A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the grand re-opening of the Marriott Miami Airport Hotel Campus. There was a huge celebration with VIPs like Mr. Marriott himself and Tito Puente junior’s salsa band played, complete with dancers. The campus is a unique concept; it has three different Marriott-branded hotels and a cool $70 million was spent on the transformation. The three hotels comprise a 366-room, full-service Marriott, 300-room Courtyard by Marriott and 163-suite Residence Inn.
DID YOU KNOW?
FREE AIRPORT SHUTTLE
The campus is located right near the Miami International Airport (MIA) so when I landed, I went straight to the departures level (it’s where all the hotel/rental cars and buses stop), and jumped on the Marriott’s free shuttle. I timed it right because the shuttle arrived within five minutes but it only runs every 30 minutes, so call for the updated schedules. If you’re in a hurry, a taxi will charge you $10 for the five- to 10-minute ride. The bus stops at each hotel entrance and the Residence Inn is the last.
FYI: The shuttle bus has annoying, loud advertisements making it tough to make phone calls.
Marriott created this revolutionary concept of putting three different category hotels in the same complex so they can all share some of the amenities such as: restaurants (the most popular is the Cane Fire Grille, serving spicy Nuevo Latin cuisine), bars (there’s a modern Champions Sports Bar with a new menu and 23 HDTVs; it’s only one of two in the world that it doesn’t have the cheesy Cheers feel). There is a Starbucks, a 2,600-square-foot modern fitness center, a central pool and Jacuzzi and meeting rooms, 17 in total with over 12,500 square feet of meeting space.
Each of the hotels offer complimentary high-speed Internet (wired or wireless), sleek new LCD flat-screen televisions with the Marriott Plug-In feature, which allows all types of electronic devices, from laptops to gaming systems, to feed into it. And there’s a hypoallergenic air filtration system called PURE room, which removes up to 99% of pollutants from the air. As a former asthma sufferer (I was cured by a Chinese doctor in Malaysia), I really appreciated this feature.
One of Marriott’s newest advancements for customer experience is a modern and welcoming lobby. All three of these hotels have them, which are intended to get guests out of their rooms and mingling – either to socialize or work. Of the three, The Courtyard had the most impressive, with mini open meeting round tables with a TV and an interactive GoBoard, which displays regularly updated local information, weather and maps.
I spent the night at Residence Inn – the full name is Residence Inn Miami Airport South – which is geared towards extended-stay travelers. The design and color schemes don’t feel like a typical Marriott and instead of one big front desk, they have pods for check-in to give a more personal touch. The associate (Marriott doesn’t like calling them employees) who checked me in was smart when giving me the directions to my room. He handed me my key and said to take the elevator to the third floor and keep taking a right until you get to your room number, which is written on your envelope. He didn’t say out loud the room number for obvious safety reasons. Good job!
Out of the three, the Residence Inn is the only one in a brand new structure. All 163 rooms are suites and they feature a fully equipped kitchen and offer complimentary grocery shopping. They had three room categories available: a studio for $119 a night, one bedroom for $129 (this is what I was in) or a two-bedroom suite for $169 a night. Keep in mind these are the introductory rack rates, which will go up but I bet you can get an even better deal surfing the web … ahem, Priceline. Here’s Auction Advice.
My one-bedroom suite was huge! It had two flat screens, a beautiful kitchen with a full-size fridge, microwave, stove and dishwasher, plenty of closest space and a living room with a dining room table for two.
GOOD TO KNOW:
I was there on a Sunday night, which was really quiet but the clerk informed me that Mondays and Wednesdays are usually the busiest.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
My window wasn’t completely soundproof but I only heard two planes take off so it wasn’t annoying. I’m getting picky but the door in the bathroom opens inwards and there’s not a lot of room to get out of the shower with the toilet and door so they should flip those hinges around. Since the Residence Inn is for extended stays, I think they should take a more environmentally friendly approach and replace the mini toiletry bottles with shampoo/conditioner dispensers.
Unless you’re a business traveler needing long-term housing or are on a tight budget, you won’t want to stay at the campus for more than a night. It’s comfortable and is a fine place to stay but it’s by the airport … in Miami. I would think you would want to be by the action down by the beach – at least I do. Marriott Miami Airport Campus, 1201 NW LeJeune Road, Miami, FL; Tel.: 1-305-642-8570.
RED THE STEAKHOUSE
What’s nice about the airport is that South Beach is only a 15-20 minute drive so instead of hanging out in my hotel room by myself, I met my friend Kara Rosner from Diamond Public Relations at RED The Steakhouse where we had an amazing meal. The owners are originally from Cleveland where they still have the original RED The Steakhouse.
They specialize in steaks since theirs are the Aged Certified Angus Beef USDA Prime. But it was Sunday night so like a good Italian boy, I had to have a huge bowl of homemade pasta that was so good that I wanted to finish it all. Prior to that, Kara and I had split the heirloom tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil salad with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil ($8.90) and Brad’s hot stuffed peppers – house-made Italian sausage and tomato sauce ($14.90). This was all after Kara “made me” try her high-class parmesan tater tots ($9.50) and her scrumptious creamed corn ($9.50). The dessert medley of homemade cheesecake, donuts and chocolate molten lava cake was insanely delicious and I wanted to cry because I’d so seriously overeaten … times ten. I’m not even going to mention the wine bar with over 250 labels. RED The Steakhouse, 119 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL; (305) 543-3688.
- Tito Puente Jr’s Band
- PURE room
- Auction Advice
- Marriott Miami Airport Campus
- Residence Inn MIA
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