Relax. Restore. Rejuvenate.
Spotlights illuminate these three words in glass showcases at the new Ritz-Carlton, Bal Harbour in Miami. Guests at the 5-star, oceanfront hotel have an easy time following these three cardinal rules, as my wife and I discovered during our visit earlier this summer.
In fact, it seems impossible to stay at the Ritz and not feel relaxed, restored and rejuvenated.
“The Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour, Miami combines a small boutique inn feel with large resort style amenities in a tranquil environment that feels miles away but is close to it all: shopping, nightlife and entertainment,” said Hotel Manager Winfred Van Workum.
You can use the hotel’s luxury house-car to get around, but our preferred method of transportation was the complimentary bikes the Ritz also offers its guests. Talk about a bike trail with a view!
Truth be told though, we had no desire to leave the hotel and its private beach. For some, the surrounding Bal Harbour shops and restaurants, along with nearby downtown Miami and the ever-popular South Beach, provide an irresistible attraction. But our thought-process was, “When you’re staying at a Ritz-Carlton on the beach, why leave?”
“Those who are looking to sun worship can find the perfect spot along our European designed pool or retreat to our exclusive cabanas that offer private plunge hot tubs, the ultimate escape from the city’s bustle,” said Van Workum, also noting the hotel’s 750-feet stretch of private beach.
“We have tapped Elysze Held as the Couture Concierge, a Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour, Miami exclusive amenity,” Van Workum said. “Elysze will set up a one-on-one consolation with our guests and will style them for one look, or curate an entire wardrobe. We feel this exclusive amenity is perfect for the global affluent traveler with a taste for fashion.”
Adding the Couture Concierge is just one example of how the Ritz pulls out all the stops to exceed expectations. The talented staff executes all details with the excellence you’d expect from the world’s premiere luxury hotel. This new property is now the 10th Ritz-Carlton in Florida––including the South Beach location, which has the coolest room in which my wife and I have ever stayed (a top-floor penthouse suite with a wrap-around balcony overlooking the ocean).
International expansion is also exciting for the Ritz. “The robust pipeline of hotel projects indicates a continued strong demand for Ritz-Carlton products and services. We are delighted at the company’s continued positive growth,” said Herve Humler, Ritz-Carlton president and CEO. “Across the globe, and especially in Asia and the Middle East, we will be the undisputed top-tier luxury hospitality brand by 2016.”
Top-tier certainly applies to my wife and my experience at the Ritz-Carlton, Bal Harbour, which included many highlights that I struggle to give due justice in words. Instead, I am sharing photos and videos from our unforgettable trip to a slice of paradise that is indeed relaxing, restorative and rejuvenating.
There is no bad room at a Ritz, but we were especially fond of ours. It had a private balcony overlooking the ocean at an angle that granted views of both the sunrise and sunset, yet our favorite feature was the bathroom.
These are words I never thought I’d write … but here’s a video tour of our bathroom.
Upon arrival, the staff kindly gave us a tray of chocolate-covered strawberries that were awaiting us in our room. It’s countless gestures like these that have prompted me to make the statement I stand by to this day, even after all my international travel to luxury hotels: “There is no higher level of service, no finer level of accommodations to be found than at the Ritz.”
Another previous statement I’ve made is that of all the 5-star hotels I’ve dined at around the world, Ritz-Carltons always have the best dining. Suffice it to say, the two-hour lunch my wife and I enjoyed at the Bistro Bal Harbour only reinforces my viewpoint.
“Chef Felipe Arango serves up a strong culinary background in the new culinary epicenter of the world,” Van Workum said. “His flavor levels include Spanish influences, light clean cuisines with a locally sourced sea to table concept.”
Every dish is packed with flavor from the finest, freshest ingredients. Put more bluntly: My wife said it was the best lunch she’s ever had. I still prefer the lunch I had at the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach’s DiLido Beach Club, but for me the two stand out above all other gourmet lunches as 1A and 1B.
The bartender’s an expert at mixing drinks; we enjoyed a variety of tropical drinks, above, with origins and recipes from around the world. The complimentary crostini, below, was fabulous and basically told us right away, “Yup, this meal is going to be insanely good.”
It’s nice to share. My wife ate most of my snapper ceviche, above, with fennel, celery, sweet peppers and coriander. In return, I ate much of her the Florida corn chowder, below, which was arguably the best flavored item of the entire lunch. Would never had ordered it were it not for our waiter’s suggestion––he took great care of us as we sat on the balcony for over two hours, savoring each bite and enjoying the view.
Our main dishes above were as mouth-watering as they look: a fresh 10-ounce grouper fillet and an 8-ounce dry aged filet with delicious chim-churri sauce. The grilled asparagus and mushrooms added fantastic flavor, as well.
We took our time and eventually managed to polish off the famous Key Ley flan, with malted milk crumble, citrus mascarpone and Florida citrus. Simply outstanding.
Hard to say enough good things about this meal. The top-notch quality of this food, along with the service, view and entire dining experience was really a highlight of our week in Florida.
This was our first big trip since the birth of our 11-month-old son, so my wife and I decided to spoil ourselves with a special treat: a spa treatment at the hotel’s oceanfront Exhale Spa. I received a 1-hour Fusion (Swedish) massage that was amazingly good, and certainly left me feeling both restored and rejuvenated.
“Exhale Spa delivers the perfect synergy of wellness and lifestyle combined with high end therapies that enhance the body and mind,” Van Workum said. “We have seen a great response not only from out hotel guests, but the local spa-goer who is looking for that moment of Zen.”
A moment of service that stood out to me occurred in the Zen room, where spa-goers are invited to relax for as long as they’d like before and after their treatment. A staff member brought me a heated neck pillow that felt fantastic; after a while, she returned to replace it with a freshly heated, new pillow.
What I would give to wake up to this view every day. The Ritz-Carlton, Bal Harbour is uniquely situated on both the ocean and the channel so that you have picture-perfect views of both the sunrise and sunset every day.
While I struggle to articulate what an incredible experience awaits at the Ritz-Carlton, Bal Harbour, I did find this quote from Daniella Giardina among the hotel’s impressive TripAdvisor reviews which sums it up pretty well.
“Everything about this place is amazing! I wish we could of stayed longer! Definitely recommend to anyone traveling to the area. The staff is amazing and accommodating, our room was beautiful, everything about this hotel was A+!! Can't wait to come back.”
For more information, visit RitzCarlton.com/BalHarbour, or call (305) 455-5400.