Miami, no vice: Trip planning
EVA Air B77W Hello Kitty Business Class SIN-TPE
Decoding the lounge situation in Taipei
EVA Air B77W Business Class TPE-IAH
Red Roof Inn IAH Airport
United A320 Economy IAH-MIA
Renting with Sixt Miami
Element Miami International Airport
Miami, the Keys and everything inbetween
Jetblue A320 Economy MCO-JFK
Revisiting the EVA Air and SQ Taipei lounges
I’ve been a fan of Element hotels ever since I made my first stay at the Element New York Time Square a few months ago. You get rooms which are much bigger than your standard hotel, complete with a fully-stocked kitchen, hot breakfast and high-end toiletries and bedding you’d usually find in premium hotels.
So when I was looking for hotels in Miami and saw the Element available for 7,000 points a night as a Cat 3 hotel, it was a no brainer.
The downside was the hotel was located at the airport. But Miami is compact enough in the sense that you can get to all the places worth going to in about 20 minutes of driving. Besides, all the hotels in the South Beach area were upwards of 12,000 points a night, and I prefer the drone of airplane engines to the thumping bass of youth.
Starwood lets you book 5 nights for the price of 4, so my total points outlay was 28,000. An annoying thing was they still charged for parking, though. When I asked the SPG concierge what the parking rate was they quoted me US$10 a night plus taxes, which I was still willing to accept. At check out, I was told the rate was US$18 a night plus taxes. I reached out to the concierge and they refunded me the difference in price (S$40) in the form of 2,000 Starpoints, which I appreciate them doing.
The Element is less than 5 minutes away from the airport by car. After picking up my shiny convertible I was out of the parking garage and into the hotel lot in no time at all.
There was no one in the lobby at 12pm. My guess is that most of the people staying here would check out early in the morning for morning flights, and the real deluge of people doesn’t happen till the evening arrival of international flights.
This property supports SPG’s keyless check in, which allows you to use your NFC-enabled phone as your keycard and bypass the front desk entirely. Unfortunately every time I tried checking in with the app I got an error message
So I still had to head to the front desk. Check in was smooth and I took the 250 points as my Platinum amenity (breakfast is anyway included with all stays). This property also participates in the MAGC program, which I always opt for when I see. This led to a few complications, as I’ll explain below
I used 5 of my Suite Night Awards to get a 1 bedroom apartment. In all my previous years of being Platinum I’ve never actually finished using all 10 of my SNAs so I figured might as well start burning them early this year.
The apartment was furnished nicely. I got excited when I saw the full kitchen, complete with induction cooker, full sized fridge, microwave and dishwasher.
There was a spacious living room with a flat screen TV and DVD player.
And a well-equipped writing desk.
The bedroom has a Westin Heavenly Bed, which is probably the best hotel bed I’ve ever slept on. The W bed is a close second though.
The loo was also fairly spacious with a shower instead of a tub.
The amenities were Pharmacopia branded. Pharmacopia has some really nice toiletries and I was glad to see them featured again here.
I wandered down the next morning to check out the breakfast spread. They have oatmeal and egg mcmuffin type sandwiches
Sausage, pancakes and buns.
Cheese, ham, yogurt and milk
A selection of cereals and breads
The usual tea and coffee
I assembled myself a small plate of stuff
It was perfectly passable as breakfast, if not very inspiring. I could sense I’d get bored of the spread within a couple of days.
Which is why I went to the supermarket and bought my own supplies. The next day I made scrambled eggs, bacon, spinach and crabmeat with blistered cherry tomatoes. #howisthismanstillsingle
The stay had major housekeeping issues, however. Upon checking in I found this delightful collection in the cupboard
I mentioned I opted for the MAGC program, which allows you to decline housekeeping for 250/500 Starpoints per day, depending on where in the world you’re staying. You can opt to do the MAGC program for up to 3 consecutive days, and on the 4th day you must take housekeeping. Then you can do another 3 consecutive days. You cannot do MAGC on the day you check out.
I’m pretty well-versed with the program having used it many times. So on the morning of the 4th day as I stepped out of the room I removed the MAGC voucher from the door and the do not disturb sign. When I came back in the evening the room had not been cleaned. I called downstairs and was told that housekeeping had left already.
So on the 5th day, as I went down I expressly told the front desk clerk about what had happened yesterday and asked her to send housekeeping to my room as soon as I left (my room was getting pretty gnarly by now). She acknowledged this and wrote something down. And naturally, I return to my room at the end of the day and see nothing has been cleaned, again.
I’m not sure what happened but I ended up doing my own housekeeping during the stay there. I’m sure that builds character, but I didn’t understand why it was so difficult to make sure a room got cleaned. Naturally, none of my Green Choice points posted either.
I wrote to Starwood customer service detailing the incident and got compensated with 25,000 Starpoints, which is fairly generous. To put things in perspective, a night at the St Regis or W Singapore would cost 20,000 Starpoints.
So all in all, far from a perfect stay but good service recovery. I’m still going to look for Element hotels whenever I stay in a place for an extended period of time.
Now it’s time to share with you a bit more what I got up to in Miami…