Amida Spa, Farnham
Bailiffscourt Spa, Climping
Barcelona Spa And Hotel Escape
Bath Spa And Hotel Escape
Top Tips For Visiting Florida
Driving in Florida
Health & Safety in Florida
Orlando - The Sight – Zumba Convention
Orlando - The Flight – Virgin Atlantic London Gatwick to Orlando
Orlando - The Hotel – Hilton Orlando
Orlando - The Shopping – Zumbawear Retail and Outlet
Orlando - The Healing – Hilton Orlando Spa Pool or Massage at the OCC
Orlando - The Food – Denny's
Orlando - The Packing
Orlando - Other Tips For Surviving Convention
Clearwater - The Sight – Dolphins – Caladesi Beach and Little Toot
Clearwater - The Hotel – Pier House 60 Marina Hotel
Clearwater - The Healing – Full Moon Fall Clearwater Beach
Clearwater - The Food – Frenchy's Saltwater Café
Clearwater - The Journey – Drive From Orlando
Clearwater - The Shopping – Caladesi Island
Clearwater - The Packing
Clearwater - Side Trip – Homosassa Springs
Key Largo Escape
Vero Beach Escape
Vero Beach - The Sight – Sunrise, Turtles, Waves
Vero Beach - The Hotel – Costa D'Este
Vero Beach - The Healing – The Spa at Costa D'Este
Vero Beach - The Food – The Wave Kitchen And Bar
Vero Beach - The Journey – Drive From Key Largo (and back to Orlando)
Vero Beach - The Shopping – Shells And Things
Vero Beach - The Packing
Vero Beach - Photos
The Glorious Spa Company Chichester
Iceland Spa And Hotel Break
About Our Trip To Iceland
Iceland - The Spa - Blue Lagoon
Iceland - The Sight - Northern Lights
Iceland - The Hotel(s) – Northern Light Inn, Grindavik and Centerhotel Arnarhvoll, Reykjavik
The Activity - The Icelandic Horse
Iceland - The Restaurant - Eldur and some more eating and drinking tips
Iceland - The Flight - Icelandair from London Heathrow to Reykjavik
Iceland - The Shopping
Iceland - The Rest
London Day Spa Retreats
Marrakech Spa And Hotel Escape
New Forest Spa And Hotel Break
New York Italian Escape
Paris Escape With Kids
Tuscany Spa And Hotel Escape
Zadar Spa And Hotel Escape (Croatia)
I felt truly sad to leave this hotel, perhaps because it was to fly back to London, but also perhaps because, with all its excellent staff I felt truly pampered and at home here.
My first impressions were not quite so good, as the hotel is very impressive as you enter, but arriving on a Saturday evening, having been on the road for eight hours the valet couldn't help but look me up and down and ask "are you checking in" with some incredulity. My impression over the whole weekend was that although the valet staff are fine when you talk to them (and tip them) they are not indicative of just how friendly and helpful all the other members of staff are here. This was one of those occasions when I would have been very happy to just hand over my keys and let them valet park my car and deliver my bags to the room, but somehow I ended up getting back in the driving seat and doing it myself after I'd dumped my seventeen bags on a trolley.
The hotel is stunning, it manages to be both opulent and cosy. The reception area has lots of corners to sit and relax (if you can tear yourself away from the restaurant and pool). There's a small ballroom that opens out onto an open air space in which there was a wedding as I arrived. The restaurant and bar is a dark, welcoming hub, and there's even a semi-private table in the centre if you are a local music star. It's just a few steps outside to the pool, and behind the spa bath you are on the beach, and it's really just a few steps at high tide into the sea.
Both my rooms (more on that in a mo) were ground floor, and my first was an "upgrade" to a pool view, so I had my own mini-terrace and gate onto the pool, as well as a table and chairs inside a full width window. Bed – king size luxury – check, coffee set up – check, $5 water – check (but this is carbon negative!), closets with finally a spa robe – hooray, bathroom with walk in shower with overhead rain shower and handheld showerhead – check, sensational toiletries with, finally, shower gel instead of soap – check, safe – check, iPod dock – yes!, huge TV – check, proper guest information including details of turtles – hooray, local magazines including one with an article by the hotel's beach activities co-ordinator on Vero Beach – wow, great lighting set up with that large photo light above the bed setting off the dark wood and white cotton – yes, this is my kind of hotel room.
The pool and spa bath are excellent; and also the design of the hotel allows for air to move through from the ocean meaning the loungers are airier than most. The pool has a shallow end and a deep end allowing you to really swim properly, and the spa bath; top marks for the best spa bath in Florida, managed and monitored throughout the day by the King of Spas – Mike.
The only downside to this hotel, which was just Miami enough for me to not feel that I had missed out by not staying in Miami, was the noise. On the first night there was a wedding in the hotel, which was naturally a little noisy but as another guest told me the next day, the party has been sharply closed down at 11pm out of respect for the hotel's policies and the other guests. Unfortunately my air conditioning unit when it kicked in was very loud and woke me up. Luckily the room was pretty cool so I just switched it to low and it didn't wake me up again – and I also told the hotel the next morning.
No, the noise that really disturbed me was in the middle of the afternoon on Sunday. The hotel is very good at managing the guests generally, the pool area has not only a list of rules; no coolers being a main one, but Splash Stylists – pool concierges who organise your towels, make sure, along with the bar staff, that you are never without a drink for long, keep iced lemon water on tap for you to rehydrate free of charge, distribute frozen grapes and chilled towels every so often and – legend tells – sometimes even do foot massages. (Once I'd got over the disappointment that they weren't actually going to style my pool outfit I was on board.) Unfortunately the group in the room next to me had decided to use their room as their very own cabana – taking coolers into the room itself and having their own party. Which would have been fine if I hadn't decided to go and zonk out in my room after a fabulous massage. Soon the sounds of out of tune guitar playing outside my window and a screaming row between two of the guests next door harshed my mellow. First I knocked on the door and told the couple that I could actually hear them, and maybe they could take their domestic row down the beach where no one could hear them. Then when I went out to the pool, I realised that another guy was playing away on his guitar, despite the fact that there was already music playing around the pool (and excellent choice of music by the way – I would have bought Gloria Estefan's album from the hotel if they hadn't sold out!) Even sitting at the very edge of the pool, by the sea with the waves crashing out, I couldn't concentrate on my book and was starting to get a headache. The bar staff and stylists were a bit nonplussed, what do you do when someone brings their own guitar to the pool? Well, I actually went over to him and said, "I was trying to have a nap in my room and now I'm trying to read but I can't tune out your guitar because it's jarring with the music." At which point the lady next to him (part of the very large group in the next room) offered to change seats with him – at which point I explained I'd been at the very edge of the pool and could still hear him. At which point she told me she'd heard quite enough from me. What to do? Was I being rude or just sticking up for myself? Wanting to lie down and chill out after a (less) expensive massage I couldn't relax in my room or by the pool because of this group of people.
I decided to follow the advice of Sun Tzu "The Art of War" – which is avoid conflict. The front desk were extremely nice and offered me a new room – half an hour later and I was packed and ready to go – then installed in a room around the corner, this time with a seafront view, a gorgeous little grassy patio and a quick exit to the beach which meant I didn't even have to go through the pool area. Thank you reception.
As they say heaven and hell are the same thing – other people. Hotels don't have any control over who books their rooms – but how they react to the situation is imperative and they handled this situation really well – either because it was a single lady traveller who is over-sensitive to noise and a little unreasonable, or because it was a group who cared about their own party and no one else – it didn't matter because they helped us go our own way.
It made me think about my own home; in which noise has been a problem particularly this year with extensive building work. At the time I thought how nice it would be to just move away to another flat, but after a few weeks back home I realise that I have to come up with other strategies to beat the noise as living in a small flat with so many neighbours when one stops another one starts! Noise cancelling headphones with ocean wave white noise downloads is the best solution so far and it really does save on a lot of aggro and packing!
The rest of my stay was perfect, early morning turtle watching, followed by a few hours by the pool, some spa bath time and even a reckless few minutes in the sea, and I was so sorry to leave this hotel that I'm planning to come back and organise a retreat here in August 2014! (Email me if you'd like the latest details – it'll be the three days after Convention 18-21st August 2014)
$224.10 for Saturday night
$15.69 sales tax
$8.96 occupancy tax
$15.00 resort fee
$1.05 sales tax
$152.10 for Sunday night
$10.65 sales tax
$6.08 occupancy tax
$15.00 resort fee
$1.05 sales tax
Total $450 approximately £300: As at August 2013
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
(c) Pearl Howie 2013. All rights reserved.