Acqualina Resort & Residences on the Beach (Miami, USA)

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

I recently enjoyed a great holiday in Miami & Costa Rica. You can read my trip reports here:

  • Review: Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 Business Class from Frankfurt to Miami
  • Review: Acqualina Resort on the Beach, Miami, USA (today)
  • Review: Nayara Tented Camp, Arenal National Park, Costa Rica
  • Review: Nayara Springs & Garden, Arenal National Park, Costa Rica
  • Review: Lapa Rios Lodge, Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica
  • Review: Los Altos Resort, Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica
  • Review: Andaz Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
  • Review: Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
  • Review: Edeweiss Air Airbus A340 Business Class from Liberia to Zurich

Today: Review of Acqualina Resort & Residences on the Beach, Miami (Florida, USA)

Acqualina Resort & Residences on the Beach is an award-winning Forbes Five Star, AAA Five Diamond property situated on 400 feet (120 m) of pristine white sands on Sunny Isles Beach, an upscale Miami suburb. The resort’s unobstructed views create a unique, sea-level experience as the lush green gardens effortlessly succumb to the sand. Guests enjoy expansive amenities, including three oceanfront swimming pools, three restaurants, a tranquil spa, and a marine-biology-inspired kids’ program. The resort’s opulent design is inspired by the surf and sand, along with the Atlantic Ocean and intracoastal views that captivate guests as they enter their accommodation.

Acqualina Resort features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Miami.

Have you ever stayed at Acqualina Resort? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.

In this review (more info and photos below my YouTube video):


PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • Acqualina Resort is located on 4.5 beachfront acres with 400 feet (120 m) of stunning Atlantic Ocean coastline in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. Situated between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Sunny Isles Beach is called Florida’s Riviera for good reason. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Intracoastal Waterway to the west, the community is home to lovely oceanfront parks, lavish resorts, and two miles of pristine white-sand beach (3 km). The vibrant daytime activities and nightlife of Miami Beach, South Beach, Wynwood, Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale are a short drive away. Acqualina Resort is 20 minutes from Fort Lauderdale International Airport and 30 minutes from Miami International Airport.
  • Acqualina Resort is housed in a 51-story, orange and yellow stucco skyscraper soaring over the Atlantic Ocean on South Florida’s fabled shoreline. Upon arrival at the luxurious property, guests are immediately transported from a bustling city scape to an oasis of tranquility. The hotel’s stately iron entrance gates usher upwards from Collins Avenue (a busy six-lane road ) to a Tuscan-style piazza lined by colonnade walkways. The property features a unique design that fuses fresh contemporary European styling with distinctive Old World architectural elements. The latter include sculpted archways, Baroque fountains and a grand porte-cochere with a domed cupola, giving Acqualina Resort a glorious Italian aura.
  • After entering the building from the outdoor arrival piazza, guests will find themselves in the opulent lobby where the check-in desks are located. Like the exterior of the tower, the Italian influence is felt here more than any other style. The lobby feels more like the gallery of a palazzo and features marble floors, Venetian stucco, and heavy fabrics such as brocade and rich tones incorporating a gold, red, and aubergine color palette. The lobby’s vaulted ceiling is approximately 30 feet (9 m) in height. There are Venetian palazzo archways relating to the exterior of the building which features light yellow to tangerine hues. At both ends of the lobby, there are stone archways and separate entrances for the tower’s condominiums and residences.
  • Designed to offer a sense of modern luxury with classic furnishings and finishes, each of Acqualina Resort’s 54 guest rooms and 44 suites present oversized floor plans and private balconies. During my visit, I was upgraded to an impressive one bedroom oceanfront suite. Offering an unobstructed ocean view, the suite featured a bedroom with a king-size bed, a separate living room, a fully equipped kitchen (with designer granite countertops), and a large private, furnished balcony. The spacious bathroom was outfitted with marble flooring, double sinks, custom vanity area, bath tub, glass- enclosed shower, and ESPA branded bath products. The suite also featured a convertible den with a writing desk and twin bed
  • Acqualina Resort’s three outdoor swimming pools provide a haven for relaxation and are all designed in the resort’s signature red hues. The ‘Recreation Pool’ is the largest pool area and surrounded by dozens of palm trees; its gradual zero-entry makes it ideal for families with toddlers and babies. The ‘Beach Club Pool’ offers plenty of action with pool games and activities only steps away from the beach. Finally, there’s also the ‘Adult Pool’, a haven for guests 18 years and older with curated menu offerings and a tranquil ambiance. Cabanas are available at all three pools for full-day rentals and include personalized service and various amenities to make the guests’ day in the sun more enjoyable.
  • Acqualina Resort gives direct access to a magnificent stretch of pristine white-sand beach. In fact, Acqualina Resort is Florida’s only hotel of its kind to be built completely open to the ocean, without any barriers between the 51-story tower and its 400 feet (120 m) of glistening Atlantic shoreline. The property operates a beach club right in front of the hotel, with comfortable sun beds, towels and umbrellas available to all guests (for no extra charge). One of Acqualina’s unique layout concepts are perfectly manicured green lawns under the palm trees along the beach that feature several lounge seating areas. These complimentary lounge seats are available for guests’ enjoyment and relaxation but needs to be reserved 24 hours in advance.
  • Acqualina Resort offers several options for on-site food and beverage service, in addition to in-room dining:
    • Il Mulino New York – the resort’s signature restaurant – prepares authentic cuisine from Italy’s Abruzzi region daily for lunch and dinner, and also serves breakfast and Sunday brunch, all in an intimate indoor/outdoor setting. Il Mulino is the Florida outpost of the famous Il Mulino restaurant in New York, which has been ranked the number one Italian restaurant in New York City by Zagat for an astonishing 20 years.
    • With a diverse and eclectic tapas style menu, Ke-uH serves Japanese fusion cuisine in an elegant and modern setting that includes indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
    • Costa Grill, open daily for lunch from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, is the perfect spot to enjoy a beachside lunch or a light snack. As Miami’s only restaurant that’s completely adjacent to the beach, Costa Grill delivers a white tablecloth experience with a Floridian menu with Mediterranean influences in a lovely setting.
    • Located on the resort’s lobby level, the Gelato & Coffee Bar offers a variety of specialty coffee, superior quality gelato, custom-made pastries, homemade chocolate cookies, French Macarons and more. Guests may enjoy a coffee or snack on the run, while relaxing at the resort’s oceanfront pools and beach or in the comfort of their guestroom or suite.
  • Located on the ground floor, next to the lobby, is a luxurious two-story wellness center. Called Acqualina Spa, the center overlooks the glistening Atlantic Ocean and provides guests with a tranquil sanctuary. Acqualina Spa combines the best of ancient and modern therapies with the latest and finest skin care advances. The spa includes separate women’s and men’s relaxation lounges featuring Himalayan salt walls, heat experiences areas, crystal steam rooms, arctic ice fountains, experience showers, and Finnish dry heat saunas. There are 11 multi-functional treatment rooms and an extravagant Royal Spa Suite for two, as well as a beautiful outdoor terrace complete with a spa pool, heated jet pool, and Roman waterfall.
  • For those looking for a more active vacation, Acqualina offers a state-of-the-art fitness center, located on the Mezzanine Level. The center is equipped with the Technogym Artis line, the first ever fully integrated collection of cardio, strength and functional products. The Technogym Artis line redefines the exercise space with seamless design, connected experiences, natural movement feeling and the ability to reduce, recycle and renew energy. There is a Peloton bike offering live and on-demand rides with elite instructors. The resort can also arrange watersports just a five minute walk on the beach as well as golf and tennis for guests at nearby clubs.
  • Acqualina offers Acqua Experiences, a creative, curated program stimulating the senses and engaging guests through memorable moments both within the resort and throughout the larger Miami area. Acqua Experiences are varied and truly offer something for everyone. More adventurous families can sign-up for scuba lessons with Squalo Divers, a PADI Five Star Dive operation, or learn to swim like a mermaid with Aqua mermaid water classes. Food lovers will want to join a private tour of the city’s top restaurants and food halls, while those who love being on the water will enjoy a private yacht cruise with a day at sea.
  • AcquaMarine is a complimentary program offering supervised activities for children ages 5-12. Two session are offered per day for up to 5 children in each session (9:30 am to 12:15 pm, and 1 pm to 4 pm). AcquaMarine was designed and inspired by the resort’s ocean setting and all the sea life within. During the program, children become campers and have fun with learning and discovering a new appreciation, love and respect for the sea through educational hands on activities. Campers utilize computers and iPads to customize their learning experience within each theme. From sizing up whales on the beach to creating an edible coral polyp, children are sure to have a blast all while learning about the deep blue sea.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
  • Unlike most other beach resorts in Miami, which try to wow guests with a minimalist aestethic, Acqualina Resort features a more traditional design, mainly appealing to discerning travelers and beachgoers from the USA. Bedecked with Italian fountains and Baroque-inspired architecture, the property features lavish interiors and opulent spaces that evoke the Mediterranean, all to cosset the beau monde. Whether you’ll like the resort’s unique style or not, will all depend on your own personal taste. For most guests, the design will feel stylish, exuding a sophisticated European ambiance. But some might find that the Italian-esque decor has a Las Vegas vibe and that the interiors feel slightly outdated compared to the sleek, high design luxury hotels that have opened in Miami since Acqualina Resort’s debut.
  • Aside from the beach and the resort’s own excellent facilities, there’s little to explore on foot around the hotel, except for the shops and restaurants in Sunny Isles Beach itself (which are not particularly charming). I assume most guests won’t be bothered by this lack of interesting places nearby as they prefer to stay at the resort itself and take advantage of all its world-class facilities. However, if you want to shop outside of Sunny Isles Beach, then a cab or Uber will be necessary to go to Bal Harbor, Downtown Miami, Bayside or South Beach.
  • Sunny Isles Beach – which faces the east – is home to dozens of high-rise condos, the majority of them constructed since the early 2000s and having stunning ocean views. However, there’s also a downside to this glamorous scenery as the skyscrapers throw their shade on the beach in the late afternoon. For example, at Acqualine Resort, during the time of my visit in April 2022, the pools were in the shade by 2 pm and most of the beach was in the shade by 4 pm.
  • Room rates at Acqualina Resort are very expensive and so are the prices for its onsite services (e.g. restaurants, spa treatments, excursions). However, that shouldn’t come as a surprise since Acqualina Resort is considered one of the best luxury resorts in the greater Miamia area and its suites are splendidly swish and all recently renovated. Also, the hotel is generous in some ways, by not charging that pesky resort fee so common in Florida, and by offering its guests complimentary highspeed WiFi, plus access to its spa facilities and the outstanding AcquaMarine program for youngsters.
  • There is some intermittent noise emanating from the development on the adjacent building lot. I did not find it very disturbing, but the construction noise is there nonetheless, especially on the nortern section of the resort (around the aduls pool). The development is on schedule to be finished by next year, after which two 50-story boutique towers will be home to The Estates at Acqualina, an extension of the current Acqualina Resort.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 9/10
  • Design: 8/10
  • Pool: 9/10
  • Room: 8/10
  • Food: 8/10
  • Breakfast: 8/10
  • Spa: 8/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Value for money: 7/10
  • Overall experience: very good 8,6/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: get complimentary VIP perks at Acqualina Resort when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD spa credit).
  • Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Acqualina Resort (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Miami has warm weather all through the year but it it gets a fair share of rains from June to November. June has torrential downpours which can be due to the effect of Caribbean weather. August is the hottest month where soaring temperatures and a good deal of humidity. September to November is the hurricane season and visiting during this time can be a little tricky, but the beaches are least crowded and hotels are available at a great deal. December to April are the driest months with least rainfall and great weather. The best time to visit Miami is during the months of March and May: the holiday season is over, pleasant spring has arrived, and the temperature is comfortable.


HOW TO GET THERE

Acqualina Resort is 20 minutes from Fort Lauderdale International Airport and 30 minutes from Miami International Airport. Click here for a list of airlines that offer direct flights to Fort Lauderdale International Airport and here for a list of airlines that offer direct flights to Miami International Airport.


PHOTOS

Below is a selection of my photos of Acqualina Resort . To view more photos of the resort (including breakfast and dinner), click here.

ACQUALINA RESORT
HOTEL EXTERIOR
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HOTEL ENTRANCE
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HOTEL ENTRANCE
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ARRIVAL COURTYARD
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ARRIVAL COURTYARD
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ARRIVAL COURTYARD
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LOBBY: GALLERY
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LOBBY: GALLERY
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LOBBY: COFFEE & GELATO BAR
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KE-UH RESTAURANT
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KE-UH RESTAURANT
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DINNER AT IL MULINO NEW YORK RESTAURANT
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IL MULINO AT NEW YORK RESTAURANT
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OCEANFRONT SUITE: BEDROOM
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OCEANFRONT SUITE: BEDROOM
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OCEANFRONT SUITE: BATHROOM
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OCEANFRONT SUITE: ALCOVE
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OCEANFRONT SUITE: LIVING ROOM
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OCEANFRONT SUITE: WELCOME AMENITY
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OCEANFRONT SUITE: KITCHEN
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OCEANFRONT SUITE: KITCHEN
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OCEANFRONT SUITE: PRIVATE BALCONY
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OCEANFRONT SUITE: VIEW OF RESORT POOLS
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OCEANFRONT SUITE: VIEW OF RESORT POOLS
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OCEANFRONT SUITE: VIEW OF RESORT POOLS
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ADULT POOL
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ADULT POOL
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BEACH CLUB POOL
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RECREATION POOL
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HOTEL LAWNS
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BEACH
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