A large resort popular with conventions, the Sheraton Bal Harbour Beach Resort in many ways has an ideal location. On one side, the beach stretches the entire 1/10 of a mile edge of tiny Bal Harbour. All of Miami Beach is on a barrier island, so the breezes are pretty constant, keeping us cool even in late June. On the other side, a quick walk across the street, lie the famed Bal Harbour Shops. Just a few minutes by car takes you to the celebrated nightlife of Miami's South Beach.
And in between, the resort. The balcony of my room overlooked the meandering lagoon-like swimming pool, which takes so many twists and turns amidst the palm trees it looks like at least six separate pools. It was easy to find a lounge chair away from everyone else, and yet still be close to the poolside bar for frozen pina coladas. Because the resort is a popular hotel for business travelers, I saw quite a few people in suits roaming the suspended rope bridge, gazing longingly at the crystal blue waters of the pool and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.
There was even a water slide for the kids (and ok, a few adults, me included) that splashed down into a waterfall-fed pool. I was similarly impressed by the baby pool area. It was enclosed with a white picket fence, and included a grassy area with playground equipment. And, best of all, there was an adult-sized table with chairs right in between, so parents could relax and have a conversation while keeping an eye on the little ones.
Restaurants included the Beach House, where a buffet breakfast was served every morning, complete with my favorite way to start a day of shopping and lounging by the beach: made-to-order omelets. Lunch and dinner are a la carte at the Beach House, and I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the entrees at this typical-looking casual restaurant. Everything I ordered was presented imaginatively and tasted quite good. Outside tables are available overlooking the pool and the beach.
Al Carbon is the fine dining option, and it delivers. Decorated in a South American ranch style, the restaurant specializes in meat done on an open grill, but the seafood is exceptional as well.
The Lifestyle and Fitness Club has a full range of workout equipment in an air-conditioned facility just off the pool area. Outside, a whirlpool (one of two at the resort) awaits to ease tired muscles. The full-service spa offers facials, aromatherapy massages and something I tried for the first time, the Hot Stone Massage. More of a spiritual and cleansing experience than a typical relaxation massage, the treatment incorporates stones of varying sizes heated and applied between the toes, along the spine, and on the neck.
Pictures and review of the Sheraton Bal Harbour