Review of Candlewood Suites at the Miami Airport

I had never stayed at a Candlewood property before, so I had no idea what to expect when we pulled in. I was expecting the worse given the crappy location, but I was rapidly surprised by this place.

The lobby is very small, and when the desk staff leaves around 11pm you have to use your room key to get in. Not a biggy, really. If you need to check out after/before hours, they have a box in which you will find your receipt and you just leave your keys in that. The staff is very smiley and happy to answer questions on the area. Checking in and out were both very quick.

The laundry room is in the hall leading back to the elevators. This is a very brightly lit large room with about 6 machines each to wash and dry. My first big surprise was to find that the machines are free. That’s right. Brand new wonderful machines that cost zero, zip, nada. Wow. There is a cafe table in the middle of the room to sit and read your paper or pour over the tourist brochures if you don’t want to leave your laundry while it does it’s thing.

Also in the laundry room is a pantry area just full of anything you might possibly need during your stay. Everything from sewing kits ($1) to frozen foods (around $3) to milk ($2) to Spam ($2.50). Tons of stuff. There is no clerk here. This pantry is run on the honor system. They have pens and lists to write down what you took along with your room number and deposit in the slot, or you can just put cash in there. Very trusting, that. This impressed me.

The exercise room is also large with numerous machines to cover just about any need. Any, that is, except for my recumbent bike (which is the only equipment I am allowed to use.) There is a TV on the wall to watch while you work out.

The pool is very big and outside with a huge gas grill. It is not heated, and the water is cold, though not intolerably so. There is a very hot Jacuzzi at the base of it. This Candlewood abuts the Miami West Park so the view from the pool if lush grass and a lake. Nice, that. Every Wednesday evening the staff holds a free BBQ by this pool, grilling hot dogs, burgers, sausages, and chicken. Nice touch. My only complaint on this score is that the patio furniture is not kept clean. Not a major gripe, mind you, but a gripe none-the-less.

The room is called a suite, but it isn’t really. In my mind, a suite is two or three separate rooms. Bedroom, living room, kitchen. This is one large room with a double bed, desk, TV stand-slash-dresser, recliner, and a small kitchen. I can deal with that, but the kitchen could stand to be better equipped. It has no oven, which was disappointing. The fridge is full-sized; there are two stove burners, and a big microwave. The cabinets are stocked with service for 2, and plenty of storage bowls.

Maid service is once per week only, but you can exchange your linens at the front desk between service if you like. The maid does a wonderful job.

The bathroom is an all-in-one, meaning you have to share the room if you are getting ready to go somewhere at the same time. I prefer the dressing area be separate, but again this is just a minor gripe. I could stand a bit larger counter area near the sink though. It is very cluttered what with all my silly beauty supplies.

My main gripe with this place is the bed. It was so uncomfortable that we both had some issues with back problems during this month long stay. He likes hard beds, I like soft beds. This one was both too hard and too soft at the same time. No, as a matter of fact I don’t know how that happened, but there it is, whether it makes sense or not. heh. Hated the bed.

Also, there is only one nightstand. Urgh. I do sooo despise having to set my water and what-have-you on the floor on my side. Something always gets spilled in the middle of the night. I wish hotels would get a clue and start putting tables on both sides…

As far as location goes, this pretty well sucks. It is convenient to the airport, but that is one of the faults in my eyes. Those jets coming into MIA are very loud and they come in very low… all. night. long. It sounds like they are going to come directly into the room if we leave the window open, and talk about interrupting a good movie… argh. The noise is so loud that it drowns out the TV.

Speaking of the TV, it does come equipped with a VCR, and you can check out movies at the front desk at no charge. No DVD player though. Come on Candlewood… it’s 2006, yanno? The gesture is nice, but VCR? Let’s try to keep up with technology, shall we?

But back to location… about a block down is a small shopping strip, but the only thing to shop there is Golf stuff, and cigars. Now, the cigar store does have this very cool stuff called Get Out, which gets rid of smoke. No. For real. The stuff is amazing! Handy, that, since this 130-odd room hotel has only designated 20 rooms for smoking. This means they are putting us smokers into non-smoking rooms. Lots of us. I met 6 others during my stay. So. Yeah. The spray works. heh.

There is a Wal-Mart plaza kinda place, but it was a rough walk for me at about a mile away. I had to take a cab back. The little shopping strip has a few eateries, but they are mainly lunch kinda places. Farther down are a Red Lobster, a Steak place, and a Chilis, but you will need to drive to them.

The Internet is free here, but there is no wireless so I could not go relax by the pool and work during the nice warm Miami days. You have to plug into the cord in the wall by the desk. One connection only, so Lars and I could not both be online at the same time. It is a bit slow, but not overly so. It was tolerable.

So. Overall I’m going with 4 stars for this Candlewood property. Yeah, I have a few gripes, but really, if this were in a better location with a better bed, I would have given it 5 stars. Go ahead and stay here, just be sure you have a car handy… or lots of taxi fare. But really, for a mere $129 per night during South Florida’s high season, I just can’t complain very much.

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