SOFITEL MIAMI AIRPORT
I chose this hotel mostly because the price was great. I am a Wyndham fan, and a member of Wyndham's loyalty program, Wyndham by Request. But I could get this hotel for my one night's accommodation for $17 less than the Wyndham Miami Airport hotel, so I decided to try it. It's also a four-star rated hotel compared to Wyndham's three-star.
Sofitel, a French chain under the umbrella of Accor Hotels (which also owns Novotel, Mercure and Red Roof Inns) has few properties in the U.S. Those it does have pride themselves on being very French, which I happen to love. They are mostly urban and upscale, so finding one near an airport is unusual.
I must have just missed the hotel shuttle because I waited almost 50 minutes for it to come around again. During that time I saw the Wyndham bus at least four times, and was tempted to hop on it. Two calls to Sofitel didn't make the shuttle get to me any sooner.
When I finally arrived at the hotel I was greeted warmly, checked in quickly, and pointed to my room. At this time it was past 11 p.m. and the restaurants were closed. The hotel does, however, offer 24-hour room service.
I wanted a bite to eat and some coffee. I still had some work to finish up despite the late hour. A survey of the room service menu indicated that I would be paying about $11 for a small pot (2 cups) of coffee after delivery fees and gratuities, about $22 for a sandwich. Um, no thanks. I went down to the bar, which was gorgeous, all candlelit and quiet. The bar menu was less expensive but a tiny cuppa joe there was nearly $5 (just like in France). Granted, they do use a café presse, but I just wanted a plain ol' cup of coffee. I finally decided that it was late enough that I could wait for morning. As for a snack, I had my airline pretzels.
My room was large and nicely decorated. The king bed was extremely comfortable; there was a pretty chaise longue instead of a seating area or table, and the bathroom was lovely, with French Roger et Gallet soaps, shampoo and lotion in the yummiest citron scent I have ever experienced. At the desk there was a high-speed Internet connection, which allows purchase for a 24-hour period. Since it was late and I was leaving early, I decided against paying the $10+ it would cost for that service.
I did, however, order room service breakfast from a door card located in my room. The Continental breakfast promised coffee, fresh-squeezed juice (orange or grapefruit), and a basket of pastries and bread. I am used to getting this type of breakfast, usually with pallid, watery orange juice and a couple of gummy muffins and croissants. This one was expensive, but since I had declined to purchase either coffee or a sandwich the night before, I figured it was worth it.
The morning view from the angled windows was terrific. I had seen lights the night before; in the morning I could see a lake and the city in the distance.
Breakfast was delivered and I was incredibly impressed: A huge tray with the juice, a carafe of coffee, a pitcher of cream, a small plate with strawberries and blueberries, a ramekin of butter and four little jars of French-made jam and a silver basket of really large, fresh, very French pastries arrived on the shoulder of a lovely and polite server. After the taxes, delivery charge and automatic gratuities (plus the $2 cash I felt obliged to offer) the total came to almost $20, but this breakfast could easily have served three people.
As a hotel, I really enjoyed the Sofitel Miami Airport, but as an airport hotel it falls short in a couple of areas. The trend now is to be more inclusive, to allow guests a seamless and easy transition from airport to accommodation and onward, or vice versa. Sofitel Miami Airport's a la carte pricing for things like coffee and the higher room service charges can make a big dent in one's wallet compared to one of the hotels that offer in-room coffee makers and complimentary Continental breakfast, for example. I also don't think it's an easy hotel for families with tired young kids.
Would I stay here again? Yes... if the pricing were similar and if I planned better. My Wyndham by Request membership allows me complimentary high-speed Internet access and delivery of fresh fruit on arrival, plus Wyndham rooms have coffee makers with complimentary coffee. Their airport pick-up shuttles are much more efficient than Sofitel's, too.
On the other hand, the Wyndham Miami Airport isn't as upscale a hotel as the Sofitel, but when it's late at night, efficient shuttle service, a clean room, a nice bed, a coffee maker and a strong shower is more important than lovely surroundings. If I stay at Sofitel again I will get a big cup of coffee at the airport, make sure I have a snack with me, grab a cab if the shuttle isn't there quickly and enjoy the surroundings and terrific view.
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