Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne: A Top Notch Florida Tennis Resort
I’m always looking for the perfect beach resort in Florida. And I’m always really attracted to the Miami area because it’s easy to get a flight (and usually pretty cheap!) and there’s so much to see and do. But finding just the perfect spot is tricky. I’m not into the Miami Beach party scene, but I also don’t like some of the spots in the area that feel a little too isolated…enter Key Biscayne. It’s not exactly a secret, but in some ways it feels like Miami’s secret island.
Only about 15 minutes from the Miami International Airport, but a world away from the hustle and bustle of Miami, Key Biscayne feels like an oasis with amenities. And when I saw that there was a Ritz Carlton in the middle of the island, I was sold.
Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne Review
Like I mentioned, Key Biscayne is a small island that’s considered part of Miami, but it feels a world away. The island is bookended by Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on the south and Crandon Park on the north leaving the “village” of Key Biscayne pretty compactly in the middle.
The Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne sits right in the middle of the village (on the beach) making it pretty walkable to anywhere you’d want to go in the area. Throw in the access to Freebee on the island (a complimentary ride share program via electric car) and it’s a nice little pocket to stay in.
Check In & the Room
The drive up to the resort is impressive as you would expect. The Ritz is situated in an upscale resort area and it’s all very palm tree lined picturesque. The lobby is also what you’d expect…grand and open with details and a color palette befitting an island resort. Check in was a breeze (I don’t know why some places take 20 minutes of looking at their computer screen to get you checked in), and our room was exactly what we expected.
The room was pretty large and had some nice sitting areas. It’s always nice when you’re not limited to just sitting on the bed. There were complimentary bottles of water available in addition to the rather spendy mini bar.
The bathroom was pretty luxe too with a separate tub and shower.
The pool game is pretty strong here. There are two pools: a family pool (with a separate splash pad play area) and an adult pool that’s attached to a beach club/lounge. We spent a day at each pool and here’s the rundown:
The adults pool felt a little swankier. It was definitely heated making it pretty pleasant in November (the family pool was NOT heated) and there’s a separate (adults only) hot tub in the same area.
It’s full service (they set up your chairs with covers and towels and bring you water) and the food and drink service was pretty attentive. As with most adults pools, they tend to get louder in the afternoon (once the drinks are flowing) so depending on what kind of vibe you like (and if it’s off season or during the week), it may actually be quieter at the main/family pool.
That was our experience with the family pool. We stayed at the Ritz in the beginning of November during the middle of the week so there was exactly one child at the resort ; ) Since that made the entire resort pretty much adults only, we found that it was actually a lot quieter at the family pool most of the time. It’s also a much bigger pool with a bigger deck so it seemed like people were more spread out. The pool has zero entry at one end and there’s a nice little fountain area that’s probably really fun to swim around also. The service at the family/main pool was just as good at the adults only pool. Honestly the only downside was that the water was quite a bit colder than the adults pool. But I did hear somebody at the adult pool saying that the water there was much warmer there than the day before so maybe they heat both pools and they were just starting to turn the heaters on.
This is probably the biggest negative of this resort. And it’s not unique to the resort…it’s the island, the whole area in general. If you’re used to the beaches on the Florida Gulf Coast or panhandle (which I am), the beaches on the Atlantic just don’t compare. If you’re used to beaches on the Atlantic then you’ll probably be okay with the situation.
Pretty much every beach I’ve been to in the Miami area has decent sand (not the white powder sand you’re used to on the Gulf side though), but a lot of seaweed. That was the case here. Also, the beach in front of the resort is pretty narrow and the way they have their chairs set up (they have all of their extra chairs, umbrellas, and beach supplies stacked up on the beach behind the chairs they set out), it feels pretty cramped.
It’s not a bad beach by any means (it’s all relative), but I would definitely say that the beach is an afterthought here. You stay here for other reasons and there also happens to be a decent beach behind the resort. It is a nice beach for walking though.
I’ll be honest…I planned my trip to stay at the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne mostly because of the tennis. The Cliff Drysdale Tennis Center is on property and it makes the Ritz a phenomenal tennis resort.
They have 11 clay courts and run a pretty impressive schedule of clinics, drills, round robins, and lessons throughout the week. They also have the best “Padel” facilities in the state (Padel is a game rapidly growing in popularity that combines tennis and squash). You can view the schedule for open clinics here.
You don’t have to be a resort guest to play here (the club has memberships and you can also play as a drop in). Drills and clinics pretty much fill up everyday so I strongly suggest making reservations in advance. The first day of my trip I showed up without calling ahead and it was already full. It cost $40 for the 1.5 hour adult clinic I participated in. I brought my own racquet, but you can rent for $7/day in the pro shop.
Read all about my experience playing tennis at the Cliff Drysdale Tennis Center as well as other places to play tennis on Key Biscayne.
Just like any resort anywhere, the food at the Ritz is kind of hit or miss. It’s not bad, but it’s probably not as good as other options you’ll find closeby (not at a resort). And that’s pretty normal.
We had dinner at Lightkeepers (the resort’s signature restaurant featuring “Florida fresh” cuisine) one night and I really liked everything I had, but I wouldn’t say it was an overwhelmingly “must do” restaurant. We had the salmon, lobster mac and cheese, and brussel sprouts (fixed in chili oil). I really liked everything, but the brussel sprouts where the stand out with the table.
I was excited to try Dune, which is the beach club that has a special burger menu, but during the weekdays they were sharing a kitchen with Cantina Beach. So if you want to try Dune definitely prioritize going on the weekend (or maybe they have their full menu when it’s busier at the resort).
Key Pantry is the place to go for coffee in the morning and pastries and light breakfast options. They also have snacks and drinks available, but they closed about 1PM every day we were there which was a little inconvenient.
Also, we didn’t go to Rumbar in the evenings, but it looked like a spot with a great atmosphere and it was highly recommended. So if you like an after dinner drink (or pre dinner drink if you dine later), they definitely hit it up.
Here’s how I would sum up the food situation: they have some really good options at the resort, but it’s not a place you’re probably going to want to stay and never leave. It just lacks some convenience, especially if you’re traveling with kids.
More posts about where to stay in Miami:
Where to Stay in Miami (Besides Miami Beach)
Miami Beach vs South Beach: Is South Beach Really the Best Place to Stay in Miami?
Downtown Miami vs South Beach: Brickell is the REAL Star in Miami
Key Biscayne vs South Beach: As Different As It Gets in Miami
The EDITION Miami Beach Review (Marriott Bonvoy)
Miami Beach! Mid Beach vs South Beach (+My Favorite Hotels)
Check Out & The Spa Facilities
With everything done online anymore, check out isn’t really a big deal. Our check out time was noon and I’m not sure if that’s standard at Ritz Carlton or if it was pushed back because of my Marriott Bonvoy status.
Our flight didn’t leave until around 5PM, so we packed up and left our bags with bell services/valet and laid around the pool for most of the day.
Here’s what the Ritz Carlton gets sooooo right: the spa facilities are open for ALL resort guests during your stay. That means you have access to the locker rooms, showers, changing rooms, etc. to use on the day you check out. Besides the lockers and showers, there’s also a really nice part of the spa that you can use anytime you want. There’s a relaxation room, a wet and dry sauna, and a whirlpool. It’s all laid out so well and it would be a great place to hang out if it’s a rainy day, a little chilly, or you just want some extra R&R time.
Who this resort is perfect for…
There are a couple of reasons to stay at this resort:
The tennis. The onsite tennis program is a HUGE draw for this resort. It’s one of the best tennis resorts in Florida.
You can upscale family friendly close to Miami.
Who might want to stay somewhere else…
Somebody looking for the Miami “scene.” This is not a party place. It’s pretty laid back.
Foodies that are looking for the hottest restaurants. Key Biscayne has some really good restaurants, but not like what you’re used to in Miami or Miami Beach and it’s probably a little far to drive into Miami/Miami Beach for a trendy dinner spot every night.
Check rates at the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne here.
Don’t miss these other posts about Miami:
Things to Do in Miami BESIDES Party
Biking on Key Biscayne (Cape Florida Lighthouse)
Where to Play Tennis on Key Biscayne
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