My life got forever better on July 17, 2014, when my son Joseph Mario was born. I’ve never been much of a baby person, but I was amazed how much fuller and happier my already-full and already-happy life became when my wife gave birth to those all-consuming 8-pounds, 13-ounces.
In the ensuing weeks of diapers, laughs, tears and several hours of sleep, I realized that no matter how hard I tried, there was nothing I could do to repay my wife for the incredible gift she had given me by bringing Joseph into the world and by being such a loving mother to him. It was humbling.
I hatched the ironic idea of a Mother’s Day trip sans baby around Christmas-time, when I observed Jodie graciously skipping certain holiday festivities because she needed to nurse the baby or get herself some much needed sleep (there are certain things Dad just can’t do).
Jodie and I both love spending as much time with the little man as we can, but a break’s important. And so to “thank” Jodie as best I could, I decided to finally take Grandma and Grandpa up on their babysitting offer and book a dream trip for Jodie and me the week before Mother’s Day this past May.
Jodie deserves the best––although her choice in a spouse clearly demonstrates she’s willing to accept less––so I booked us for a weekend at the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach. To me, it was an obvious choice: There is no hotel with finer accommodations and service than a Ritz-Carlton, and there is no one more deserving of such an experience than the mother of my son.
The hotel features 375 luxurious rooms, 20,000 square feet in meeting rooms, two restaurants, an infinity pool and 16,000-square foot spa, and a $2 million art collection––not to mention a prime stretch of sand on South Beach.
I knew Jodie was in for a well-deserved treat; to up the ante even further we got a Club Level room. Think of Ritz-Carlton’s Club Level as boarding the best plane in the skies, then opting for first-class.
As soon as we checked in, a staff member escorted us to the VIP Club Lounge, with magnificent views overlooking the beach. Gabor, a Club Level supervisor from Switzerland we enjoyed visiting with throughout our stay, introduced himself and poured us each a complimentary glass of champagne. We sipped on the champagne, looked out over the beach, and smiled.
Gabor then showed us our room with an ocean-facing private balcony and, before leaving, took several pieces of our clothes to have them iron and pressed. Club Level guests receive complimentary garment pressing of up to two clothes item per day.
The best benefit of Club Level is access to the lounge itself, which offers five unique and fresh culinary offerings each day, along with an impressive liquor shelf in the evening to complement the variety of wines, beers, pops and juices available throughout the day.
Mike Roloff, a Club Lounge-exclusive concierge from Germany, was our favorite Club Lounge personnel––though any one of the staffers will stop whatever they’re doing to make a restaurant recommendation, print you directions to a nearby attraction, or simply shoot the breeze for as long as you’d like.
Mike has an innate kindness to him, and we enjoyed hearing him speak German with a 6-year-old guest. “He’s so comfortable here,” Mike explained later to us. “He was here two weeks ago with his family and he was very shy, but we’ve gotten to know each other a bit and he’s really opening up.”
That interaction is what the Ritz is all about. “I shouldn’t say this, but you get to a point where a hotel room is a hotel room,” said Kevin Kelly, General Manager of the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach Hotel. “It is the ladies and gentlemen who work here, who delight in pleasing our guests, who truly set The Ritz-Carlton apart.”
They certainly succeeded in delighting us, though I should note they do get a considerable assist from the Atlantic Ocean, the world’s most famous beach, and the South Beach night life.
Jodie and I certainly had an amazing time, as you can see by the photos below. We returned from Florida the day before Mother’s Day to smother Joseph with hugs and kisses, and Jodie was refreshed by our stay at the Ritz. The Club Level’s impeccable service and delicious food––always at your fingertips and prepared by someone other than Mommy or Daddy––was the perfect antidote to the fatigue of parenthood.
We raced home from the airport, dropped our bags at the front door and hugged the little guy so hard he nearly popped. Then Jodie busted out her “mommy” voice and made a comment to her son that made me grin: “Next time Mommy and Daddy will bring you, Joseph!”
The website for The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach is www.ritzcarlton.com/SouthBeach. For more information, call (786) 276-4000.
We walked the beach for hours each day. So relaxing, and great people watching. Also a good way to work up an appetite, which was a challenge since we were surrounded 24-7 by delicous food in the Club Lounge. One night we dined pool-side at the hotel's Bistro One LR. Simply fantastic.
Each morning we watched the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean, above. In the evening, we'd watch the sun set from our room's private balcony, below.
As Mr. Kelly said, the Ritz-Carlton staff "delight in pleasing our guests." That's very evident during a visit to South Beach, as you can tell the people who work at the Ritz enjoy their careers and take pride in enhancing your stay. One kind gesture they made for our Mother's Day trip was giving Jodie a bottle of champagne as a welcome gift.
One of countless plates my wife and I enjoyed with the Club Level’s five complimentary culinary offerings per day. Each item was exquisitely prepared with fine, fresh ingredients.
Some of our favorites included Arugula Melons Feta Cucumber Mint, Crab Cucumber, Smoked Salmon Cucumber, Siracha Chicken, Beet Goat Pistachio Lemon Vin, Tuna Tartar Taco, Cucumber Ginger Relish, Wild Mushroom Volauvont, and Crab Tartlet. And that doesn’t even include the fresh fruit, giant cookies and variety of wine they had out 24-7. In retrospect, we probably should have walked more miles on the beach …
Two different views of the hotel's fantastic infinity pool, above and below. In the morning, I swam in the ocean for the sunrise, then retreated into the pool. In both cases, I had the water to myself!