We booked our flight from Denver to Belize on award miles which meant that we got the most roundabout routing possible – a night in Dallas, a night in Miami, then finally arriving in Belize on our third day of travel.
Since we landed in Miami early afternoon and departed the next afternoon, we wanted a relatively nice hotel that also had a free airport shuttle.
Finding the Hotel
To find hotels near the MIA airport, I used Kayak which allowed me to filter hotels that offered an airport shuttle. I struggled between staying closer to the airport and staying down in South Beach as prices were not dramatically different.
Ultimately it came down to the most annoying fee in the world – resort fees. Once you add in resort fees, the prices were over $30 more and even if there was an airport shuttle, it typically was at an added cost. We decided since we were staying at the beach in Belize, staying near the airport for the night would be a non-issue. Plus we had an added benefit of not having to battle any rush hour traffic to get to the airport for our flight.
After doing a lot of research, we settled on the Sleep Inn Miami Airport. It included a free airport shuttle, reasonably priced rooms and complimentary breakfast.
Booking the Hotel
Saving every dollar that I can, I booked a prepaid room which is always slightly cheaper than booking a standard room.
To maximize the number of airline miles that I earned on this hotel stay, I booked my reservation through the American Airlines shopping portal which gave me 3 points per dollar spent at Choice Hotels. Even though many shopping portals have the same stores, American is the only shopping portal which earns miles on hotel stays.
I set my preference for my Choice Privileges account to earn Southwest Airline points. While you can credit to other airline partners, Southwest offers 600 points per night, a better value than the other airlines.
I was delighted that I was able to “triple dip” on earning points for this booking:
- Earning 3 points per dollar for booking through the shopping portal
- Crediting my stay to my Southwest account
- Getting double points for travel expenses through my Chase Sapphire card
I had read a lot of comments on TripAdvisor talking about the confusion of the shuttle as it was a Holiday Inn Express shuttle with small Sleep Inn branding on it. I was confused about what these people were talking about when a very clearly marked Holiday Inn Express and Sleep Inn shuttle picked us up at the airport. We were both pleased that the shuttle was brand new and well maintained.
Later that same day, after taking the bus from the airport to South Beach for dinner, we were waiting for the shuttle. I called the hotel, giving very clear directions of where we were and waited for quite some time. I called the hotel again and the lady explained that the driver drove by but nobody was there to pick up. I told her that we were there the entire time and asked what type of vehicle they were driving since we had taken the shuttle 2 times previously and did not see it. She explained that it was a Holiday Inn Express shuttle with a small sign in the passenger side window that said Sleep Inn.
Once the shuttle finally came we were quite annoyed as we were waiting for over an hour. Both Andy and I were frustrated with the driver who had clear directions of where we were, probably knows from experience that people are confused that the shuttle has a different hotel name on it and did not ask if we were waiting for the Sleep Inn shuttle. To add insult to injury, the passenger side window for the shuttle, the only location that had Sleep Inn branding, was down when the driver came by the first time.
Besides our mishap on one of the 4 shuttle rides we had, the shuttle itself was quite good and the drivers very safe. Ironically enough, the only time that the Holiday Inn shuttle was in operation, the newer, nicer, better branded vehicle was sitting outside of the hotel.
You can tell that the Sleep Inn is a relatively new hotel. The hotel management appears to do a good job in keeping everything looking good and maintaining the property. The internet was lightening fast, something that you can rarely find at any hotel.
Our room price included breakfast which was the standard continental breakfast fare – freshly made waffles, bacon, bread, pastries, yogurt and cereal. While this is nothing to write home about, it was certainly better than paying airport prices. We both enjoyed a bowl of cereal before catching the shuttle to the airport for our flight.
Everyone at the hotel must have been eating at the same time as the entire dining area was full. The only place to eat in the entire lobby area was on some stairs near the front desk. While it isn’t a huge deal, it was somewhat annoying to not have a table to eat at.
I booked a queen size room as there was no option for a king size bed. Once we got up to our room we understood why. The room itself was quite small and had there been a king size bed, there would not have been much additional space in the room.
The room had a sink that was located next to the bathroom door which contained the toilet and shower. While this was set up differently than most hotels which have a separated sink, it was nice to be able to wash up when Andy was showering. The bathroom did not have a tub, only a stand up shower which was actually preferred for us. The queen size bed was comfortable and we both slept as well as you can sleep when you have a flight the next morning.
If I was in the Miami area again and needed a hotel near the airport, I would absolutely stay at the Sleep Inn again. The price was reasonable, breakfast was included, the room was clean and shuttle service was great.
If the hotel was able to re-paint their second shuttle bus to be more easily identified as a Sleep Inn shuttle and the breakfast area was larger, this hotel would be pretty much perfect.