24 Hours at the Acqualina Resort, Sunny Isles Beach
All good things have come to an end. So did our 8-weeks tour through the Caribbean with a final stop in New York City before heading to Vienna via Miami Beach. And it was of course our very last night before boarding the plane back to Europe which we wanted to spend at one of the most sumptuous properties in North America. As luck would have it, we had the unique opportunity to stay at the Acqualina Resort. Well, I have to admit that I never really registered how big Miami is and that a resort in Sunny Isles Beach (which I thought would still be Miami) is actually further to Miami International Airport than the Fort Lauderdale one. In fact you can’t tell where Miami ends and Fort Lauderdale officially begins. Anyways somewhere in between, there’s a place which seems to be one of the poshest areas in Florida. And somewhere between the famous Porsche Design Tower and new arising uber-luxurious Ritz Carlton Residences there is the Acqualina resort consisting of The Mansions at Acqualina, the Acqualina Resort & Spa as well as the soon to be built The Estates at Acqualina.
Once our Uber arrived at the big entrance gate and drove up the driveway, we were getting really super excited. The entire entrance looked just glamorous and as soon as we saw a fleet of Rolls Royce (owned by the residents) we were speechless. This seemed to be the most luxurious hotel of our trip. We entered the main doors and arrived at a sumptuous marble floor lobby where we were immediately welcomed with a friendly smile along a warm “Welcome to Acqualina”. Before we could even sign the check-in papers, we were asked if we would like to have two Bellini as a welcome drink. Since we both found it to be impolite to decline, we of course took the two glasses Peach-flavoured champagne cocktail. One of the most impressive details about this property is its size. Even tough it looks like a palace-like mass hotel as we knew them from Macau and Las Vegas, there are only 98 rooms and suites making up the hotel part and the remaining 188 suites are residences. So any concerns of the possibility to miss dedicating service immediately vanished.
Before we could even look around, the Austrian general manager – Mr Christof Pignet – arrived to greet us personally, in German of course! I mean that was a totally perfect welcome with all our expectations to be exceeded. We expect to be welcome but when we get our favourite drink, are welcomed by the manager himself in our language and then immediately offered access to the spa to change, we are blown away. During our entire stay, we really felt the personal touch of Mr Pignet, who is managing the resort in most professional way. He is a guy to really learn from and his career is just impressive working all the way up and now being one of the youngest successful general managers we have ever met! Unfortunately the hotel was fully booked during our stay so our suite was not ready yet, however since we had lockers at the AMAZING Spa by Espa as well as a lunch appointment, we really did not care about our luggage anymore. Next destination: BEACH!
Once we arrived at the lovely beachside restaurant, we had the pleasure to meet Alexandra, the Director of Sales & Marketing who was joining us for a light lunch at Costa Grill consisting of a jumbo shrimp cocktail and then followed by a perfectly cooked sea bass. As a drink we had coconut water with the hotel logo on it – very Instagram friendly tough ;). Service at Costa Grill as well as on the beach itself was always on par, the F&B manager even came to our beach chairs to chat for a few minutes during the afternoon – I mean which manager does that during the more peaceful hours? While the food was really good already, we did not decline a second coconut water – the best we have ever had. After a relaxing afternoon at the beach with service, we received a call from the front desk informing us that our suite would be ready. So we went back to the front desk to get the keys and then switched to the 14th floor where our One Bedroom Oceanfront Hotel Suite was waiting for us.
Upon opening the door, we were welcomed by an elegant and chic living room opening onto a balcony with full view of the Atlantic. Right in front of the living room was a huge kitchen with all amenities you can dream of as well as a semi-separated dining room for four. In between the living room and the stunning yet cosy bedroom there was an office with an extra bed for children as well as a small TV. The absolute highlight of course was the super spacious bathroom with double basins, a walk-in shower, huge Jacuzzi bath tub, television, ESPA toiletries (my favourite worldwide), a bath duck as well as super elegant bath salts. Right next to the bathroom was a separate toilet with bidet and before one could enter the bedroom, you pass by a walk-in wardrobe. Although the entire interior design is really wonderful, my highlight remains the bed and the bedroom furniture which looks really unique. Of course the bed was extremely good and we both had an amazing sleep before flying out to Europe.
After we were all set, we were invited to enjoy an amazing 50 minutes ESPA Signature treatment. I have to admit, I am totally in love with the British spa brand, so I kind of knew what expected me but in the end it was very different from my experience at a resort in Italy. The therapist was much more experienced and the entire spa experience was so much more sophisticated when it comes to asking for preferred areas, giving feedback after the massage and choosing the right oil dedicated to my preferences. All in all, the entire spa area is truly nice and perfectly designed with dark light in order to relax the eyes too. When we came back to our suite, turndown-service was already done and the feeling of leaving the U.S. came up as well.
We told ourselves why not enjoying our last evening in the States, so we decided to have dinner at the famous Il Mulino restaurant located on the ground floor of the hotel and known to be one of the best Italian restaurants in the entire United States. There was a complimentary amuse bouche consisting of a 24-months old Parmesan cheese along with fried zucchini before we were served bruschetta. Then we were served tuna Carpaccio as well as beef Carpaccio before we headed towards “Primi Piatti” consisting of ravioli with mushrooms and truffles as well as ravioli with Burrata cheese and fresh tomatoes. As a main dish, we of course went for the sea bass grilled in salt crust so that the taste is soft and tender. The fish came without side dish which was perfect since we were a bit full from all those starters which we underestimated in terms of size. Before we were treated with an excellent homemade digestive, we got fresh berries and a dessert variation. The only words left to say: the food was simply outstanding and you really have to put in efforts to dine at the same level in Italy. Service was really old school and therefore more than perfect, it felt a little bit like at the world famous Harry Bar in Venice where all servers come in formal white uniforms too.
So what’s there to add to our gorgeous stay? The real one thing that was not too perfect was the fact that US Hotels rarely have bed & breakfast packages and so we found ourselves in a nearby bakery to get some fresh bread, coffee and orange juice. Not a problem at all since it is very common in cities like Miami and New York City, however I won’t probably be a friend of it. There is nothing about waking up, getting a nice breakfast while enjoying the gorgeous view and the first rays of sun. Acqualina really impressed us on all levels, no matter if service-wise (they had the best service of our entire 8-weeks trip), design-wise or in terms of amenities they offer. This resort was voted Number One Beachside property in North America and that’s for a reason: Honest 10 points out of 10 go to this Leading Hotel of the World at Florida’s most wonderful spot. Thanks to all the staff members who made our stay so special.
We were invited by Acqualina Resort & Spa and our stay was sponsored, however all above written expresses our own opinion and has not been influenced.