On South Beach, the Miami Beachfront and All the Fun Under the Sun

Miami is known for its beaches and all the attendant activities that are done under the sun. A visit to this area is never complete without ever checking some of the best beaches in the state of Florida that consistently ranks in the top ten beaches of the United States. Here are some of the top beaches in the area that you should not miss the next time you check out Miami.

Crandon’s Park 2-mile beach

If you are looking for beaches to visit in Miami and nearby areas, then consider what Crandon Park has to offer. The 2-mile beach is a popular tourist destination and consistently ranks as one of the top ten beaches in the United States. This is located in the Miami-Dade county, and a popular hangout for families and travelers wanting to relax and spend their time in a quality manner. The beach is famed for its calm water, winding promenade, stands for eateries and concessionaires. And more importantly this is a perfect picnic place for many families. If you are in the area, make sure that you are armed with a camera to take quality moments at the Family Amusement Center and to document nature’s wonder called the sandbar. This protects the swimmers from the crushing waves of the ocean. The sand bar in this beach usually changes due to storms and currents.

Crandon Beach is also a hit when it comes to kite boarding. There are equipment rentals and lessons in the area that the travelers can try out. More than the fun, this area has a rich history as well. This was once the home of the Indian tribes, and was once a large coconut plantation.
Matheson Hammock Beach Park

Located in Old Cutler Road, Matheson Hammock Beach Park is another excellent park to visit. This is recommended for those just starting to discover and play around with beaches. This is best for picnic plus the park is known for one excellent feature- the man-made atoll pool. This is flushed using natural means with the use of tidal waves coming from Biscayne Bay. You’ll find families and group of friends enjoying the greens and the sceneries of the park. The seawater is calm, and the wind just strong enough to allow families to enjoy kite boarding. Aside from this activity, you can also check out the full-service marina and restaurant in the park. There’s also a power boat school available for those interested.

South Beach, Miami

Known as SoBe for some of the travelers and tourists, the South Beach is an iconic tourist destination in the area. This is now a complete entertainment hub, and once the sun sets the entertainment places like bars and restaurants come alive here. There’s an excellent collection of nightclubs, restaurants, boutiques and hotels in the area. The beach is also known for the colorful stands used by the lifeguards in the area.

These are just three of the best beaches to check in the area. Include these three to get a feel of what Miami has to offer.

Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel – South Beach

The Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel captivates the perfect essence of beachfront luxury. Located in the heart South Beach Miami with direct access to Ocean Drive, this luxury boutique hotel features 79 over-sized suites that were designed by Arquitectonica; an architectural corporation residing in Miami, Florida which became famous for their signature style of high-tech contemporary modernism is clearly shown throughout this accommodation. Lately our clients have been demanding our premier negotiated discount rates to stay at this wonderful South Beach hotel which saves them a significant amount from what the general public is paying. We will talk more about our hotel discounts at the end of this article and how you can obtain them for yourself. These reviews of The Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel should give you, the traveler some deeper insight on what you can expect before your arrival and what you will experience at the South Beach hotel during your stay. Before we dive into the reviews of each of the 5 different suite types, let us establish what the extra amenities the Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel has to offer for you.

There are a variety of massage types that you can receive from the Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel in-house spa and massage therapists such as custom, hot stone, mother to be, and the signature massage all ranging from 60 to 90 minutes of total rejuvenation and relaxation. The custom massage is a therapeutic massage that relaxes your tense muscles and concentrated stress by balancing the body’s energy by using a wide range of various techniques to select from, including Swedish, deep tissue, neuromuscular, sports, and reflexology. The hot stone massage consists of heated polished river rocks which make it easier for the therapist to glide deep into your exhausted muscles. Special attention is given to the mother-to-be massage as it consists of a more gentle approach to relieve physical discomforts and to segregate tight muscles as much as possible without causing any soreness. The signature massage is the ultimate stress reliever that consists of two synchronized therapists that practice choreographed treatment for ultimate tension relief. As far as body, skin, as well as and hand and foot treatments at the Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel allows you to select from the rejuvenating wrap, signature facial derma-control, or manicure and pedicure. Any of these therapeutic services this South Beach hotel offers will leave you refreshed and rejuvenated.

The “Proof Restaurant” at the Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel has easily established itself as one of the most demanded South Beach hotel restaurants is used quite often for event space. Proof restaurant is used quite often for event planning because of its classy and sophisticated candlelit atmosphere. Proof restaurant has an entertainment bar and primarily consists of dining, which is able to seat 160 people. There is a private dining room that seats 40 people and a walk-in cigar room that seats 15 people where you can order unique whiskey’s and cordials, and also offers an extensive list of champagnes and fine wines. The outdoor lounge collaborates really well with the backdrop of Ocean Drive which emits candle light and mahogany hues which creates the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail. High quality plasma TV’s are scattered throughout the breezeway lounge/restaurant to serve those who love sports. Proof is gaining popularity by the minute and is becoming a major player in South Beach dining. You can expect more positive press reviews to cover this dining establishment in the next few months to come.

Diving in the accommodations, the Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel South Beach suites combine luxury and contemporary in to one for the perfect standard room to accommodate the solo Miami traveler. These 34 South Beach suites with Jerusalem marble flooring offer quite a bit of what the hotel calls “ultra-luxurious interior space”, that have floor-to-ceiling windows with sound proof windows throughout the entire length of the suites. These luxurious suites provide glass doors that lead you out to your own private over-sized balcony that comes with Wi-Fi, high speed Internet, and is furnished with chaise lounges that overlook the city of Miami Beach. Each of the South Beach suites come with two 32-inch LCD TV’s and a Bose 3o2o1® surround sound entertainment center. The TVs have an expansive cable selection to choose from, and you are also provided with a DVD player along with in-room movies that are a courtesy to you by NXTV. The bedroom contains luxurious feather beds and duvets as well as goose down pillows, and the spacious bathrooms come with separated vanity areas for him or her, along with beautiful granite vanity tops. The bathing area comes with an over-sized, full-body shower with one 12-setting, hand-held shower-head that has complete four wall-sprays. After a relaxing shower you can dry off with the plush terry towels and then slip into the bath robes that are provided by the Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel. The South Beach suites include a European wet bar that is stocked with stainless steel and nickel-plated appliances such as black granite counter-tops, a cooler, mini-bar, espresso machine, and two chairs that are adjustable. Each of the South Beach suites have Wi-Fi, three telephones, one being cordless and two that are stationary. High-speed internet access is available, and to protect your belongings, the Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel has provided a laptop compatible in-room safe to store your valuables.

There are 10 very unique pool lanai suites at the Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel and each of them offer a spectacular lanai deck and glass-bottom pool. The lanai pool suites have Jerusalem marble, flooring and floor-to-ceiling windows, and glass doors that lead out to your own fully furnished over-sized private terrace. Each of the lanai suites come with two 32-inch LCD TV’s and a DVD player, along with a Bose 3o2o1® surround sound entertainment center. Each of the lanai suites offer high-speed internet, including Wi-Fi that is also available on the balconies. In room movies are provide by NXTV along with an expansive cable selection. Similar to the South Beach suites, the bathrooms in the lanai suites come with an over-sized full body shower with complete four-wall sprays, a hand held shower head that has 12 settings. There are separate granite vanities for him or her to freshen up at. Each of the bathing areas provide you with plush terry towels and robes. The bedroom has luxurious featherbedding, duvets, and goose down pillows. Enjoy the deep balcony that is fully furnished with chaise lounges and an outdoor 36-inch dining table with their own chairs. Feel free to pour yourself a drink at the wet bar that comes with an array of high quality stainless steel and nickel-plated appliances that include black granite counter-tops, a cooler, mini-bar, espresso machine, and two adjustable chairs where you can put your feet up. The pool lanai suites provide you with 3 phones, one being cordless and two that are stationary in case you might want a morning wake up call from the front desk at the Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel. A laptop compatible in-room safe allows you to store your personal items so you do not lose them.

There are nine spa suites at the Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel. Each of the suites offers the Miami Beach essence with large interiors with stylish decorations that make it perfect to arrange some in-room spa treatment from the massage therapists at the hotel. All of the spa suites sparkle with natural sunlight that shine on the Jerusalem marble flooring, and wall to ceiling windows that stretch the entire length of the units. Stylish glass doors lead out to your very own over-sized private terrace. Don’t forget that the spa suites entitle you to your own deep balcony comes with Wi-Fi and also has furnished chaise lounges that make it the perfect place to chill out at in South Beach. The balconies provide you with a 36-inch dining table, chairs, and planters. For ultimate relaxation, the Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel provides the spa suites with a Roman hot tub for your deep relaxation needs. Similar to the South Beach suites and the lanai suites, the spa suites have two 32-inch flat screen televisions and a DVD player so you throw on a movie if you decided to bring a few, or you can just enjoy the expansive cable selection as well as in-room movies that are provided by NXTV. Bose 3o2o1® surround sound captivates the entertainment center. The bedrooms inside the spa suites have luxurious feather-beds, duvets, and goose down pillows for you sleeping comfort. The spacious bathrooms come with granite vanity tops and his and hers separate vanity areas. Step into the over-sized full body shower that has four wall-sprays, one 12-setting hand-held shower head and a rain shower. After a nice warm shower you can dry off with the plush terry towels and then slip into one of the robes before you get dressed. If you brought a computer with you to the Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel, the spa suites offer high-speed Internet access, Wi-Fi, and the ability to store your computer in the laptop compatible in-room safe. If you would like to order room service, pick up the cordless which is one of three in-room telephones. Enjoy a cocktail at the European wet bar that comes made out of high-quality stainless steel and nickel-plated appliances, including black granite counter-tops, a cooler, mini-bar, espresso machine, and two adjustable chairs.

The city view rooftop terrace suites at the Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel provide the ultimate escape by allowing you to overlook the glamor of South Beach. Out of all the South Beach hotels, this is one of the most popular accommodations that our clients are requesting lately. All of the city view rooftop terrace suites have imported Jerusalem marble flooring and feature an over-sized balcony that has furnished chaise lounges, and a 36-inch dining table with chairs to sit at. A spiral staircase leads out to your very own private, 600-square-foot terrace that overlooks the art deco district of South Beach. The rooftop terrace at the Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel has a Roman hot tub, wet bar, dining area, and wicker lounging bed. Enjoy the outdoor surround sound stereo system with MP3 play connection along with the unique landscaping and an adjustable, remote controlled privacy awning. Floor-to-ceiling high-impact sound proof widows stretch the entire length of the city rooftop terrace suites. Turn on one f the two 32-inch LCD TV’s that come with DVD players, expansive cable TV, and in-room movies that are provided to you by NXTV. The entertainment center is loaded with Bose 3o2o1® surround sound. High speed Internet and Wi-Fi is available inside the suites and on the balconies and once you are done using your computer you can store it in the laptop compatible in-room safe to protect your valuables. If you have any questions about this South Beach hotel, pick up the cordless which is one of three telephones you can use and the hotel will take care of all your needs. There is so much space inside and outside of the city view rooftop terrace suites that you have enough room to invite some people over and make a few rounds of drinks at the European wet bar that is stocked with high-quality stainless steel and nickel plated appliances, including black granite counter-tops, a cooler, and mini-bar. If your friends are not drinking, give them access the espresso machine and let them sit on the two adjustable chairs so they can keep up with your relaxation. The bedrooms in the city view rooftop terrace suites are similar to the other suites at the Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel. They are furnished with feather-beds and duvets and goose down pillows for ultimate comfort ability while you are sleeping. The over sized bathrooms have granite vanity tops and has separate vanity areas for him or her. Step in the spacious full-body shower that has four wall-sprays to enjoy and on 12-setting, hand-held shower-head and a rain shower. After rinsing off in the shower, dry off with one of the plush terry towels, then reward yourself by slipping into one of the robes that the Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel provides you with.

It does not get any better than the partial ocean view rooftop terrace suites at the Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel which captivates the gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean and South Beach art deco district. Similar to the roof top terrace suites, the partial ocean view rooftop suites feature an over-sized balcony that is furnished with chaise lounges, Wi-Fi, high-speed Internet, a 36-inch dining table, chairs and planters. The balcony includes a spiral staircase that leads you up to your private 600 square foot terrace that comes with Wi-Fi and high-speed Internet access. The Roman hot tub occupies its space on the partial ocean view rooftop terrace, along with a wet bar, dining area, and wicker lounging bed. The partial ocean view rooftop terrace also accommodates you with a surround sound stereo system that has an MP3 player connection. An adjustable, remote-controlled privacy awning gives you the power with one click of a button to capture some shade from the South Beach sun. There are floor to wall ceilings and sound-proof windows run throughout the entire length of the suites, as well as imported Jerusalem marble flooring. Turn up the volume and play some music using the Bose 3o2o1® surround sound at the entertainment center, or turn on one of two 32-inch LCD TV’s that comes with a DVD player. If you did not bring any movies with you to the Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel, no problem, there is an expansive cable selection and in-room movies that are provided to you by NXTV. The bedrooms in the partial ocean view rooftop terrace suites at the Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel have luxurious feather beds and duvets, as well as goose down pillow for ultimate sleeping comfort ability. The spacious bathrooms have separate granite vanity areas for him or her. The over sized full body shower has four wall-sprays, and one 12-setting, hand-held shower-head and rain shower that adjust to your preferences. Once you hop out of the shower, go ahead and pat yourself dry with the plush terry towels the hotel provides you with and then throw on one of the robes until you decide what you want to wear. Stir up a round of cocktails at the European wet bar. The European wet bar is stocked with high quality stainless steel and nickel-plated appliances, such as black granite counter-tops, a cooler, mini-bar, two adjustable chairs, and an espresso machine. All valuables can be placed in the laptop compatible in-room safe when you leave the room. The Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel will take care of any of your immediate needs by calling the concierge by either using the cordless or the two other stationary telephones. This truly is the perfect South Beach hotel accommodation.

Buying a Timeshare in South Beach – A Real Estate Investors Point of View

We hadn’t even checked into our little boutique hotel on Ocean Drive in Miami’s South Beach when Danny was greeting us with promises of VIP passes to the Mansion, reserved chairs, tent and towels at Nikki Beach, $100 in gas, a free meal and more, if we would spend 60 minutes listening to the hotel’s timeshare deal.

My wife Julie and I took a tour in Maui of the Westin Timeshares but didn’t go through the salespitch. I am not in the market for a timeshare, but I’ve always wondered if they would make a good real estate investment (and, I love the idea of getting free stuff for listening to someone tell me about a real estate deal). Julie hates wasting time but was curious and reluctantly agreed to sit through the spiel.

We barely managed to get checked into the hotel, and we were ushered up to the fourth floor to begin. We walk into what used to be a hotel room, and were offered the choice between two of the empty tables at the back. We were both expecting a one on many presentation. But, it looked like we were about to get a one on one sales presentation.

The room was buzzing with conversation as there were 8 other tables of couples listening as salesmen gave them their best pitches.

No less than 90 minutes later, we had walked our 22 year old salesman through our extensive travels over the past two years. He felt bad that we didn’t know about this deal sooner. He told us we would have saved SO MUCH money if we had known about this deal before we went to Spain, England, France, Belize, Hawaii, and Australia. He emphasized that this was an investment because when we would sell the property later we would get more than our money back. He also slipped in the fact that we could ‘game’ the system by renting our property out at peak times if we weren’t going to use it, and, make money from that to pay for future trips.

Careful to always show us the low amounts when referring to what each week would cost in terms of timeshare points (I will get to that in a sec), and to tell us the higher end of what we’d be otherwise spend if we didn’t have this deal, he artfully painted a powerful picture of what life would be like once we were the proud owners of South Beach timeshare.

At this point, we knew the general structure of the deal, but we still did not know the price. But here is how it works:

  • Annually you get 7,800 points,
  • The points accumulate and rollover, so unused points just roll into the following year,
  • You can break them up and use them for 4 days or 3 days instead of only week chunks,
  • Your friends and family can use your points so long as you make the booking,
  • Your points can be used directly at any of their resorts or through their network of timeshares,
  • There are no black out periods, and because you are buying at South Beach which is top tier you can more easily stay at other desirable locations around the world.  

500 points would get us a week in Costa Rica. But, as we dug into it, we found out that 500 points was for what they called GREEN weeks, which basically means nobody in their right mind travels there during that period because of volatile weather conditions.

Realistically, with those points, we would get two weeks at a place we would want to stay during the time period we would want to stay. By compromising on either the quality of property or the timing of the trips, we could potentially squeeze four weeks out of it. But I can’t say that with confidence.

This timeshare program definitely seemed to have some advantages over what we’d heard about timeshares from other people. For example, you are not stuck to one specific week each year. You don’t lose your points if you don’t use them. And you can transfer to your friends or family as long as you make the booking yourself. It also seemed very flexible.

Really, it didn’t sound half bad. I am sure Julie was nervous that I was going to want to buy one. But, at this point we still didn’t know the price.

FINALLY, as we are getting close to two hours sitting at this little table, and Julie is about to pass out on the table from exhaustion and impatience, we learn that all this could be ours for $36,000.

And with their financing, at the rate of 18% APR, your total cost for the purchase comes to $39,180 + $9,000 (required 25% downpayment) = $48,180.

In addition to that, your timeshare fees for maintenance, taxes and insurance are $963/year (total of $4,815). So your grand total for owning this time share for 5 years is:

$52,995 which works out to $10,599 per year.

Or, put another way, it’s the same as paying $757/night at a hotel of your choosing during a two week vacation each year for 5 years.

Even if you buy it with cash (no financing) and hold it for 15 years, you are still going to be paying the equivalent of $240/night each year for your two weeks of vacation. I don’t think you can rent out your properties enough to cover your costs on that one!!

And the worst part is that the locations they offered were not of much interest to us. And you had to pay $154 to transfer your points for use at their network properties. We ARE big travelers, but that also makes us pretty particular. We know we like to be within walking distance of the sites and highlights of places we visit. We don’t want to be outside of the city, or at least not centrally located. Our young salesman tried to convince us that the amount we were saving was going to make a $5 cab ride to get to the things we wanted to see or do worth it. It would be more like a $25 cab ride…each way…every time we wanted to go anywhere. What a pain!

For $757/night, let’s face it, we can stay in some pretty swanky places RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE Of the action just about anywhere in the world.

So, we said no thanks. But, wait, we couldn’t just leave because we decided this wasn’t a deal for us. We had to tell his manager why we weren’t buying. And after that we had to meet one last person.

This final guy sat down and actually told us that they didn’t want to lose out on our business. They wanted to give us the opportunity to enjoy the resort further. To do that, they were prepared to hold the $36,000 price for us for two years, and they would give us 8,000 points to use for the low price of $2,200! Maybe it’s a better deal, but we’re still not interested.

Ok, so for most people, you won’t make money or save money because you own this timeshare, but maybe you can resell it later for a higher price? I went onto multiple sites that have resale timeshares on them, and found this exact timeshare on sale for $21,000 with a note beside it saying “negotiable”. And a quick look around at other timeshares within this resort group showed a sad story of prices dropping, and people anxious to offload their timeshares at rock bottom prices. So, it doesn’t look like it’s a good investment either.

And on top of all of this, the free gifts that I got all excited about are pretty much useless. The hoops you have to jump through to get any of the rewards are ridiculous. Take the free $100 in gas for instance. You will enjoy a $25 rebate each month you spend $100…but it has to be four consecutive months of spending $100 and sending in your receipts or you don’t get it! I am sure 99% of the people never use most of the free gifts you get.

After the long presentation, Julie smugly said to me “So, you promise we never have to do that again?”. But, I’m a real estate investor, and when I see someone talking about a deal, I get curious. So, I couldn’t tell her that would be our last one, but I tried to reassure her that the next one would give us really good gifts!