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Acqualina Resort & Residences, a Luxury Seaside Haven in Sunny Isles Beach

The property has received both the coveted Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award and the AAA Five-Diamond Award

by Terry Zarikian

November 2, 2023

Pool deck and beach / Photo: Courtesy of Acqualina Resort & Residences

An eye-catching 51-floor tower is home to Acqualina Resort & Residences, styled after a Mediterranean villa. As soon as we entered through the stately iron gates, we drove up to a grand porte cochere where we were expected and acknowledged by name, then ushered to a seamless check-in.

This luxury seaside haven located on 4.5 waterfront acres in pristine Sunny Isles Beach features 98 impeccably appointed guest rooms and suites and 188 residences, all with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. I was pleasantly surprised to enter the newly transformed lobby. A fresh color palette, influenced by the ocean, is punctuated by lustrous black millwork. Other striking details include stylish furniture, sumptuous velvet chenille fabrics, smoked glass and warm metallic accents.

Expansive, perfectly manicured outdoor landscaping contrasts with vibrant red umbrellas and lounge chairs spread across the luxurious seashore paspalum grass. Since its opening, Acqualina has received both the coveted Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award and the AAA Five-Diamond Award.

Bedroom in the Grand Deluxe Three-Bedroom Oceanfront Suite / Photo: Courtesy of Troy Campbell

Our ultra-spacious one-bedroom suite could accommodate an extra family member in an unusually comfortable sleeper sofa. Our suite also had a full gourmet kitchen equipped with a Sub-Zero built-in refrigerator/freezer, elegant Lapitec Bianco Vittoria counters, Italian cabinets and a breakfast nook. Still, we never used it since the dining options are so outstanding. Even breakfast, included in our rate, included a choice of in-room dining, à la carte breakfast at Il Mulino, or a spectacular buffet served in an adjacent area and on the terrace.

For polished hospitality and authentic cuisine from Italy’s Abruzzo region, Il Mulino—an acclaimed New York restaurant—is open daily for lunch and dinner. It also serves breakfast and Sunday brunch, all in an intimate indoor/outdoor setting. Not to be missed: the richly decadent spaghetti alla carbonara, made the old-fashioned way with guanciale, onions, Parmigiano-Reggiano and egg yolk.

Grilled octopus with Campari tomatoes and black olives at Il Mulino restaurant / Photo: Courtesy of Bronwyn Knight

Ke-uH offers Japanese fusion cuisine by chef Oscar Noborikawa, born in Peru with Japanese heritage, who began his career at Nobu and further perfected his discipline under the tutelage of Japan’s most revered masters. He describes his method as “a combination of quality product, care for every ingredient, and inherent discipline, creating the perfect balance of citrus and spiciness for expressive sushi.” In addition to the sushi, we enjoyed our orders of salmon pizza with kalamata olives, guacamole and truffle oil and crispy tempura spicy honey shrimp with a balanced jalapeño aioli and honey with almonds and walnuts.

New to the resort, and located at the adjacent Estates at Acqualina, is Avra Estiatorio, a marketplace showcasing the simplicity of Greek cuisine. Pristine delicacies include whole fish and crustaceans caught locally or flown in daily from the Mediterranean, Avra’s exclusive extra-virgin olive oil—produced from Koroneiki olives from Peloponnese—Greek oregano, creamy barrel-aged feta cheese, and vine-ripened, field-grown tomatoes. Reflecting today’s multicultural movement in the Greek islands, the triumphant Avra ceviche, made with a fresh catch of the day, is bathed in leche de tigre and tossed with crispy chickpeas.

Umami Old-Fashioned cocktail at Ke-uH / Photo: Courtesy of Bronwyn Knight

Amenities at the pool include a dedicated butler who circulates every hour with refreshing frozen grapes, flavored ices, watermelon balls, crudités and fresh-squeezed juices. Amalfi Coast-inspired cocktails, created for the adult pool experience by longtime Acqualina bartender Franco Amendola, include the Acqualina Spritz, a refreshing elixir made with St-Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh mint, prosecco and a splash of club soda.

Acqualina Resort & Residences Spa / Photo: Courtesy of Acqualina Resort & Residences

At the spa, the new Stress Relief Back Massage accomplishes what it promises. The well-trained therapist applied a blend of CBD oil to reduce inflammation and Botanika Life pain serum with lidocaine and menthol, disintegrating most of my stubborn knots. Then he used a cryotherapy ball to reduce lactic acid buildup. After a divinely warm pad was applied to my back, the therapist worked on my neck and scalp, and I felt the tension evaporate slowly through the crown chakra. With a privileged location between Miami (40 minutes) and Fort Lauderdale (30 minutes), Acqualina is close to exciting nightlife and dining options as well as the Bal Harbour Shops and Aventura Mall.