Here is my first Miami post:
Hilton Bentley South Beach Review — Is It a Good Free Weekend Redemption?
I wasn’t planning for a 5-day break between these posts, but life intervened. The SPG changes were about to be introduced, so I felt it was more important, because the review of Hyatt Doral could wait. But not too long.
Like I mentioned in my Hilton Bentley review, after a free weekend there it was time to move to my second hotel I booked for my 3-day adventure — since paying $400+ or 80,0000 points for a hotel room is a little too much for my blood. I moved to a humbler place for my third night, Hyatt Place in Doral, which is located very close to the airport, and—humbler or not—still had a $210 price tag for my night. This is one of those times when Ultimate Rewards points come very handy. The room cost me only 8,000 Hyatt points and it was a typical Hyatt Place room—sort of a semi-suite divided into a sitting area and a bedroom. The hotel also has an outdoor pool, a small gym and free breakfast.
Two reasons why I chose Hyatt Place Doral for my third night stay were its proximity to the airport and free shuttle. The hotel also appears to be popular with the cruise crowd, as it offers free parking for the duration of the cruise. I was about to spend my final day at the Hilton Bentley anyway, so it didn’t matter to me where to sleep, and a good airport hotel would fit the bill just fine.
Since I was determined to use public transportation as much as I could, the plan was to take the 150 Airport bus back to the airport and grab a free hotel shuttle from there. And I succeeded, but not without a complication. I was waiting for the bus that runs supposedly every 30 minutes for about 45 minutes when it struck me that something gotta be wrong (yeah, I’m very perceptive like that). So I decided to check the Miami-Dade Transit website, and lo and behold, the bus was rerouted via South Point Drive due to a road problem. Luckily, it was only a 5 minute walk, and as I approached the bus stop, the bus pulled over. Unlike my ride from the airport that was half-empty, the ride to the airport was full with tourists.
Hence the lesson. Do not rely on what you have researched beforehand. Last-moment changes happen, so check the up-to-date information before your trip—or commute, like in my case.
At the airport, I called for the hotel shuttle, and it was there in about 15 minutes. The driver offered me a cold water, and the ride to the hotel took another 15, I think.
What sets this hotel apart from any other is not just a nice and clean room, but incredible warmth and friendliness of the staff. I was offered a free beverage at the reception and requested a late checkout. They were full, but gave me a 1PM checkout. Later on, I came downstairs to grab a bite and had a piece of cheesecake. Next afternoon, during the checkout, the front desk guy said that I was all set.
“I had a cheesecake yesterday night”, I reminded him.
“What cheesecake?” he asked, grinning ear to ear.
When I went to bed the night before, I had planned to lounge at the pool area in the morning, but I overslept–two days of South Bech debauchery had taken its toll. I went downstairs, and the breakfast was almost over, except for their tasty breakfast sandwiches, which, however, was plenty for me! I worked on my computer a little and went to check out the surroundings. There isn’t much in the direct vicinity of the hotel, except for restaurants, and there were plenty of those. There is also a Hertz office, two-minute walk away, so if you are staying at the Hyatt Place, just take a free shuttle from/to the airport and rent your car there. You might save a few coins on airport taxes.
Great Colombian Restaurant
I was told about this restaurant by the shuttle driver, and it did not disappoint Patacon Pisao is located in a courtyard plaza located right across the hotel parking area, The restaurant was very busy during the lunchtime; the food is tasty, and the portions are huge. My bill that included a Presidente beer came up to about $11. Highly recommended!
Admiral Club MIA
After a shuttle ride back to the airport and expedient check-in (this time there was a Priority security line, although the regular line wasn’t too bad either), I still had an hour to kill before the boarding. I decided to kill it at the Admiral Club near Gate 30. When American announced they would serve soups in their lounges, I was a bit skeptical, but I have to admit, the tomato basil soup was absolutely delicious! They also added a cheese plate to their “free” menu. All in all, the time well-spent despite the lunch I had earlier. 🙂
I’m a huge proponent of short travel breaks. Do you have five free days in your busy schedule? Take them and go. Do you have three? Take them and go, too. You don’t have to fly to the other edge of the globe to have fun and catch some rays in the process. To those of us who can’t traverse the world 365 days a year, not all is lost.
Miles. Points. Go! It’s really that easy.
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