Another Birthday Back in South Beach: Delta Airlines Fort Lauderdale (FLL) – New York (LGA)

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GroundLink

Well, the annual birthday trip finally had to come to an end. After dining at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink for lunch, we were scheduled to be picked up by GroundLink for our flight in a few hours. It was a bit early so I decided to try my hand tweeting at their customer service account to see if pickup could come sooner.

Amazingly enough, a customer service rep tweeted me back that she was looking into it. Less than 10 minutes later, she called my cell phone informing me that the driver was about 15 minutes away. Truly great above and beyond service on their part.

Even though I reserved their most basic car, a Cadillac Escalade pulled up to the curb at Michael’s to pick us up. I wouldn’t mind that for the 45 minute ride to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport!

GroundLink’s Cadillac Escalade

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Another Birthday Back in South Beach: South Beach Diet

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If you’ve followed some of my Trip Reports, you know that Joann and I love our food (VancouverKauai, Maui). With only two nights in Miami, we had to make sure we hit up some of the best spots!

Sra. Martinez

My buddies took me here last December for my bachelor party and the tasting menu was insane. When Joann and I went, it was just as good. So many great courses. Too many to remember. Even Chef/Owner Michelle Bernstein was in the house that night so it was a real pleasure to try her creations. I guess she was in a giving mood because we enjoyed a few comped drinks and huge portions of every tapas dish. Way too much for just two people.

Cafe Charlotte

Authentic Argentine food. Argentine empanadas are my favorite and their beef ones were super rich. We also had the pabellon which was kind of like ropa vieja. Again, really homey food. And they threw a fried egg on top of the rice which is like adding bacon to something; it’s cheating but I love it.

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink

For our last stop before departing, we stopped by a favorite from last year’s Miami jaunt – MGFD. We started with the appetizer special – a caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes and burrata. The tomatoes were so fresh and the burrata was melt-in-your-mouth creamy. For lunch, we ordered the Short Rib Panini with Fontina Cheese & Caramelized Onions and the Lamb Burger. Both were amazing and bursting with flavor. The panini was served with a tomato chutney to add some acidity and cut richness of that tender short rib meat. The burger was packed with all the lamb flavor that you could ask for, cooked perfectly and very juicy. We thought the food was good last time for dinner but this lunch was definitely the way to dine before heading home.

Photos

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Another Birthday Back in South Beach: King & Grove Tides and Z Ocean Hotel

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As I said in the Introduction to this Trip Report, we only stayed in Miami for two nights, but award availability wasn’t cooperating with a single hotel. I wanted to book two nights at the Z Ocean Hotel but I could only get it for the second night. For the first night, I used a Hotels.com free night that I received from a previous promotion. This secured us a room at the King & Grove Tides Hotel located on Ocean Ave., right in the middle of the South Beach buzz.

KING & GROVE TIDES SOUTH BEACH

Located on Ocean Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets, this hotel has boutique character to it but doesn’t suffer from the small footprint that many SoBe boutique hotels do. In fact, when you walk past it, you can’t help but notice wide steps and a grand entrance inviting you to take solace from being harassed by pretty girls with thick accents promoting daily food and drink specials all along Ocean Ave.

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Another Birthday Back in South Beach: American Airlines New York (LGA) – Miami (MIA)

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While this weekend took a little more planning than I usually do for 2 nights, it was well worth it for Joann’s birthday! On Saturday morning, my Dad drove us from North Jersey to LaGuardia. There’s no horrendous NYC traffic in the morning on the weekend so it was a short 25 minute drive to LGA’s Terminal B. With no bags to check, Joann and I walked straight to security which was moderately busy. We showed our mobile boarding passes that displayed PriorityAAccess and we were directed to a shorter line. Note: Redeeming British Airways Avios points on American Airlines will result in getting Priority AAccess even without any status. Bonus!

American Airlines mobile boarding pass showing PriorityAAccess

After a quick walk through the metal detector, we went off to find the American Airlines Admirals Club for a few snacks and coffee. It was right across our gate D3. I showed my mobile boarding pass and American Express Platinum card to the agent who welcomed us in.

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Let’s Plan: Another Birthday Back in South Beach

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Introduction
American Airlines New York (LGA) – Miami (MIA)
King & Grove Tides and Z Ocean Hotel
South Beach Diet
Delta Airlines Fort Lauderdale (FLL) – New York (LGA)

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Around this time last year, this whole frequent travel hustle really started to ramp up for me. One of the first real trips utilizing some of the tips and tricks that I’d been learning (and points that I’d been earning) was a trip to South Beach for Joann’s birthday. It was just a simple redemption on Delta (if there is such a thing), but it was really the start of many great things to come. So why not go back to Miami for the weekend of Joann’s birthday? She does love her South Beach.

Since all my vacation days are either gone or booked (wedding/honeymoon + Bali), I could only be in Miami for two nights. The plan for this trip was, as usual, budget travel and budget lodging. We wanted to spend as little cash out of pocket as possible.

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