The Internet makes us think we understand the soul of a place through rich photos and compelling descriptions, yet I’m continually surprised by in-person experiences that aren’t quite what I expected. I recently discovered that Acqualina Resort and Spa exceeded my expectations in every way. I should have known better, given that this luxury family resort in Florida has received all kinds of awards for excellence from coveted guides like Forbes and Andrew Harper.
My family got just a small taste of what Acqualina Resort, located just north of Miami in Sunny Isles, offers families with kids of all ages. It’s truly an optimal multigenerational beachfront getaway with something appealing for everyone. Although the property feels intimate, it is surprisingly expansive and families find a plethora of wonderful spaces for together and alone time.
Here’s my review of Acqualina Resort and Spa:
After spending the weekend on South Beach in Miami, I learned that beachfront isn’t really beachfront at many resorts, as a public boardwalk separates hotel facilities from the sand. Acqualina Resort, in contrast, is truly waterfront — there is nothing between guests and the Atlantic Ocean but 5-star facilities and staff.
Many resorts give multigenerational travel lip service and don’t really attract or cater to extended family gatherings. Not so at Acqualina. The residence setup is ideal and the variety of amenities within a relatively compact footprint is amazing. Sitting on 4.5 acres, Acqualina is hardly small, but it’s shockingly easy to get from rooms to the beach, pools, spa and restaurants. There are no golf carts or extended walks to grab that forgotten bottle of sunscreen.
We watched our son play soccer with other kids on the beachfront pitch while we enjoyed an aperitif on our terrace. It just feels easy.
But the real distinction is the strong sense of place and family that is an established part of why Acqualina exists — they developed the property with multigenerational families in mind and continue to run the resort as if every family there is celebrating a special time together. If global events and everyday stress make family time more precious than ever, the sense that families are experiencing something extraordinary and memorable is strong here.
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The resort is comprised of 98 rooms and suites, as well as 188 residences. We were blown away by the suites at Acqualina, as they are spacious and exceedingly well-appointed: gourmet kitchens, exquisite living rooms and decadent master suites and baths. Oceanfront units are truly just that, with jaw-dropping views from practically every room.
Although Acqualina is a high-rise, it feels private and, given all the space, it feels more like a beachfront residence than a hotel room.
Access to a beautiful, soft sand beach is often enough to entertain families who just want a fun and relaxing break. Acqualina Resort pairs this with thoughtful programming. Their AquaMarine Children’s Program has a marine biology theme — it isn’t glorified babysitting, but a program with a purpose to educate and entertain children ages 5-12. It’s set up as a camp with pre-planned daily activities around sea life and conservation.
There’s an extensive indoor center and the program also makes use of the grounds. Additional activities include a pizza making class, arts and crafts sessions, private swimming lessons and my favorite, a sea turtle program where lucky children may have an opportunity to observe turtle hatchlings (seasonal).
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There are four swimming pools, including an adults-only tranquility pool, a spa pool, a recreation pool, and a large family pool directly on the beach, so families can choose to swim in the pool or ocean without a major relocation. A basketball hoop, a giant chess game, and a soccer pitch provide further entertainment for school-age kids and teenagers alike. An outside operator provides watersports rentals daily, including jet skis, kayaks, and paddle boards.
The fitness center is oceanfront, and there is a large menu of yoga classes offered by a team of professional instructors.
A full 20,000 square feet of beauty and spa bliss awaits at Acqualina’s ESPA. Guests can access state-of-the-art facilities without a treatment scheduled, including a Finnish sauna, a crystal steam room, and experience showers. My visit was brief, but I was a kid in a candy store. Clearly, Acqualina Resort is investing heavily in wellness and attracts guests who covet spa excellence.
Head-to-toe pampering awaits, thanks to a massive list of treatment possibilities, including specialty results-driven options like microdermabrasion facials.
Our stay was too brief to adequately review the restaurants. AQ by Acqualina offers casual dining inside and out with a Mediterranean menu. Salads, sandwiches, sushi — there’s something for everyone. Il Mulino New York is the Italian fine dining outlet with an elegant, cozy dining room.
Costa Grill is the beachfront restaurant and is open for lunch only. It’s open solely to guests, residences, and beach club members, i.e. hotel guests don’t get shut out of the beachfront bliss by locals seeking on-the-water lunch.
All the joys of Miami and South Beach are easily accessible from here, and there is much to do, from exploring the art scene to the Miami Seaquarium. And of course, the shopping is truly endless. Although the setting is urban, you can leave this behind and explore one of a myriad of protected marine areas for adventures like kayaking and scuba diving.
Acqualina is closer to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport than the Miami International Airport, but either option works. Having this choice means families coming from all main hubs are likely to have direct, price-competitive options from which to choose. The other plus is seamless access for families flying in from different destinations, including international hubs like London, Amsterdam and Paris.
The starting rate for a family of four is $400 per night.
Editor’s Note: Acqualina provided a media package for our stay. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy and Acqualina Resort and Spa.
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