This labor day I partnered with the Mandarin Oriental, Miami to take the fam on an extended weekend getaway. It was perfect timing! Nate was starting Kindergarten the Tuesday after we got back, and Sarina (my wife) and I were a little stressed, so we were in need of a little distraction from reminding us that our little man is growing up. The hotel is located on Brickell Key and is only 20 minutes from Miami airport and only a 10 minute walk from the Brickell Shopping area – which makes it super convenient. Since this was Nate’s first time in Miami we did do a little exploring, but now after looking back and spending the weekend at the hotel I honestly don’t think there was a need to leave the hotel at all! LOL We were perfectly content spending all day in their gorgeous pool. The pool had an infinity vibe and was right on the bay so you could see the ocean and city skyline directly in front of you. It was a beautiful open space, surrounded by a row of tall palms on one side, and the architecturally sleek hotel building on the other. We especially loved it because the pool was open until late! We love ending our vacay days with a family night dip! The pool area also had a Jacuzzi hot tub and the Oasis Pool Cafe. With a hit of a button you could have one of their super friendly staff come over and take your order, while you jump back in the pool. They would let you know when your food was ready or come right over and hand you your mojito or pina colada wherever you were. Talk about service! On the grounds they also had a private beach area, with cabanas, lounges and plenty of outdoor seating. Since it was the bay where boats were coming in, you couldn’t swim, but it an added perk to get right up near the water’s edge, surrounded by tons of palms overhead, with an amazing city view. Nate loved just digging in the sand and watching all of the luxury yachts coming in at night. We stayed in the Skyline View Suite and the room had everything. When you walked into the suite you entered the living room area which had a chaise couch, desk, built in cabinets with a flat screen TV, and a stocked bar with all of the necessary goodies and my favorite – the Illy espresso machine. The room also had a bedroom, master bathroom with a stand-up shower and tub, another half bathroom and a balcony that wrapped around from bedroom to living room and had gorgeous views of both the city and bay. The first day we were at the hotel we just hung out at the pool for most of the day. We honestly didn’t want to leave the pool, so we ate lunch at the poolside restaurant, where I had these delicious Asian style ribs, accompanied by a very tall pina colada. After lunch, I had some quiet time at the spa. I felt bad leaving my wife and Nate, but they continued having a blast at the pool. It was actually really nice to tune everything out and just unwind. I definitely passed out during most of it. After the spa and pool, we then got dressed and headed to their in-house restaurant, Yaku by LaMar. We had some cocktails on their outside patio, and I ordered some muscles as a pre-dinner snack! Since we were with Nate we knew we weren’t going to get to experience the real night-life so it was nice to get to hang out on the patio with a cocktail and listen to some music before dinner. I let loose a little and think I might have scared Nate with my dance moves. He has yet to appreciate my two step! LOL Once we sat down for dinner at LaMar I had one of the best culinary experiences of my life. I met with the super-talented chef, Diego Oka, who comes from an Asian and Peruvian background and has come up with some of the most delicious Peruvian dishes I have ever tasted. I’ve had Peruvian food in NY before, but nothing has ever come close to this. After chatting it up with myself and my wife, he offered to prepare a little something for us to taste each of the dishes on the menu. And since my wife mostly eats chicken, he even tailored her dishes around chicken, so she could still try the flavors. You could really feel his love for cooking. Diego had a way of talking about and romancing the food, that actually made my wife try dishes and flavors she normally would never have tried. Some of my favorite dishes were the Lomo Saltado and the Conchitas A La Parmesana. They tasted just as good as they were presented. Hands down – best dinner experience ever! On Saturday, we woke up early, enjoyed a morning dip and some pool time before heading over to the Frost Museum of Science. It’s always nice when an area we visit has something like this for Nate. He loves museums, aquariums, and any hands-on children’s center. Taking some time out to take him to something he really enjoys makes our trips a little more exciting for him and always helps make it feel like a complete vacation. The museum was excellent! It was very hands-on, with lots of interactive exhibits. We also got to see some fish, sharks, and other aquatic animals – which my family is always a fan of. Nate is all about space and the planets, so we also took him to the Earth IMAX movie, which he of course loved. After the museum we took a quick drive over to the Wynwood walls area to take a quick look at some of the artwork and check out the area. If I’m ever back in the area, and I hope I definitely am, I would like to spend a little more time in Wynwood. It looked like a very cool area! At this point, and with the Miami heat, we could not wait to get back to the Mandarin Oriental, Miami pool. The pool was so nice and relaxing that whenever we left we found ourselves all just saying to each other that we could not wait to get back. We stayed in the pool for as long as we could until it was time to get ready for dinner. We spent the night at the lobby bar and lounge, MO. Again, just what we needed! There was a Cuban Jazz band playing and we ordered food and cocktails and just melted away. If you decide to visit, make sure you go to MO’s Bar + Lounge and order the cucumber blah. It was by far the best drink on the trip. I cannot wait to make these at home! I was a little nervous it might be awkward bringing Nate to the bar/lounge area but because he was behaving so well, it was not a problem at all. He likes watching live music so he was intrigued. Nate just sat there with us adults, and his little Shirley Temple and just stared at the musicians in awe. It was such a relaxing and cozy night with the fam. Once again, before we went to bed, we went back to the pool for a night dip! On Sunday we started the morning (yep, you guessed it) back in the pool! LOL We then headed to the LaMar Sunday brunch. And by brunch, I mean BRUUUUNCH. There were two rows of food. One row had things like sushi and ceviche, and the other row had hot food like BBQ chicken and steak. Also included was a Peruvian rice – which I could literally eat every day. THEN…you also got to order something off of the brunch menu! I ate and ate and ate until I could literally burst. It was insanely good and insanely filling! LOL There were also unlimited cocktails from the brunch menu. And it wasn’t just your normal bloody mary’s and mimosas, there were custom cocktails included. I forget the name of the drink I had but it was made with cucumber and it was delicious. I love cocktails that are made with cucumber – they are just so refreshing! Now onto the dessert! They were all so elegant. It was a selection of bite size sweets that was served on a tower tray. One dessert even had a beautiful edible flower on it which I dared Nate to eat and surprisingly, he did! After brunch we rolled ourselves over to South Beach so we could show Nate the beach and the strip. We spent about an hour at the beach, took a quick dip, and then walked the strip. Nate was a huge hit down there. I think with his little shaved blonde haircut, and his beachy swagger with his Adidas slides and Raybans everyone looked at him like he was a little celebrity. LOL Every person he walked by or that passed him would turn there heads and give him a compliment. I thought it was hysterical…but he was oblivious LOL. He loved all the fancy cars and bikes that passed by on Ocean drive. Before leaving we all had to have one of those jumbo pina coladas you see spanning across the entire strip. Though South Beach might not really be for me anymore (it was a little crazier than I remember), it was nice that it was only a 25 minute drive away and that we could share another experience exploring with Nate. We just love exploring new places as a family! After a few hours we were ready to get back to that pool at the Mandarin Oriental, Miami. It was our last night there so we wanted to make it last. We stayed in the pool for as long as we could, and then ended the evening in their private beach area watching the sun go down and the yachts come in. It was a bittersweet night. It’s never fun when a vacation comes to an end, but Nate was starting to get excited about school the following day. After some city views on the balcony, we all snuggled in the king size bed before heading out the next morning. It was such an amazing weekend. The luxurious hotel, the over-the-top staff, the memorable food, and the pool we started and ended our days in, combined into the perfect experience and really made our extended weekend trip, feel full and complete. We all had a blast! Thank you Mandarin Oriental, Miami for such a warm, welcoming and memorable stay! Nate is already asking us When are we going back to Miami?!
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This post is sponsored by the Mandarin Oriental, Miami.. All views and opinions are my own.