Edited by: Nick Ellis
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Key Biscayne is a 5-mile-long barrier island paradise just minutes from downtown Miami. You’ll leave the mainland behind as you journey over the stunning Rickenbacker Causeway to Key Biscayne where you’ll find sandy beaches, nature preserves, and restaurants with amazing views.
My wife and I wanted an easy, 2-night, child-free staycation weekend, so we chose The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami, which is just a 45-minute drive from our home in Fort Lauderdale. We decided to indulge a little and treat ourselves since the hotel is also the only 5-star hotel on the island.
Continue reading to learn more about our stay!
The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami Location
Even though The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami is just 10 minutes from downtown Miami and 20 minutes from Miami Beach, it seems like a world apart.
Key Biscayne is known for its expensive real estate, beaches lined with palm trees, and high quality of life for residents who want to be near the bustle of the Magic City, yet enjoy a tranquil sanctuary on their own affluent-but-modest island town.
The hotel is located about 15 miles from Miami International Airport (MIA). It takes about 30 minutes to reach the hotel under normal traffic conditions, but it might take considerably longer if you drive during rush hour. Your best bet is to fly into MIA.
Alternatively, you can also fly into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), which is 33 miles from the hotel. This trip usually takes a little over an hour, but if there is a lot of traffic on I-95, it can take a lot longer.
Booking The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami
Typically, when booking hotels, I redeem points for complimentary nights. My usual booking procedure involves transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to my preferred hotel transfer partner, World of Hyatt, or topping off my Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors account balances with American Express Membership Rewards points.
For my stay at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami, I decided to price out award nights as well as look at the cash rates when booking directly through Marriott and through the American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts program.
I looked around on Marriott’s website and found that a Resort View King room for our weekend would only cost 53,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. Even though this was a great rate for a hotel that usually charges between $500 and $1,000 per night, I wanted to compare it to the cash rates and see if it made sense to save my points.
When I shifted my search on the Marriott website from points to cash, the lowest available nightly rate for a room with a limited view on a low floor was $489 per night. If I opted to use points instead of cash to book my hotel stay, I’d achieve just higher than our 0.7 cents-per-point valuation of Marriott Bonvoy points at about 0.9 cents per point.
Since the hotel is part of Amex’s Fine Hotels + Resorts program, which grants elite-like benefits to cardholders of The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, or Centurion® Card from American Express at more than 1,100 properties worldwide, I logged into my Amex account and searched Amex Travel to determine if the rates were comparable.
Surprisingly, room rates through Amex’s Fine Hotels + Resorts program (FHR) started at $499, just $10 more than booking directly through Marriott. Despite the fact that I have Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status as a benefit of my Amex Business Platinum card, I would receive superior benefits by booking my stay via FHR that would far outweigh using points or booking directly through Marriott.
So, I went ahead and booked a standard king room for 2 nights at the hotel for $998, plus taxes of $129.76, for a grand total of $1,128. While not inexpensive by any stretch, I kept thinking about all the extra benefits I’d get by booking a cash rate via FHR, which would justify spending cash instead of redeeming points.
And because I paid for it with my Amex Business Platinum card through FHR, I earned 5 Membership Rewards points for every dollar I spent, and the following benefits during my stay:
- Complimentary upgrade to a high-floor room with an island view
- Complimentary daily breakfast for 2 in the restaurant
- Complimentary enhanced Wi-Fi
- Early check-in at 12 p.m.
- Late checkout at 4 p.m.
- A $100 credit to be used on-site for anything chargeable to the room
I paid for my incidentals with my Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card to earn 6x points per dollar spent at the property, in addition to the bonus points I earned as a Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite member.
It’s worth noting that the hotel tacks on a resort fee of $48 per day which is added to your daily room rate. In exchange for the fee, guests receive the following amenities and services: beach access, beach loungers, beach activities (kayak, paddleboard, and float rental), pool access, spa access, and spa tub access.Hot Tip:
Check out our guide that compares Amex’s The Hotel Collection and Fine Hotels + Resorts programs to see how they can both save you money and give you more perks on your hotel stay.
We approached a security gate and explained to the attendant that we were checking in for our stay. He asked for our last name while he looked up the day’s reservations and waved us through after our name was confirmed to be on the list. We proceeded down the road past a few roundabouts before arriving at the hotel’s valet.
We arrived at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami shortly before 1 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, and there were 3 front desk agents assisting guests. Because I booked via the Amex FHR program, one of the advantages I hoped to get was an early check-in beginning at 12 p.m.
While we were waiting in line, numerous others arrived behind us, and there were now nearly a dozen people waiting to be checked in. The front desk manager came by and offered us — and all the other guests waiting — a welcome drink. Our choices were a glass of prosecco or a bottle of water. We chose the prosecco, which provided a nice start to our short weekend getaway.
The front desk staff kept their composure despite the sudden influx of guests waiting to be attended to, and after a few minutes, a friendly associate waved us over and started the check-in process with us.
She immediately looked up our reservation after asking for my last name and identification. She remarked how I had booked through FHR and how much she enjoys the program and uses it for her own hotel stays on occasion. I felt good about the fact that I usually pay for hotel stays with points, but this was a rare instance that I paid cash — and did so strategically by booking through FHR. As a result, I received some nice added perks.
The friendly agent promptly let me know that I had been upgraded to a room with an island view on the 12th floor and provided me with a 1-page document of my FHR perks, which included a guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout and daily breakfast credit for 2, $100 in property credits to utilize throughout our stay, and premium Wi-Fi.
I was given 2 keys, an envelope with my name on it which inside included 2 drink tickets (thanks to my Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status) redeemable at the hotel’s Lightkeepers restaurant, and a map of the property. Then, we were on our way up to our 12th-floor room to drop off our bags and head back downstairs for lunch.
If you book a hotel reservation with Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts, you’re eligible for a room upgrade of 1 category higher than what you originally booked. If there’s a particular room or view you’d like to have during your stay, keep this in mind.
As soon as you walk into the hotel lobby, you can’t help but notice the towering, regal design style.
The majestic staircase, brass chandeliers, and very high arched ceilings instantly captured my attention.
When you enter the hotel via the lobby, the reception counter, paneled in dark wood, will be immediately on your right.
Having visited a number of other Ritz-Carlton locations in Florida and around the world, I can attest that this location possessed the same old-world elegance and luxury as many of the others.
While the property’s grounds are expansive, the hotel itself is comparatively small, though it manages to pack in all the expected 5-star resort amenities.
Let’s explore what’s on hand.
The hotel has 2 swimming pools, one of which was geared toward families with children and included a splash pad, while the other was designed specifically for adults. An expansive lawn functions as a divider between the 2 swimming pools in the resort’s courtyard.
The Tranquility Pool was just for adults. It’s surrounded by palm trees to make it even more private.
Due to the large number of families with young children staying at the hotel, the adults-only pool was extremely popular with guests without children.
The only hot tub is in the Tranquility Pool area, a good distance from the family pool and only a few feet from the gate leading to the sandy beach.
The Family Pool had a zero-entry place where young children could play in the water safely.
This pool area was bigger than the adults-only area, and there were plenty of pool chairs with umbrellas so there was no need to get up at dawn to secure your favorite spot by the pool.
The splash pad was a big hit with the smaller kids, and there were even lounge chairs where parents could recline and watch their kids splash around.
Thanks to our FHR-guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout, we were able to spend the last day in the family pool. Even our daughters and their grandparents came along so they could enjoy the pool and splash pad.
Both pools were open to hotel guests daily from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m.Hot Tip:
From the comfort of poolside loungers, guests may order food from any of the hotel’s dining options. If you’d like a menu, just ask one of the friendly pool servers.
There are finer beaches in other parts of South Florida — I’ve been to Key Biscayne hundreds of times and know this to be true. You can expect blueish-green waters with some sargassum (a type of seaweed), but the hotel does a great job of removing as much as possible on a daily basis.
The beach in front of the hotel is fine, but out-of-towners shouldn’t anticipate the same crystal-clear waters and powdery white sand as they would find on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Hotel guests are provided with 2 beach loungers and 1 umbrella and have access to kayaks, paddleboards, and floats courtesy of the hotel’s resort fee.
When it’s busy, it might seem a little crowded on the hotel’s designated section of the beach due to the short width and the abundance of beach chairs and umbrellas.
Having said that, who can grumble when the beach is just a few steps from their hotel room?
Guests at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami have access to a fitness facility that is conveniently positioned on the ground floor beside the enormous water fountain in the hotel courtyard and in front of the adults-only pool.
There were enough free weights and cardio machines for a thorough workout.
If resistance and cadence bike training are more your speed, 2 Peloton bicycles were available for guests on a first-come, first-served basis.
The fitness center also featured a private space for FitnessOnDemand courses for those who want to work out to the latest and greatest from their favorite fitness companies at their own convenience.
Beyond complimentary towels and water bottles, guests can also partake in fitness classes every day at no extra cost when booking a spa treatment or at a charge of $15 per class.
The fitness center was open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
All hotel guests have access to use the spa facilities. I didn’t use the spa during my stay but if your flight out of Miami departs late in the day or in the evening hours, you may use the spa’s bathrooms, changing rooms, sauna, and whirlpool while leaving your things safely secured in the locker room. This convenience is included in the cost of your resort fee.
Guests interested in booking a spa treatment or service can do so online or by calling the spa front desk at 305-365-4197.
The Cliff Drysdale Tennis Center at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami is noteworthy for a number of reasons, including the fact that it’s the largest Ritz-Carlton tennis facility and was named one of the country’s 50 best by Tennis magazine.
In addition to 11 courts, the center offers clinics and lessons for players of all ages.
We planned to play tennis while we were there but ended up going to the gym instead. The kind employee at the tennis facility pro shop answered my question concerning court availability: both hotel guests and non-guests may rent a court for $15 per person, per day, and that price includes unlimited play, a can of balls, refreshments, and towels.
The Ritz Kids program, a supervised kids club with enjoyable physical and creative activities geared for children aged 4 to 12, is available to young guests staying with their parents at Ritz-Carlton hotels. Although our girls were not with us during our trip, I was interested to learn more about the Ritz Kids program at this hotel.
Right next to the tennis facility was a yellow building with a “Ritz Kids” sign, but it was vacant, so I walked inside the tennis pro shop and asked the employee where the kids’ club was.
She informed me that the front desk of the hotel has a list of daily kid-friendly activities, such as mini golf, arts and crafts projects, and hula hoop and jump rope fun.
Young (and older) visitors can practice their golf game on the putting green positioned between the 2 pools …
… or enjoy a game of ping-pong steps from the sand!
The sole parking option available at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami is valet parking. A day fee of $50 entitles visitors to in and out privileges.
I didn’t formally test the Wi-Fi speeds, but I had no problems connecting at any time throughout my stay. Even at the beach and around the pool, the connection was strong.
Buddy, The Golden Retriever
While not officially an amenity, it’s worth noting that if you stay at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami, you may stumble upon Buddy, a friendly Golden Retriever belonging to one of the hotel’s managers.
This sweet pooch doesn’t reside at the hotel, but he accompanies his owner to work daily and is there to put a smile on guests’ faces. While this is not a pet-friendly property, trained service animals with proper documentation are permitted but must be kept on a leash and with the owner at all times.
The guestrooms were renovated in 2016, and while you can expect refined interiors in the room if you’ve stayed at other Ritz-Carlton properties, I found the room style to be a touch bland and uninspired.
I was assigned a 420-square-foot Resort View King room on the 12th floor.
I entered the front door to see a foyer with the bathroom and closet on my left. There were a few hangers, a robe, a safe, an iron and ironing board, and other items in the closet.
My comfortable-looking king-sized bed was located beyond the foyer entrance, with plenty of natural light entering the room thanks to its location on a high floor and facing west toward the town of Key Biscayne.
Beside our king bed were 2 nightstands, each with a bottle of water and a Tivoli Audio table radio on one side of the bed.
On the other nightstand table was a notepad and pen along with the telephone and TV remote.
Power outlets and a USB outlet were embedded in the wood of both nightstand tables.
A big cream-and-brown credenza with a flat-screen TV and snacks like M&Ms, salted nuts, wine, and chocolate available for purchase sat across from the bed. My wife had a craving for M&M’s so we bit the bullet and opened up the costly $8 bag of chocolate goodness.
I was pleasantly surprised to see an amenity gift of fresh fruit and 2 sparkling water bottles with a kind note from the manager thanking me for my patronage.
There were cabinets under the credenza, which is where the minifridge with various beverages for purchase was located.
The Nespresso machine and all the other accessories, including water bottles, coffee creamer, and sugar packets, were kept in another cabinet.
A compact cream-colored fabric couch was awkwardly positioned between the bed and the balcony for additional sitting. Unfortunately, this couch does not convert to a sofabed, making it unsuitable for additional beds if you have visitors.
If you’re in town for business, the compact but functional circular desk and leather chair will suffice.
The balcony had 2 wicker armchairs and a table and provided lovely views of South Florida.
While we weren’t upgraded to a room with ocean views, our room faced west and had nice views of downtown Miami and the resort grounds.
The bathroom was functional, albeit a little small, with no distinguishing features to make it a standout hotel bathroom.
There was a single vanity sink and a little tub, ideal for bathing children but barely large enough for an adult to relax in.
In keeping with the rest of the bathroom, the shower was small in size, which I am willing to overlook so long as the water pressure is strong. Unfortunately, it was quite feeble, and for a hotel of this caliber, quite disappointing.
The shower and bathroom toiletries were from the upscale French brand Diptyque and came in multi-use bottles, much like at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach, a few miles away.
The fragrant scent of this brand was inspired by the fig tree in the heat of summer in Greece, with notes of fig leaves, wood, and white cedar.
To be completely honest, I had never heard of the brand before my stay, but the scent was so irresistibly alluring that I thought about purchasing the body wash downstairs at the hotel’s boutique.
While I did not inquire about the pricing of the bathroom amenities at the store, a notice near the bathroom sink warned that visitors would be charged $50 if any item was removed from the room.
Even though it included a shower, tub, separate toilet area, and sink, the bathroom gave off the impression that it had been an afterthought during the 2016 renovations. In my view, the hotel could have done a better job renovating the bathrooms.
Food and Beverage
The culinary offerings at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami resort demonstrate an unmistakable Miami flair, truly embodying the essence of this vibrant locale.
Here is a preview of what to anticipate.
Every morning, we had breakfast at Lightkeepers.
At lunch and dinner, the restaurant serves modern beach cuisine, but for breakfast, we picked the buffet option, which cost $45 per person and offers an extensive menu of items.
Since I booked my stay through FHR, our $92 breakfast credit covered our breakfast, minus the tip.
The breakfast buffet included a variety of baked goods, hot breakfast meats, fresh juices, and made-to-order omelets.
Our server recommended the shrimp scampi omelet, which the chef enthusiastically prepared for me.
It was one of the most creative and delicious omelets I’ve ever had, even if it was a little heavy for breakfast.
Lightkeepers was open from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
This casual beachfront restaurant in a lovely alfresco palapa setting delivers the best of regional Coastal Mexican cuisine and has South Florida’s largest tequila collection.
The menu included classic Mexican dishes like tacos al pastor and flautas de pollo, as well as popular options like fajitas and enchiladas.
We ate mahi mahi fish tacos only a few feet away from our beach chair, where we had spent the whole morning, and they did not disappoint.
Cantina Beach was open for lunch and dinner on Monday and Tuesday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.Hot Tip:
If you’re hungry but don’t want to leave your beach chair or pool chaise to get food, you can ask your pool server for a menu from Cantina Beach or any of the other hotel restaurants and have the food brought to you.
When you come into the hotel lobby, you can’t help but notice RUMBAR, a bar that seems like it’s been frozen in 1940s-era Havana.
Guests may savor light bites from the bar menu like yucca fries or ropa vieja sliders while savoring from the large spirits menu, which included over 52 rums, piscos, and cachaças from 18 different nations.
Cigars were available for purchase, and live music is played in the lobby bar from Thursday through Saturday. RUMBAR was open Monday through Thursday and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Friday and Saturday from 3 p.m. until 1 a.m.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love a good burger. The zenith of my happiness is when I’m eating a juicy burger with beautiful vistas and sand between my toes. That’s why, after settling in and dropping off our belongings, we made a beeline for Dune, the hotel’s outdoor burger spot.
Comfortable couches and cabanas can be found at Dune, along with a variety of international appetizers and, of course, gourmet burgers for those with a penchant for meat.
I went for Dune’s signature burger ($25), which was a 35-day dry-aged patty with a shallot wine sauce and whipped camembert cheese. My wife had a classic handmade burger ($22) with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and smoky bacon.
We both ordered our burgers at medium temperature and even asked the waiter if she could double-check with the chef that they wouldn’t be overcooked. She reassured me she spoke to him and that was that.
Of course, I probably jinxed myself since both burgers arrived well done, and although we were disappointed, we were hungry and most likely did jinx ourselves, so we scarfed them down.
Note to self, order my burger medium-rare at Dune and the patty will be pink in the middle … just how I like it.
We were able to satisfy our hunger at Dune, which served burgers (and other delectable items) every day from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Behind a hut and a few tables, Stefano’s looks to be a working food truck offering wood-fired pizzas, but the location was vacant during our stay. The pizzas were prepared at one of the other hotel restaurants and delivered to customers at the beach or by the pool.
I can vouch for the fact that the pizzas are excellent, and for $25 you can even choose to build your own pizza. The pies were slightly bigger than a personal-sized pizza and cost between $21 and $24. Pizzas could be delivered to your lounger from dawn to dusk.
At the hotel’s poolside ice cream shop, guests could indulge in a sweet treat from the colorful selection of gelatos, shaved ice, milkshakes, and fresh fruit smoothies.
While I didn’t see any signs for hours of operation at Scoop, during the day the shop was open in the morning hours until the early evening hours.
The Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne provides Key Pantry for visitors on the move who need some grab-and-go food selections or a freshly-made cup of coffee.
If you’re hungry, the market offered handmade ice cream, pastries, cupcakes, and sandwiches.
Key Pantry was open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
I am always impressed by the consistent level of quality service at Ritz-Carlton properties. From check-in to the valet attendants and wait staff, we encountered excellent hospitality throughout our stay.
Our stay at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami was lovely. The hotel met our needs for pampering in luxury and serenity while also being accessible to all the action-packed excitement that Miami has to offer. Its location is ideal for a much-needed quiet vacation, but it may not be the best option if you like nightlife and being in the heart of everything.
Overall, I think the hotel rooms are a little boring, but the seaside resort has a good selection of food and drinks. With its beach, pools, activities, and famous Ritz-Carlton level of service, the hotel does a great job of serving all kinds of guests, especially families with children and couples without children.
The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami should be near the top of your list if you’re looking for a refined hotel that’s far enough from the action of Miami’s urban core but close enough to South Beach and downtown Miami that you can get there easily by car.
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Featured Image Credit: Juan Ruiz. All images credited to Juan Ruiz unless otherwise noted.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami, is located approximately 17 miles from Miami International Airport and takes an average of 30 minutes by car to arrive at the hotel from the airport.
Yes, hotel guests are required to pay a $48 resort fee that includes beach access, beach loungers, phone calls, pool access, spa access, and spa tub access.
No, the hotel does not have a self-parking option. Hotel guests must valet their vehicle at a cost of $50 per day.
While the hotel does allow service animals with proof of documentation, the hotel is not pet-friendly and does not allow guests to bring their pets.
The hotel has 402 total rooms, including 38 suites, across 12 floors.
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