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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Miami Airport - MIA / Residence Inn

February 2013, Weekday/weekend, 2-nights, King 1-bedroom suite #3301


Status perks and check-in

I redeemed two category 4 free night certificates for a king studio guestroom. I called the hotel a couple of days before our arrival to request a bedroom suite upgrade because our son was joining us the second night of our stay. Our flight arrived at 1 p.m., so we got to the hotel before check-in time. The front desk agent said that she could upgrade us to a 1-bedroom suite on the 3rd floor, if we wanted to wait, because it was not ready yet. We agreed, and she said she would put in a rush, and then call us when it was ready. She called us when our room was ready less than 1/2 hour later.

I received the 200 Platinum bonus points. Platinum guests also receive bonus points on the room cost, which we did not have since I redeemed certificates for this stay. One thing that I often forget, is that MR points are only earned on the room cost at Residence Inn, so I did not earn additional points for the dining items charged to the room. All charges from any of the restaurants onsite can be charged to the guestroom, no matter which hotel you are staying in.

Guestroom 3301

bedroom
Guestroom 3301 is at the end of the hall on the 3rd floor. It has a connecting room door in the living room area. The separate bedroom is located on an outside wall, and the bedroom location was quiet. The large window was soundproof, and it did not open. We did not hear any guest or exterior noise from our bedroom. The bedroom contained a king bed, dresser, nightstands, lamps, a flatscreen TV, and a closet with hangers. It was tastefully decorated and clean. The bedsheets and pillows were good quality. I thought the bed was a little too hard. There was no luggage rack in the guestroom.

from bedroom toward vanity
There was another large closet in the bathroom area located outside the bedroom; however, there were no hangers in that closet. The vanity area where the closet was located was very spacious. There was plenty of storage in the vanity drawers, and a large mirror behind the vanity. A decent quality hairdryer was hanging in the bedroom closet.

The shower and toilet room was kind of small--barely enough room to enter and close the door. The shower was a tub/shower combination.

There was also a door on the outer bathroom area, between the vanity area and the living room. 

The living room and kitchen contained the following furnishings: a sofa sleeper, a soft chair and footstool, coffee table, end table, flatscreen TV on a cabinet with drawers, desk and chair, small kitchen table with two chairs, full size stainless steel refrigerator with ice maker, dishwasher, sink, stovetop, microwave, and cupboards with dishes and utensils. A coffee pot with supplies was provided as well as microwave popcorn. The living room window was the same size as the one in the bedroom, and it opened a couple inches.

Marriott photo
I did not get any photos of the kitchen or living room area when we first arrived. The kitchen area in our guestroom looked exactly like the photo here, which is from the hotel website.

All of the guestrooms at this hotel are Pure Allergy Free rooms. The freestanding unit under the living room window was quiet and did not take up much space. The wireless Internet speed was decent, and there was also an ethernet connection with cord on the desk.

The entire guestroom was spacious, stylish, and clean. The guestroom was comfortable for the most part. We did not care for the couch. It looked nice, although it was not very comfortable.

Pool areas

whirlpool view from
guestroom #3301 at Residence Inn
All three hotels in this complex--Marriott, Courtyard, and Residence Inn--share one outside pool. The area looked exactly the same as I described it in my review of the full service Marriott in 2011. The uncomfortable wicker lounge chairs were again in use with no pads. I did not take any photos of that area this trip; however, I did provide a couple in my 2011 review. The pool area is not visible from the Residence Inn, as it is behind the taller Marriott building.

There is also a whirlpool tub at the Residence Inn, which was visible from our guestroom. It was a good size, and the temperature was warm.

Food & Beverage

We thought there was going to be an evening social when we arrived Thursday night; however, this has changed to only Monday through Wednesday. The last couple of years, I have noticed that many extended stay properties are decreasing the number of days that they offer an evening social. After this stay, I checked the Marriott Residence Inn features page, and the information does not specifically say that the days have changed, so it appears that this is left up to the individual properties. The official site only says: complimentary evening socials.

I did not think the morning breakfast, which is included, was very good. It included scrambled eggs, bacon, cold cereal, white breads, cut fruit (which was empty when I visited), whole fruit (bananas and apples), high-fat cottage cheese, coffee, tea, milk, and juice. The offerings were the same both mornings, and the items were not well stocked or fresh.

The lobby and dining seating area was very comfortable. There were also a couple of outside tables with seats.

We visited the bar in the Courtyard and in the Marriott. Both experiences were similar to our 2011 visit. We tried the Happy Hour 2-for-1 margaritas and $5 chicken tenders at Champions Sports Bar in the Courtyard. The margaritas were prepared with Jose Cuervo; however, the mix was very sweet, so it was not something we cared for. The chicken tenders were a good sized portion served in a basket with fries. We were surprised by the portion size because fries were not listed on the menu for this item. We had expected an appetizer type plate of tenders only. The quality was good, and the mustard dip had good flavor.

When we visited the bar at the Marriott, the menu we were given was not the same as the online menu for Cane Fire Grill. It had small and large plate items on it, so I do not know if the menu has changed, or if it was different the night of our visit. At the suggestion of our server, we ordered a cuban nacho appetizer. I do not recall the exact menu name of this item, and it is not listed on the online menu. It was prepared with shredded beef. The flavor was okay, although this is not a food item I would order again.

Shuttle and area transportation

We took public transportation to and from the Miami boat show on Friday. This is easy to do if you have the time, and like to walk. Our entire cost was $8.70 for two of us. If you plan to ride more than twice, the all-day pass is a better deal for $5 each. We took the Miami Beach Airport Flyer Route 150 to South Beach. It runs every half hour on weekdays from MIA. We could have taken the hotel shuttle to the airport; however, we would then have had to take the airport tram to the bus stop, so we decided to walk the 1.3 miles to the bus stop from our hotel. The bus stop is located on the drive into the car rental return at MIA off NW 21st Street, directly across the street from the Sheraton. There is a pedestrian sidewalk across the street from the Sheraton that goes to the rental car parking garage. There is not a walkway to the bus stop; however, if you follow the pedestrian walkway toward the garage, you will see the bus station on your right. It was easy to cross the roadway since the only traffic was an occasional bus or rental car. The ride to South Beach took about 1/2 hour. We were going to the Convention Center, so we got off at 17th Street and Washington.

We took the show shuttle from the Convention Center to the boat show areas at the Marina Marriott and Biscayne Bay. After the show, we walked to a Historic Overtown/Lyric Theater station on NW 6th St. and took the Orange Line back to MIA. The Metrorail stopped at the same station where we had boarded the bus. We could have walked the 1.3 miles back to our hotel from this stop. It was raining when we returned, so we took the airport tram to the terminal instead, and then got on the hotel shuttle bus.

The hotel shuttle picks up and drops off on level 2, the ticketing level. It ran every 15 minutes the times that we used it--Thursday and Friday afternoons, and our son used it Friday evening. The hotel shuttle picks up for the Marriott, Courtyard, and Residence Inn.

We took a cab from the hotel to the cruise port when we departed. There is a parking area between the Residence Inn and the Marriott where we always observed cabs waiting, so we did not expect to wait long when we were ready to go. The front desk agent called for a cab for us, and we went out front to wait. After I observed a few cabs drive from the waiting area to the Marriott and Courtyard, I went back inside to find out what was happening. The agent called again, and then told me that the driver was stuck in traffic. I assumed the cabs in the hotel lot had been already called, and we were waiting for new ones to arrive. When I went back outside, I saw that more cabs had arrived, and were sitting in the waiting area waiting to be called. I then walked over to talk to a driver and got a car for us. It appeared that the Residence Inn was not sharing the waiting fleet of cabs with the other two hotels.

Overall

All of the employees at the Residence Inn were fabulous. I felt like they were all happy to assist us. I thought the sleep quality was slightly better at the Marriott (only because the bed was more comfy), although the room and decor at the Residence Inn was nicer. This is the only MIA airport hotel I have stayed in that did not have a safe in the guestroom.