Review: Avianca Domestic Lounge Bogota Airport
Review: Hilton Cartagena Hotel
Review: Sofitel Cartagena Hotel
Review: Avianca Lounge Cartagena Airport
Review: W Bogota Hotel
Review: LAN Lounge Bogota Airport
Review: Element Miami Airport
Our flight from Bogota to Miami landed shortly after 7PM, while our flight the next day was departing around noon.
We also had an overnight on the way to Colombia, where we stayed at the Sheraton Miami Airport, which I’ve reviewed before.
So I figured we’d mix it up and stay at the Element Miami Airport this time around. I figured this made sense for a few reasons:
- In general I prefer a modern Element property to a run down Sheraton
- It would allow me to review a new hotel
- In 2016 Starwood is offering 11,000 bonus Starpoints if you stay at 11 of their brands, and I don’t otherwise stay much at Element properties, so this seemed like a good opportunity to check that brand off my list
I booked the Element for our one night stay for ~$130. That was the same rate as at the Sheraton, and seems to be pretty standard for hotels near Miami Airport.
We headed to the outside roadway at Miami Airport, where the Element shuttle showed up after about 30 minutes, which is an annoyingly long wait (I called the hotel after 10 minutes, and they said it should be there in five minutes). The shuttle completely filled up, and it quickly became apparent that everyone else on the shuttle was on a canceled flight to Brazil, and was staying on an airport accommodation voucher.
Since the bus was full at the first stop we couldn’t pick up any more people at the other stops, but the driver still stopped every time someone tried to flag down the shuttle, which lead to some lengthy conversations at times.
When we showed up at the hotel we were the last people out of the shuttle, so there were probably 10 parties in front of us in line to check-in, with only one agent. And since they were all on airport accommodation vouchers, they took even longer than usual to process.
Technically there’s supposed to be priority check-in for SPG elite members, as far as I know, so after waiting for about 15 minutes I was getting sort of annoyed. Not at the agent working the front desk, but rather at the lack of a system which ensures that these lines exist.
While I was a bit annoyed at this point, after a two hour taxi drive in Bogota, immigration being a complete zoo with a contract worker yelling at us, waiting 30 minutes for the shuttle, and then waiting another 30 minutes to check-in, I actually couldn’t help but give the front office associate one of those “job well done” certificates.
I’ve never seen a front desk associate be so friendly and compassionate with people checking in, even if she was taking her time. As each guest came up she’d say something along the lines of “I can only imagine how tired you must be and sorry your flight was canceled, but we’ll make sure you get a good meal in our restaurant and a great night of sleep.”
So while she apologized profusely when she saw an SPG Platinum member at the end of the line (I didn’t bring it up, by the way), I just thanked her for being so friendly, because you don’t often see that.
Within moments we were issued keys to our room on the third floor, where we had been upgraded to a one bedroom suite.
We were assigned room 312, located at the far end of the hallway, so it was quite a hike from the elevators.
This seemed to be a pretty new Element property, so the rooms were in great condition. Upon entering the door we found ourselves in the living room.
There was a comfortable “L” shaped couch, a dining table with four chairs, and a desk with a comfortable office chair. Talk about a well designed room — the couch was comfortable, the office chair ergonomic, and there were plenty of plugs.
Then there was a kitchen with a microwave, stove, fridge, etc.
There was also a single cup coffee machine.
Separated from the living room by a sliding door was the bedroom, which featured a comfortable Westin-style king size bed.
There was a TV mounted in the corner of the room between the windows.
On the side of the room located closest to the door was a closet, as well as a comfortable lounging chair.
The bathroom was located between the living room and bedroom, and featured a sink, toilet, and walk-in shower.
The shower had two heads, which is pretty rare for a limited service hotel, in my experience.
Element properties have dispensers for shampoo and body wash, a concept which I’m supportive of in theory. The one part which disgusts me is the dispenser button as such, since I imagine it’s not cleaned very often.
Overall I loved our room at the Element, and thought it was much nicer than the Sheraton. New limited service hotels really are consistently quite excellent, in my experience.
I really like the lobby setup, given how communal it is, without feeling like it requires forced social interaction. There are couches, dining tables, and high-top tables. As someone who likes working outside my hotel room (to avoid being tempted to get into bed and fall asleep), I quite like Element’s standard lobby design.
Element hotels also offer a complimentary happy hour and breakfast. We arrived too late to partake in the happy hour, but the breakfast selection was quite good, and included cereal, yogurt, fresh fruit, breakfast sandwiches, scrambled eggs, pancakes, etc.
I should also note that the hotel has coffee available for free in the lobby 24 hours a day, which I love.
We left the hotel at around 11AM for our flight to New York, and the shuttle left promptly on the hour.
Element Miami Airport bottom line
Miami Airport hotels are pretty underwhelming on the whole, especially as they’re mostly quite dated. The Element Miami Airport is modern, and in general the Element “concepts” is one of the limited service brands which resonates most with me. I love the communal space, the modern and functional rooms, and the fact that the brand as such doesn’t try too hard to be cool, as many limited service properties do nowadays.