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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Miami, Florida - MIA / Residence Inn Miami Airport

February 2016, Weekend, 2-nights, King/queen 2-bedroom suite #3620

This was our second time staying in the Residence Inn Miami airport, and our third time staying at the Miami airport Marriott hotel complex. Previous reviews can found at the following links: Residence Inn February 2013, and Marriott February 2011.

view of kitchen in suite from living room

Arrival experience and shuttle ride

We had taken the Tri-rail from the Ft. Lauderdale airport, and we had hoped the hotel shuttle bus would pick us up at Miami Central Station. I called the Residence Inn before we arrived to ask if we could be picked up at the station, and the agent said we needed to go to the airport to get the shuttle bus. To get to the airport from the station, we needed to take the MIA mover, and then wait there for the hotel shuttle. The Residence Inn is less than 1½ miles from the train station, which would have been walkable for us without our luggage. The shuttle bus runs regularly between the airport and the hotel complex. All of the Miami airport hotel shuttles pick up passengers and drop them off at the departure level. There is not a designated pick up area in the airport. Passengers walk out to the curb to watch for the hotel shuttle bus needed, and then flag it down. We have been through this process many times at MIA, and it is always chaotic. Fortunately, we have never missed our bus! Not that we know of, anyway. We have waited more than 15 minutes sometimes, so it is possible we missed a shuttle before and did not know it.

When the shuttle bus arrives at the hotel complex, the bus stops at the Marriott first. I suggest disembarking then, if you do not have much luggage. We initially stayed on the bus when it arrived; however, after the driver had disappeared with no comment for over five minutes, we grabbed our luggage and got off. We walked to the Residence Inn behind the Marriott, and had just finished our initial check-in encounter when the shuttle bus arrived with the remaining guests.

I had considered staying at Element Miami Airport because it is less than ½ mile from the train station, and they had said they would pick us up at the station. The Element is a new hotel; however, the Residence Inn has better dining and pool options, we were going to be staying two nights, and we had received a room upgrade before our arrival.

Check-in and status perks

The last time we stayed in this hotel, I received an upgrade to a one-bedroom suite from a studio suite. My status was Platinum during that stay, and it was Silver during this stay. I had reserved a one-bedroom suite for this stay, and I was not sure if I would be able to get an upgrade with my lower status level. There were plenty of two-bedroom suites available; however, the cost difference between the one and two bedroom suites was considerable. I contacted the hotel via email a few days before our stay to let them know we were interested in a two-bedroom upgrade, if one was available. I received a reply the day before our arrival letting me know we had been given an upgrade. My previous elite status with Marriott over the years may have had a bearing on this result.

Check-in time is 3:00 p.m., and we arrived at 2:45 p.m. We had gotten off the Tri-rail in Central Station at 2:00, and it had taken 45 to get to the hotel--15 minutes to the airport shuttle bus area (via MIA mover and walking), 15 minute wait for the shuttle bus, and another 15 minutes for the ride/walk to the hotel. The front desk agent said our room was not ready yet, so we left our luggage and walked over to have lunch at Champions in the Marriott Courtyard.

I was surprised that when we returned to check-in almost an hour later, after 3:30 p.m., that a room had not been assigned to us yet. It did not take the agent long to complete the check-in process; however, this experience was not the same as the exemplary service we had received in 2013.

Suite 3620

This spacious suite is on the top floor of the hotel on the east side of the building. Looking at the guestroom diagrams (the diagrams by the elevator were the same as the one in the guestroom), it looked like all of the two-bedroom suites are in the same location on each floor. The corner suite next to ours also looked like a two-bedroom suite.

I have more pictures of this guestroom than usual, since it is a large suite. I will try to fit them all into this blog post. If you have any specific questions, please let me know! The two-bedroom suite diagram on the hotel website is the exact floorpan for this guestroom.

This guestroom was not in as new of condition as the room we had in 2013. The furniture was the same as it had been then, and it had looked new three years earlier. The furnishings were not super ratty or smelly, although there were a few minor imperfections. The freezer door had a large dent (I am not sure how something like that could even happen except during movement), the carpet was frayed in areas, the living room furniture was slightly lumpy, and the king bed was kind of hard. Overall, the suite was comfortable and clean, and we were glad to have the extra space.

The kitchen in the suite was complete with a full size fridge, microwave, full size range with burners and an oven, dishwasher, sink, and table with four chairs. A full size coffeepot with supplies was provided, the cupboards were well stocked with dishes, and a package of microwave popcorn had been provided.

The living room contained a sofa, soft chair, small coffee table, end table, lamp, flatscreen TV on an armoire, and a desk and chair.

view from kitchen; king room on left
An ethernet cable, lamp with electrical outlets, and a telephone were on the desk. There was a large window with a screen in the living room. The window opened about 3".
queen bedroom behind TV

A bedroom with a king size bed and a separate bathroom were located to the left, and a bedroom with a queen size bed and a second bathroom were located to the right. The items provided in both bedrooms and bathrooms were similar.
king bedroom

Each bedroom contained a flatscreen TV on an armoire, nightstands, lamps, a telephone, alarm clock, and a window like the one in the living room.

bathroom in king bedroom
There was a closet in each room, and both vanities were located outside of the shower and toilet area of the bathroom. Bath amenities were provided in both bathrooms, and the towels were good quality.
queen bedroom
A hairdryer, iron, and ironing board were located in the closet in the queen vanity area. The only full length mirror in the guestroom was the mirrored door on the closet in the queen room. My husband and I had chosen the king bedded room, and our son slept in the queen bedroom. After I realized the iron and full length mirror were in the queen sleeping area, I thought maybe that room should have been the main bedroom.
bathroom in queen bedroom

The entire guestroom was well soundproofed. We could hear airplane noise when the windows were open, and this was not noticeable with the windows shut.

We left a small tip and thank you note for housekeeping on stayover, and the cleaning service we received was excellent.

Food & Dining

Residence Inn serves complimentary food and beverages on most weeknights--Monday through Wednesday. We have not had any experience with the evening social at this hotel, since all of our stays have been Thursday through Saturday. I took a photo of the menu in our guestroom to show the type of foods offered in February. You should be able to read it, if you click on the photo to enlarge it.
evening social menu

Breakfast is included everyday with the room rate. The breakfast foods were similar both mornings of our stay. The food was fresh, and everything was well stocked. Offerings included: hot beverages, whole fresh fruits, oatmeal, waffle maker, scrambled eggs, sausage (links one morning and patties the other morning), cold cereals, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, breads, bagels, muffins, juices, and milk. Assorted condiments were provided for the eggs, breads, waffles, and oatmeal.

Our lunch experience at Champions when we arrived was not as good as the experience we had in 2013. There were no Happy Hour food or beverage specials, and the food and service was not that great. We had three beers (not the most expensive ones), a Cuban sandwich, and a buffalo chicken sandwich. Our total was almost $50 before tip, and it was over $50 with the tip. I did not think the food quality was worth what we paid.

The next evening, we observed a sign in the Marriott for Happy Hour at Cane Fire Grill  in the afternoon. We missed that, although we did have a couple of beverages there in the evening. The service and quality was better than it had been at Champions. The drink quality and bar snacks were excellent.

Pool and outside areas

I did not get any outside photos this trip. The outside seating and pool areas were the same as our previous stays, and you can see some outside photos in my previous reviews: Residence Inn hot tub, and Marriott pool area. The hot tub at the Residence Inn was warm and clean. There was a nice outside sitting area with a gas fireplace near the pool and cooking grill; however, guests were smoking in the area when we were there. An employee at a full service Marriott had told me a few years ago that all areas of the hotel were non-smoking, including outside areas and guest balconies. Apparently, all Marriott properties are not 100% non-smoking, or that policy has changed.

Hotel shuttle and misc.

We used the hotel shuttle the next day to get to the train station (via the airport), and our experience was similar to the day we had arrived. When you need to go to the airport, you wait out front for the shuttle bus, as they do not schedule trips. We waited less than 15 minutes for the bus to go to the airport, and about the same amount of time when we returned. Again, the driver got off at the Marriott when we returned without saying anything, and then disappeared. We got off right away this time, as did most of the passengers on the bus. A couple of the passengers appeared to be business travelers who walked through the Marriott and pool area to the Courtyard. Apparently, they had been on the shuttle bus before!

Winn-Dixie grocery store, Walgreens, and K-mart are in a shopping plaza on the northwest corner of NW 7th St. and NW 37th Ave., which is less than 1½ miles from the hotel. Winn-Dixie and Walgreens sell beer and wine; however, there is not a liquor store in the shopping center. We did not think the food at Winn-Dixie looked very fresh, so we did not end up getting anything to eat when we walked there. Pamen Liquors, at 3941 NW 7th St, is closer than Winn-Dixie, and carries a large variety of alcohol, beer, and wine.

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