Heading to Miami has always meant South Beach. Lingering by the pool at art deco darling The National, sipping tropical cocktails in outdoor cafes, loud music and late nights, and some of the best people watching in the world.
But, that was then, and this is now. And when I mean now, I mean now that I have a family. Which didn’t stop me from visiting and enjoying Miami Beach, it just readjusted my expectations. This year, we decided to shift to what is now called Mid-Beach—mid-way between South Beach and Bal Harbour.
The area, which has exploded with new life in the past five years, includes the iconic Fountainebleau Hotel, the private, celeb-soaked Soho Beach House and the Nobu Eden Roc Hotel. We decided to skip these larger, slicker resorts for the respite of the boutique Confidante Hotel, which offered more personable service, a separate kid’s pool and a family-friendly-yet-still-hip vibe.
Part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt and formerly the Thompson Miami Beach hotel, the oceanfront, beach-house-inspired property is compact and easy to navigate. In fact, it’s hard to believe that it served as the tallest building in Miami Beach in its early iteration as the Lord Tarleton Hotel—though you can still spy the radio tower on its roof, erected in the 1940s to communicate with the local airport.
The basic guest rooms are comfortable yet basic, and we had two queen beds and a partial ocean view—though for some reason, our side of the hotel had solid, concrete balconies, so you couldn’t really enjoy the view sitting down. You may want to inquire about a room with the newer, transparent balconies.
As expected, the big draw was the pool, which was stocked with several giant floats. Kids of all ages were in full fun mode and it wasn’t hard to snag lounge chairs and well-appropriated umbrellas. Next to this was the adults-only pool, and we appreciated its proximity, helping us feel part of the larger, more sophisticated vibe.
A beach bar straddles the pool area, offering a chill place for a cocktail and The Backyard, which hosts a Backyard Saturday for hotel guests and locals, includes a ping pong table, giant Jenga game and little bubbles of art deco fire pits, tables and chairs for socializing. We enjoyed more than one après dinner, ping pong tournament, and the competition was intense.
Both pools also offer a few striped, colorful cabanas which can be rented daily, and here we spent a happy, lethargic afternoon munching fresh fruit and sipping beverages. Summer in south Florida can be wet and our stay was no exception, so it was a joy to watch the warm rain come and go, ensconced in our private, dry retreat.
Behind the pool area is a wooden door which leads to the beach. Don’t forget your key card because it locks behind you for privacy. Each room is allotted two beach chairs, though you’ll need to pay extra for an umbrella. The water is clear and calm, and the kids can also enjoy the hotel’s gratis games, shovels, pails and other sand toys if they want to take a break from the ocean.
A brand, new rooftop spa will open in August and sadly was not ready for our trip, but the 24-hour indoor/outdoor fitness center offered yoga and boxing classes from local boutiques.
Food at The Confidante is a joy. Bird & Bone is the in-house restaurant, helmed by local chef Richard Hales, and in addition to indoor and outdoor seating it also serves the pool and beach for lunch and snacks. The menu is Southern-inspired and heavy on crispy, juicy Nashville hot chicken, which can be found hovering over sweet waffles or smothering thick pieces of white bread. It was so good, I had to stop myself from picking off my son’s chicken finger kid’s meal at the pool.
Of course, being Miami, you can go lighter with jars of dip served with tortilla chips, fluffy cheddar and chive biscuits with strawberry jam, a few well put-together salads and even shrimp and grits. For breakfast, you can grab some free coffee in a nook off the lobby and head to the Cafecito Bar for pastries, hard-boiled eggs and even empanadas.
Of course, if you insist on leaving the hotel, there are many family-friendly options. Wynwood Walls is a collection of street art in the former warehouse district and now houses the Wynwood Yard, which is an upscale food court with rotating culinary offerings. And if you want to add a little education to your vacation, check out the Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, which also includes a planetarium and aquarium.
But a trip to Miami is never complete without an authentic Cuban sandwich, and we are never disappointed at the classic, landmark Puerto Sagua Restaurant on Collins Ave.
The Confidante Miami Beach 4041 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33140