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Aloft opens two Miami-area hotels

Aloft Miami Doral hotel.
Aloft Miami Doral hotel.
© 2013 George Leposky

The two new Aloft hotels that opened recently in the Miami area will appeal to travelers who enjoy sleek, sophisticated surroundings but don’t need a full-service hotel’s extensive restaurant and meeting facilities.

Entrance to Aloft Miami Brickell hotel.
Entrance to Aloft Miami Brickell hotel.
© 2013 George Leposky

The 160-room Aloft Miami Brickell, located at 1001 SW 2nd Ave. in Miami’s West Brickell neighborhood, opened in August of 2013.

The 145-room Aloft Miami Doral, at 3265 NW 107th Ave. in the west suburban city of Doral, opened in March.

Aloft is a brand of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., which also owns the upscale full-service W brand. Aloft’s tag line, “a vision of W hotels,” should presumably make you feel connected to the W brand while not missing the extra W amenities, facilities, and services that Aloft doesn’t offer.

Social or stark?

Both Miami-area Aloft hotels feature a loft-inspired design, an open lobby with a pool table and a circular service desk just inside the door, and rainbow-hued accents to create what the brand’s publicists call a “vibrant social atmosphere.” Maybe that’s true when the lobby is full of people unwinding at the w xyz bar, but at midday both spaces tend to be sparsely inhabited and stark.

In place of a restaurant, you’ll find an always-open self-service food shop called re:fuel by Aloft, featuring “grab & go gourmet” offerings that include assorted breakfast items, light meals, mix-and-match munchies, healthy bites, and assorted beverages. The bar, when it’s open, offers a “snack attack” menu.

For fitness, both hotels have an outdoor pool and a small gym with stationary bikes, treadmills, and elliptical machines.

Both hotels allow you to stay connected for work or social-media purposes with free Wi-Fi and wired high-speed Internet access. Guest rooms have a plug-and-play connectivity station that charges all of a guest’s electronics and links to a 42-inch LCD TV set.

Significant differences

Although the two hotels are cookie-cutter twins in many respects, they have significant differences. At the Aloft Miami Doral, you can park your car for free on an adjacent hotel lot. That’s good news, because you’ll need a car to go just about anywhere from the hotel – including out for dinner.

The hotel is nine miles from Miami International Airport, and two miles from two major west suburban shopping centers, Florida International Mall and Dolphin Mall. Three miles away is Trump National Doral resort (formerly Doral Golf & Spa).

Although Aloft Miami Brickell’s advertising may confuse some people, the hotel isn’t actually in Mary Brickell Village, but rather two blocks to its west. Valet parking in the hotel’s five-story garage costs $22 a day, but you probably don’t need a car there anyway. It’s just a block from the Brickell station of Miami-Dade County’s public-transit rail system, which goes to Miami International Airport. Thus, you can take the train to within a block of your hotel.

The rapid-transit system includes the 25-mile Metrorail, with 23 stations about a mile apart, and Metromover, an automated people-mover that circulates through downtown Miami on a separate 4.4-mile elevated guideway. Both stop at the Brickell station.

If you don’t want to survive on re:fuel fare, a Publix supermarket awaits just the other side of Metrorail at 911 SW 1st Ave., and a new urban-concept 7-11 with a surprising variety of food choices is two blocks south of Publix at 1099 SW 1st Ave. Another block to the east, you’ll find numerous upscale restaurants in The Shops at Mary Brickell Village in the 900 and 1000 blocks of South Miami Avenue, and along the avenue for several blocks north and south of the “village” proper.

Two blocks further east across South Miami Avenue is Brickell Avenue, the spine of Miami’s financial district and a major reason why you might want to stay at Aloft Miami Brickell.

Corporate stuff

The first Aloft hotel opened in 2008. Today, the brand appears on close to 70 hotels in 10 countries, a fraction of corporate parent Starwood’s 1,162 properties in almost 100 countries.

The Aloft Miami Doral hotel is owned by Doral Hotel Enterprises, a division of Multiphone Group & Eurocom, LLC. Its principal investors are two local entrepreneurs, Orlando Padron and Henry Contreras.

Aloft Miami-Brickell is owned and managed by Mary Brickell Village Hotel, LLC, a joint venture between Sunview Companies and HES Group LLC.
Sunview, a south Florida real-estate development and construction firm, started construction of what became Aloft Miami-Brickell in 2007 as an 88-unit apartment complex. When the recession struck in 2008, construction stopped. Plans changed.

In 2010, HES – a group of hospitality entrepreneurs active in Latin America – bought a half-interest in the project through a new Florida entity, Brickell Hotel Properties, LLC, that acquired half of Mary Brickell Village Hotel, LLC. HES arranged for financing, and construction resumed early in 2012.

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