Families debating between the action of a Disney hotel or the relaxation of a Caribbean all inclusive resort, now have the perfect in between. The recent reopening of the legendary Miami hotel, the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, has finally made South Beach a perfect family vacation destination.
Here are my Top 10 family-friendly reasons to stay at the Fontainebleau.
1. 22 Acres, Anyone familiar with the thinly sliced properties of South Beach knows 22 oceanfront acres might as well be a million. With this much space, there is plenty of room for everyone’s needs to be served, and served well. See #s 2,3.
2. Sun at the pool ALL day. Even the most expensive and exclusive Miami hotels are on such small slivers of land, the buildings south of them tend to block the sun for at least part of the day — usually mid-day. The Fontainebleau's expanse means there is sun on a part of the pools the entire day. Critically important in the colder winter months.
3. A pool for all. The resort has four outdoor pools. The main elegant pool is a real resort pool — the kind you’d find at an all inclusive on a tropical island or Cancun. It’s surrounded by lounge chairs, fully equipped cabanas and waitresses wearing outfits too risque for some of the bars on Bourbon street. There;s a smaller adult pool, a really cool round pool with a center island for rock bands and others (yes you read that right, they do outdoor concerts there), and a large zero-entry kids pool.
4. Audience separation. Clubbers don’t want tots drooling on their D&G heels, business people don’t want scenesters disturbing their sleep, and honeymooners want to maintain the illusion of isolation. With 3 buildings, 8+ eateries, 4 pools, and an enormous spa/gym in its own 50,000+ -square-foot building on the ocean, there’s no need to mingle with any of the masses you don’t want elbowing up to you.
5. Dining variety. Again following the large resort model, this Miami hotel has plenty of restaurants at plenty of price points to make everyone happy. During the day, there is a pizza/gelato spot next to the pool and my favorite, Vida, has a breakfast Cinnamon bun french toast that is so perfectly sweet and moist I had it every day. Both are excellent for families. Scarpetta is eclectic Italian, noisy enough that kids go unnoticed but also very romantic — especially the nautical decor. Ringed by white sculptural columns resembling whale bones, the tables are divided by a few long waves that are actually banquettes. Blade is the hipster place for all things from the East, and Gotham steak is exactly what you’d expect. The latter two are better for adult diners or kids who can handle the leisure eating experience.
6. Easy walks. Although it has the resort feel, it is compact enough to get from one spot to another quickly and easily. The only exception, ironically, is the main pool — you have to walk down this strangely long corridor past the restaurants.
7. Big rooms, most have ocean or Intracoastal views. A couple will easily find enough space in the standard room. Families should book the suites in Sorrento. One room is easily big enough for a family of four and has a kitchen. (Head’s Up: Some rooms do NOT have a bathtub. Be sure to specify a tub when you make your reservation.)
8. Proximity. From the hotel, it's an easy walk to the main attractions of South Beach: Lincoln Road, popular night clubs and cafes at other hotels; and Miami’s best attractions, including the children’s museum and Miami Zoo, Bal Harbor Shopping, Coconut Grove, all are an easy 10-minute drive.
9. Frank Sinatra slept here. Sure, there are plenty of new developments calling themselves cool, now that almost everything in SoBe is cool. But, the Fontainebleau Miami Beach was part of what made Miami so hot. Before Don Johnson, before The Delano, the Fontainebleau was the place to be if you were anyone. Even for parents who are past popularity contests, there’s something to be said for staying at a place that has real legacy.
10. P. Diddy sleeps here now. Legacy is great, but this place isn’t just livin’ off fumes. The hotel’s owner (yes, a real person) is good friends with several celebs who love his hotel. Sting, Heidi Klum, Gwyneth Paltrow, P. Diddy, J Lo have already graced its hallowed walls. And many more continue to do so every night…
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Samantha Chapnick is a New York writer who scours international destinations looking for what hasn't been found.