During this weekend in Miami, I did a hotel hop. My first hotel after arrival was the Hyatt Place Miami Airport East. I stayed there to get the bonus from American Express and bonus miles with American Airlines. Since both criteria for the bonuses were fulfilled, I wanted to try the Sheraton by the Miami International Airport. I passed the hotel many times with the people mover from the airport to the rental car center. Another main reason was to make use of my lounge access at the Sheraton since Hyatt Place hotels don’t have a lounge.
I checked out shortly before 3 p.m. of the Hyatt Place and did the ultra-short drive of 7 minutes to the Sheraton. Getting into the hotel driveway requires you to make a left turn on a very busy multiple lane street. Sundays are usually quiet in Miami, so I am excited to see how it looks like during the week.
Once in the driveway, you have to make a narrow U-turn to get to the front entrance.
I parked my car outside and told the valet that I will be self-parking and just checking in really quick. He held on to the key while I walked inside. The wait was short and I tried to check in. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to check me in, as there were no rooms available at their official check-in time of 3 p.m. The agent did a pre-check-in and I asked if they eventually have an upgrade available for a suite. I got told to check back later when I check in again to receive my room. I had no issues with that and checked out a place in Miami I wanted to see anyway.
After my short trip, I got back to the hotel by about 4:15 p.m. to finish my check-in. The agent from earlier wasn’t at the front desk anymore and I talked to another person. He was now finally able to check me in but he told me that suite upgrades aren’t available until after 2 days from now. I wouldn’t mind moving after two days of my eight-day stay to get into a suite.
As Marriott/SPG Platinum member you receive access to the club lounge on the 10th floor. Alternatively, he offered my vouchers for the full breakfast buffet downstairs in the restaurant. So I can choose to go either to the club or to the restaurant. He also programmed my room keys to be able to do self-parking at the parking garage. Valet and self-parking is the same price here ($20/night).
I grabbed my room keys and headed to the garage with my car. Self-Parking spots are on level 2 and 3 of the parking garage. I parked my car and grabbed a suitcase to take it over to the hotel. There is a walkway to access get access from the garage to the mezzanine level of the hotel. The walkway is not suitcase friendly as you have to take it up a set of 5 stairs to get to the walkway. Once there it is a bit of a walk to reach the hotel entrance while you walk along on the outside of it. At the door, you can use your keycard to enter after 6 p.m. That’s what the sign said next to it. I was there before 6 p.m. and the door was locked so I tried my room key. No luck!!!! I flipped the key in every possible position to get the door open but I only got a red light on the reader or no light at all. There is a buzzer/intercom right next to the keycard reader and a sign to buzz for assistance. I tried and pushed the button a bunch of times, even held it for a few seconds. Nobody answered or opened the door.
I had to walk all the way back around to the front entrance and the guy who checked me in told me that after 5 p.m. I have to use the buzzer as the keycard doesn’t work but it should be unlocked before 5 p.m. He wouldn’t believe me when I told him that I tried everything, my keycard, and even buzzing a bunch of times. Supposedly they can hear the buzzer at the front desk and will open the door remotely for you but he didn’t hear anything. He got maintenance working on it and it actually got solved the next day. However, you can’t use your room key anymore to enter. You always have to use the buzzer.
1 Standard Room King (Room 909)
Finally, I made inside the hotel with my luggage and took the elevator up to the 9th floor where my room would be located. The room was facing the airport side rather than the golf course. Rooms facing the golf course are called the deluxe rooms but are identically otherwise.
When I opened my room door, I was surprised that my keycard actually worked. The room is very small. And with small I mean small. Design-wise the room is kept in an Art-Deco style, like the rest of the hotel. The small bathroom is to the right after entering the room. The shower is the smallest one I ever had in a hotel. The length of the shower is ok, but it’s very narrow and for me, I had not a lot of space on either side while standing in the shower sideways. Annoying was also that the bathroom sink faucet was loose and if you try to use the handles, the whole faucet moves around.
Adjacent to the bathroom is a full-size closet. Inside you find hangars, iron, ironing board, and a suitcase stand. Next to the closet is a cabinet with multiple drawers and doors. One of them hides the room safe. In some of the other shelves of the cabinet were the coffee maker and the ice bucket with glasses and two bottles of water.
The rest of the room was pretty much taken up by the king bed on the right with nightstands on either side. Both nightstands just have one power outlet and one USB outlet each. However, one of the power outlets was already used up by the alarm clock and the USB port on the right side was broken. I found that out the hard way when I plugged my device in and didn’t charge. I forgot to double-check if it started charging. As I grabbed it 2 hours later, it’s battery was dead. Overall you don’t have a lot of options, to begin with, now ports are even broken which narrows your options down even more.
Adjacent to the bed is the flatscreen TV which is on top of a stand. No storage options in the stand beside the top areas on either side of the TV. Note, the room is also missing a refrigerator, which is almost necessary to survive in the hot summer days here in Miami.
Along the window, in one corner is a chair, and in the other corner of the room a small work desk with an office chair facing the room. The desk looked first way too small but after setting up my laptop I was still comfortable and had plenty of space on either side with my gear. The desk has actually two power and 2 USB outlets built into it on the right side. Lucky as I am today, the power cable connecting them, was unplugged from the nearby wall outlet. This was however easy to fix.
Then I found out that the “Make a Green Choice” hangar was missing from my room. No big deal, I used the SPG app to sign up for that service. This hotel has a weird policy. You can only go a maximum of 3 days without cleaning your room. Then a mandatory cleaning is necessary and after that, you can go again 3 days without cleaning and so on.
The window stretches over the full width of the room and I have probably one of the best views of the Rental Car Center across the street. The windows are milky and it looks it is between the panes of the window not on the inside or outside. This takes away from a clear view. In my case, there is not much to see, except for some planes every now and then I would be interested in it.
After I got settled in my room, I called the concierge to pick up dry cleaning but nobody showed up for an hour. So I had to call again and then finally someone showed up within a few minutes. As my dry cleaning was still not returned after 4 days, I called the concierge again to please send my dry cleaning up. As nobody showed up for an hour, I called again and I just got the excuse that he didn’t receive any clothing for me today. Why didn’t he just call me back, as I requested that service? This is not how that works. I told him, that I sent out dry cleaning Sunday night and it should be already back since Monday evening, as there was no pickup on Sunday. On Friday afternoon, I went downstairs to the front desk to talk to someone in person about my laundry issue. After sending me over to the concierge desk and looking through the laundry shelf in the back, we found the laundry bag I gave them, still unwashed, just hanging on the shelf. First, they offered me detergent and Quarters to use the laundry facility on the third floor. The concierge disappeared in the back and came back a few minutes later with one box of detergent and asked me if I have any Quarters myself. I told him that I didn’t have any and he just suggested to get like one or two dollars in bills and the front desk could give me change to use the laundry machines. Seriously, after you messed up so bad? The guy a day before was unable to find my laundry in general, I was up until midnight to wait for a call back from him, which never happened. The next day I personally had to show up to pick my unwashed laundry up and the hotel is too cheap to provide change to use the laundry machines. Too cheap to spare one dollar!!! Verdict! Don’t even think about staying here. So far the worst stay I ever had in a hotel and that also for a high-class hotel. By the way, the laundry detergent is on their list of free on-demand amenities.
The only real advantage my room had, was the proximity to the west staircase. From there it’s just a few steps up to the 10th floor to get to the Sheraton Club. No need to walk to the elevator and wait for it. Rooms on the 9th floor with room numbers of 913 and lower are in the same great position to rather take the stairs than the elevator.
Just to get into my room, a lot went wrong already. The noise impact from the airplanes is about medium and considerably less than at the Hyatt Place Miami Airport East. Rooms facing the golf course probably have an even smaller noise impact.
The lounge is beautiful and offers lots of spots to hang out and sit down. The tall ceilings and a mezzanine level add to this feeling. Adjacent to the front desk is the bell service. Around the corner from the bell service is a gift shop with all kinds of stuff to buy. Across from the gift shop is more seating with chairs and tables to hang out and gather. Two workstations and a printer are in a corner of the seating area. On the far end of the lobby is “The Rickenbacker” hotel restaurant.
To the right and behind the front desk is the fitness center. It has a pretty good size with plenty of workout equipment.
On the backside of the property, facing the golf course is the outdoor patio with an eco-friendly heated pool. Guests can hang out at the “River’s End Patio” to enjoy a view of the sunset and potential peek at iguanas resting or manatees enjoying a swim.
On the mezzanine level are a bunch of meeting and conference rooms. Perfect to hold a meeting, if you are looking for a location. The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle to the airport.
If the hotel shuttle is not busy you can catch a ride to the International Links Melreese Country Club Golf Course. Hotel guests get a 20% discount, just visit the golf course and tell them you are staying at the Sheraton.
You can walk to the transit center across the street, which will give you access to train and bus services like Tri-Rail, Megabus, Greyhound, and the People Mover to the airport.
The Sheraton Club is open around the clock and offers a breakfast buffet in the morning and hors-d’oeuvre during the evening hours. The club lounge is missing a spot, where you can drop your dishes after you are done eating. Now you have to leave it at your table and wait for the staff to clean it. Luckily the club lounge is never really crowded. I only saw a few people during lunch and dinner hours. Great are the restrooms located just outside of the lounge. This saves you a trip back to your room. As I mentioned, I got also coupons offered for breakfast at The Rickenbacker. Please take them or ask for them, as the breakfast there is way better as in the lounge. The days I visited the lounge, they never offered scrambled eggs. Just a minimum breakfast buffet with some cereals, fruits, and toast.
During the evening spread the “warm food part” changed every night. Other than that they offered a few different salads, cheese plate, celery and carrots, and some desert-like cookies or brownies. The staff puts little signs next to the food, so you know what it is, and one day a sign read “Cheese and Salami” but they completely forgot the Salami. Not a big deal, just funny.
Besides the club lounge, you can dine at “The Rickenbacker”, an aviation-themed restaurant, which is supposedly (according to the hotel’s website) open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, the only time I saw the place open was during breakfast hours. That’s where you get to use the breakfast coupons you receive as a Marriott Platinum Member. It is a continental breakfast buffet with the addition of some fruits. At the window, you can order omelets or waffles freshly made to order. Service was pretty good and it is a way better breakfast as at the Sheraton Club.
River’s End Patio
This dining experience is located outdoors at the back patio. During the week I stayed here, I never saw anyone out here. I don’t even know where you would order here. There is a bar area at the patio, I just never saw anyone out there working. If you have to hunt down a staff member to get served, is not the way it should work.
Located next to the gift shop, this is your spot to grab a bite to eat for dinner. As I wasn’t here during the day, I can’t confirm if it’s open for lunch, but it is definitely open for dinner. Huge TVs are mounted throughout the lounge to keep up with sports or news.
During my last night, I ordered room service and was first curious to even see a menu. I called room service via the in-room phone and asked them if there is normally a menu in the room. He told me there should be a binder on my desk. I double-checked, but there was no menu. I found a binder with some hotel information but no menu. I called room service back and ordered a Cheeseburger because most-likely they would offer that.
In 2017, the hotel underwent a 10 Million Dollar renovation which added bold colors and luxurious textiles. So for me that sound and looks like that the Sheraton Hotel got a new paint job and new rugs. I don’t really see anything else renovated. One day, when I called the elevator, the door only opened halfway and I had to push it open the rest of the way myself. This happened multiple times throughout my stay. The doors gut stuck either entering or leaving the elevator. A great experience, because I never had that to an elevator ever before in over 30 years. Also remember my bathroom sink faucet was loose, wall elements like the buzzer on the mezzanine level to enter from the parking garage, look like they are ready to retire as well. Room keys still have a magnetic stripe, while I don’t really care about this, but I just like the new contactless keys which also have no more issues with demagnetizing.
The staff interaction was great, as at least they make it look like as they would care. This makes you feel a little bit better as a guest, but such a high rate of incompetence is unseen, and the first time for me. I stay in hotels about 355 days a year, so I know what I am talking about.
The hotel calls itself the closest Marriott branded hotel to Miami International Airport. That might be true, but honestly, I think there are better options around the airport and pretty much all of them offer free airport shuttles. For example, I like the Element, another SPG/Marriott hotel, a lot. It’s more modern and just a few minutes from the Sheraton. Personally, I recommend you to avoid this hotel if you have to stay near the airport. Only stay here if you get a deal you can’t beat or if you are attending an event at the hotel. Not even the Sheraton Club is a reason enough for me, as a Marriott Platinum Premier to stay here.
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.