Exploring South Beach

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Nice view from the rooftop deck of our hotel.

We actually didn’t plan on visiting Miami until about 5 days before the trip.  We were scheduled to be in Freeport, Bahamas with some friends at their timeshare. But then, Hurricane Matthew developed which devastated much of Grand Bahama Island, making our trip impossible.  I was just happy that all I had to do was reschedule a trip – there were so many people who really had their lives turned upside down because of this storm.  We were lucky.

Grandmas were lined up to babysit and my husband had time off of work so we weren’t about to stay home.  We did some quick planning and decided Miami would be a good replacement choice – there are direct flights to MIA and we found both timeshare (my father in law’s) and hotel availability.  The other thing we needed to reschedule was our Open Water Diver Certification dives.  We found a dive shop that was able to accommodate us so we were able to complete our certification as planned.

Miami Beach Trip Report - View from Crescent Resort Rooftop Deck
Nice view from the rooftop deck of our hotel.

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The Crescent Resort

For 5 nights we stayed at The Crescent Resort, a Diamond Resorts timeshare. My father in law had some extra points to use so luckily this cost us nothing!  This was a cute art deco building right in the heart of South Beach. While it wasn’t swanky, it was clean, comfortable, and convenient.

Our room didn’t have a balcony (none of them did) which is generally a big negative in my book, but there were places to sit on the front patio and rooftop deck so we made it work.

This hotel is in a fantastic location — close to the beach, nightlife, restaurants, and shopping. Plus, it’s a great starting point for a walk through South Beach.

Miami Beach Trip Report - Crescent Resort South Beach Review
Art Deco style Crescent Resort on South Beach

Marriott Stanton South Beach

We decided to stay an extra night and moved to a full-service hotel to close out the trip.  We chose the Marriott Stanton South Beach.  I didn’t have much time to research hotels, and I needed more Marriott points for a Hotel + Air package so we chose this property.

I have Marriott Gold Status (thanks, Amex Platinum!) and we were upgraded to an ocean view room!  The room was small but nice and modern.  We also had a balcony with a great ocean view!

Miami Beach Trip Report and Marriott Stanton South Beach Hotel Review

This property was in a quieter section of South Beach which I enjoyed.  The pool was cold so I didn’t get in, but the pool area was quiet and you could get a chair with little problem.  It was a nice place to relax for the afternoon.  Beach chairs are included in the $17/day “daily destination amenity fee”, but an umbrella isn’t, so plan to pay extra or be in the sun.  Since this property isn’t considered a “resort” as of now, Gold and Platinum Elites have access to the lounge for snacks and daily breakfast.

The Marriott Stanton South Beach is a category 9 requiring 45,000 points per night (kind of crazy in my opinion – it was nice but not THAT nice!)  I paid a cash rate of $223 (including taxes and fees).  This would NOT be a hotel I would spend 45,000 points for 1 night!  I would have only gotten .5 cents per point for my one night stay which is a terrible value.  Unless prices increase dramatically for this property I would stick with cash rates on this one and save your points for a more lucrative redemption.

Did you know that Key West has joined Hawaii and Mexico in a sunscreen ban — and Miami might be next!? If you are planning to visit Miami, be sure to pack a reef-safe sunscreen to help protect the fragile coral reefs.


Scuba Diving

While in Florida, my husband and I completed our Open Water Diver Certification!  Our dive shop took us down to Key Largo and we completed 4 dives over 2 days.  It was a fun experience but more challenging than I expected.  The water conditions were pretty rough for our first dives and I had some food poisoning on the 2nd day (not an experience I recommend!).

It wasn’t how I pictured our first dives, but I am glad we did it and I am looking forward to our next dives in Cancun in January! (Thanks, Lindsy for taking the photos!)

Scuba Diving in Key Largo, FL

Overall, we enjoyed the South Beach/Miami Beach area.  The weather is great, there is plenty to do and there are lots of great restaurants to choose from.  It’s also a great spot to base yourself for a day trip to Key West. Have you visited South Beach – what was your experience?

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(Occasional updates, miles/points tips, and travel inspo)