by Terry Ward
When it comes to where to stay in South Florida, much of the Miami spotlight goes to South Beach. But for families who come to the Magic City looking to do more than see and be seen on the iconic sands of Miami Beach, there’s a lot to love about staying downtown instead. And for a hotel that plays on its waterfront setting but manages to give off a sophisticated city vibe while catering to families with children of all ages, too, the Mandarin Oriental Miami can’t be beat.
All 295 guestrooms and 31 suites have water views of Biscayne Bay or the Miami River and sparkling skyline views of downtown Miami. The private island setting on Brickell Key — a spoil island home to just a few luxury condos that juts into the bay — means there’s no street traffic or road noise anywhere near the hotel, which is surrounded by water on most sides. The hotel has its own private manmade beach. And there’s even a public playground just off the hotel’s property — a fenced-in area complete with swings, slides and seesaws — and a large grassy area fronting the water that’s perfect for a picnic under the shade of a tropical tree.
Despite the many rooms here, the property feels quite compact. The pool deck spills from the water-facing side of the hotel, and is fenced in — all the better to prevent children from wandering off property. A public sidewalk fringes Brickell Key and is a popular downtown destination for joggers and parents pushing strollers, and you cross the sidewalk to access the hotel’s gated beach club, a manmade beach with soft sand, hammocks, chaise lounges and cocoon-style chairs. The hotel provides children’s toys at the beach so you can leave your own pails and shovels at home.
As is the case with all Mandarin Oriental properties, a subtle Asian aesthetic prevails. This comes across in the rooms with a mix of light and dark woods and the incorporation of fabrics and textures such as linen headboards and bamboo-veneered furnishings. The public areas feel almost gallery-like, with sweeping windows that let in the views and colorful artwork with bright orange and blue accents and scores of glass vases brimming with orchids.
Expect your fellow guests to be a mix of international business moguls, celebrities looking to fly under the radar off the South Beach scene and families in search of a Miami vacation that promises all the luxuries adults love, too.
For more information, read about Mandarin Oriental.
Our Editor Loves
- Two- and three-bedroom family suites
- Infinity-edge pool
- Teen spa services
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The Mandarin Oriental Miami's rooms are sophisticated and don't conjure a family feel at first glance, as the emphasis is on soothing colors -- greens and creams with lots of dark and light wood highlights -- and clean, modern lines. Connecting rooms and cribs are available upon request. There are iPod docking stations and DVD players in all rooms and suites, as well as flat-screen TVs. Wireless Internet is available at a daily rate. All guestrooms and suites also have balconies with thinly spaced bars and high rails.
The 295 guestrooms are very spacious, and the large bathrooms with their oversized sunken tubs and separate showers make bath time here as easy as at home. Rooms are available with two double beds or one king bed, and comfortable rollaways beds can also be arranged at no cost.
There are 31 suites, including two- and three-bedroom family suites that have separate bedrooms and spacious wraparound balconies. The two-bedroom suites can accommodate five people, including four adults, and are ideal for a family with two children since one of the rooms has two double beds. The three-bedroom suites are perfect for extended families: two of the bedrooms have king beds, while the other has double beds, and the maximum occupancy is seven people. Mandarin and Oriental Suites also come with fully equipped kitchens.
by Peter S
We spent only one night at this hotel as we prepared to board a cruise. The room was luxurious, with a very comfortable bed and spacious bathroom, and the service was very good. We did not eat in the evening, although we did spend some time in the very pleasant bar, but we did have breakfast in the morning. The food was good although the dining area had a somewhat strange design. An enoyable stay.
Recently stayed at the hotel and way able to experience the sustainable service , good environment and totally relaxed atmosphere. The staff remains being well trained and happy to welcome guests. The food quality is very good and proudly presented. The location si outstanding the the views impressive, away form the now noisy city,
There's no dedicated children's pool at the hotel, but children are welcome in the waterfront infinity edged pool, which is only 6 feet deep at its deepest part and is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (no lifeguard on duty). Teens can take advantage of the hotel's complimentary iPods loaded with their favorite music, and CD players are also available.
Brickell Key is a spoil island, and while the beach here is officially artificial, it's a pretty patch of soft sand fronting the gently lapping waters of Biscayne Bay. Slung in a hammock in the shade while your kids build sandcastles nearby, you'll find it a pretty idyllic spot for watching the yachts cruise in and out of the city. However, there is no access for swimming.
Teen Spa Services
Teens ages 14 and older can enjoy activities and treatments just for them in the onsite Spa and Mandarin Oriental. Teens will enjoy manicures, pedicures, facials and more. Additionally, the spa offers belly dancing lessons. The spa is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Tweens and teens can take golf lessons at nearby Crandon Golf Course.
Just in front of the hotel's property on a pretty grassy lawn is a great little playground that's popular with Brickell Key dwellers and other children-in-tow denizens of downtown Miami's upscale condo scene. There's a swing set, slides, jungle gym and a few of those rocker animal toys that kids love to precariously bounce around on.
The resort's posh 15,000-square-foot refurbished spa even has offerings for teens and kids ages 5 to 11 can enjoy private Little Yoga sessions, a creative program where they'll learn poses like the butterfly, the bird and other animal-inspired stretches designed with mini frames in mind.
The Mandarin Oriental is renowned for its Azul Restaurant, among the top dining addresses in the city and a real "see and be seen" scene that promises a romantic dinner a deux or stylish setting for dining with friends. It is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, from 7 to 11 p.m.
La Mar by Gaston Acurio
Open for lunch and dinner, and a Sunday brunch, La Mar serves up Peruvian cuisine. It is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and for dinner from 6 to 11 p.m. Sunday brunch is from noon to 3:30 p.m. One child age 11 or under receives complimentary breakfast, lunch or dinner from the kids' menu at La Mar when with a paying adult.
Mo Bar + Lounge
For light bites and cocktails, head to the Mo Bar + Lounge. It is open Sunday through Thursday, from 8 a.m. to midnight, and until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Breakfast is served from 8 to 11 a.m. daily.
Oasis Pool Cafe
Enjoy sushi or light fare poolside at the Oasis Pool Cafe. It is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. One child age 11 or under receives complimentary breakfast, lunch or dinner from the kids' menu at the Oasis Pool Cafe when with a paying adult.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Babysitting services with licensed sitters can be arranged through the concierge. There's a four-hour minimum. Be sure to arrange 24 hours in advance.
Arrival amenities for kids include chocolate chip cookies and milk, as well as personalized toys. And the hotel does it up for all major holidays with activities like a Santa Claus appearance for the kids over Christmas and an Easter egg hunt on the south lawn each spring.
The fitness center is open 24 hours a day and is located near the spa.
Overnight valet parking is available for $36 a night.
The Art of Smart Timing
All of the Mandarin Oriental Miami's facilities are open year-round, but during the busiest winter months (December to March) you're going to be sharing them with quite a few people. For fewer crowds and reduced rates, hit the off-peak months of June through September.
Weather-wise, Miami is a great year-round destination. Sure, the summer months are hot and sticky, but you're on the water here with the pool and beach to keep you cool, so it's definitely bearable. The most pleasant months of the year tend to be November through March, but April and May are often relatively mild, too. Hurricane season in these parts stretches from June 1 to November 30. And during the summer months, tropical afternoon thunderstorms that can be intense but fleeting are the norm.
Miami International Airport is roughly 5 miles from the hotel, and you can reach it in about 15 minutes. Taxis and shuttle services to downtown Miami from the airport are available and the hotel also provides private car services. All of the major car rental companies are onsite at the Miami airport.
To explore more of Miami, rent a car or utilize the hotel's private car service.
For Mom and Dad
Rather than a family resort with a few added romantic lures for adults, the Mandarin Oriental Miami is a sophisticated adult destination that happens to know how to cater to families, too. The scent of sandalwood drifts on the air in the hotel's spa, with separate relaxation lounges for men and women including both sauna and steam facilities. For something for the two of you, book a couple's treatment in one of the VIP suites on the spa's upper floor, where you'll be treated to views of Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline through floor to ceiling windows fronted by a beautiful soaking tub that you can enjoy after your treatment.