After the conclusion of an Upgraded Points-related work trip to Miami, I decided to extend my trip to meet up with a couple of friends who were traveling down to South Florida for the Labor Day holiday weekend.
After a nice stay at the Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club, Autograph Collection, my friends arrived and we decided to move to another hotel for the long weekend.
We knew we wanted to be in the heart of the action for this particular weekend, so we narrowed our hotel search to South Beach and Mid-Beach (a neighborhood a few miles north of South Beach) so we would be near the restaurants and bars we wanted to frequent during the weekend.
Ultimately, we chose The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach for our holiday break. I visited this hotel almost immediately after it reopened following an extensive renovation in 2019 and was impressed with its new look, so I was eager to check in for another stay to see if it still had its charm.
Read on to see what my stay was like!
The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach is situated right in the center of the action on South Beach. It’s found at the corner of the famous Lincoln Road and Collins Avenue, directly on the beach.
This assured that we’d be in the center of all the action. That’s exactly what we wanted from this particular weekend, but most of the time I prefer being away from the hustle and bustle of the area because it is very touristy and can get overwhelming at times. All of that being said, I did appreciate the easy access to nearby restaurants and bars.
The hotel is located about 13 miles from Miami International Airport (MIA). It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to reach the hotel under normal traffic conditions, but this can be much longer if you’re driving during rush hour. I only took an Uber from the hotel to the airport at the end of my trip, and it cost me $21.
Alternatively, you can also fly into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), located 28 miles away from the hotel. This journey typically takes a little under an hour, though it can take quite a bit longer if there’s heavy traffic on I-95.
I booked my stay at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach well in advance, almost a year prior to our stay. I was poking around aimlessly on Marriott’s website and saw award nights over the Labor Day holiday weekend going for 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.
While this isn’t exactly cheap, I considered it to be a good deal, especially considering hotel prices these days are exorbitant. Labor Day is traditionally considered “low season” in South Florida because of the (at times) oppressive heat and humidity, but the pandemic changed everything and Miami has remained incredibly popular over the last few years, driving up hotel prices.
Room rates were going for just under $650 per night, so I achieved just higher than our 0.7 cents-per-point valuation of Marriott Bonvoy points at about 0.8 cents per point. However, and more importantly, I kept around $2,000 in my pocket by using points.
The hotel charges a $45 per room, per night resort fee. According to the hotel, this is what you get in exchange for your 45 bucks:
- High-speed Wi-Fi
- A daily 1-hour health and wellness class for up to 2 people
- Beach chair/umbrella service
- Beach games, including volleyball, paddle ball, and beach toys
- 2 complimentary bike rentals, up to 2 hours (subject to availability)
- 1 complimentary serving of The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach signature ice cream by Aubi & Ramsa
I paid for my incidentals with my Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® 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 Platinum Elite member.
Hot Tip: Read our guide on how to qualify for elite status with Marriott Bonvoy!
I got to The Ritz at around 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon. There were a few people checking in ahead of me, but I only waited about 5 minutes to check in with the front desk agent.
The front desk agent was so friendly, and we struck up a conversation while he was checking me in.
He recognized my Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status, awarded me bonus points for checking in, and proactively informed me that the hotel was at capacity for the holiday weekend and thus no upgrades were available. Unfortunately, Platinum Elite members don’t get complimentary breakfast at The Ritz-Carlton properties. In fact, they don’t get much of anything at these hotels. I was prepared for this, but it could come as a shock to people who aren’t as versed in the ins and outs of the Marriott Bonvoy program.
I figured that would be the case, so I wasn’t disappointed when I got the news. I was handed the keys to my room and was told my bags would be in my room when I got there.
Due largely to the age of the building itself, the lobby doesn’t have a lot of natural light streaming in. In fact, it’s a downright dark space.
But, the hotel embraced this and in the renovation made the space moody and glamorous, with dark terrazzo flooring, black and gray furniture, dark marble, and more.
The individual front desks are fashioned from dark wood with bronze accents, and behind them is a beautiful piece of dark marble that contributes to the moody atmosphere of the lobby. Despite the renovation, the hotel preserved the giant curved wall with half-circle sconces, which added light and art deco pizzazz to the space.
The furniture exudes a mid-century modern vibe, while the abundance of potted plants adds color and style to the space.
At the back of the lobby is the Lapidus Bar, which is named for the hotel’s original architect, Morris Lapidus, who designed the property back in 1953. It was known as the DiLido Hotel in those days. I’ll get back to this bar later on in this story, but for now, I’ll say that it’s a beautifully designed area that looks like it came right out of the Roaring ’20s.
While this Ritz-Carlton is relatively compact, it manages to squeeze in all the amenities that you’d expect of a 5-star resort.
Let’s take a look at what’s on offer.
I didn’t have a car for this stay, but valet parking is available at a cost of $45 per day, excluding tips.
While I didn’t conduct an official test of the Wi-Fi speeds, during my stay I had zero issues with my connection. The network worked well everywhere save for the beach — not that I expected it to reach all the way there.
The resort has just 1 pool, but it’s a pretty large one. It’s in the shape of a cross, and I imagine it’s a feature that’s been preserved from the DiLido days.
I loved the look of it, and there was plenty of space to spread out in it so it never felt like you were on top of any other guests when you were cooling off from the hot Miami Beach sun. The spacious deck surrounding the pool contained a great deal of generously sized loungers.
And speaking of the loungers, they were fitted with smart-looking and well-stuffed gray or gray-and-white-striped cushions. Long story short, they definitely passed my lounger test with flying colors.
My next point is a bit nitpicky, I must say, but I will note that the pool felt too warm at certain points throughout the day, though this is understandable because it was scorching hot outside the entire weekend and the sun beats down on the deck for several hours each day.
The hotel is beachfront, so it has a generous stretch of beach dedicated to hotel guests. The hotel says the resort fee covers the use of several beach games. I didn’t see these out in the open, but I imagine the beach staff have all the necessary materials in their huts and will be happy to set them up at your request.
There’s a small path leading from the ground floor of the hotel — 1 level down from the pool deck — to the beach. You’ll cross over the promenade that runs the length of South Beach, which can get quite busy at times.
Once you reach the beach, though, it’s a wide expanse of sand, and you’ll see neatly arranged beach chairs and white umbrellas in front of you.
Umbrellas, chairs, and beach service are included in the aforementioned $45 resort fee, and as you’d imagine, you can order from a full menu of food and beverages to be delivered to your chair.
I didn’t eat at the beach, but I did make sure to order a mojito from the server. It was perfectly made and refreshing — especially for a hot summer day in South Florida.
The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach offers a 24/7 fitness center for guests. Located on the third floor, it’s somewhat hidden behind a nondescript black door.
Inside, it feels like a relatively small space with low ceilings and not a lot of natural light.
However, the equipment is new and in good condition — and you should have no trouble squeezing in a complete workout here.
The Ritz-Carlton Spa is also located on the third floor.
It offers a full range of treatments, from hair and nails to massages and facials. Also, it has the only “Timeless Capsule” in the country, which the hotel says is “an elliptical room designed to condense spa treatments” that “is ideal for time-restricted guests.”
I didn’t book an appointment during this stay but judging by other Ritz-Carlton Spas, I’m sure guests would be happy with the services.
The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach offers a Club Lounge — a dedicated space that delivers an extra dose of exclusivity and a number of enhanced amenities, including a dedicated concierge, complimentary beverages, and several food presentations throughout the day.
It offers breakfast from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., lunch from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., “light snacks” from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., hors d’oeuvres from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and desserts from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
You have the option to reserve a Club Level room when you book your stay, but I knew I would be eating out often, so I decided against it. For what it’s worth, I have heard rave reviews of Ritz Club Lounges from others.
You can ask for an upgrade at check-in, but it’ll usually cost around $300 per night — certainly a steep upcharge.
As part of the hotel’s large renovation in 2019, the guest rooms and suites got a full makeover. In 2022, my room still felt fresh and luxurious — for the most part.
I was assigned a room on the fifth floor.
I opened the front door into a foyer with the bathroom door on the right and the closet on the left. The closet contained a few hangers, a robe, a safe, an iron and ironing board, and more.
I could see all the way to the window, which framed a “view” of the outside wall of another building.
I know I didn’t book an oceanfront (or even ocean view) room, but it’s pretty disappointing to have such an unpleasant view at a hotel of this caliber. On the other hand, it’s a building from the 1950s, so I’m aware there’s not a whole lot that can be done about that.
When I saw the rest of the room, though, my slight sense of disappointment melted away. The king-size bed was fitted with crisp white linens and positioned in the center of the space.
Behind the bed was a tufted navy leather headboard. In front of the bed was a navy velvet ottoman that, of course, served as my de facto closet during my stay.
There was a stylized wood accent wall with intricate moldings that gave the room an additional dose of style and — in my estimation — recalled the heyday of this hotel at the height of South Beach’s art deco period.
To the left of the bed was a tiered side table with built-in power outlets that came in handy for charging my devices.
To the right was another side table that housed the room’s telephone/alarm clock combo, a lamp, and various other items.
In front of the window was a small sitting area with a pair of gorgeous-looking mid-century modern chairs and a small table, should you want to eat, enjoy a beverage, or even get a little work done in your room.
Across from the bed was a large — and also mid-century-looking — credenza with a flat-screen TV and the room’s minibar selection resting on top of it.
Hidden within the credenza was a minifridge with more beverage options.
There was also a hidden Nespresso machine that came with a number of pods.
As you’d expect, items from the minibar weren’t cheap — the mixed nuts cost a whopping $14 — so I successfully resisted breaking into that.
While the view wasn’t great, I was more than satisfied with the room itself. It felt modern, fresh, and stylish. The bed was supremely comfortable, and the climate control worked flawlessly (very important during the summer in South Florida).
The bathroom got a makeover during the hotel’s relatively recent renovation, but it’s apparent they weren’t taken down to the studs for a full reworking.
There was a double vanity with a smart-looking black granite countertop that matched nicely with the heavy black veining in the marble that was used generously throughout the space.
There was a rather sad-looking tub on one side — that was the giveaway that the bathrooms hadn’t gotten a complete redo as soaking tubs in new properties are much larger and frankly much more appealing.
There was a separate water closet behind a frosted glass door.
The shower was tight — another clue giving away the true age of the bathroom. However, the water pressure and temperature control were great.
Similar to The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago, the amenities were in multi-use bottles and from the luxury French brand Diptyque.
This was a nice bathroom, to be sure, but I think the hotel could have done more to bring it in line with the rest of the refreshed room.
Food and Beverage
Guests at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach have a few options for food and beverages on the property. Here’s a look at what you can expect.
Fuego Y Mar
Fuego Y Mar is the hotel’s multi-purpose restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. It draws inspiration from the cuisine of a number of Latin American countries, including Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, and Venezuela.
It offers an indoor/outdoor dining experience with glass-paneled doors opening to the covered patio outside.
Inside, there are a number of seating options, including large booths, small tables, and communal high-top tables. The restaurant has a refined beachy aesthetic design with light wood floors in a chevron pattern, blue and white gingham chairs, striped benches, and plenty of blue used throughout.
Outside you’ll find a full bar where you can select from one of the craft cocktails or have a cold beer.
There are also a number of tables for dining — most of the space is covered to provide shade and protection from the intense sun.
I only ate breakfast at this restaurant on the morning I checked out.
Before I made any decisions, I investigated the buffet situation. I immediately encountered the cold beverages, which included a selection of milk as well as fresh-squeezed grapefruit and orange juice, as well as a strawberry smoothie (that looked particularly delicious).
Continuing through the room, there was a station with a selection of cold cuts and cheeses …
… another with pastries …
… and of course the bagel and toast station.
Finally, there were a number of hot breakfast classics on offer, as well as a make-your-own omelet station.
Ultimately, I decided against the buffet and sat down with the á la carte menu. I ordered a fresh-squeezed orange juice ($15) and the eggs Benedict ($26). I loved my eggs Benny — they were served with breakfast potatoes and a few pieces of asparagus. The OJ was a delight, though I’m not sure it was quite worth $15!
Fuego Y Mar is 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.
DiLido Beach Club
The DiLido Beach Club is located oceanfront, 1 level down from the pool deck. I never sat down to eat at the restaurant’s inviting patio, but it serves food and drinks by the pool and at the beach, so I did get to try it out during my stay.
I ordered the Mary’s Farms Organic Chicken Sandwich ($26) to my pool chair one afternoon and loved it so much that I ordered it again the next day. It featured chicken breast, pesto aioli, provolone cheese, arugula, onion, tomato, and balsamic vinaigrette, all served on a delightful ciabatta roll with French fries on the side.
And as I mentioned earlier, I also had a couple of mojitos ($22 apiece) on the beach one afternoon.
The DiLido Beach Club is open daily for lunch from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Lapidus Bar is located in the back of the lobby, up a set of stairs. The space itself is stunning, drawing heavily on the hotel’s art deco past to treat patrons to an elegant and glamorous bar featuring hand-crafted cocktails.
There’s an abundance of rich bronze used, beautifully accentuating the white-marble bar top and black terrazzo flooring.
The Lapidus Bar is open from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. Sunday to Thursday and from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Bagatelle House Miami
Bagatelle House is the Miami outpost of the world-famous chain that’s famous for its elaborate brunches served up in the middle of a nightclub atmosphere.
I didn’t have a chance to visit Bagatelle during this visit to Miami but I’ve heard a lot of stories about the chain, so I’m sure anyone who does visit will have a memorable time, to say the least.
This location is open from 6:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
I experienced superb service throughout my stay. From the moment I arrived, I felt taken care of by the hotel’s staff. The front-desk agents were helpful and conversational, the pool and beach staff were incredible, and the bartenders and servers were on top of their game throughout my stay. Sometimes good service can get lost at busy properties like these, but I have nothing but positive things to say on this front.
I enjoyed staying at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach. This was my second time at the property, and I’d return again. The location is ideal for exploring South Beach, but may not be for everyone (admittedly, it’s not always for me, either) if you’re looking to unwind and escape the crowds.
Overall, the hotel looks great after its refresh, offers a solid array of food and beverage options, has an expansive pool deck and beach, and delivers excellent service. If you’re looking for a luxury hotel in the middle of all the action on South Beach, this Ritz-Carlton should be on your shortlist.