapest price I ever have seen for this hotel. But be warned there is a $15 Hotel Service Fee, which is equal to a Resort Fee. I didn’t see that fee until I saw my reservation summary just before booking the hotel. You probably know my point on resort fees or service fees. It’s a lie from the hotel to the customer. Hotels should be forced to include this fee in their room rates, as there is no way to not pay the Hotel Service Fee. So what do you get with this fee:
- Premium high-speed internet service
- Access to mySpa, steam, drench shower and relaxation rooms and 24-hour full-service fitness center with free weights
- “No Excuses Workout” – Complimentary fitness shorts, t-shirt, socks, and shoes, in case you forgot to pack yours
- Two bottles of water in room daily
- Access on your personal smart device to PressReader featuring more than 2,000 newspapers & magazines in 56 languages
- Poolside pampering, refreshments, and suncare
- Turndown service on request
- Black and white copying/printing at the Front Desk, up to 20 pages.
- In-room premium Keurig Coffee & Tea
- Luggage storage for the day of check-in and check-out. (only for a few hours, not overnight. Overnight will be a $5 charge per bag)
As I arrived at the hotel I pulled up in the driveway for valet parking. Self-Parking is not available at the InterContinental Miami. The valet gave me my ticket for the car and a bellman loaded my luggage on a cart to be delivered to my room. I got another ticket from the bellman for my luggage cart which I have to show at the front desk. Passing a glass door and a few steps you find yourself in the beautiful and spacious lobby of the InterContinental. Thanks to the Bellman help it’s easy to get your bags to your room, or at least it should be. They will take care of carrying your bags up the few steps between the entrance of the hotel and the lobby floor and delivering your bags to your room. However, I had to call them again to deliver my bags as I waited about 30 minutes and still waiting. The front desk is located off to your left. Checking-In was easy as I was the only one in line and I even received a complimentary upgrade to a Bay-view room instead of the City-view room I booked.
The best feature of the front desk is the back wall. It is one gigantic monitor streaming a live video of the bay during the day and gorgeous pictures during the night. Besides the room keys, I received a free coffee voucher for Starbucks or a $3 credit towards a drink at the bar. But seriously? The Starbucks voucher was only good for a Tall coffee or tea, no cappuccino or any other specialty coffee. That’s the reward for a Spire Elite member? You only get one voucher for your whole stay and then a cheap one? You have to spend a couple of thousand dollars to achieve Spire Elite. I was a little disappointed after I found out. After I collected my room keys and coffee voucher I headed off to the elevators which are past the front desk in the back of the check-in area. The elevators actually have a touch-screen display on either side to select your floor. Next to the Lobby Level and Second Floor (Meeting Rooms) is a small button which will open a map. This is super helpful, but a map is desperately needed for the 5th floor (Pool and Spa Level). As it is a maze to find your way to the sauna and steam room or even to the fitness center. Only after hours (past 8 p.m.) you can access the fitness center with your room key by opening a sliding door next to the elevators with your room key.
1 King Bay View (Room 2804)
The room is located right around the back of the elevator. Once entered you can enjoy a beautiful view of the bay and the Port of Miami through the wide window. The view is amazing. Right underneath the window is a work desk corner table and a small sofa-lounger with a table in front of it. The windows have a very good noise insulation as you can bearly hear it when the cruise ship blast their horns.
The king bed comes with nightstands and reading lights on either side. Only the left side of the bed has controls for the sheer and blackout curtains of the window. Both of them are electrically controlled.
Adjacent to the bed is a flatscreen TV which is on top of a cabinet. The cabinet has four drawers to store your stuff if you want to. I usually avoid using drawers, while otherwise, you will forget stuff if it’s out of sight.
The little hallway from the room door to the bed houses a fully computerized and weight-sensitive minibar. If you take it out you get automatically charged to your hotel bill. This makes it impossible to buy your own supplies and put it in the fridge. At least you get 2 complimentary bottles of water every day and coffee and tea maker is complimentary as well.
I was very surprised by the size of the bathroom. The entrance to it is located right after you walk into the room to your right. Besides a shower/tub combination and the vanity you also find the closet in the bathroom rather than the actual room. Inside the closet, you find a PJ, iron, Ironing board, room safe, extra bedding sheets and hangers. Next to the closet is a glass shelf with more space to put stuff.
The highlight of the hotel is definitely the spacious lobby area. Numerous restaurants are located on that level and a FedEx Business Center. Be careful if you want to ship or receive from that location. They charge you a crazy amount extra just for being located inside the hotel. I believe it was a $10 handling fee for packages up to 3 lbs. That’s insane, my shipping rate was almost cheaper than the service fee. Just letting you know.
In the middle of the lobby, you find a sculpture created by Sir Henry Spencer Moore (1898 – 1986). The 18-foot-tall and 70-ton heavy sculpture was placed by a helicopter in the lobby and the lobby was constructed around it. The Spindle at InterContinental Miami is the largest of the artist’s sculpture in private ownership. From the second floor, which houses only meeting rooms, you get another good view of the sculpture in the lobby.
A concierge desk is located across from the front desk, to help with reservations for tours, events, and sightseeing. The InterContinental Miami also has onsite rental-car services from a regular Alamo counter all the way to a luxury car rental company. A gift shop is also available.
The Spa, sauna, fitness center and pool are located on top of the 3rd floor. The views of the bay from the outdoor pool deck are spectacular. Plenty of loungers are available to hang out and relax near the pool. Along the bay-side of the hotel is the Bluewater restaurant, if you get hungry during sunbathing or just want to enjoy a different dining experience. There are special events at the Bluewater Restaurant every weekend.
- Friday 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.: Salsa Night with a live Salsa Band and extended Happy Hour
- Saturday 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.: Rock n Roll Pool BBQ with BBQ Buffet, drink specials, live music, and games
- Movie Night 8 p.m.: Enjoy a movie projected on the side of the hotel with free popcorn
As I checked in on Sunday, I was able to take advantage of the movie night. The banner in the lobby showed that the movie would start at 8 p.m., the guy working at the Bluewater Restaurant told me that it starts at 7:30 p.m. and when I showed up at 7:15 p.m. the movie was already running for a few minutes. This nights movie feature was Ace Ventura. Oh boy, it has been so long since I last saw that movie and I realized that it actually plays in Miami.
Adjacent to the pool area is a big rooftop garden with a jogging track. The length of the track is not the best if you look for some extensive jogging, but good enough for a short walkout session and it is better than running on a treadmill. Talking about the treadmill, the fitness center at the InterContinental is great. But getting to it during the day, while the spa is open, is not the easiest. You have to walk through the spa, which you would pass anyway if you want to go to the pool, but this time you have to turn right before you go outside and walk a maze to get to the fitness center. On the other side, the spa offers are extensive here, and one of the best I have seen. After 8 p.m. you can access the fitness center super easy through sliding doors just next to the elevator lobby on the Spa/Pool level. I don’t know why they don’t keep the doors open all day.
Besides the on-site spaces you can enjoy as a guest, the proximity to the waterfront is unbeaten in Downtown Miami. No other hotel sits right at the waterfront in this part of the city. You have direct access to the Bayfront Park and Bayside Mall. The Bayfront Park is perfect to play and relax, while you can go shopping and dining at the Bayside Outdoor Mall. Take a tour boat and explore the waters of Miami. Get a guided tour of the villas and houses of the rich and famous. By the way, until last year the Ultra Music Festival was held at Bayfront Park but will move to Virginia Key in 2019.
The city-facing front of the whole hotel tower gets transformed into a screen during the night. You can see people dancing and see a message “Welcome to Miami” right on the InterContinentals building wall. It’s interesting what you can do with good lighting effects.
The on-site dining options are great. Besides the two restaurants at the lobby level, Ole and Toro Toro you have the Bluewater Restaurant next to the pool with spectacular views of the bay.
Ole serves breakfast while the other two restaurants are open for lunch and dinner, at least according to the website. The other night when I tried to get dinner at Toro Toro I got told to wait because the restaurant seating is not open yet, but the bar is. It was evenings at about 6 p.m. but according to their website, the restaurant opens at 11:30 a.m.
The breakfast at Ole was great. You have the choice between an extensive buffet or an a la carte breakfast. I went with the American Breakfast option and it was a good choice. Cheaper than the buffet and perfect size for me.
I had dinner at Torro Torro twice and the food is really good, service was great too, but waiters could have been a bit more attentive as there were only 4 or 5 tables with guests. But the best dinner was definitely during my first night at the hotel. I enjoyed a great flatbread at the Bluewater rooftop restaurant while watching the free Sunday-night movie. What more can you ask for except a little bit better weather, as it was very windy and blew a bunch of my popcorn away?
There are so many dining choices within walking distance of the hotel. Go to Bayside and check out the Bavaria Haus, great and authentic German/Bavarian food. My favorite there.
A great luxurious stay with some hic-ups but nothing which would hold me from coming back. Hopefully in the future in one of their amazing suites. You can’t beat the location and the rooftop pool and garden with amazing views of the bay.
Parking is very expensive here, but it’s downtown Miami. Also sad that they have advertisement hanging in the lobby for dining specials and when you talk to the waiter of the restaurant, they tell you that the offer is over since last year. If you can upgrade to a Bay-View room, it’s worth it. During check-out, I left one of my laptop chargers behind in my room. I called the hotels three days later if they found it and they actually did. I drove back to the hotel before my outbound flight of Miami to pick up my charger. The whole process was quick and painless. I talked to the bellman that I have an item number which I got from the lost&found department. They handed me the phone to talk to them and a staff member showed up a few minutes later with my charger. I only had to sign a form that I picked it up and was out again.
- Great Location on the Bay
- Amazing Views
- Rooftop Jogging Track
- Rooftop Pool and Restaurant
- Service Fee!
- Only expensive valet parking
- Computerized Minibar - No Refrigerator
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
Some of Peter’s photos are published on corporate websites, in-flight magazines, travel guides, and much more.