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“Beautiful property, too big, very impersonal”

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Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Ranked #43 of 207 Hotels in Miami Beach
Michigan
Level Contributor
55 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“Beautiful property, too big, very impersonal”
Reviewed 13 September 2009

I'd always wanted to stay here so I'm glad I did but wouldn't stay again. Upon arrival I noticed how spread out everything is on the property. The signs are very helpful in navigating around resort.
The first room we got was on 3rd floor of Chateau Tower and provided a great view of the heating/cooling system along with the sounds. After complaining of noise, we were immediately upgraded to room on 11th floor of Versailles Tower facing ocean, pool with balcony. The room was nice, bed comfortable. I was surprised there were no bottled waters waiting for us nor a refrigerator or minibar but that's not the worst thing in the world.
I first noticed how impersonal the service is when we went to the pool bar and ordered a pitcher of mojitos.
We ate lunch at Scarpetta, shared a salad. They did a nice job splitting the salad for us, the presentation was nice and salad good.
LIV was not open Thurs night as I would've expected so we hung out at lobby bar instead, it was quite busy.
Lunch next day was at La Cote. I ordered the grilled Mahi-Mahi sandwich and although it looked really good, the fish was bad. This was first time in my life I got bad fish, the taste is unmistakable! She took it off the bill but offered no apology nor anything else to eat.
I found a pool attendant to get a couple chairs/towels who told me he had no chairs and to go find someone else in another area. I ended up on the lawn and no one ever did come to help me so I fixed up the chairs on my own. I did like how they had giant coolers full of ice cold lemon water in the pool area.
All I could think about when there was "This is NOT Shore Club!" What a difference between the two hotels. Staying here made me want to go to the Shore Club just to be treated well, with a smile and staff knowing me by name.
Fontainebleau is just too big. Too much for Miami Beach, perfect for Vegas as another reviewer noted.

Stayed September 2009, travelled on business
Helpful?
2 Thank HappyBubble
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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FLorida
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 September 2009

Wow- did this owner go over the top on this hotel. We checked in labor day weekend the day after Wall Street Journal reported the $600 million loan default. Who the heck drops $1 billion to renovate a MIami hotel. Dubai maybe, but Miami - hello? Anybody home?

THey were not even at 70% capacity- one of the towers was shut down and several floors on other buildings were not even being used, yet service at valet and pool side was terribly slow - 45 minutes for a drink and 30 mintues to get your car.

Hot pool side boys and girls working there, but brains of a peanut-- models- you get what you pay for.

Don't go here expecting to get VIP or preferrential entrance into LIV night club. Take a number and stand in line with all the Miami 20 something wanna be's who work at McDonalds and saved up one months pay to pay the cover charge to get in and are waiting out in the main drive way to the night club entrance. Seriously-- that's what they told us to do if we wanted to get in to the club when it opened at 11am. Prior they told guests to stand in a special hotel guest line for early admission- but that is no longer true.

If I owned this hotel, I"d immediately invest in an intense Ritz Carlton type "boot camp" for all employees. FOr the price they want for a room- I think we paid $400 for our room-- , they should treat guests like they do at the Ritz-- da!

ANd most of all, train your Valet, Bellman, and Spa attendants to NOT reach out and shake a guest's hand when they meet them. ALthough it may seem like a friendly and warm welcome gesture, it's actually ackward and tacky and very unbecomming of a 5 star wanna be resort liek the Fountainbleu -- sorry just trying to give constructive feedback here.THe image projected should be high net worth, not do you want to get high with me or can I place a bet for you buddy.... Follow what I"m saying.

All the best-- hope this feedback helps-- doubt you'll even read it, because I doubt your management team would even have the wisdom or knowledge to realize how impactful Tripadvisor is now to the hotel industry.

Stayed September 2009, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
5 Thank MTlor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brighton
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 September 2009

I booked this hotel before reading the reviews and was extremely apprehensive about the trip. However, I went on to have a fantastic stay. Firstly, the service; from the moment we arrived the staff were charming and attentive. Not a single bellboy walked past during the whole week without saying hello. In particular, you should spend time talking to Levi Forte if you have a chance - he has worked there for 45 years, met frank sinatra etc and also boxed against George Foreman (look him up on wikipedia). The only thing I would say is that the staff at Concierge were rather frosty for some reason and they were the only people I didn't enjoy dealing with.

I was travelling with my mother who has recently had difficulty walking. We were given a wheelchair as we stepped out of the taxi (they had been given no prior warning) and we were allowed to keep it for the whole week. This was a godsend as the hotel is huge and it enabled my mother to get out to restaurants etc. We had booked a standard ocean view chateau room but I asked if there were any balcony rooms available. They did their best to oblige and I was able to to view rooms in 3 different blocks before deciding which one I like most. We ended up with a fantastic ocean view room with balcony (chateau 606) at no extra cost (should have been $600 for the upgrade). Having seen rooms in chateau, versailles and tresor, I personally preferred the decor in chateau. I used the internet on the hotel's Mac and we didn't get charged for it - I simply typed the website into the address bar on the free page.

Food - there is no doubt that the restaurants are expensive. We were lucky that the Miami Spice promotion was happening while we were there (Aug and Sept I think). Several of the top restaurants in miami (including 3 in the hotel) were offering a set 3 course menu for $35. We ate at some amazing places (Asia de Cuba, Meat Market, Hakkasan) but obviously this is not usually available. We had breakfast at solo - $4-5 for coffee, $3 for bagels and pastries. Lunch at Fresh - $12 for a grilled panini and fries but it was so big that we shared 2 between 3 of us. Dinner - taxi is $10-12 to the restaurants in Lincoln road or Ocean Drive where you can find cheaper restaurants. Alcohol is certainly pricey - we took duty free from the plane and bought mixers in Walgreens which is a 7 minute walk away.

The pool - I had really been dreading this. At the weekends it is busy but the staff always tried to help find a lounger. The music is definitely annoying during this time - 2 bars blaring different music. Less of an issue during the week though and I always got a lounger no matter what time I arrived. There are lots of beautiful people around but there are lots of normal people and children around too - I never felt out of place. I saw Scary Spice and Courtney Kardashian. Britney Spears was also staying although I didn't see her. The beach is NOT dirty - those people who think this clearly have some hollywood idea of what a beach should look like; seaweed is NATURAL and there was not much of it. The water was warm, clear and clean.

LIV nightclub - I went on a Sunday to see DJ Jazzy Jeff. Obviously it's not peak season so it was actually empty when we arrived at 11pm. A mojito here cost $18 but was so strong that I spent most of the night trying to drink it.

Gym - the free gym was a good find so thanks to whoever mentioned it. It is on floor 1 between the concierge and sorrento tower. If you walk to sorrento, go downstairs to floor 1 then double back on yourself towards concierge you will find it (if not ask a bellboy like I did).

Overall, we had an amazing time. This is not a cheap holiday and is certainly not cheap if you have children. However, if you are staying in a 5* hotel, what do you expect? Don't go there if you are looking for a bargain holiday.

  • Stayed September 2009
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank RachelBT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Newport Beach, California
Level Contributor
97 reviews
92 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 111 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 September 2009

The day before arriving at the hotel the Wall Street Journal had an article describing the hotel's potential financial problems. So I was crossing my fingers that these $ problems weren't affecting the service yet. I was sadly let down.

First of all this hotel is marketed as being in South Beach. I was disappointed to learn that the hotel is north of South Beach. In fact, it's about 20 blocks north of South Beach. It is in Miami Beach, but clearly not South Beach.

I booked the hotel through expedia and noted in my reservation that we would be arriving late noting my flight arrival time. I paid for a King Bed. Needless to say when we arrived we were told no King's were left and there were no upgrades available with a King Bed. They claimed that King Beds were not guaranteed. However there was no mention of "King Bed based on availability" on my reservation. It simply said"King Bed". I protested and showed them my reservation and my warning about our late arrival but all to no avail. The only option they offered was that I could pay $110 more per night to get a suite with a King room. They should have upgraded me for free but they refused.

The next day we called and requested maintenance to come fix a few minor issues in the room. They didn't show. I had to call back twice to get them to the room.

The 3rd day we returned to the room at 3:30 in the afternoon and they still had not made up our room.

Most insulting of it all, they SNEAK A SERVICE CHARGE ONTO YOUR ORDER FOR A DRINK AT THE LOBBY BAR. I ordered two Absolut Red Bull's at the main lobby bar. $42!!!!!!! I knew South Beach drink prices were stupidly expensive but it is what it is. I then tipped the bartender on top of it. Later in my trip I learned that they include a 18% service charge onto the price of every drink you order at the bar!!!! I have never seen this anywhere. And they don't even tell you about it. I discovered this when I ordered a $16 glass of cabernet and the bartender asked me for $21. She gave me a receipt showing the service charge plus sales tax! Every other bar in America takes $16 for a $16 glass of wine. The end result is that I was double tipping until I discovered this. Very sleazy!

The last 2 days of our trip the hotel closed one of it's two driveways. Of course it happened to be the driveway closest to our room. The reason is because they were saving on labor costs by only staffing 1 of the 2 driveways. The resort is very large and you don't want to have to walk all the way across it each time you come and go.

Now, that being said, there were a few things I liked:

- Fresh and modern decor
- Club Liv is an amazing club if you catch it on the right night. But being a hotel guest gives you next to no pull when trying to get them to let you in. Be prepared for hundreds of people in your lobby trying to get into the club.
- The Concierge Vladimir was awesome. Find him if you can.
- The Imac's with internet service are free in your room. Nice touch.

  • Stayed September 2009
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank OC_Adventurer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cincinnati OH
Level Contributor
28 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 September 2009

My husband and I just returned from 3 nights at the F. We usually stay at the Ritz South Beach, but wanted to see what a billion dollar upgrade looks like. Well, it looks like Vegas, which is not something we really like. But I have many details, which will help you all decide.

Rooms- Very nice. Great bed. A few design problems (lamps that take contortions to turn on/off, shower postioned behind a door) that make one wonder what they were thinking, but overall good rooms. Tip- ask to not get a room near the air conditioners in Chateau. Very noisy and takes away from the balcony experience.

Service- I agree with outher comments on this topic. I assume because there are many European travellers to this part of FL, the property made a decision to add a gratuity too all services, food and beach (18% on food, 15% on beach service). This would be to protect it's employees from a lesser income than expected, which I understand. BUT like in Europe often, when there is no incentive to add value to an experience, a service provider often does just that. His job. That's all. I'd characterize 100% of the service interactions we had as that way. They do their job, but absolutely do not attempt to develope a relationship with the guests, or attempt to make each interaction an experience for the guest. They just do their jobs, with barely a smile on their faces.

Gym- chosse the boardwalk. It's free:)

Beach and Pool- Umbrellas for the beach cost $18, chairs $12 each. It was worth it for us, so we rented 2 days. They do have beach service for drinks, but not food. Although you can walk to Fresh or La Cote (not a 2 minute walk) to get takeout. I do wish they'd clean the beach before service each day. it's littered with cups, cigarette's and sea weed. "Yes I know seaweed is natural, but it would be more pleasant if they'd rake it up). Pool service inculdes food and drinks. Cabanas are expensive, chairs and towels are free. It's a BIG pool area, with many different niches. It's a bit scene-y, but I'd say there were just as many families with kids and paunchy business people than Paris Hilton wanabees. It's just so large and crowded that we found it unappealling.

Food- Yes, it's expensive. We tried almost all the venues, and found the food REALLY good. Expect to pay 5 star prices for sure, like at a Ritz or Four Seasons. But it's really good, so you be the judge. Is it worth it? Id' say if the service had been more friendly and professional, then yes, the food was so good that it just MIGHT be worth it.

Fresh is a takeout joint, near the pool. They have pizzas and salads etc. La Cote is by the pool, a little scene-y, but really good lunch type food and drinks. The 4 main restaurants, Scarpetta, Blade, Hakassan and Gotham are all very pricey and very good. It just depends on what kind of food you feel like! We did breakfast at Vida, $25 for the full on buffet, which is on par with any other hotel of it's class. Bottom line, expensive but great.

You can't walk many other places, but a $10 cab ride will get you to South Beach, and a $5 cab ride will get you to a business area of Miami Beach where there are restaurants. The closest other place we saw was a 5 minute walk south, where a Carabba's is in a hotel. If you're looking for a lesser priced option, that might do the trick. Accessible via the boardwalk or out front. Otherwise, it's a mile walk to a shop or food place.

Club Liv. Oh my. Can you believe they charge $100 for men to get in? It's really an awful scene if you ask me. Throngs of beauties pushing to be seen by the bouncers to be let in. (I understand they charge women less). What criteria do these bouncers use? Yes, I'm afraid it's kickball in 3rd grade all over. They seem to just pick the ones the want.........which is a little unseemly. We talked our way in for free, just to see the place. We stayed 2 minutes, and saw it. It's a club folks. If you're 25 and want to be seen, it just might be your kind of place. If this sort of activity is not your thing, either stay over in another building (not the main) or don't book a weekend at F. Starting at about 10pm, the clubbers descend on the lobby bar and attempt to get into Liv. Seriously, if this isn't your scene, stay somewhere else.

Bottom line, we chose F to see what all the fuss was about. It's lovely, and in great shape, and the rooms are really nice. And we did get a great recession deal, but we are both certain we'll go back to the Ritz next time. We like to be able to walk to other places to eat and shop, and you can't at the F. The service was not very good, "attitude" is the word that comes to mind. Think France. And who wants French service when in the US? This place is SOOOOO big that nothing seems at all intimate. But if you like big and glitzy, Vegas style, you'll like the F.

  • Stayed September 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank alexanddeb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Montreal
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 September 2009

We stayed at the hotel for 4 night, spent $6000 so I would assume we were not too bad of clients. We ate there almost every night at all there best restaurant. All was going well until the last day we realized that our I phone had dissapeared from the room. We have 2 cellulars so only one we carry with us and always leave one in the room due to roaming charges when you travel abroad. We filed a report the day it happened with the security officer and the same day we were told that 3 different staff member had entered our room after checking the card entries. After multiple phone calls, no call back for most, the hotel refused to give us any compensation and this took one month for them to advise us of so, not even a credit to be used at a later date!!! Would you think that a couple that spends $6000 in 4 days at one hotel is looking for a free phone!!!!! NO I tell you and for a hotel of that status I never expected such a negative and terrible service in following through. So if you stay at the Fontainebleau...all goes in the safe even your phone!! The funny thing my shoes are worth more than the phone so does that mean they should go in the safe as well!! What a dissapointment from a hotel that states they are so luxurious!!!! Nt only I will not recommend this hotel buy our friends that go there will never go again. By the way we are a couple in our 40's not teens trying to pull a fast one because we lost the phone!!

  • Stayed July 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank dissapointedmontreal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Fort Myers, Florida
Level Contributor
67 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 August 2009

After reading some of the reviews, I was ready to be rude right back to the staff at The Fontainebleau because, except in my world, I'm not really anybody. Didn't have to worry...the service was excellent, extremely courteous and attentive from the moment we arrived until we drove away. When we were checking in, there was a young couple in line (looked like they came from the pool) and the FD manager very discreetly told them they needed to cover up.
Things are very expensive, but it is a resort on Miami Beach and you do get what you pay for. We were there for a conference and checked in a day early for some R&R. Dinner at Gotham Steak House was very good on Saturday night. I'm sorry, I can't remember our server's name, but he did a great job. As I looked around, it looked as though they all did. Live music kicked in at 8 pm--a duo--and the girl could sing. She sounded just like Sade. Nice.
I loved the piped in music and how it changed throughout the day. In the morning, we heard the oldies from the 40s and 50s; in the afternoon, we heard smooth jazz; in the evening, it was more techno...that Miami beat...but not obnoxious. The resort also smelled great. It was almost like they were piping in aromatherapy.
The food was excellent both in the restaurant and in the banquets. Would have liked to try the Italian restaurant in the Sorrento building, but we didn't have time.
The room was really comfortable--we were in Versailles. I wondered about the towels, though. The notice in the bathroom said that they would only replace towels that were on the floor for environmental reasons, but ours were changed daily and they were on the hooks. Hmmm... We were looking for ice our first night. I just typed a note into the computer and was called within minutes. The ice was supposed to be in a nook near the elevators, but if it wasn't, just call Room Service. There was none near the elevator and we never bothered to call for any to be delivered.
Signage could have been a little bit better, but once we got to know the lay of the land it was pretty easy finding our way.
Really, my only problems were not with The Fontainebleau...more with the people staying there. A very rude group of people at the pool kept using one of the cabanas right by the steps, even though they hadn't paid for it and even though they were VERY politely told they couldn't. I also have a hard time understanding the need to leave trash around. If you're sitting by the pool with a drink, why would you set the cup down and get up to walk away leaving it for someone else to pick up or, as in this case, to blow into the pool? Why do cigarette butts have to be thrown wherever? In the evening when we walked around the pools, it was so beautiful with the lights and all. In the morning when we walked, the fountains and spas had cigarette butts in them and plastic cups. I just don't get it. The public boardwalk along the beach was filled with litter...95% of it being cigarette butts. You couldn't take three steps without seeing them fill the cracks in the boardwalk. We wanted to be sure to hit the beach because we love it, but I was skeeved by the amount of trash...again, mostly cigarette butts. This is a problem with the population of our world. Not with the resort. I'm not a Miami Beach type so I probably wouldn't vacation here, but I truly loved the hotel.
Try the Blueberry Mojito at the Bleau Bar...excellent!

Stayed August 2009, travelled on business
Helpful?
1 Thank FloridaKnippBay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Fontainebleau Miami Beach

Property: Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Address: 4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33140-3227
Phone Number:
Region: United States > Florida > Miami Beach
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#4 Top resorts Hotel in Miami Beach
#10 Business Hotel in Miami Beach
#18 Romantic Hotel in Miami Beach
#21 Spa Hotel in Miami Beach
#21 Family Hotel in Miami Beach
#31 Luxury Hotel in Miami Beach
#35 On the Beach Hotel in Miami Beach
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Fontainebleau Miami Beach 4.5*
Number of rooms: 1504
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A spectacular blend of Golden Era glamour and modern luxury, Fontainebleau today reinvents the original vision of legendary architect Morris Lapidus – a stage where everyone plays their unique part. At Fontainebleau, striking design, contemporary art, music, fashion and technology merge into a vibrant new kind of guest experience. We invite you to enter a world where you are free to play, shop, dine, spa, meet or simply relax – however you define your perfect day. Express yourself in an environment that surrounds you with every kind of pleasure and invites every sort of adventure. Following a $1 billion renovation, the 22-acre oceanfront hotel features signature restaurants by award-winning chefs; two chic nightlife venues; a two-story, 40,000-square-foot spa, expansive poolscape, a pristine Atlantic Ocean beach and state-of-the-art conference and event facilities. A landmark since its debut in 1954, Fontainebleau has been restored and transformed by a team of renowned architects and designers to create the most dynamic destination resort on the eastern seaboard. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel Miami Beach
Fontainebleau Hotel Miami Beach
Fontainebleau Resort Miami Beach
Fontainebleau Miami Beach Florida

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