Saturday, 30 October 2010

Welcome to Miami...

Last week, my husband and I had the privilege to spend five nights in Miami - courtesy of The Carphone Warehouse (I love my husband's job!). Miami is a city of contrast. Paradise nestled into a big city skyline, Little Havana across the bay from Millionaires' Mansions, shiny new buildings, next to derelict, hurricane ravaged shells, modernity opposite the Art Deco district of Ocean Drive. The juxtapositions are endless.

We stayed at the stunning Fontainebleau hotel. I haven't had the pleasure of staying in many hotels, as a child we often went camping or to a Haven holiday park! I feel so out of place in these amazing, larger than life, expensive, luxury hotels. But, I absolutely loved the Fountainebleau resort. It may be sprawling and confusing to navigate at times, but the standard of service is second to none and the luxury is all encompassing.

In our standard double room we were surprised to find an Apple Mac with complimentary internet access, as well as a 32" wall mounted television and a telephone and TV in the bathroom.

The poolside was large and uncrowded, with no problems securing ourselves a sun-soaked lounger at any time of day. The attendants provided us with fresh towels, drinks and food so realistically you could spend all day without getting up!

The back gate provides instant access to Miami Beach and the boardwalk, which runs the length of the coast down to South Beach. The coastal areas are beautiful with crystal, aquamarine oceans, white sand and majestic palms - it really looks like paradise but without overcrowding and the added advantage of city life too. At no point during our stay were we encompassed by tourists.

All of this luxury and impeccable service however comes at a cost, with an evening meal for two costing over $100, lunch approaching $50 and breakfast potentially nearing $20 - $30. The Fountainbleau is not within reasonable walking distance of any other restaurants either so if you're not willing to walk 40 minutes to Lincoln Road then you could end up spending a lot of money - although we did appreciate the Starbucks in the hotel next door! For this reason, although we did see some children, I don't think it would be the most comfortable or reasonable family holiday if you did decide to bring kids.
Miami itself is visibly a product of the American Dream. With its histroy rooted in immigrant communities and films like Scarface so much a part of its heritage, it is obvious that people have come here to build a better life. And once this wealth has been gained you can build yourself your very own fantasy home. Consequently there are Spanish villas, Arabian temples and French chateaus standing side by side on the same street. It's a little bit surreal!

I did feel like this idea of being able to come to Miami and build your fantasies resulted in a very individualistic city which lacked a little bit of soul. Despite the glamour which is possible, the clashing of individualistic tastes lacks some element of class and for all its wealth and prosperity, leaves you feeling both like you can have it all, but a little bit empty because you might never be satisfied.

I do love the beaches and surfside glamour, the hotels are impeccable, the weather amazing, but give me a city with soul any day. London plus the weather and beach would be my ideal home! Any suggestions?!

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