Thursday, December 15, 2016

Fontainebleau Miami Beach: The Glitz and Glam of Miami Beach


In October of 2016, my husband and I had the opportunity to stay in a five-star hotel resort in Miami, Florida during Joey's annual work AGM. We would probably never have had the chance to stay in such a swanky place on our own, so I was incredibly excited for the occasion to explore a hotel of that rating. (Thank you, MNP, for the amazing work retreat! It was fabulous!)

A gorgeous photo of the Fontainebleau Miami Beach pool, taken by my friend Melisa Milne.

The hotel we were staying at is called the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, and is somewhat famous in the area. It is an older hotel, dating back to 1954, but is dripping with luxury and opulence, which makes up for the age of the building. It has been featured in many movies, TV shows, and hosts an abundance of live shows for a variety of reasons. The reputation and glamour of the hotel attracts tons of celebrities. In fact, during the short time we were at the Fontainebleau, several celebrities were seen on the premises: Pink, Hilary Clinton, Kesha, and Tom Cochrane were all seen at some point during the week.

The gorgeous Fontainebleau lobby at the registration desk.

For all the glitz and glamour, I can't say our room reflected any of that. We might have sold ourselves short on this point. We flew into Miami on a red-eye flight from Calgary, and so arrived at the Fontainebleau at the weird time of 8:00 a.m. We were positive there'd be no room available for us, but we were prepared to just store our luggage and sleep next to the pool. At the registration desk, however, the lady told us we could wait until 3:00 p.m. for our reserved room, or we could take a room with two queen beds right away. We chose the double queen room in the Versailles tower, and were ecstatic to head upstairs instantly for a shower and a long sleep.

The boardwalk that separates the Fontainebleau pools from Miami Beach.

If we had kept our normal reservation, we probably would have been put up in the Tresor tower where most of the MNP visitors were staying. From what I heard, the Tresor tower is much more spacious with a much better view of the ocean and pools than the Versailles tower. We didn't really care, though. We were happy to sleep after our long flight, and hardly spent any time in our room anyway. With so many beautiful pools, the hot sand of Miami Beach, and all of Miami to explore, who needs a pretty hotel room?

Palm trees and the Fontainebleau Tresor tower.

I would love to inform you of the cost to stay at Fontainebleau Miami Beach, but I truly have no idea. We stayed at a discounted group rate that had been negotiated for Joey's company AGM, and I am not even sure I am allowed to discuss company pricing policies, so I'll just stay quiet. I can imagine, however, that a regular night's cost at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach might set you back a fair chunk of change. And I am only guessing at that because I do know how much dinners and drinks at the resort cost. One pitcher of sangria: $75. One strawberry daiquiri: $21 plus tip. One dinner at Hakkasan, the Chinese restaurant on the top floor: $200 for four items and no beverages. So you can only image the normal room prices. It was expensive to eat and drink on the premises, but not unexpected for a five-star hotel frequented by celebrities.

Dumplings at the Fontainebleau's Chinese food restaurant, Hakkasan.

What you do get for the price of your room is pretty awesome, though. Access to all of the pools, which are like a slice of paradise. There is the main pool shaped like a giant gently-curved rainbow, surrounded by lounge chairs, which are free to claim if you can find one available, and cabanas and circular beds, which are available to rent. There is a circular pool with an island cabana in the middle (also available to rent). There is also a 'kid-friendly' pool with fountains and activities such as crafts all around the poolside area. Waitresses in fun, polka-dot bathing suits with skirts and white sneakers wander the pool deck, happy to take your orders for food and drinks. You barely have to lift a finger.

A sunny day at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.

Don't fancy a dip in the pool? Just a few steps away from the main pool area, up and over the wooden boardwalk, you'll find the smooth sands of Miami Beach and the cool Atlantic waters. Loungers are also available for free, if you can find one open. Waiters flit to and fro, serving paying guests platters of food and drinks from the beach-side restaurant, La Cote.

Enjoying lunch at the beach-side restaurant, La Cote.

Joey and I spent a couple of days swimming in the ocean waters, but we stayed at the Fontainebleau during a particularly windy week in Florida, so the waves and the chilly breeze deterred us from too much beach time. Mostly we lazed by the hotel pools, jumping in sporadically for a swim or a soak in  one of the many hot tubs.

Miami Beach in all of its sunny glory.

In the evenings, there is always a lot going on, too. The world-famous nightclub, LIV, had people lined up out the front doors of the hotel on the Friday and Saturday nights. We didn't check out LIV because we are old, and cantankerous, and cheap (entrance is about $100 per person). But it was interesting to sit in the lobby bar, which is pretty fancy all in itself, and watch the eclectic mixture of people lined up to gain access to LIV.

Enjoying an evening out together at the hotel lobby bar.

I enjoyed the hotel lobby bar, and we spent a few evenings there mingling with friends, looking out of the windows at the calm pools glittering with pink light from the hotel glow. (In October, the Fontainebleau Miami Beach was lit up with pink lights in honour of breast cancer awareness.)

The Fontainebleau Miami Beach all lit up pink for breast cancer awareness.

Besides LIV, there is also a live music club called Bleaulive, where some of the newest and most popular artists and musicians come to perform. During our stay, Kesha performed at Bleaulive, but Joey didn't want to go. It would have been fun, in my opinion, despite us probably being the oldest people there.

The amazing chandeliers of the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.

There is shopping at the Fontainebleau as well, although if you are a regular joe like my husband and I, you might not actually do any shopping. I wanted a big ol' sunhat or a fedora to keep my large nose from burning, but at the price of $315 per hat, I couldn't do it. I bought a hat for $18 in Little Havana instead. I DID shop at the quaint little chocolate shop near the main lobby though. It had an incredible display of specialty chocolates that were almost too pretty to eat!

Too tasty to eat! The delicacies at the Fontainebleau chocolate shop.

All in all, my experience at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach was wonderful and surreal. It was a place I could never afford to stay on my own, so I am grateful to my husband's company for putting us up there. I am happy to have swam in the pools, lounged on the beach, and yes, even eaten in the crazy expensive restaurants. If I could go back, I completely would, but it might not happen in this middle-class lifetime of mine!

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