Hello, Miami!

The sounds of gently-falling rain mingle with the water drifting off this fountain at the Turnberry Isle Miami resort in Aventura, Florida. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The sounds of gently-falling rain mingle with the water drifting off this fountain at the Turnberry Isle Miami resort in Aventura, Florida. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

When I first visited Miami last March, I never intended to like it. I had – embarrassingly – written it off as little more than the gateway to the Caribbean. But not only did I like Miami, I loved it. The food, the air, the culture – that wonderful international culture – it was all part and parcel of the experience. And when I left, I realized I had barely scratched the surface.

Which is why I’m back in Miami right now, preparing to embark on four days of whirlwind activities that showcase the region’s history and family-friendly culture as we start off our latest Live Trip Report!

It’s worth noting that this journey is kindly being sponsored by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. It’s also worth noting that I absolutely jumped at the chance to explore the different family-friendly activities that are available in the Miami area. More people write in asking about Florida than almost any other destination. They want to know where to go, what to do, and most importantly, where to take the kids. And until now, I have never been able to adequately answer their questions.

Over the next three full days, I’ll have a chance to explore some of the very diverse options available to cruisers and travellers alike. How diverse, you ask? Let’s see…you can go golfing; play tennis with a proper pro instructor; visit the Miami Zoo, the Seaquarium; the Everglades; South Beach; Key Biscayne…the list goes on.

My American Airlines Boeing 757-200 at the gate at Dallas-Fort Worth airport. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

My American Airlines Boeing 757-200 at the gate at Dallas-Fort Worth airport. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was my American Airlines flight to Miami via Dallas. It was the first time I’d ever flown with the carrier, and I have to be honest: I had my doubts. I had friends and family fly them with mixed experiences, and some of the media coverage of the airline over the last year has been anything but kind. But their times and routing were far more convenient than other alternatives.

Two things stood out for me: one, the Boeing 737-800 that whisked me from Vancouver to Dallas sported Boeing’s new ‘Sky Interior’ modeled after the 777 widebody aircraft. This means re-designed luggage bins, coloured LED accent lighting, and more spacious window openings. To my mind, that earns major points for those niceties.

The second thing I noticed, particularly on my Dallas to Miami flight where our Boeing 757 was anything but new: the crew were so darn nice. I mean really, really nice – to a level I stopped expecting from US-based airlines years ago. The girls coming through the economy class cabin where I was would stop and joke with the passengers, ask them if they needed anything, or generally just make themselves visible.

The last time I flew to Florida, my flights on United felt like a marathon that would never end. Today, I actually enjoyed my journey to the Sunshine State.

Are they perfect? Probably not; few airlines are. But the new American shows signs of change, and it’s nice to know that extends beyond their sexy new livery.

The Turnberry Isle Miami is a proper resort oasis nestled within the bustling city of Aventura, just north of Miami. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The Turnberry Isle Miami is a proper resort oasis nestled within the bustling city of Aventura, just north of Miami. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

By the time I reached the Turnberry Isle Miami, it was well after 8pm. Although I’ve only been here a few hours, I get the sense that time has a tendency to stand still for guests staying here. The few people I passed on my way to my room were strolling casually through the hallways and outdoor courtyards, while one gentleman was content to sit poolside, admiring the azure glow of the water in the night and the rain shower that had started up.

I also learned you have to watch your step: I nearly stepped on a baby frog making its way across the marble concrete. Barely bigger than the size of a quarter and colored red from head to toe, I thought it was perhaps a wet leaf affixed to the floor – until it moved.

No Light, No Light: my room is elegantly decorated with four table lamps instead of oppressive overhead pot-lighting. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

No Light, No Light: my room is elegantly decorated with four table lamps instead of oppressive overhead pot-lighting. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Considering the resort is located within Aventura, Florida – itself a city of roughly 36,000 inhabitants – might cause you to assume that it will have an urban feel. Instead, it reminds me of a seaside resort in the Caribbean; a stroll through the courtyard reveals the sounds of frogs in the distance, mingled with the pitter-patter of raindrops as they descend down on the palm trees and vegetation.

The one thing you don’t hear: traffic and airplanes. It’s as if the city of Aventura simply went to sleep. You’d never guess that the sprawling Aventura Mall was located right across the street.

If I had to describe the accommodations here, “soothing” is the word that pops to mind. My room – located in the Magnolia Building (one of four on the property) – is devoid of bad taste. Décor is filled with pleasing earth tones for both fixtures and upholstery, and lighting eschews the stark, overhead lighting found in some properties for the warm ambiance created by the use of multiple table lamps.

It's Not Wrong To Love Your Toiletries. Molton Brown toiletries are in each room at the Turnberry Isle Miami. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

It’s Not Wrong To Love Your Toiletries. Molton Brown toiletries are in each room at the Turnberry Isle Miami. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Even before I started writing about travel, I was a toiletries snob. It was the first thing I looked at when entering a hotel room then and it’s still the first thing I look at now. I nearly went into orbit with excitement when I stepped into my room’s bathroom and saw Molton Brown toiletries. If you’ve never used these before, they’re fantastic – even better than L’Occitane, in my personal opinion. I’d hate to see Molton Brown and Bvlgari duke it out – that might be too close to call – but if you ever see these in your hotel (or on your cruise ship), you’re in for a treat.

Each room at the Turnberry Isle Miami includes a separate glass shower and a full-size soaker tub. Something for everyone! Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Each room at the Turnberry Isle Miami includes a separate glass shower and a full-size soaker tub. Something for everyone! Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

One other thing I liked: a monthly program of activities is provided in every room. This month, you can take part in Cinco de Mayo celebrations on May 5; take part in the feeding of the resort’s on-site Koi fish and turtles; take a tour of the Chef’s garden; or dance the night away every Wednesday with Havana-themed music and drinks poolside, just to name a few.

But there will be plenty of time to explore Miami and the Turnberry Isle Resort tomorrow. Tonight, I’m just looking forward to crawling into the luxurious embrace of the king-size bed in my suite. It’s one of those ones you don’t dare sit on; doing so might invite immediate sleep!

We'll retun tomorrow with far, far more photos! Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

We’ll retun tomorrow with far, far more photos! Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Trip Report from Miami, Florida and the Turnberry Isle Resort continues tomorrow with a round of golf, some time spent poolside, and a thrilling journey to Miami – by land and sea!

 

3 Responses to Miami Live Trip Report – Day 1

  1. Kim says:

    It’s only day one and I cannot wait to read more! I deffinitly want to stay there someday!

  2. Nicholas Sabalos says:

    Sounds like your trip is off to a great start, Aaron! As usual, what a great report! Beautifully-done, as always!

    I feel like I want to make a reservation right now! :)

    • Aaron Saunders says:

      Many thanks, Nicholas – always great to hear from you again! I am glad you are enjoying following along!

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