Miami’s Epic Hotel: Luxury Redefined
Anyone who hasn’t been to downtown Miami for a number of years will be startled by the number of new luxury hotels, restaurants and other developments. Among these, the Epic, a new waterfront property, is a standout. Located at the edge of the Miami River and Biscayne Bay, this elliptical-shaped 54-story building is surrounded by lush landscaping and palm trees, with interiors by award-winning designer Cheryl Rowley. Rooms-with-a-view feature either the glistening bay or impressive citycapes.
But what impresses from the moment of arrival (in addition to the great-looking guests) is the level of service. Nowadays, when every new high-end hotel must include a veritable laundry list of amenities and features demanded by discerning travelers, luxury becomes defined in new ways, the level of service being perhaps the most important. At the Epic, arriving guests are made to feel that they have been eagerly awaited and that the entire staff is eager to make sure their stay is as enjoyable as it can possibly be.
"A service-oriented high-end hotel is not a bad place to be sick."
The rooms live up to that implied promise, with private balconies, fine Italian linens, triple sheeting, LCD flat-screen televisions, spa-inspired bath amenities, Ipod docking stations, high-speed wireless Internet access and twice-daily housekeeping service.
Sixteen floors up is a 13,752-square-foot wrap-around pool deck with two swimming pools and 10 private cabanas, a place to relax by day and to party at night. The hotel has a full-service spa and fitness center operated by Exhale and the Area 31 restaurant which serves premium seafood with a Mediterranean influence. There is complimentary coffee in the lobby living room in the morning and complimentary wine service at 5 o’clock.
As I was staying at the hotel for a three-day meeting, I had the opportunity to experience the meeting facilities. The catering was exceptional, several cuts above the often unimaginative food served during all-day meetings. The breakfasts were outstanding and refreshment during the breaks was bright and inviting—for example, mojitos and empanadas. The staff was friendly and helpful at all times.
Unfortunately I had the bad luck to experience yet another level of service at the Epic. At the close of my second day of meetings, I became violently ill with a stomach bug. My best case scenario would have been to be sick at home, where I would have had the comfort of my own surroundings and the help of my nearest and dearest. Second-best is the scenario I experienced: being sick in a hotel that has an exceptional and caring staff.
When I called reception to request a list of doctors that might make "house" calls, a lovely gentleman from security promptly appeared at my door with a list, asking if there was anything else he could do for me. I said that I hoped to have a prescription for medication soon and asked where I could have it filled. "CVS," he replied, adding that the pharmacy was not far away. "Do they deliver?" I asked. He wasn’t sure but said that if they didn’t, he would be happy to get what I needed.
16th Floor Pool Deck- Open Air Cabana Area 31 Terrace and Bar Lobby – Living Room
16th Floor Pool Deck- Open Air Cabana
Area 31 Terrace and Bar
Lobby – Living Room
I thanked him and went back to bed. In short order, I learned that a house call would cost about $600, unreimbursed by my medical insurance. Fortunately my own doctor was able to call in a prescription that had helped me before. I called CVS. Unfortunately, they did not deliver, but after I got the price of the prescription, I called down to Security. Yes, my prescription would be picked up immediately.
Meanwhile, I received a call from the front desk. Everyone was very sorry that I was ill. Would hot tea be welcome? Yes it would, and in short order, a large flask of tea arrived, compliments of the hotel, and with the assurance of the room service person who delivered it that if I needed anything else, I had only to ask. When the kind gentleman from Security tapped on my door, I was very grateful. At last there would be help for symptoms that had devastated me for more than 14 hours. Again, he assured me that I had only to ask if I needed anything else.
The medicine began to ease my symptoms with the first dose, and by the second dose, I was feeling almost human. I had had nothing to eat or drink for a long time, however, and I was afraid of becoming dehydrated, so when housekeeping came by and asked if I wanted my room freshened, I asked for some ice, which would be easier to keep down. Within minutes, I had a bucket filled with ice; housekeeping, too, instructed me to call if I needed more ice or anything else. I was relieved that my flight was not until 5 pm the following day, which would, I hoped, give me time to pull myself together before heading to the airport and all the stresses that flying entails these days. From time to time, someone from the hotel called to ask if I was feeling better and to repeat the assurance that if I needed anything, all I had to do was ask.
When I looked inside the CVS bag, I was shocked to find that the prescription had cost $20 more than I had been quoted; yet the gentleman from Security had said nothing to me. I called downstairs and assured him I would leave the money in an envelope before I left the hotel. No, no, he said, I was not to worry; I was not to bother. (Of course, I did leave the money, but the reassurance, like all the treatment I’d experienced was very kind.)
The following morning I felt well enough to order breakfast: tea, toast and a banana. The tea and toast arrived promptly, but room service, alas, did not have any bananas on hand. But again, I was not to worry; someone would be sent to a nearby grocery to buy some. No, I said, that was too much bother. The tea and toast would be fine. Buying the bananas was no bother at all, I was told; the staff at the Epic wanted guests to feel comfortable and at home. Well, what could I say?
A short time later, two bananas arrived, invitingly arranged on a pretty plate. Again, no charge. Throughout the day, until it was time for me to leave at the airport, I received "just checking to see how you feel and if you need anything" calls.
Though I hadn’t had the opportunity to try out the pool or the Area 31 restaurant, I felt I knew all I needed to know about the Epic: that it was an excellent place to stay in Miami and, if you were going to get sick away from home, a good place to be.
For more information, visit www.epichotel.com. The hotel offers a number of packages, including the Epic Pet Getaway; unlike properties that are "pet-tolerant," the Epic is actually pet-friendly, and will welcome guests with pets with a number of amenities, including pet beds, bowls, toys, etc. As of April 2009, the starting rate for rooms was $290 (for $1 more, continental breakfast for two would be included).