Luxury Hotels for an Over-The-Top Florida Beach Getaway

The Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club in Miami has just opened and this 77-room gem is already getting rave reviews for its very high level of service and the fine cuisine at Le Sirenuse. Carved out of the historic, Mediterranean-style Surf Club, which tire tycoon Harvey Firestone opened in 1930, the new Four Seasons is beachfront, close to Bal Harbour and sports a fun past. In its heyday, icons like Noel Coward, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra and Tennessee Williams stayed there.

In its chic new life, three Richard Meier-designed buildings frame the original clubhouse and the Parisian architect, Joseph Dirand designed the public areas, the guestrooms and the cabanas.

Good to know: If you’re traveling with a large clan, entourage or just a group of your BFFs, you can rent out an entire floor of the hotel since there are just nine rooms per floor, some connecting. You can even take the “togetherness” vibe outside to a Cabana Studio (there are five).

If you don’t want to rent out the whole floor, you can still get connecting rooms at the Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club; we suggest booking an Oceanfront Double with an Oceanfront King, or a Premier Oceanfront Room with Surf Club Room, which faces the hotel’s courtyard. On the horizon: Hotel Residences will soon be added to the mix and will range from one to four bedrooms.

We’re all about the Premier Oceanfront Rooms, which have wraparound balconies that provide views of the sunrise and sunset (Sweet!) Nice Touch: Minibars in every room include pre-made signature cocktails, including the Mangareva, the Surf Club’s signature historic drink. Ingredients include Chauffe Coeur Apple Brandy, rum, fresh lemon and lime, pineapple, coconut milk and honey.

The beachfront Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club is close to Bal Harbour.

The luxury travel advisor liaison at the hotel is Ana Gonzalez ([email protected]; 786-482-2319), director of sales. The general manager of the hotel is Reed Kandalaft ([email protected]; 786-482-2329), who also welcomes contact from luxury travel advisors.

The guest relations manager is Mark Warren Jr. ([email protected]; 305-381-3333); he is working on creating exclusive shopping experiences with the chic Bal Harbour Shops, which include Gucci, Armani, Dior, Fendi and Chloe. If you’re looking to bring home something unique to the destination, we hear that Diptyque at the Shops sells a “Miami-scented” candle, scented with magnolia, lemon, vanilla and a dash of key lime pie.

After an afternoon of shopping, you may want to head back to the Four Seasons’ spa, which has six treatment rooms and two super-private spa cabana suites. We love that it’s all about blue and white design here and that the tea lounge and relaxation room overlook the ocean. There’s also a hammam and a steam room and sauna. Walk-ins are welcome but Cassandra Forrest ([email protected]; 786-482-2585), the spa director, recommends booking treatments at least two weeks in advance to get optimal options.We hear the Tropical Hamman Experience includes a scrub that exfoliates the skin and a bath of hydrating coconut, orange and honey, all followed up with a body butter application. Note: Treatments for young adults will be available in the Spa Cabanas Suites.

Dining at the Four Seasons at The Surf Club is an exciting affair, with Le Sirenuse opening its first restaurant and champagne bar away from its iconic Positano home on Italy’s Southern coast.

The menu offers classic dishes from the Positano resort’s Michelin-starred restaurant made with ingredients flown in directly from Italy. It also provides some fresh offerings to suit its new oceanfront location. We’re keen to try the “Raviolo Caprese,” which is ravioli stuffed with house-made buffalo ricotta and drizzled with fresh grape tomato sauce, Grana Padano reduction and basil. Yes, please.

The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne’s Ritz-Carlton Suite has floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room with views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Contact Luciano Sportiello ([email protected]; 786-482-2280), the restaurant’s general manager, for special attention, or to request an oceanfront seat. We hear it’s best to reserve at least two to three weeks out.

Le Sirenuse Champagne Bar is designed as a fun place for locals to enjoy live entertainment throughout the week, complete with a cocktail menu that pays tribute to the hotel’s snazzy past. (The“Dean Martin” is made with Roederer Brut Premier Champagne, Crème de Framboise and Raisin-Lime Cordial).

The hotel accepts pets up to 15 pounds in size and has a quiet pool option, as well as one for families. A cabana pool will open soon with 40 day-use air-conditioned cabanas and full bathrooms.

Be sure to book early for festive season, which runs from December 22 to January 6. Other busy times are during the Miami International Boat Show, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival and Art Basel.

The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne
One of our all-time favorite resorts, The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne is turning 15 this year and with that comes a new look for its guestrooms, which now sport furnishings with a mellow blue and gray vibe to play off its oceanfront setting.

There’s also a new restaurant called Lightkeepers, which is “coastal” inspired and serves up craft cocktails. Its major feature is its “josper” oven from Spain that allows for grilling and roasting at the same time. Think “Whole Branzino” with grilled citrus and beurre blanc, or Palmetto Creek Pork with smoke chorizo in a mustard molasses glaze. We’re also all about the Lighthouse Tower appetizer, which is a raw bar festival with oysters, shrimp, Alaskan king crab and Cedar Key clams.

We’re also intrigued by the restaurant’s Sunday brunch (described as “over the top”) and its live culinary action stations, a raw seafood bar, bottomless Brunch Punch, Mimosas, Prosecco and Bloody Marys, and an area dedicated to desserts.

The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne’s new restaurant is called Lightkeepers, which is “coastal” inspired and serves up craft cocktails.

We suggest securing a seat in the upper terrace, all the better to take in the ocean views. For special attention, contact Kelly Curtis ([email protected]; 305-365-4186), the private events coordinator.

There are several bars throughout the resort; our favorite is RUMBAR, with live Latin music. It’s got a 1940s Havana-style vibe and serves the resort’s signature drink, the Black and Blue Mojito.

We’re also major fans of Cantina Beach, which is an oceanfront restaurant that’s casual and fun, serving Mexican cuisine. We thought its fish tacos with Red Snapper were particularly excellent. Be sure to order the guacamole that’s made tableside. Hint: Secure a high-top, counter table overlooking the Atlantic.

The top accommodation at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne is its Presidential Suite (No. 831); it’s 2,640 square feet in size, with two bedrooms and two large terraces with ocean view. Other perks? A dining table seats eight and there’s a full kitchen.

We were impressed by the Club Level rooms, which provide food presentations and beverages throughout the day. Private concierge service is also available.

The hotel, which is run by General Manager Mark Ferland, has connecting rooms; consult with Gavin Bailey ([email protected]; 305-365-4201), the senior travel industry sales manager, for any special requests. Looking for the best ocean views? We suggest rooms on high floors (above six).

The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne’s Partial Ocean View Suite is a one-bedroom accommodation spread over 800 square feet of space.

The spa is a major experience at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne. It has 21 treatment rooms; book at least 24 hours out. One offering that caught our eye is named “Path of the Rising Moon”; it’s meant to promote healing and includes a “Warming Orange Salt and Oil Exfoliation, an Atlantic Stone Massage and a Scalp Massage.”

Reach out to Timothy Williams ([email protected]; 305-365-4223), spa director, to arrange a spa buyout for a wedding party.

Tip: We hear that Maritza Ramos is the top aesthetician for providing custom facials. Bringing a family member under the age of 12? They can enjoy a Princess Manicure & Pedicure.

Note: Recommended nearby shopping can be found at the Brickell City Center or The Miami Design District, but we found the resort’s own boutique to be one of the most interesting we’ve ever come upon, with stylish and unique clothing options and gifts to take home. (We suggest a mango candle, which carries the resort’s signature scent.)

Bringing Fido on vacation? The hotel accepts dogs as guests as long as they weigh 20 pounds or less; there’s a $250 fee.