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Blessed with a sultry tropical climate, the Sunshine State has always been one of the top holiday destinations in the U.S. With major drawcards such as world-class dining, upscale shopping districts and dazzling nightlife, it is no wonder that cities such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach have become synonymous with luxury and extravagance. Further afield, enormous theme parks, interactive aquariums and safari-style zoos entertain visitors of all ages, while white sandy beaches, sparkling blue seas and three national parks provide opportunities for relaxation and adventure in the great outdoors. To cater to the ever-increasing number of visitors looking to enjoy all Florida has to offer, a vast array of hotels and resorts have emerged to provide a range of accommodation options to suit every taste and budget, from intimate boutique hotels to grand mega-resorts. Whatever you look for in a holiday destination, rest assured that Florida will exceed your expectations.
Best Overall: Faena Hotel Miami Beach
Nowhere is the renowned wealth and luxury of Miami on better display than at the award-winning Faena Hotel which incorporates modern comforts and impeccable service into the Art Déco grandeur of the historic Saxony building. Oceanfront rooms offer plush furniture and marbled bathrooms coupled with sweeping balcony views over the crystal waters of famed Miami Beach.
Faena’s reputation for quality and excellence is exemplified in the contrasting experiences at onsite Pao and Los Fuegos restaurants. Pao serves contemporary Asian cuisine fused with international influences in an opulent dining atmosphere, while the vibrant colors and bright airy space of Los Fuegos create the perfect setting to complement critically-acclaimed executive chef Francis Mallmann's traditional Argentine asado masterpieces which are transformed under the caress of open flames. Gold gilt décor in the cocktail lounge, extravagant statuary throughout the complex and a white marbled terrace overlooking the tranquil beachside pool complete the hotel's sense of glamour and indulgence.
Best Budget: Pier House 60 Marina Hotel, Clearwater Beach
Located opposite the famous pier that lends its name to the hotel, Pier House 60 is a mere minute’s walk from Clearwater Beach and is surrounded by restaurants, bars and the nearby Clearwater Aquarium. Contemporary rooms feature a tastefully muted color scheme complemented by soft lighting and come equipped with amenities such as coffee makers, mini-fridges and large screen TVs. Guests can lounge in the heated pool with views of the adjacent marina, or enjoy a vigorous workout at the modern fitness center. After enjoying the water sports and activities available at Clearwater Beach, guests can retire to the rooftop balcony for sunset drinks overlooking the Gulf of Mexico before exploring the buzzing nightlife of the Pier 60 strip. .
Best Boutique: Fisher Island Hotel & Resort
The tiny Fisher Island Hotel, featuring only 15 suites, offers a secluded and private atmosphere in the lush surrounds of Fisher Island. Cozy suites, with plush sofas, marble bathrooms and private plunge pools, are housed in an intimate Mediterranean villa with a red terracotta roof, arched windows and a whitewashed façade. The tranquil hotel pool is located amid gardens with shady dining courtyards, cool fountains and private beaches. The luxurious spa offers the best in modern treatments such as therapeutic massages, exfoliation treatments and manicures, while the state-of-the-art fitness center runs personal training and group fitness programs. Complimentary golf carts are provided to allow easy access to nearby marinas and the meticulously landscaped greens of the private 9-hole golf course. The stunning Beach Club restaurant offers the opportunity to enjoy a sunset cocktail and a selection of light Japanese-inspired bites, and regularly hosts themed events in the evenings.
Best Family: Four Seasons Resort Orlando
With an AAA Five Diamond Award, the Four Seasons Resort, located within the Walt Disney World complex, provides a sense of luxury and pampering without sacrificing the fun, light-hearted atmosphere associated with ‘the happiest place on Earth.’ World-class facilities such as an 18-hole golf course, soothing spa treatment center and secluded adults-only pool provide the amenities expected in a leading resort complex. The social Lobby Bar and intimate Capa Bar create an air of relaxed style and sophistication. In the Splash Zone, stone temple columns, gushing fountains, giant water slides and a lazy river ride delight children while parents relax in woven pod hammocks amid lush tropical gardens. The Disney Planning Center assists in organizing every detail of an enchanting outing at the Magic Kingdom and can arrange complimentary shuttle service to transport families to the famous gated entrance. Upon return, guests can choose from several restaurants offering fresh local seafood, succulent steaks and creative international dishes.
Best Romance: The Setai, Miami Beach
The oceanfront Setai mixes historic Asian design elements with sleek, minimalist décor to create an intimate and sensual ambiance — something that becomes apparent as soon as you enter the elegant wood-paneled lobby. The theme continues in richly appointed rooms which feature floor-to-ceiling windows that lead to graceful balconies which overlook Miami Beach. Secluded corners can be found in the three beachside pools which face out over the lounge- and umbrella-dotted private beach. Soothing couple’s spa sessions are available in warm massage rooms and open-air pool terraces. Inside, the lofty wooden pillars and soaring palms of the centerpiece courtyard surround private sunken couches and a romantic indoor pool, while the exquisitely detailed bar provides exciting cocktail concoctions, top-shelf spirits and a soft, opulent backdrop to an intimate evening. For couples looking for a sophisticated cultural experience, the Setai is notable for its proximity to the Bass Museum of Art, the New World Center and numerous other symphony halls, art galleries and theatres.
Best Luxury: Nobu Hotel Miami Beach
From meticulously-designed spaces to signature restaurants by the renowned namesake chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Nobu delivers a palpable sense of exclusivity and class for those looking for the ultimate in a luxury vacation. Guest are greeted in the marbled lobby and escorted to spacious, airy rooms designed by David Rockwell, where a muted color palette is accentuated by hints of turquoise, purple and aqua. When lounging in the warm Florida sun, guests can choose from three relaxing pool options or enjoy a fully-serviced stretch of private beach. The extensive spa and wellness center offers marbled baths and scenic relaxation lounges with a full hydrotherapy circuit and luxurious massage, cleansing and aromatherapy treatments. Nobu excels in the quality of its culinary offerings, with Matsuhisa providing acclaimed fusion cuisine in opulent Japanese tea house-style surroundings, and the new Malibu Farm using locally-produced organic produce in fresh seasonal salads, gourmet pizza selections and grass-fed burgers.
Best for Singles: The Standard Spa, Miami Beach
The Standard certainly does set the standard when it comes to unabashed hedonism and its admirable dedication to facilitating all a single visitor could desire. The clothing-optional mud bath and topless swimming pool may be a bit risqué for some, but for most they epitomize the carefree and exciting atmosphere fuelled by a steady flow of liquor from the poolside bar. The social atmosphere comes to a head during weekly Love Life Sundays, which sees a raft of parties and games held throughout the hotel. As well as offering the usual in expert massages, aromatherapy and beauty treatment, the centerpiece spa also boasts international indulgences including a Turkish hamman, Finnish sauna, mud baths and Roman hot tubs where you can choose between private and communal options. Just to complete the inclusive atmosphere, guests are also allowed to bring back visitors if they make friends while out and about in nearby nightlife hotspots. It hardly requires mentioning, but this hotel is strictly adults only.
Best Business: The Biltmore Miami Coral Gables
When it comes to providing luxurious comfort and an exceptional location in which to host colleagues and business partners, the Baltimore Miami is the hotel to beat. It leaves behind the glitz and sparkle of Miami Beach in favor of the timeless elegance of European architecture and customer service. The imposing, graceful hotel is housed on stately grounds which feature an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts and a poolside courtyard reminiscent of an Italian villa. The spacious business boardrooms and amphitheaters in the attached Conference Center can be utilized for conferences and team building events and come with high-speed internet and video-conferencing capabilities. More personal business can also be conducted over dinner in the award-winning Palme D’Or restaurant or the tranquil courtyard of the Fontana, the scenic golf terrace café and over quality wines, top-shelf liquors and premium cigars in the sophisticated comfort of the Biltmore Bar.
Best Oceanfront Hotel: Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach
With the sparkling Atlantic on one side and the famous Collins Avenue strip on the other, the Acqualine occupies a favored location that only enhances a reputation won through exemplary design and faultless service. The exclusive hotel hosts 89 rooms within a graceful building that combines renaissance architectural elements and slick modern design. The lobby's chandeliers and marble floors give way to tastefully restrained rooms that employ subtle shades of white and gray to enhance the natural lighting elements. Multiple pools provide a lively family play area, a relaxed adults-only oasis and an opulent premium dip on a scenic marbled terrace. Each also features comfortable cabana beds and butler service. This service extends onto the private beach, as well, where guests can lounge beneath shady umbrellas or read in a hammock under swaying palms. The acclaimed AQ Chop House offers succulent chops, hearty Italian pastas and seafood buffets. Guests can choose to dine in scenic terrace restaurants, take meals on their private in-room balcony or enjoy an intimate sunset beach dinner.