Every year, I plan my family’s summer vacation. We’ve been to a wide variety of places, both local as well as international, but this year we wanted to remain in the States while still enjoying a feeling of being “away from it all”. A beautiful beach, luxurious accommodations, on-call services around the clock…basically what we were looking for was high-end royal treatment for a few days!
The challenge, however, was finding a spot away from the busy crowds that often converge on any place that is scenic or impressive in the least. Tranquility and seclusion were what we wanted for this year’s getaway, so I typed in a few search terms and got started. And as expected, my initial search brought up dozens of hits. However, after refining my requirements, one resort stood out the most to me. It not only had overwhelmingly positive reviews and exuberant comments from previous guests, but it had also received many prestigious awards. Travel and Leisure listed it as one of the best hotels in the United States, and Trip Advisor also ranked it as one of the top 25 resorts in America.
If you are looking for a real winner when it comes to vacation resorts, you can’t go wrong with the Acqualina Resort and Spa. It is one of those places that has just the right amount of everything. It is great for the entire family and has many kid programs available. You can start every morning with a grand breakfast spread at the AQ restaurant, and you can enjoy breathtaking views from their ocean-front suites. You are provided with complimentary transportation for up to a 5-mile radius, and the concierge desk that is the best I have ever seen in terms of hospitality, attention to service and detail, and level of courtesy they give to hotel patrons. The accommodations are very comfortable (there is even an espresso machine in each room!), and the on-site bakery will have you putting on a few pounds before the end of your stay. There are complimentary beverages upon arrival for all guests, multiple pools and restaurants, quick room service, a sushi bar, food and drinks by the pool and beach, complimentary Wi-Fi, and a very reasonable size of only 98 rooms that give the property a very comfortable feel in the midst of luxury and countless amenities.
With such an impressive list of recommendations and services, it wasn’t long before I was completely sold by what I read and saw, and we closed the deal: our long-awaited summer escape for 2016 would be at the Acqualina Resort and Spa!
Located on Florida’s Riviera in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, on a barrier island in northeast Miami-Dade County, the Acqualina Resort is a 5-Star, 5-Diamond luxury beachfront oasis that was just perfect for our summer getaway. From the moment we called the resort to book our reservations, they impressed us with every aspect of their services. The hotel reps were all very courteous and welcoming, and they truly went above and beyond to make sure everything we would need was taken care of and that our upcoming stay would be memorable.
Our drive from the Fort Lauderdale airport to the resort was a little over half an hour, and when we arrived, we noticed that the parking lot had Bentleys, Rolls Royces, Lamborghinis and Ferraris lined up all along the driveway of the hotel. Everything about the place just radiated a sense of grandeur! However, beyond the lavish comforts that awaited us during our stay, it was really the finer points of courtesy, care, warmth and comfort that the hotel and its staff gave us every step of the way that really won us over. We were greeted with warm smiles everywhere we went, and there was nothing that was more than a call away.
When we reached the hotel, we were greeted with warm smiles by both our bellhop and the front desk hostess who then proceeded to check us in. She also had water, champagne and Bellinis brought to us while we waited, and we then proceeded to our tour of the hotel property.
Our tour of the grounds was pretty comprehensive and we were shown pretty much everything there was to see, including the back of the resort where we could view the restaurants, patios, pools, and the beach. On our way back to the hotel, we passed by the resort’s very own on-site bakery; the wide variety of sweet and delicious treats had my kids already making plans for future visits! Our tour guide was very understanding, however, and knew that we would be eager to get to our room, so she wrapped things up and took us up to our 10th-floor suite.
When we entered the suite, the first thing that struck us was how open and clear our view of the ocean was. Bright, expansive windows let in a lot of light and the view was simply breathtaking.
The room itself was very tastefully decked with a very comfortable king-size bed.
There was a separate living room area which included a sofa sleeper as well as a den that included a twin size bed and desk.
We also had a beautiful gourmet kitchen with a refrigerator stocked with items that we had earlier requested for the hotel staff to purchase from the grocery store for us.
A private balcony and a breakfast nook rounded off the 1600-sq ft of living space we had.
In addition to all of the above, there was a half-bath and one main bathroom that was fitted with double sinks, imported marble floors, a Jacuzzi whirlpool tub, and a spacious glass-enclosed shower. Between taking in the comforts we would be enjoying in our room and absorbing the captivating ocean view in front of us, my boys began to run around calling dibs on their beds for our stay!
One morning, we decided to drive out for an airboat tour and gator show that was performed by the cast from the reality show “Gator Boys” at the Everglades Holiday Park. When we called the concierge desk to inquire about car rentals, they told us not to worry about anything and that a car of our choice would be brought to us whenever we needed. They also handled the return of our rental for us on the following day. Everything was made so easy and convenient. The resort’s concierge service was nothing less than superb!
While sitting on the beach on the following day, I realized that I needed a battery for my camera. We found that my charger had stopped working and the battery in my camera was running low. We made calls to locate a battery that could be purchased already fully charged, and came up with the idea of having the house car take us to get it. We called the concierge desk and were informed that they could have the house car to go pick the battery up for us while we stayed to enjoy the beach. Of course this great gesture came with a small fee but it was very affordable and we did not mind paying for that convenience.
This may seem like a small thing but when you’re on vacation, and you are there specifically for the kinds of memories that you hope to capture on camera, being able to do this meant the world to us. It was a big relief and a huge convenience to have been taken care of by the hotel at that time.
About an hour had passed and while laying on the beach watching the kids play in the water, I heard one of the beach attendants call my name. When I turned around to answer, I saw that he had a bag in his hand that included my fully charged new battery!
Il Mulino New York
When it comes to dining and cuisine, the hotel has one of the finest Italian restaurants in the area called IL Mulino New York. It’s a little pricey but the food and the experience we had, made it all worth it. In fact, after first perusing the menu, we mentioned to our waiter that none of the soup choices quite met with what we had in mind for the evening, but after a brief talk with the chef, our waiter came back to our table to tell us that there was an off-menu item that the chef was willing to prepare for us instead, and he made for us ‘zuppe di cece e vongole’, a delicious Italian clam soup.
We also were served entree’s,that we both thoroughly enjoyed. The “ARAGOSTA ALL’ ARRABBIATA” was a lobster sautéed in a spicy wine and garlic sauce and the “LANGOSTINO” was a dish that included jumbo prawns with risotto!
The flavors in these two dishes were INCREDIBLE!
ESPA is their state of the art spa in which the hotel provided us with a daily credit to utilize for our stay. Because we wanted to spend this vacation time with our kids, we chose not to utilize it during this stay but heard so many wonderful things about it.
When we make our return visit without the kiddos, you better believe we’re going to go for the spa experience that we’ve read and heard so much about!
Now, what usually happens after spending 5 days away at a resort, is that you start to feel like you’re ready to head back home (which for us meant heading back to Texas). There’s an old joke that a vacation is a period of such intense activity that it can only be taken for a few days of the year, but not in this case! We met so many wonderful families during our stay at the resort, people from different states and different countries, and the hotel staff made us feel so comfortable during our entire stay that we could have stayed for much longer had our schedules allowed.
They say that no one needs a vacation as much as the person who has just had one, and that was so true for us. When you are being continuously pampered, it can become hard to say goodbye to that lifestyle, brief as it may be. We had such a lovely time on the beach, the food was amazing, the service from the staff was remarkable, and the hotel grounds were immaculate. If a hotel goes out of its way to treat you like royalty, how could anyone want to go back to anything less?
Overall, I think the fact that vacations like these actually end is a blessing in disguise. They make us really appreciate the blessings we have and show us a higher standard that we are capable of reaching as long as we continue to do what is required of us and put in hard work and dedication in all that we do. The feeling of a vacation ending and having to head back to ‘normal’ life routine is actually quite humbling, but at the same time it is an indescribable source of encouragement to keep on working hard so that we can plan for another trip once again. And the planning, the plane ride, seeing a new place, having everything taken care of for as long as you are there make everything that much more exciting!
Over the years, we’ve been very fortunate to meet and become friends with many wonderful families while on vacation. Some of them lived practically down the street from us, and others lived in different parts of the country or overseas. However, we’re eternally grateful for having been able to give this exceptional experience to our kids, and we highly recommend it to anyone looking for a calm, secluded, comfortable and relaxing stay at a pristine beach-front resort.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Acqualina Resort and Spa, check out their website at www.acqualinaresort.com