MIAMI -- The
Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne and the Four Seasons Hotel Miami are both
located here. They both boast sea views, and they both cater to a
sophisticated, upscale clientele willing to pay upwards of $300 a
night for a room.
Yes, they both fit
squarely into the luxury hotel category. But the two properties
couldn't be more different.
(despite its proximity to downtown Miami) is more like a leisure
resort, a vacation destination in itself, with palm trees ringing
its pools and tennis grounds. The Four Seasons (despite its
proximity to the beach) is positioned to cater to demanding
business travelers and another important Miami-based trade: the
I ended up
inspecting and comparing both hotels somewhat by accident: While I
was looking for the newly opened Four Seasons, I overshot the
property by several miles and ended up, not on Brickell Avenue,
where the hotel is located, but at the 2-year-old Ritz-Carlton on
Ritz-Carlton, surrounded by other similarly hued condo buildings,
occupies a prime spot overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Inside, it's
more Southern elegance than South Beach art deco. Lobby windows
open up to fountains, palm trees and the ocean.
I spent most of the
impromptu inspection checking out the hotel's 20,000-square-foot
oceanview spa, which boasts 21 treatment rooms. A 16-page brochure
spells out all the treatments available, including signature
treatments like the hotel's Key Lime Coconut Body Scrub and Soak,
an hour-long, $120 indulgence.
At the spa gift
shop, bath products shaped like scoops of ice cream in flavors like
strawberry kiwi and coconut grove sold for $8 apiece.
The resort is
family-friendly; the hotel said it has organized children's
A drawing room just
off the lobby was pointed out as a favorite spot for kids' events
-- for example, it can be decorated for holiday parties. There is a
kids pool area with a rock wall.
meanwhile, include rows of Wave Runners lined up on the hotel beach
(they rent for $65 a half hour).
Back across the
Rickenbacker Causeway is the Four Seasons, which opened in
The emphasis here
is on modern chic.
The hotel starts on
the seventh floor of a brand-new skyscraper, Miami's tallest
building. The tower juts from the Miami financial district like a
sword. Besides the hotel, 1435 Brickell houses office space, condos
and a Sports Club/LA.
The elevator swept
us up to the muted, neutral-toned foyer of the hotel, which is
complemented by three onyx-colored sculptures by Fernando
Rooms are 500
square feet and larger and offer commanding views of Miami. The
style, not surprisingly, is crisp and contemporary, and the hotel
includes accoutrements such as high-speed Internet connections and
multiline telephones in guest rooms and a 24-hour business
Guests looking to
keep up their fitness regimen or indulge in a massage have a
complimentary pass to the super-upscale Sports Club/LA, a $25
million, 40,000-square-foot complex.
The pool area is a
certified winner. It features a gigantic terrace that opens off the
end of the lobby. Wooden lounge chairs and greenery flank -- and
often actually inhabit -- the pool (some loungers actually can be
placed in the pool).
Because of the
pool's elevation, guests can look out onto Miami and beyond to
Bahia, a large,
open-air bar on the terrace, ensures that this space has the
potential to be a prime Miami party spot, if its off-Miami Beach
location isn't too much of a hindrance. The Latin-themed Bahia
serves up tapas during the day and cocktails in the evening; Latin
music is performed live Thursdays through Sundays.
Ritz-Carlton, the Four Seasons also can be considered a
family-friendly property -- there are kids' activities such as arts
and crafts and a children's pool. And free diapers are available at
the baby-changing station in the hotel lobby bathroom.
reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].