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Report 1493: Solo and Loving it in Miami Beach

By MsATravlin from Texas, Spring 2008

Trip Description: I just came back from a getaway trip to Miami Beach, Florida the first of May, 2008. Here's my account of what I will divulge. Otherwise, what happened in Miami Beach, stays in Miami Beach. LOL!

Destinations: Countries - North America; Regions/Cities - Florida

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Beach; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; Single Traveler

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Page 1 of 8: First of May, Time to Get Away

photo by Asmith

Pool area of the Marriott Courtyard Miami Beach Oceanfront hotel

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I planned this trip in February, did the "Internet thing" of all the hot spots to check out and had been packed since Sunday. Departure day finally arrived! My flight left from Houston to Miami Beach at 10:48am and I was at the airport for 8:30am. Check-in was seamless so I had breakfast and chilled until boarding.

I brought my laptop this trip and it came in very handy for entertainment purposes as well as providing information, directions, etc., of other places I wanted to see while in Miami Beach. My hotel provided free Internet service and that was a major plus.

I booked my stay at Marriott's Courtyard Miami Beach Oceanfront hotel. My room was right on the beach and I requested a high floor and got 1006. Great views of the beach, the courtyard, the pool and the Tiki Bar. The majority of the ocean-view rooms have balconies with a little table and two chairs. This hotel was a great choice for the money. It's an extremely clean, newly renovated hotel with great amenities and conveniences at good rates especially using your AAA member discount.

Not only do they have the Courtyard Cafe for breakfast but they have Carrabba's Italian Grill on-site for lunch and dinner. I was very happy with my hotel choice and although there are a couple of Marriott's in South Beach this location was the best from what I could see.

The location is also great. Only 10 minutes by cab to South Beach and 30 minutes by foot. There is a wonderful boardwalk that runs the length of the beach. From my hotel to South Beach is a two-mile stretch, which made for an excellent scenic exercise path for walking, jogging or running. There are covered seating areas all along the boardwalk and it is constantly patrolled by Miami Beach's finest on bikes. At each block there are openings that either go down to the beach or onto the street for easy accessibility.

I've read complaints about the hotel location being far from everything which simply is not true. There's a convenience store/bakery right across the street. About two blocks from the hotel is a Walgreen's, all kinds of local restaurants and some fast foodies like KFC and McDonald's, salons, shops, etc. A block from the hotel is a bus stop (there is a small body of water that runs alongside the street). For $1.50 you can ride anywhere you want to go in South Beach in as little time as 10 minutes or less. I caught the bus my first full day there to the Duck Tours excursion. The next day I took the bus to Espanola Way for my massage appointment. No problem. There are a number of buses that stop there all headed towards South Beach so miss one, another will be right along.

I would walk back to my hotel from South Beach on the boardwalk. At night I would take a taxi to and from South Beach or wherever my plans took me for the evening. To South Beach the rates average $7-$11, one-way, dependent upon traffic. When I went to Bongo's Cuban Cafe, which is in Downtown Miami next to Miami Heat's stadium, I paid $22. There is a fixed rate to and from Miami's downtown airport which is $32. This was much cheaper than renting a car as parking is pretty much valet at $22 a pop not to mention gas, car rental fees, insurance, etc.

So I made it to Miami airport, checked out, retrieved my luggage and was whisked away to my hotel in 30 minutes' time. I'd requested early check-in and my room was ready. How amazing to look out my door onto the beach and other scenery below. The room was just what I needed with a king bed, phones, desk, LG flat-screen, game control, refrigerator, coffeemaker, safe, etc.

I unpacked my things, showered and went down to the beach. I was disappointed to find a lot of seaweed and not many people in the water. The cabana guy told me it's better to come to the beach earlier in the day. It was close to 5pm then and the breeze had picked up. I went to the Tiki Bar and had a happy hour drink and hors d'ouevres.

I returned to my room. Earlier I'd learned that Carrabba's did room service and had decided at that point that I'd eat in for dinner. I'd only gotten a few hours sleep the night before so my fatigue was starting to hit me. I resigned myself to laying low and relaxing this first night rather than going out. I ordered mussels in white wine sauce, linguine pescatore and a quart of pinot grigio. The total for this single meal was $45.13 with 15% gratuity already added in. This is the norm around Miami Beach, both the prices and the automatic gratuity. The food came quickly and I ate on my balcony but was disappointed with the meal. Wasn't very flavorful. Maybe because I was eating out of plastic rather than china.

It got chilly on the balcony so I came into the room, then it got chilly in the room so I had to turn on the heat. I thought that it was winter-like outside so I went downstairs to the hotel's lanai and was surprised and delighted to see that it was quite warm outside. I then went to the pool-area and soaked my feet in the jacuzzi and realized that because I was on a high floor the breeze blowing in from the ocean made it colder at that height than on ground level.

I turned in before midnight and slept more like a baby than usual in the wonderful Marriott luxury bedding.

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