If you are seeking an escape from the bitter cold of winter, consider an easy weekend getaway to the Mandarin Oriental, Miami on Brickell Key
Between January and May, the weather here (like most of Miami) is likely to be welcoming—sunny, warm and dry. And although this key is far smaller and less well known than the famous Florida Keys, this one is more intimate, accessible and has allures of its own.
The Forbes Five Star Mandarin Oriental, Miami is the only hotel on Brickell Key and getting there is an easy 20-minute drive from Miami International Airport.
An idyllic location
The aquamarine waters of Biscayne Bay surround this 44-acre, man-made, private island, which is predominantly residential. The grounds are encircled by Brickell Key Bay Walk, an inviting, beautifully landscaped waterfront path frequented primarily by locals—mostly joggers and walkers—and on weekends, families with children. The walk offers scenic views of the mouth of the Miami River, the skyscrapers of downtown Miami and the ships docked at the PortMiami Cruise Terminal.
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With curved architecture reminiscent of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group’s fan logo, this striking hotel (open since 2000) sits directly on the waterfront with its own small beach and infinity edge swimming pool, a perfect setting for relaxing under the shade of umbrellas and palm trees.
Only steps away from the hotel, the Brickell Key Bridge connects the key to the Brickell neighborhood of mainland Miami (an easy 6-minute walk) with its modern residential and commercial buildings, including Brickell City Centre (a high-end luxury mall anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue) and The Shops at Mary Brickell Village that house boutiques, restaurants and nightlife venues.
Although guests may (understandably) be hesitant to leave this island sanctuary, it’s a short distance from some of Miami’s most popular tourist meccas: South Beach, the Wynwood Arts District, the Design District and Coconut Grove and the Crandon Golf Course on Key Biscayne.
A posh hotel
The 326 guestrooms and suites at the Mandarin Oriental, Miami are spacious and well appointed, each with balconies offering expansive views of the city skyline, the Atlantic Ocean or Biscayne Bay. Their relaxing décor melds the contemporary feel of South Florida with Asian influences. The rooms are clean, comfortable and offer most amenities you might expect in an upscale property.
An emphasis on wellness is integral to the resort, too: A popular, 15,000-square-foot, tri-level spa offers a long list of holistic treatments for body and mind in 18 treatment rooms. Six private treatment suites have views of the bay. A comprehensive fitness center with cardiovascular equipment, saunas, steam rooms, areas for outdoor massages and a beauty salon are co-located nearby.
Service is attentive and professional; someone always seems to be around to help and anticipate the needs of guests.
A dining destination
Visitors will enjoy the cuisine of legendary Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio at the hotel’s destination restaurant, La Mar. Executive Chef Diego Oka, a disciple who worked side-by-side with Acurio for more than a decade, oversees the kitchen and faithfully replicates his most popular dishes.
The waterfront restaurant is casual but elegant with both indoor and al fresco seating for lunch, dinner or cocktails and Sunday brunch. Be sure to taste the fresh ceviche, tiradito and Peruvian punch cocktail. You’ll also want to stop at the anticuchos bar for grilled beef, chicken, octopus, jumbo prawn and Peruvian asparagus, an inventive take on Peruvian street food.
In addition to 24-hour room service (which was fresh, tasty, beautifully presented and always served on time), guests can graze on small plates with drinks at the MO Bar + Lounge in the lobby, a spot that is popular with locals, especially at happy hour. The space has plenty of comfortable seating around tables with dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows framing the bar.
The Mandarin Oriental, Miami on Brickell Key is a great destination for an easy passport-free weekend getaway. Situated so close to PortMiami, it’s also convenient for pre- and post-cruise stays (In fact, the hotel offers a special Cruise Your Way package.)
A few misses: While classic and tastefully furnished, the guestrooms and bathrooms feel a bit dated and could use a refresh. It would have been nice, too, if water bottles didn’t come at an extra charge and it was surprising that there was no in-room coffeemaker. But overall, given the stunning island setting, luxurious property and superior service, you’ll yearn to return to this island paradise again.