Coral Gables, Florida

A late Winter stay at Coral Gables’ Hyatt Regency was just what the doctor ordered, and all the more so because of the staff.

Venetian Pool Coral Gables 2815 Copyright Shelagh DonnellyCoral Gables is what’s known as a planned community, with primarily Mediterranean Revival architecture. This community is quiet and understated in comparison with South Beach, the second stop on this winter’s travels, but there’s a time for everything.

 

Fantastical Fairchild 3503 Copyright Shelagh DonnellyWith average high temperatures ranging from 24 to 27 degrees Celsius/76 to 80 degrees from January through March, poolside was a fine start to a quick break in the sun. While I was escaping temperate, albeit wet weather, the relief on the faces of fellow visitors from the chilly northeast areas of the US was palpable. There had been plenty of cold, inclement weather going ’round, to the extent that a number of flights were cancelled; now these poor people could finally warm up without benefit of a fire or furnace.

Downtown Coral Gables is compact, extending three kilometers/two miles along a four-block stretch, and you won’t find yourself surrounded by high rises. This is a very scenic community, parts of which you can explore via trolley ride, which will take you along Ponce de León Boulevard. The City Beautiful, as it’s known, is also home to the University of Miami.

Visiting the Hyatt Regency Coral Gables

Accommodation and Service at Hyatt Regency Coral Gables

Arriving in the marble lobby hours before check-in time, it was a relief to find front desk staff who were understanding. In the time it took to pop out poolside and soak up a few gentle morning rays, Anne kindly dispatched housekeeping staff to ensure a room was ready and waiting. In no time at all, I was in the room looking down at the pool. No matter how much advance homework you do, concierges can have a great impact on a traveller’s experience in a new area, and Anibal also did the Hyatt proud.

Getting Around Coral Gables/Miami, and While You’re There

Coral Gables IMG_3353 Copyright Shelagh Donnelly

Here, you’re a short cab ride from Miami International Airport (MIA). You will need to either cab it  (which would very quickly rival your daily hotel bill) or rent a car to visit most attractions. If you rent a car, you’ll want to include Coconut Grove and Fairchild Botanical Garden, both of which are relatively close by, on your tour list.

For this visitor, the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden was the highlight of the area – and would be even without its butterflies, numerous orchids and newish (2012) status as home of the American Orchid Society. The 83-acre site is beautiful and one needn’t be a gardener to appreciate the property named for Dr. David Fairchild, a broadly respected scientist and plant explorer. I was there during an exhibit of the internationally known and Tacoma-born glass sculptor Dale Chihuly.

3669 Fairchild Botanical 3743 Copyright Shelagh Donnelly

Fairchild 3711 Copyright Shelagh Donnelly

Even making your way to the garden, along Coral Drive, is scenic and one can appreciate the tropical beauty, birds and exhibits to be found here  whether or not you’ve ever picked up a trowel. I’ve enjoyed some lovely gardens, ranging from the simplistic beauty of Anne of Green Gables’ Green Gable House to Vancouver’s young but lush Vandusen Botanical Gardens and the mature elegance of the grounds surrounding the Palace of Versailles and the General Life gardens at Granada’s Alhambra Palace, and this property ranks among those where you could easily lose yourself for a day. If I were a retiree living in the area, you’d find me among Fairchild’s more than 1,200 volunteers.

Venetian Pool Coral Gables 2815 Copyright Shelagh DonnellyIf you stay in Coral Gables, you are not going to be popping out the door to any beach. However, you aren’t far from the Venetian Pool, which is the only swimming pool to find a spot on the US’ National Historic Register. Carved out of a coral rock quarry and originally established in 1924 as a Venetian casino, this pool draws on spring water. During Spring and Summer, the pool is drained and refilled each day. This must-see site reflects the architectural talents of Phineas Paist and the master mind of Coral Gables developer George Merrick, among others.

Events and Business Travel

The Coral Gables Hyatt Regency has 250 guest rooms, including 59 suites and more than 26,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space. For fitness, you have the pool and a 24-hour gym on site. In addition to the Hall of Ambassadors, which accommodates up to 300 theatre style, there are two boardroom and 14 meeting rooms. There is some lovely marble in the hotel, which reflects a Spanish influence, including antique candle chandeliers in the lobby.

This was strictly a holiday, so I had no need of the Business Centre, but it’s also open 24 hours daily. As a Hyatt Gold Passport member, internet service was included in the room rate.

 Amenities and Restaurants

If only for variety’s sake, you’re likely to stroll away from the hotel for most of your meals. It’s very easy to repeatedly make the one- or two-minute walk around the corner to Graziano’s, which seems to be a bit of a Miami institution. The original location opened in 1962, and there are now four. The Coral Gables venue is a mercado with fresh produce and other groceries (many of them Argentinian) combined with a restaurant that has tasty tapas, wine and more. Best of all, the rules for Happy Hour (see my photo below) put things in perspective and could serve many well at the office.

Graziano's Coral Gables 4340 SD

There’s both indoor and outdoor seating, all of it casual; the music is ongoing, and there’s an overall good vibe. It’s also open long hours.

I’ll confess, and ask my Spanish-speaker readers’ forgiveness: I’d never tasted an empanada before visiting Graziano’s. Now, having had my first empanadas there, the bar is set high and I can understand why the restaurant received the award for Miami’s Best Empanada 2014. I’m also feeling somewhat spoiled; at less than $3.00 each, and accompanied by a glass of wine, they made the empanadas I subsequently tried at Miami Beach locales taste bland and boring.

Sustainability

While there was the usual encouragement to reduce frequency of laundering of linens, I didn’t note a high level of apparent attention to sustainability. It was only after departing that I learned the hotel is Audubon Inernational Green Lodging certified, and that it holds Trip Advisor’s GreenLeaders Platinum standing.

Rates

Pricing will depend on the time of year, the view and type of room you wish, and how organised you are. While your preferences can easily drive the price upward, a quick check online today shows rooms for Winter 2016 beginning at just shy of $300 US nightly, with lower rates available at other times of the year.

Awards and Ratings

The Hyatt Regency Coral Gables was awarded a 2014 Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence, and boasts AAA Four Diamond rating.

Fairchild Botanical 3757 Copyright Shelagh DonnellyPerspectives

Perspectives are entirely those of the Exceptional EA.

One Comment on “Coral Gables, Florida

  1. Pingback: Exceptional EA Visits Coral Gables, Florida | Exceptional EA

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