I just returned from my first March Break holiday in Florida - all of six days. I was always told that while the weather during Christmas was unpredictable. Well unfortunately the winds were strong and nasty each day. I had one day of pure sun in which I got to swim and read by the pool. One of the stops I had most looked forward to was the Aqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach, unquestionably the most extraordinary property in Sunny Isles Beach. Sunny Isles was formerly part of North Miami Beach and is located between Miami and Hallandale. We had the opportunity to spend the day at the Acqualina, a spot where I have run into countless Montrealers during previous Christmas visits. Fortunately we did manage to spend a few hours by one of their gorgeous pools by the beach and enjoy some lunch at their Costa Grill. The Acqualina entered 2012 with a splash, receiving award recognitions from AAA, Spas of America, Trip Advisor and U.S. News & World Report. The award winning resort is a coveted member of The Leading Hotels of the World and a premier Florida retreat boasting 4.5 beachfront acres with 400 feet of stunning Atlantic coastline.
We just missed the opening of Piazzetta at Acqualina, a modern marketplace concept which will transport guests to an Italian town square set South Florida Riviera amidst the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. The Tuscany-inspired marketplace offers light meals, bottled wines, olive oils, sauces, oven-baked pizzas, crostinis, paninis, salads, meats, teas and a coffee corner boasting 21 specialty coffees in a relaxed and inviting setting. I hope to experience it in person next time I visit. In the meantime, here is a look at the property.
The Acqualina is also home to Il Mulino New York, which for me is one of the finest dining establishments I have ever experienced. Renowned for its bustling and energetic atmosphere, market fresh daily specials, extensive selection of fine Italian wines and an impeccably polished wait staff, this is one of more than a dozen (and counting) Il Mulino locations. It has already become a much sought-after establishment, frequented by both locals and visitors in the know.
I found a fabulous new dining spot on this trip, one frequented by Montrealers in particular seeking kosher cuisine. Grill Time is on Biscayne Boulevard in North Miami Beach, just off 163rd Avenue, in a small strip shopping center. Brothers Lior and Neal Karni came here from Israel eight years ago, bought the existing Grill Time and completely transformed it into a magnificent eatery offering Israeli-style dishes, fish, meat, poultry and tantalizing desserts.
Shopping is always an adventure at the Aventura Mall and the gigantic Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise, just around the corner from where the NHL’s Florida Panthers play.
One last tip – if you are like me and like to leave your car at Trudeau International Airport but worry about the steep cost here is your answer. The Sheraton Airport Montreal Hotel, once known as the Airport Hilton, has convenient park and stay packages. Here you can relax in their newly renovated guest rooms and avoid the expense of airport parking. Spend the night (for as little as $144) with them before your trip, then park for up to eight, 15 or 22 days at no additional cost. If you just want to leave you vehicle there, minus the hotel stay, the cost is only $12.50 per night (taxes included). I took that option this time. The free shuttle was right there after I got my luggage. The car was also very secure in their fenced in area.