staycation miami


With spring here it’s time when we locals start to go swimming in the ocean,  enjoy less traffic in Miami Beach, and fewer crowds in restaurants. It’s also the time hotel rates drop. So, thought we, why not go on a “staycation” in Miami Beach for the weekend. We’d do things like spend the afternoon at the beach, go bike riding on the promenade, check out a new deli, go to a new restaurant and entertainment venue and take in a movie. Sounds like fun? It was. And, we should say, we wanted to stay at a prime South Beach location (23rd and Collins) but not pay prime hotel prices. We didn’t care about the “see and be seen” place to be.  Our destination, the Gates South Beach.

The Gates Hotel South Beach, formerly the Aloft Hotel, is one of the new breed of lifestyle hotels geared to Millennials and families who enjoy being in a setting that’s casual and fun. If you have any doubt what that’s about, your doubts will be dispelled when you enter the lobby that’s a combination game room, take out 24/7 grab n’go restaurant, cocktail lounge, and computer room. Oh yes, there’s also a bike rack holding bikes for guests.

staycation miami
Lobby as game room, grab n’ go restaurant, cocktail lounge and business center

Your welcome gift is a house baked warm chocolate chip cookie and, if you’re on the Hilton Honors program you get it with coconut water served in an actual coconut. If the lobby is “high touch”, the guest rooms are “high tech”  with features like a cool desk lamp that has a USB port for charging a smart phone; a bathroom with a sensor whose light turns on when you walk in the room; 42-inch HDTV with an HDMI cord. They’re bright, cheerful, the beds are super comfy, there’s a coffee maker with strong coffee,  and some rooms have balconies that look out on the pool or adjacent canal. Plus, a suite doesn’t cost that much more. Families gravitate to guest rooms that open out onto a terraced floor with plenty of space for kids to play.

staycation miami
A one bedroom suite

Our first night we checked out the “new” Via Emilia 9 restaurant. For day one we had the brunch in the Continental managed by Stephen Starr. It gets good marks on review sites, probably for the a la carte menu as the buffet was disappointing.

staycation miami
Continental, restaurant at The Gates South Beach

Then it was off to the beach. Most fun of all there’s a tuk tuk, like a motorized bike, the kind you see in Asia, that will take you to the beach and the area set aside for hotel guests with chairs and towels. It’s only a few blocks away, but who wouldn’t take a ride. .

staycation Miami
Mr. W and I in the tuk tuk headed to the beach

. Had we not opted for the beach, the Gates has a swimming pool with lounge chairs and cabanas (a welcome touch, and they’re free) and jacuzzi.  Lunch was at the hotel which hit the spot (tasty and low cal). We recommend the Thai chicken salad  with Napa cabbage, peanuts, cilantro, soy glazed chicken and lettuce. You can share and it’s only $14.

That evening we had dinner at Olla Mexican restaurant with friends (see my earlier review) and took in a show at the Cabaret at The Shelburne (read about this next week), all of which we walked to.The next morning was breakfast at Hank and Harry’s New York style deli and then took a bike ride on the boardwalk . Feeling the ocean breezes, seeing all the walkers, joggers and dog walkers, was an added plus. In the afternoon we took in a movie at the Regal South Beach before heading home which took a half hour. Totally stress free and feeling as if we had been away for a lot longer.

staycation miami
The service at The Gates couldn’t have been friendlier. And in a specially welcome touch, the housekeeper leaves a handwritten, personally addressed note wishing guests a good evening.

Off season rates start at $159 For a double room and $219 For a king bedded suite (plus tax and service) There are special perks and rates for Hilton Honors guests. There’s an additional resort fee of $25.00 per night which includes internet access, transportation to and from the beach, 2 beach lounge chairs, 2 beach towels, 2 bottles of water daily, use of bicycles ( 3 so get there early), pool and beach games, and local/toll-free calls. Parking is $42 a night so I suggest you consider taking Uber or Lyfft there and home.

The Gates Hotel South Beach, 2360 Collins Avenue. It’s a great way to spend a spring or summer weekend.

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