Author Topic: Miami Weekend Getaway with @Yehuda  (Read 3340 times)

Offline @Yehuda

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Miami Weekend Getaway with @Yehuda
« on: December 26, 2018, 03:07:09 PM »
Introduction
When my mother offered to watch our daughter over a weekend in November, I immediately went into trip planning mode. Having been to Miami once before in 2016 and loving it, we very much wanted to return. I'll spare you the details of being nervous how our daughter would do without us while also dealing with our car breaking down 3 times on the day of our trip, including on the way to the airport 2 hours before the flight while still 1.5 hours away, getting an amazing Chaveirim guy to boost us and drive the car home while we jumped in an Uber, the driver missing an exit, meeting my mom at the airport to transfer all the baby's things, getting into the airport 15 minutes before the flight, choosing the slower Precheck line, my wife getting randomly selected for screening, thanking G-d our gate was somehow the first gate past security, the agent telling us she was about to give our seats away (to other Jews standing right there), scanning our boarding passes to see "BOARDING CLOSED" to finally collapsing into our seats 9 minutes before takeoff. Oh wait, I guess I didn't spare you.

My searches have always found NYC-MIA Area for Thurs night/Friday return on Sunday to be very expensive, so I was happy with our prices, although others seem to magically pull off sub-10k roundtrips.

Trip details (miles per person):
EWR-FLL on UA for 13k MR on Thursday night (free E+ by asking nicely)
FLL-EWR on B6 for 16k B6 on Sunday night (E+ paid for with Ritz travel credit)
St Regis Bal Harbour 3 nights for 120k MT + free night certificate


Thursday
You saw how crazy our trip to the airport was, but things calmed down once up in the air. We chose to Uber to the SRBH since we weren't planning to do any activities and Shul/food is within walking distance. I'm not sure why but Uber was very expensive at $70. It's also a mess in the airport since there's one large area to wait for ride sharing services, where everyone is packed in and no easy way to inform your driver where you are. We stopped by a friend's place to pickup Backyard BBQ we had delivered to him as the SR is supposedly very difficult to work with for deliveries if you're not present when it arrives.

The St. Regis is absolutely beautiful and Surfside/Bal Harbour is a really nice area. I've now been to 2 of the Miami areas, the other being 41st and Collins, and Surfside is way nicer and obviously more upper class. I couldn't secure a suite in advance (as it was, I needed to convince reservations to open one of the nights for me) and at checkin, we unfortunately didn't get a suite either. The good news is that the 1 level room upgrade we did get was huge, so no complaints from us! (I heard even the standard rooms are very large.) I also love how they designed the hotel so every room faces the ocean. We were given a room on the 21st floor and the next morning got them to switch us to the 7th floor because of Shabbos. When we stepped onto the porch in the pitch black of midnight, I could barely make out the glass railing at the edge, saw how high up we were and got a bad case of vertigo. It was much better in the morning when the sun was up, but I was still happy to go down to the 7th floor. We ate our burgers ($30 total) from Backyard BBQ which were still a bit warm and very tasty even a few hours later.




Notice no windows facing the street as all rooms face the ocean




For some reason, the lobby has a display with the Israeli Declaration of Independence and other Israeli items (maybe because of how many Jews go here :P)


The milk chocolates were Kosher and heavenly. We may have had them bring many more to our room ;D








Adult pool on the left; residence pool on the right


Friday & Shabbos
I went to Shacharis at the Young Israel of Bal Harbour, which is just 2 blocks away, although give yourself time to get off the hotel grounds and across 2 long traffic lights.



We then got breakfast at hotel's beautifully decorated Atlantikos restaurant. While another Jew told me they have a separate pan for making Kosher eggs, I'm not comfortable with that, so our breakfast was our usual fruit and cereal.



After breakfast, our new room was ready. We quickly switched over, checked out the new view and then spent the morning at the family pool, which has a bar that sells Kosher smoothies (pre-made Star K mixes). It was okay (added alcohol), but nothing to write home about.


Our new view (that pool is another residence-only pool)





For lunch, we went to 26 Sushi & Tapas, which was really good! The sushi pizza @jj1000 recommends lived up to the hype. Dessert was heavenly and beautifully presented. Hot lava cake took a long time to arrive, although the waiter warned us it would. We spent $90.







By the time we got back to the hotel, it was too late to go back down to the water, so we relaxed for a bit before getting ready for Shabbos. We lit tea lights on the marble sink and headed down to the Young Israel as the sun began to go down.



I'll interrupt here to provide a rundown on the Shabbos situation at the SR:

Lobby door - there is no manual entrance anywhere. The main door opens very slowly and remains open for 15 seconds. Wait a few feet away until someone else comes and then follow them through, was easy to do. Turns out on our stay the lobby door broke, and they ended up keeping it open all Shabbos, so that was lucky. But it's still doable.

Balcony - the AC turns off when the door is open and I was told that having the technician enter VIP mode on the thermostat doesn't work here. The sensor is so high up on the door that even with stacking a few chairs, I couldn't reach it to try and block it. Instead, we kept the door closed to keep AC on and just didn't use the balcony. However, I think you could technically live with door open and no AC. Don't think the room got too hot when the AC was off. Afterwards I heard of someone who managed to get high enough to put tape on the sensor and block it.

Refrigerator - light bulb easily unscrewed.

Closets - closets that have doors have automatic lights, but there is plenty of open closet space to use.

Stairs - no issue with lights. You walk behind reception into their office and take the steps up 1 flight (that's all it goes), then you're on the business office floor, walk down the hall and take another staircase up to room floors. They gladly showed me the first time. After that I just always walked into the office myself. A bit awkward, but they never minded.

Back to our trip...

The main Shul at YI is one of the most gorgeous Shuls I've ever seen, especially those of the modern era. There is so much natural light, and they did a wonderful job of incorporating blues/turquoises to fit into the Florida/ocean theme and really did a nice job with the Jerusalem stone compared to so many other Shuls who seem to do it just to be yotzei, in my opinion.


Not my pic

As opposed to our last trip where we brought food from home for Friday dinner and ate by day at the Chabad on 41st Street's kiddush/lunch, this time we wanted to splurge and eat at restaurants. Unfortunately, all the options are only open for dinner, are very expensive (all appx $100 per person) and the most recommended option (Backyard BBQ) was already booked full early in the week. So, we booked at Kosh. The food is Shabbos style, and while the portions weren't huge, there were lots of options. There were probably 7 salads on the table to start, then gefilte fish, chicken soup, meat, chicken and several sides. Especially after a big lunch (probably not a great idea on Friday), we left full, although we felt $100 is steep for what you get. However, the ambiance was nice, and the manager was kind enough to give us 2 rolls for lunch the next day since our plan was to see what the famed kiddushim of Surfside were all about, but still wanted to ensure we had challah as a backup.


Not mine

In the morning, we davened again at YI and were blown away by their kiddush. First of all, they had challah rolls, so ours were saved for shalosh seudos. More importantly, they had half a dozen hot main dishes, a table of salads and a table of pastries. Just tons of food that also didn't run out. It was someone's birthday who sponsored, but from my understanding, they often have kiddushim like this. Afterwards, we walked to The Shul a block away, which is the Chabad shul (yes, it has a great name ::)) initially because we thought we'd need both kiddushim to get full, but we were already full, so this was to check it out. However, they still had plenty of davening left, so we decided not to hang around and just go back to the hotel. We slept a ton and woke up in time for Mincha/Marriv and havdala at the YI.

For dinner Motzai Shabbos, we went to Rustiko. While the store gave off a very cool vibe, the menu was completely foreign to us - lots of weird dishes that we weren't willing to try. Instead, we each got the mac 'n cheese appetizer (which tasted like... mac 'n cheese), split the mozzarella sticks (which were not good) and got some milkshake type drink. Total $70. We were disappointed, but should have done more research ahead of time to know they had a unique menu. About 15 minutes after we arrived, the place got packed, as apparently all the restaurants did, which I found out is usual for Motzai Shabbos here. Get to your restaurant early.



Afterwards, we went across the street to Serendipity, a small ice cream shop. It's a cute place with interesting flavors, and for those who don't often get to have fresh ice cream, it's nice to have the option, but in our opinion, the ice cream wasn't that amazing. It's about $4 for a scoop. Would we go back? Probably, but it didn't live up to the hype of "you have to try Serendipity." Those people should go to Denver and try Bonnie Brae. ;D


At this point, I don't think I need to tell you when a photo isn't mine


Sunday
We started Sunday with free breakfast again and then went to the beach. There was barely anyone around at 9am.








Back of the hotel. Only the center building is the hotel, the 2 side wings are residences

For lunch, we went to Cina Citte Caffe where we ate outside. Now here was a place we liked! Normal pasta dishes and apps, lava cake for dessert. We may be classic, but we know what we like... And $70 for a full meal, was much better than the previous night.



We checked out of the hotel, leaving our bags by reception and went swimming again. Afterwards, we were able to shower and pack up in the spa. We booked a Lyft (cheaper than Uber) back to the airport for $27. Crazy how different it can be from the $70 we paid on the way in. The flight back went smoothly, we picked up our sleeping daughter from my mom - who handled being away from us just fine b"h! - and went home after a super relaxing, yummy, convenient Shabbos getaway!

Offline Luvtotravel

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Re: Miami Weekend Getaway with @Yehuda
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2018, 03:33:38 PM »
great concise report!
Don't wait for the perfect moment; take the moment and make it perfect.

Offline Chief Rabbi of New York

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Re: Miami Weekend Getaway with @Yehuda
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2018, 03:59:45 PM »
from a kashrus point of view, to use the regular bowl for the cereal for the hotel is considered fine?
also when i had breakfast there, they also showed me the pan that was set aside for kosher...
i told them it wasnt good enough for me, so they got me a brand new pan, i took off all the stickers and tags on it.
and they let me go behind to turn on the flame..
cracked eggs straight into pan.
used plastic spoon to finish making omlet
then they let me take the pan up to my room, so i could bring it down for the rest of the stay...
Show Some Respect for Me, I am The Chief Rabbi of New York :)

Offline Sport

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Re: Miami Weekend Getaway with @Yehuda
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2018, 04:11:33 PM »
from a kashrus point of view, to use the regular bowl for the cereal for the hotel is considered fine?
also when i had breakfast there, they also showed me the pan that was set aside for kosher...
i told them it wasnt good enough for me, so they got me a brand new pan, i took off all the stickers and tags on it.
and they let me go behind to turn on the flame..
cracked eggs straight into pan.
used plastic spoon to finish making omlet
then they let me take the pan up to my room, so i could bring it down for the rest of the stay...
According to the shach its fine as long as it was cleaned well.

Offline jj1000

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Re: Miami Weekend Getaway with @Yehuda
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2018, 04:20:55 PM »
Great TR. Can't believe you didn't know what to order at Rustiko. Guess I need to make the wiki better ;)

Jbtw Cina Citta got a whole makeover and is even nicer looking now:

See my 5 step program to your left <--

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Offline zagguru

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Re: Miami Weekend Getaway with @Yehuda
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2018, 04:24:35 PM »
What free night award did you use for St regis?

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Miami Weekend Getaway with @Yehuda
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2018, 04:33:36 PM »
Wow, nice TR! Almost makes we want to go back to Miami, but then I realized that I don't need to.  :)

Offline Redbull3

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Re: Miami Weekend Getaway with @Yehuda
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2018, 04:47:01 PM »
Thanks for this TR. I love grill time, 26 and soho and want to try this cinna cita.. more importantly SRBH looks gorgeous.. i always stay at Hyatt centric which is nice but spend so much on ubering up.. bottom line I need to start saving up marriot. Are marriot cards 5/24? How do you get free nights?

Offline mochjas

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Re: Miami Weekend Getaway with @Yehuda
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2018, 05:17:30 PM »
What free night award did you use for St regis?
Ritz

Offline zagguru

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Re: Miami Weekend Getaway with @Yehuda
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2018, 05:18:38 PM »
Ritz

Ritz free night works at St Regis?

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Re: Miami Weekend Getaway with @Yehuda
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2018, 05:19:25 PM »
Ritz free night works at St Regis?
yes

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: Miami Weekend Getaway with @Yehuda
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2018, 05:22:23 PM »
from a kashrus point of view, to use the regular bowl for the cereal for the hotel is considered fine?
also when i had breakfast there, they also showed me the pan that was set aside for kosher...
i told them it wasnt good enough for me, so they got me a brand new pan, i took off all the stickers and tags on it.
and they let me go behind to turn on the flame..
cracked eggs straight into pan.
used plastic spoon to finish making omlet
then they let me take the pan up to my room, so i could bring it down for the rest of the stay...
Yes, my Rav says it's okay.
That's awesome though!

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: Miami Weekend Getaway with @Yehuda
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2018, 05:24:23 PM »
Great TR. Can't believe you didn't know what to order at Rustiko. Guess I need to make the wiki better ;)

Jbtw Cina Citta got a whole makeover and is even nicer looking now:

Thanks. Yes you do. :P Nice makeover!

Ritz free night works at St Regis?
Only the one from the signup bonus that's valued at 60k properties.

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: Miami Weekend Getaway with @Yehuda
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2018, 05:26:49 PM »
Thanks for this TR. I love grill time, 26 and soho and want to try this cinna cita.. more importantly SRBH looks gorgeous.. i always stay at Hyatt centric which is nice but spend so much on ubering up.. bottom line I need to start saving up marriot. Are marriot cards 5/24? How do you get free nights?
I don't know much about South Beach. Aren't there restaurants there too so you shouldn't need to Uber up? Marriott cards are 5/24 except perhaps the Business one? Otherwise, you can get SPG cards. All Marriott/SPG/Ritz cards now come with an annual free night. However, none of them are for high enough categories to cover this SR other than the signup nights on the Ritz card, although I don't think it's available for signups anymore.

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Re: Miami Weekend Getaway with @Yehuda
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2018, 05:30:05 PM »
Thanks. Yes you do. :P Nice makeover!
Only the one from the signup bonus that's valued at 60k properties.

How much do they typically sell for?