by Stephen Jermanok
Drive across the Rickenbacker Causeway from Miami above the waters of Biscayne Bay and you’re suddenly transported back to the Florida of yesteryear, where swaying palms and thick tropical foliage line the roadway. Welcome to Key Biscayne, a 7-mile long barrier island that feels like a Caribbean getaway, especially when compared to the glitz, glamour and congestion on South Beach, its neighbor to the north. This is the quiet side of Miami, the place to reconnect with your family on a beach vacation.
If you want to spend the night on this island paradise, you’ll have to book a room at the only resort on Key Biscayne, the Ritz-Carlton. With its cheery yellow facade, the 13-story building reigns supreme on the island like a queen at her court. Rooms overlook an oval-shaped grand lawn, where tall palms separate the family-friendly South Pool from the adults-only Tranquility Pool. Indeed, the grounds are so well-designed that families and honeymooners can both vacation here and have completely different experiences. Yet, there is one unifying element that all people adore, the long stretch of beach just beyond the pools and the warm Atlantic Ocean waters that, upon immersion, wash away your cumulative woes.
If the family needs more than mere beach and pool to keep them happy, rest assured that this Ritz aims to please. Half- and full-day programs with Ritz Kids lead children on treasure hunts or on tours of the Cape Florida Lighthouse, the second oldest lighthouse in the state, built in 1825. The 11 tennis courts comprise the largest tennis complex of any Ritz-Carlton. The spa features 21 treatment rooms, a fitness room and innovative classes like Poolates, Pilates in the pool. Then there are the four restaurants and bars, including the Italian-inspired Cioppino, and Cantina Beach, a causal Mexican restaurant with al fresco dining on the beach.
For more information, read about Ritz-Carlton.
Our Editor Loves
- Beachfront locale near Miami with a tropical feel
- Multiple dining options
- Ritz Kids Club, pools and water sports
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
There are 450 guestrooms and suites available in the hotel, with an additional 40 private residences open to the public. Depending on whether you prefer an ocean or bay view, standard room or the extra space in a suite, you have many options. Standard amenities include king or double beds, flat-screen TVs, complimentary water bottles, coffeemakers and Wi-Fi access. Cribs and rollaway beds are available upon request for a fee.
Guestrooms are all 420 square feet in size, with one king or two double beds, plus a half or full balcony. Options include Resort View, Island View, Club Island View, Partial Ocean View, Oceanfront View and Club Oceanfront View. We chose the Club Oceanfront Room on the 12th floor, which gave us glorious views of the ocean and the cruise ships passing by in the distance. It also rewarded us with Club Lounge privileges on the 9th floor, where we could have complimentary breakfast, lunch, appetizers before dinner, dessert after dinner, and alcoholic beverages. There's also a separate Club Lounge area on the beach where you can find free cold drinks.
Partial Ocean View Suites, Oceanfront Suites and Club Oceanfront Suites are 800 square feet in size with one king bed and one sofa bed in separate living and sleeping areas. The Two-Bedroom Ritz-Carlton Suite is 2,640 square feet in size, with two separate bedrooms, one with a king bed and one with two double beds, to sleep up to six guests.
The 40 private residences are also open for guests to rent for overnight stays. They range in size from 420 square feet to 1,752 square feet. All have kitchenettes or full kitchens, with refrigerators, microwaves, stove tops and all of the other conveniences of home.
by tom p
Was very sorry to find out that Key Biscayne beach is really gone...and the one left full of contaminated algies...ocean water dirty and impossible to swim because of the county warning ....but the hotel is...same Ritz-Carlton as everywhere else...good service....nice rooms...etc. etc.
by Belvis M
I went to the SPA and I took a massage which was renewing me snd a manicure/pedicure, best one ever!
Also, details like lemon water, fresh fruit, infusions while you’re there. You can also take a sauna or a hamman, space is very clean and people very helpfull
Pool & Beach
The zero-entry South Pool makes it easy for children to walk in and out of the water. When kids tire of swimming, they can play games like ping pong and air hockey that line the outskirts of the pool area. Or head down to the beach where the friendly staff will set you up with beach chairs, towels and cool drinks. The ocean has a slight surf, just enough to keep kids happy bobbing in the waves. If you're feeling more energetic, inquire about renting Hobie cats, jet skies or kayaks. There's always a steady breeze down by the water, which keeps kite surfers content as they skim the ocean in front of the beach.
Down by the tennis courts, you'll find Gonzo, the scarlet macaw who is the mascot of the Ritz Kids program. Geared to children ages 5 to 12, the half- and full-day supervised itineraries lead kids down to the beach to have sandcastle competitions or to find the lost treasure of Black Caesar, one of the pirates who reportedly buried his fortune along these shores. There's also the chance to bike, fish and create art. An added bonus is that during the summer, the Ritz holds 12 weekly adventure camps for local children that hotel guests can also enjoy. If you're here during this time, kids will have the opportunity to see the marine shows at the nearby Miami Seaquarium and visit the Miami Children's Museum and Jungle Island.
Next door to the Ritz Kids Club are the 11 courts of the Cliff Drysdale Tennis Center. Instruction and clinics for all ages are available. Often, parents will combine a half-day at Ritz Kids with a tennis lesson. If you're at the property during the summer, there's also the chance to partake in the weeklong tennis camp. The camp is held at Crandon Park, the site of the Sony Ericsson Open, which attracts the top names in professional tennis each year.
Princess Fizzing Manicures and Pedicures are available for young spa goers ages 6 to 10. Older guests, ages 14 to 17, can opt for a facial or massage, but a parent must be present for the treatment. Mom and dad should definitely take advantage of the spa. Sample one of their signature coco-luscious body treatments, using sugar cane granules and coconut oils, improve circulation and get incredibly relaxed with warm stones in the 80-minute ShiTao Head-to-Toe Treatment, or grab a Couples Massage with a complimentary glass of wine.
Even if you choose not to have a treatment in the spa, you're welcome to use the fitness room, steam room, sauna and Jacuzzi in the men and women's locker rooms. The resort also offers classes like yoga, spinning, Poolates and a 90-minute walk on the beach to Cape Florida Lighthouse at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Or grab bikes with the family and head down to the state park on your own. With the steady winds on the beach, it's a great place to fly a kite!
The resort has created a meal plan for children ages 12 and under that includes children's menus at Cioppino and Cantina Beach during the course of the day. Cost is $35 a day and includes unlimited drinks.
Breakfast is served daily at Cioppino, which offers a buffet of fresh fruit, homemade bread and pastries, eggs any way you like, breakfast meats, smoked salmon, oatmeal and cereals. On Sundays, Cioppino offers the finest brunch in the Miami area. The lavish spread includes caviar, oysters on the half shell, shrimp, salmon sushi, a meat cutting station featuring prime rib and leg of lamb, grilled vegetables, cheeses, omelets, salads and much more. Wash it all down with a Bloody Mary or Kir Royale and, by all means, save room for dessert. You enter a separate room where a large table is loaded with all types of sweets, from chocolate-dipped strawberry to French macaroon cookies to creme brulee and chocolate mousse. The gluttonous feast will keep you sated the rest of the day.
Cioppino is open for breakfast from 7 to 11:30 a.m.; lunch from 11:30 a.m. ti 3 p.m.; and dinner from 6 to 10:30 p.m. daily. Sunday brunch is served from 12:30 to 4 p.m.
It's hard to top the setting of Cantina Beach for dinner, overlooking the ocean with the sea breeze blowing through your hair. Sit indoor or al fresco and get ready to dine on guacamole served tableside (try it with mango, a yummy combo), seafood ceviche, fish tacos or chicken doused in a sweet and spicy mole sauce. Cantina is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Dune Oceanfront Burger Lounge
For lunch, many people head over to the Dune Oceanfront Burger Lounge near the Tranquility Pool and sit on the rattan chairs while sifting their toes into the sand. Lunch options include Kobe beef sliders, ahi tuna burgers, and soon to arrive, a lamb burger. Food is offered beginning at 11:30 a.m. each day.
Enjoy a sweet treat by strolling over to Scoop by the family pool. The shop serves gelato, ice cream and smoothies.
For snacks and drinks throughout the day, stop by the Key Pantry, the hotel's marketplace that is stocked with coffee, wine, cheese, pastries and more.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
The hotel charges a daily resort fee of $28, plus tax, which includes Wi-Fi access, beach chair and umbrella use, water sports use, daily fitness classes, spa access and in-room phone calls.
The hotel's business center features computer stations, printers, fax machines and copiers, as well as Wi-Fi access.
Onsite valet parking is $35 per night.
Check-in is at 4 p.m. and check-out is at 11 a.m.
The Art of Smart Timing
Room prices are at their peak from January to April. If you can hold off to late April and May, the cost will be reduced. Even more savings happens during the summer, which is a great time for kids to be here since adventure and tennis camps are in full swing. February and Easter breaks are the busiest times of year to arrive. Regardless of the time you visit, the weather will be tropical and perfect for beach days and afternoons at the pool.
Miami International Airport is about 30 minutes from the resort. The hotel does not provide a shuttle, but can assist with taxi or transportation services upon request. If planning to explore the area around the resort, rent a car at the airport. The second closest airport is the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport which is about 50 minutes from the resort.
Since the resort is on the 7-mile long barrier island that is Key Biscayne, families may just want to reap the benefits of the beach and resort amenities and activities. However, if planning to explore Miami and its many attractions, a rental car would be best. Taxi services are also available and the resort can assist with transportation reservations.
For Mom and Dad
On Saturday nights, the Ritz Kids Club offers a "Kids' Night Out" program from 6 to 9 p.m. that includes dinner and a movie. This is your perfect opportunity to slip away and dine at one of the outdoor tables at the intimate Cioppino. Start with the creamy burrata mozzarella doused in olive oil, and then sample their signature dish, Cioppino Mare e Fetunta with fresh branzino fish, mussels, calamari, shrimp, and clams in a light tomato broth. The extensive wine list, including the smooth Barolo from Italy, will help set the mood.
If you find there is only time for a drink rather than a whole meal while the kids are busy doing their thing, head to the lobby bar RUMBAR for Latin music and a specialty cocktail made from one of the 85 rums, piscos and cachacas on the menu. The classic mojito is a favorite.