FAMILY - Best FLORIDA or CARIBBEAN hotel

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Old May 25, 17, 7:29 am
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FAMILY - Best FLORIDA or CARIBBEAN hotel

As an SPG member, I am just getting to grips with Marriott hotels. There's an amazing range of choice.

Considering a Christmas trip to Florida or Caribbean, with kids.

What are the best regarded properties? Not concerned about brand.

I have done some searches of the forum, but I am finding it difficult to narrow the choices down.

Many thanks!
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Old May 25, 17, 8:05 am
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What is important for you - on the beach, free breakfast, upgrades, least expensive, etc, etc? If you can provide more info it helps others to provide more targeted recommendations.

Cheers.
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Old May 25, 17, 8:08 am
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To really help narrow your search down, what are you looking for (best beaches, luxurious resorts,biggest pools, lowest price/points, bigger rooms, best night life, best children's activities, most secluded, etc.) When do you want to go? Do you want a FS resort with a SPA and other resort services or would a non-FS hotel at a lower price be even better?

For example, the FL panhandle has some of Florida's best beaches, but you might not want to go there during the winter months. And Marriott doesn't really have any FS resorts there, but there are some very nice non-FS oceanfront hotels to choose from.

South Florida has some nicer upscale FS hotels. In Ft. Lauderdale is one of Marriott's best beach resorts anywhere with the Harbor Beach Resort. Miami has some nice beach resorts as well and may have some of the best night life (South Beach area) if you prefer that type of thing.

Farther south, but still in the US, I've been wanting to try out the Key West Beach Resort. The reviews are awesome and it is mostly a suite property with 2 and even 3 bedroom suites reasonably priced with points. But I'm not quite as sure about the beach right there at the hotel and it is a bit outside the main shopping/restaurant area of Key West (but not far.)

With the islands, I'd really suggest you figure out which island might fit your needs first and then look at Marriott properties there. The Cayman Marriott hotel is an OK, resort, but it is directly on 7 mile beach (one of the best stretches of beaches on any of the islands). The Cayman RC is total awesome and actually on the best part 7 mile beach. But while it is head and shoulders better than the Cayman Marriott, it is also much more expensive (both in points and in cash.) There is a Westin right next door to the RC. It is probably a bit better than the Cayman Marriott, but also isn't nearly as nice as the RC.

If you want a cheaper island stay, St. Kitts is an option. The resort is very nice (and there is an timeshare/MVCI part of the resort which sometimes has award availability for multiroom suites.) But my wife didn't like the beach right there at the hotel as we have seen at other Marriotts on other islands.

Aruba might be a good choice with some nice beaches and resorts, but the wind can be an issue especially if you have smaller children.

I haven't visited St. Thomas yet, so I can't really comment as much there.

I'd suggest looking at http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/marri...er-thread.html thread. There is a compilation of threads for Florida and each of the Caribbean islands. (Note ignore the Wiki part of the FAQ right now. Go to the 1st Post. I just attempted to convert it to a Wiki thread, but the links aren't showing up correctly right now and need to be fixed. Sorry about that.

I did a quick search using "Florida" and "Caribbean" as search terms and found a few existing threads that might be very helpful for you:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/marri...d-threads.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/marri...edemption.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/marri...e-choices.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/marri...an-family.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/marri...caribbean.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/marri...mendation.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/marri...-hotel-us.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/marri...els-aruba.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/marri...d-threads.html
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Old May 25, 17, 1:23 pm
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Originally Posted by hhoope01 View Post
I haven't visited St. Thomas yet, so I can't really comment as much there.
We stayed, on points, at the Marriott on STT. The rooms need an upgrade. The property has two sections, the tower on the bluff and the lower, Morningstar section right on the beach.

I wished we would have stayed in the Morningstar section. Our in the tower (no upgrade) was small with a balcony. The Morningstar rooms are larger and directly on the beach, some have garden view, some beach views.

Further, I wished I would have spent more points to stay at the Ritz Carlton. Not that the Marriott was that bad, it just isn't the type of resort I would choose for a beach vacation. It felt like any generic 4star resort in Florida. No lounge and I have no memory of any breakfast credits for the restaurant.

STT has the advantage of a large airport for ease of travel and its a good base for exploring St. John and/or the BVIs (passport needed).

There are several Marriott properties on the beach on Puerto Rico. The newest Ritz Carlton gets very good reviews. Double check me on the name but I think it something like Dorodo Beach? PR has a lot to offer and Old San Juan is absolutely charming. The forts for fantastic for kids and adults if you like history.
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Old May 25, 17, 2:34 pm
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@SkiAdcock
@hhoope01

Thanks for this, really helpful.

To answer your questions:

- nightlife: absolutely no need!
- kids: suitable for kids (i.e. kids won't be frowned on if making noise), and kids club would be nice, but not absolutely necessary.
- spa: no need.
- beach: yes! doesn't have to be the best beach, but a nice one.
- price: going to try to do this on points. Probably cannot stretch to cat 5, but anything else should be okay.
- secluded: not really necessary/possible in FL; in the Caribbean, would prefer not to be in the middle of a big town.
- pool: decent sized, but beach more important.
- time: December, possibly over Christmas/New year, so I guess in FL that means Southern FL.
- other factors: don't really mind too much about upgrades etc, and as a Gold I don't think I get free breakfast anywhere. Would like the property to not be in need of renovation. So the STT Marriott would be out (thanks Lovethecabin for your post).

Since posting I have spotted the JW Marriott Resort on the FL Gulf Coast - is that well regarded?

Thanks again - especially for all those thread links. I can't have been searching properly as I didn't find any of them!

Finally - what does FS mean?!
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Old May 25, 17, 2:40 pm
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Don't forget to consider the Marriott Vacation Club properties in Orlando (which are bookable as hotel rooms on marriott.com). I've stayed at several (Grande Vista, Harbour Lake, Lakeshore Reserve) and found them all to be of excellent quality. The fact that units can have full kitchens and even 2 bedroom/2 bath are available works out great for a family trip. Usually activities on site too, with great pools, playgrounds, etc

-db
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Old May 25, 17, 3:06 pm
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twentyfourseven, FS means full-service. Also at full service properties you would get free breakfast for elite+1 (resorts excluded).

It's been a while since I've been to FL and I don't have kids so I'm going to defer to hhoope01, dburns, and the others who have providing excellent input.

A couple of things - don't forget you can book 4/stay 5 (ie, 5th night free) on points. Also, Marriott lets you search hotels by category so if you can only go to a Cat 4 you can search Cat 4 properties in FL (not sure there are any Cat 4 in the Caribbean). And if you're shy some points for a Cat 5 if you decided to go to Cat 5 you can purchase points.

Cheers.
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Old May 25, 17, 3:08 pm
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Thanks! To clarify, I can stretch to marriott cat 9 - when i referred to cat 5, I was talking about the Ritz/Edition listings which go from cat 1 - 5.
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Old May 25, 17, 3:11 pm
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Originally Posted by twentyfourseven View Post
@SkiAdcock
Thanks! To clarify, I can stretch to marriott cat 9 - when i referred to cat 5, I was talking about the Ritz/Edition listings which go from cat 1 - 5.
Ah, that makes more sense & opens up more options for you! I'd stick w/ the various Marriott brands vs. RC/Edition, as the latter don't include breakfast, lounge access & won't get you points on incidental spend.

Cheers.
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Old May 25, 17, 4:05 pm
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Originally Posted by twentyfourseven View Post
I was talking about the Ritz/Edition listings which go from cat 1 - 5.
The way Marriott differentiates is that Marriott hotel awards are Categories (1-9). RCs are Tiers (1-5).
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Old May 25, 17, 5:46 pm
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We've stayed at the Marriotts in Curacao and St. Kitts, both of which we liked. I would go back to either, but our problem is the lack of direct flights. I hate wasting time on connecting flights on vacation...

I would also consider the JW Marriott or CasaMagna Marriott in Cancun (they are next door to each other.) We stayed at the CasaMagna and were very happy with our stay - we got an upgrade to oceanfront, top floor. We split time between the beach and pool, had a rate with breakfast included. All in all, it was a really great week. And don't be put off by Cancun being labeled a party destination, the two Marriotts are in a nice, quiet area.
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Old May 26, 17, 1:54 pm
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Originally Posted by twentyfourseven View Post
Since posting I have spotted the JW Marriott Resort on the FL Gulf Coast - is that well regarded?
Florida Gulf Coast a large area, but do you mean this one on Marco Island? http://www.marriott.com/hotels/trave...-beach-resort/
If so, it is very well-regarded and completely renovated a few years ago. It's a resort so, remember, no comped breakfast for golds or plats as there would be at a non-resort property.

For a perfectly gorgeous stretch of beach with a non-glitzy Residence Inn, consider this Treasure Island FL property which is just a 20 minute drive to wonderful and lively downtown St Petersburg: http://www.marriott.com/hotels/trave...b-83b6a417f6fe
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Old May 26, 17, 2:25 pm
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Here is a topline on our Caribbean/Fla beach Marriott experiences:

- Aruba; great beach, lovely bathwarm water. Didn't take the kids but it looked kid friendly. At the end of "hotel row", so other dining choices, plus not a long taxi ride into "town". Watch out: sun is very hot, beware sun burn.
- St. Thomas; stayed in the Morningstar portion, our balcony was literally right over the beach. Also, felt quieter than the main portion. Water taxi into town during the day. Not a ton of dining options on site and it felt like pretty long taxi rides to off-site dining.
- St. Kitts; love this one. Good number of dining options on-site (but all pricey) and reasonable off-site options (some walking, some 15 minute taxi). Can chose between room in the tower or a villa closer to the beach. Some complain about the beach/seaweed/rough surf, but we were fine with it. The pool happy hour can get a little crazy.
- Fort Lauderdale/Pompano Beach Residence Inn; just refurbished. We loved our 2 bedroom suite (2 bathrooms too!) with kitchen and eat-in area overlooking the ocean. Nice beach. Not a lot of dining options in the immediate area, but reasonable drive (15 minutes) to many good off-site options. Property itself feels a bit tacky.
- Singer Island; right on the beach, kind of awkward walk past pool and down steps to get to it though. Nice, good sized rooms. Property itself feels pretty posh. Good off-site dining options 10-15 minutes away.
- Marco Island; used to go there when our kids were younger (and before it was a JW), so comments may be dated. Very kid oriented. Nice beach (but seems like everyone hung out at the pool). Dining hall was very (too?) kid friendly.

Hope this helps.
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Old May 26, 17, 3:15 pm
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Having lived in Naples, Florida for 32 years, I travel regularly throughout the State of Florida as well as the Caribbean with my grandchildren.

Best hotels in both areas ? Both are in Florida. Either the Breakers in Palm Beach or the low key but outstanding Four Seasons in Palm Beach. Nice that I don't have to get on an airplane to get to them!
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Old May 27, 17, 6:36 pm
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ritz has sarasota, naples, amelia, cancun, aruba

Last edited by Kagehitokiri; May 27, 17 at 11:41 pm
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