With Miami Beach’s legendary nightlife, it’s hard to find a haven where families are welcome, but we found a quiet slice of heaven in northern Miami Beach. This area is now referred to as Sunny Isles is the home to the Acqualina Resort & Spa, A Leading Hotels of the World.
Acqualina seems to draw an incredibly international clientele from Europe and Latin America, which meant that the turfed small soccer field near one of the pools was always full of children playing in Emirates or Ethiad football jerseys.
Acqualina’s service is second to none I’ve received at any five-star American property. Christophe, the general manager, is not hidden away in his office, he manages to be everywhere all at the same time, and— as a result— you can feel how well the staff departments run smoothly for the exceptional guest experience.
The staff to guest ratio was really in the favor of the guests. There were several instances with members of different departments dropped whatever they were doing to assist my son and me as if we were the only guests at the resort.
The interior of Acqualina’s lobby might appear a little dated in a very baroque European traditional design, but once you take an elevator to your suite, you step into a design magazine spread.
You’ll just have to pass the tightest hotel security I’ve ever seen first. A security guard stands in the elevator lobby watching all of the cameras, ensuring no one goes up who shouldn’t.
Most floors have as few as four suites that are modern, fresh, and luxurious. The living room, bedrooms, and studies are in typical Miami pallets of whites, silvers, golds, and subtle neutral to complement the striking turquoise water views out most windows.
Both the kitchens and bathrooms are gigantic yet still have the feeling of when the building erected in 2000. The minibar in the kitchen was truly memorable. A stocked, full-sized refrigerator was one of the best I’ve ever seen as one half touted loved that every bottle of wine— white, rose, sparkling and red— came in the personal size and party size. The freezer contained a Häagen-Dazs ice cream buffet with vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and the signature Dulche del Leche flavor.
These are probably the most beautifully appointed kitchens with top of the line Wolf and Sub Zero appliances that get the least amount of use of any hotel in Miami, as room service was too delicious and convenient to pass up.
Dining at Acqualina
Breakfast is an elaborate buffet offered each morning in the signature restaurant, while most resort guests not with their children had dinner inside Il Mulino, the New York based upscale Italian restaurant known well amongst those who entertain clients on expense accounts.
The menus at Acqualina were focused on classic, straightforward dishes that were flawlessly prepared instead of a more innovative menu. The signature poolside libation is a coconut water-based beverage served in an Acqualina branded coconut, and it is a must.
The spa at Acqualina provides both a private haven within the hotel and from other guests at the pool. In addition to an adult-only swimming pool, Acqualina also offers a pool and Jacuzzi reserved strictly for those receiving spa services, so even in the most crowded season, there is a place for a completely quiet escape. A column made of Himalayan salt bricks is the cornerstone of the relaxation lounge, as it omits positive ions promoting beneficial health.
The spa at Acqualina feels intimate with incredibly personal, customized service. After we welcome ritual, I had some beauty product needs, and Kim, the Spa Director, researched my request while I was getting an excellent massage. I completed my treatment and when I went to the front desk to check out, she had presented several product options for me, had called local stores to see who carried it, and offered to have a hotel staff member collect one for me.
Pool and Beach
Most people go to Miami to experience the water. There are two main pools open to guests as well as a third private pool for adults only, and finally a private pool exclusive to those currently receiving spa treatments so any level of exclusivity can be yours. The beach at the hotel is beautiful and still the most popular choice to get wet as beach attendants set up the beach loungers in the omnipresent resort red. There’s an excellent red martini to match, too.
For better or worse depending on your appetite for sunbathing, one of the things that I loved about Acqualina— and I suppose applies to many other tall Miami Beach properties— is that the beach and pool areas are shaded once the sun passes the building to the west. As a result, we could spend the day in the ocean or in the pool swimming without fear of sunburn after 1 pm, though the time will vary throughout the year.
For those committed to getting a tan, one can’t sleep late. Towels in the shape of swans will adorn a scarlet red beach lounger as a reward for those who don’t sleep in.
For families, a large sandpit is dug and filled with buckets, shovels, and sun umbrellas for the ultimate sandcastle building afternoon.
At the end of the day, should you not be able to tear yourself away from the turquoise ocean views, Acqualina has a very charming and romantic private dinner table for two right on the beach for those who want to take every second last of their vacation on the beach.
But if you haven’t traveled frequently to the Miami Beach area you may not be aware of the sunrise symphony show every morning. I appreciated seeing couples splashing in the surf waiting for it to rise in the warm ocean water. Although it’s free, the premium views of the sunrise from the Acqualina balconies were exquisite.
For families craving sun and sand along Miami Beaches famous Shores, there aren’t many ideal options. If I were craving a beach vacation in the Miami area where I wanted unconditional pampering I would return to Acqualina in a heartbeat.
While it may not be a trendy resort it has a stronghold of every timeless element of a luxury hotel
Where : Acqualina Resort & Spa
17875 Collins Ave, Sunny Isles Beach,
FL 33160, United States
Phone : +1 305-918-8000
Robin Hutson is the Editor of Luxe Recess: For Parents Who Like Really Nice Hotels, covering the family experience at the world’s best properties.