This review of the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne is coming from a mom’s point of view with 3 small children, ages 6, 3.5 and 1. This review is also for the week of April Spring Break for most of New England which is probably a busy time of year!
Getting to The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne from the Airport
To be honest, I chose this hotel mostly because it was affordable for our family to fly direct from Boston to Miami. Once I selected our flights, then I chose our hotel based on a variety of factors, the first being it’s close proximity to the Miami Airport. The drive was just 25-30 minutes long. We took a cab from the airport and an uber TO the airport. The cab was a little cheaper but price was similar since we needed an Uber XL (around $55). We flew American down and Delta back. Ten out of ten, I recommend Delta.
These two factors are two reasons why the resort is great for families with little kids. Check in was quick and our room was ready at 2 pm!
Review of the 1 Bedroom Residential Suite
We stayed in a 1 bedroom residential suite that had two balconies but no ocean view. Nick and I slept in the King bed in the room, the boys slept on a pull out couch together in the living area and Elle slept in a pack and play provided by the hotel. They also provided us with a crib but the pack and play fit in the closet so we used that. I did bring my “crib tent” which helps create a dark environment for the baby to sleep but since we had the large closet, we did not use it! I did bring a sound machine (the Hatch) from home and I left it by accident and was told they did not have it after check out which was a bummer.
The king bed was comfortable – better than South Seas by a MILE and better than the Omni Amelia Island suites. The pull out couch was fine. Bedding was minimal but the boys didn’t care. The bathroom was large and came with a whirlpool tub the kids liked!
We had a full kitchen but stupidly didn’t get groceries. We really should have because the food options weren’t great, I’ll get to that later. I think we paid around $1400 for our room rate and for that price I would have expected a few USB chargers and there were ZERO. Our unit was privately owned (but booked through the hotel) so I wonder if that had something to do with it but we struggled to charge our devices since we didn’t bring any adaptors.
So the room was good. In hindsight, I would have used the kitchen by visiting a grocery store on our way to the hotel BUT since we were only there for 4 nights, I figured we’d just be low maintenance and enjoy NOT cooking/cleaning.
The Resort Pool and other Amenities
We did not visit the adult’s only pool so this review is just for the family also known as the children’s pool. The outdoor pool opens at 7 am and you better get there then if you want to sit in the first row around the pool. There were a good amount of umbrellas but not enough at the pool. This is standard at most hotels I’ve been to. I guess I thought the Ritz would have a solution but they do not. I found the policing inconsistent. They told Nick he could only have 2 chairs and we had to be back in a hour or lose a spot. This was annoying when at 8 am when we were the only family at the pool and I watched groups of 4 or 5 chairs sit unattended until noon in the front row. But anyway…. the pool was fine! The zero entry was good for the babies. Kids were allowed to use floaties but there were no life guards.
It was a little small for all the little kids there during vacation week but had an AWESOME splash pad that my kids loved. It did not have any shade. The pool service was pretty good but the menu got OLD quick. The drinks were yummy but very weak (lol). We ordered the nachos basically every day because they were good and didn’t feel heavy shockingly. There was one good salad too but I would have LOVED more healthy options at a Ritz!!! The salad was the ONLY remotely healthy option. There were zero gluten-free carb options so if you wanted carbs, you had to go with processed or fried food which was a bummer with the exception of a $16 fruit bowl that would have been $6 at Whole Foods.
The chairs were comfy and the towels were good around the pool so that was a plus. There was free sunscreen and after sun lotion which were both lovely. I presume these are covered by the daily resort fee.
Behind the pool was a community green that was used for yoga and by kid guests playing football during the day.
At the pool, everyday at 3 pm there was a Kids Club activity. Balloon animals were made one day and face painting another. It was a lot of waiting to be honest, but kids enjoyed them!
Food at Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne
For breakfast, we are a grab and go type family. The coffee shop had decent coffee with non dairy options BUT the food was super disappointing. There were zero gluten free options with the exception of a fruit plate. The “healthy” option was a yogurt + berries that came with Quaker Oats Granola we’ve bought at Costco before and don’t love. Other than that, the options were sugary cereals a la continental breakfast, muffins, bagel, bacon egg and cheese which looked and was delicious and croissants. No oatmeal options, no smoothies, no little egg bites, so nothing that I’d be excited to have so good thing I’m an intermittent faster, lol.
You could sit down for breakfast at the main restaurant but for the price and the options, they weren’t much better.
We ate lunch at the pool everyday which was serviced by the kitchen from Cantina Beach. Options again, were seriously limited as I noted above. The adult pool had the addition of Dune Burgers which had burgers and a cobb salad.
The options for kids were the same across the resort at every restaurant. Chicken fingers, burger, mac and cheese or hot dog with french fries, fruit or broccoli. Mine crossed over into the adult menu for a chicken quesadilla a few times. I would have appreciated/expected a little variety or creativity from a Ritz.
I enjoyed my meals at Cantina Beach, especially the chips and salsa. The tacos and fajitas were delicious. So were the apps! The margaritas were good as well even though they were pretty weak. The best drink was the frozen mojito in my opinion on the pool lunch menu. It looked like a green smoothie and felt like the healthiest thing I ate all week, lol.
The most disappointing meal came from the main seafood restaurant Lightkeepers. The menu was uninspiring and the dishes were OK. I got a couple appetizers because the mains sounded boring and bland. We split the burrata and then I ordered the octopus and crab cakes which were good. Nick got the salmon which he said was not good for the price of the dish. Kids had a buffet option complete with the items mentioned earlier above.
The food was fine but for the prices, we were underwhelmed. The staff was wonderful at the resort. Super friendly and attentive so I don’t think this is a knock on the staff!
Internet was supposed to be included but they did not tell us that we had to pay for it and THEN request by calling the front desk to take it off our bill. So just to clarify, at check in, we were told it was included. When we realized we had to purchase it, we called the front desk. They told us it would be taken off the bill. We got the bill before check out and saw we had a charge for wifi. As soon as I called it was taken off but had I not called or noticed, we would have paid extra for wifi… For a Ritz, this felt shady.
This gym was fine! It was very comparable to the South Seas Resort. I would have loved a Peloton or better/more treadmills that were taken every morning…
I did not get to use the ritz-carlton spa as we were only there are a few days. Similarly there were great outdoor tennis courts and facilities as well but I chose to lay low rather than make Nick watch all three kids.
We did not use the beach because it was too windy and the water looked murky! There were signs for man-o-war’s as well so we skipped the ocean sadly. If there were daily beach activities we missed them and due to the wind, we were not permitted to use any of the kayaks or paddle boards.
Overall Thoughts on Our Spring Break Vacation to Key Biscayne
- Close proximity to airport.
- Don’t need to leave the resort.
- Smaller-ish hotel so quick to run up to room if need be
- Great splash pad for little kids
- Beach and pool options
- Decent gym
- Good mixed drinks
- Great service, friendly staff
- Great for little kids overall
- Expensive and limited food options
- Need to call front desk for free wifi
- Have to reserve pool chairs early
- Not many healthy food options for those who want it
- Main restaurant Lightkeepers was disappointing
I think this review is not to bash the hotel we stayed at but when you stay at a Ritz-Carlton, you expect a level of amenities/value and when it’s not met, you’re left feeling like, “We paid how much? For that?!” I think this is why I love Baha Mar so much. I always feel like I get exactly what I pay for. Here, I felt like I paid a premium for an average experience. We paid to stay at a Ritz and got OK Marriott quality. I do love Marriott in the Caribbean however which were way better than this Ritz specifically the one in Grand Cayman and Cancun.
In my DM’s on Instagram, it sounds like a lot of your find that Ritz is going through growing pains and hit or miss. For this reason, I’ll likely choose to stay elsewhere moving forward. It sounds like Loews in Miami might be the better family friendly destination for upscale hotel.
Did we enjoy our vacation!? Absolutely. We had a wonderful time, with really good weather. I just feel like we spent a lot of money and for that price the food and beach chair situation should have been better. I swear I’m not being a grinch lol. Our kids had an amazing trip. We spoke with couples on vacation without kids who loved their stay as well.
It was a great family trip. Easy to get around the resort with our three kids because it’s small but if you wanted a wellness/family vacation which I guess I thought I’d get at a Ritz, I did not.
Lastly, I’m surprised I did not get back my Hatch night light. I would have thought the hotel would have found it right away since I called hours after we checked out. This is a $100 sound machine/smart night light for those who do not know.
Comparison to Omni Amelia Island or South Seas Resort
Ok, since I’ve been to the Omni Amelia Island Resort as well as South Seas Resort recently, I’ve been asked a lot of comparison questions.
First, I don’t think you can compare the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne to these other two resorts. I think they can be compared to each other but not to the Ritz. At both the Omni and South Seas you needed a shuttle or golf cart to get around. They both had a variety of places to get food and things to do beyond a pool/beach without leaving campus.
I would say Omni and South Seas are pretty comparable with the exception that there is more to do at Omni if it’s raining BUT I didn’t go to Omni with my family so I didn’t really experience this. Omni is also more north on the opposite side of the coast of Florida so weather would not be warm enough in winter to really do a beach/pool vacation. Ritz was definitely the nicest room I stayed in but it was a hotel vs a resort!
South Seas was wonderful but too far from the airport and I hated the bed (lol). Omni wasn’t too far from hotel but I’d be nervous to go before April for weather reasons. When I went in early April the highs were barely 66F.