Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach
Tranquil, tropical beach glamour miles from South Beach's 24/7 party scene.
Once a playground of 1960s MiMo (Miami Modern) theme motels (reflecting the Arabian desert, the Wild West, etc.), Sunny Isles Beach, ten miles north of South Beach, is now packed solid with stolid metal-and-glass Trump-type towers. Exception: this stucco structure, equally massive, but exotically Mediterranean. And Acqualina's size is deceptive; most of the complex is condos, concealing a luxurious boutique hotel with 97 tastefully opulent rooms and suites. It sports a Leading Small Hotels of the World designation and specializes in service (like a 24-hour multilingual concierge). The property's four-and-a-half beachfront acres contain extensive gardens, popular for weddings; the USA's first ESPA spa; and three pools, one for adults only. But with a huge children's activity/game room, plus the marine biology-based AcquaMarine exercise and education program, kids do well here. Diners do well, too, since on-premises Il Mulino (a branch of the famed Manhattan original) oversees the other resort dining options. Partiers can expect an expensive twenty-minute cab ride to Sobe's noisy nightclubs, but it's a small price for being able to sleep at night when you return to your room.