As the elevator doors open to unveil the American Express Centurion Lounge in Miami, it’s apparent that this will be a much different experience that what our family had become accustomed to over the last few years. Having made our mark as veterans of the Priority Lounge and Admirals Club networks, we finally had a chance to visit the American Express version. It was unbelievably apparent that we would not be disappointed in this choice, and a choice it is. Walking through the concourse you are presented with the decision to either go to the Centurion Club or the Admirals Club a few steps away.
Far From an Expert
Before I delve any deeper into this club I must be candid and admit that I am far from an expert when it comes to lounges or any other VIP experience of sorts when it comes to travel. As mentioned above, we have become accustomed to spending our time in airport lounges over the last 3 years. My take then is no different from now. Any opportunity to stray from the general concourse is a good day in my book.
A Fantastic Amenity
Upon approach of the registration desk within the lounge, it reminds you more of a spa than an airport lounge. With wood walls, darker colors and ivy inspired walls, my wife and I were expecting to be whisked away for a massage. And as luck would have it, that is exactly what occurred. The Centurion Lounge is equipped with an onsite spa aptly named “Exhale”. There is no cost associated with the services besides a tip of your preference, which also include manicures, but you must sign up in advance. We snagged the last two spots available to take advantage of their 15-minute back massages. With the spa being in a separate room within the club, you actually feel as if you are not in the airport. And that, as we all know, is a great feeling.
Beyond the exhilaration of having my first spa visit within the airport, the lounge continued to offer good vibes. The lounge is essentially broken into three areas. The main siting area which combines with the food and bar. A second sitting area that is a bit quieter but still not far from the main area. The final area is a corridor that runs along the elevator side of the lounge that offers a view of the concourse below and is much quieter. The corridor is almost hidden as you must take a sharp right immediately after entering the lounge. After reading other reviews on the same lounge and the complaints of traffic and noise, I’m pleased we chose this are to spread out.
The main sitting area is in stark contrast to the registration desk in that it is brightly lit with lighter accents throughout. There are plenty of seats but during peak times, you may still struggle to find empty seats, especially if you travel in a group of four as we do. There is a wide expanse of windows that open up to the tarmac below for those fascinated by taxiing planes to lull themselves to sleep. The space is nowhere near the expanse of many of the Admirals Club lounges I’ve been in, but the amenities certainly make up for it.
Let’s talk about food and drink. In my short history I could fairly easily predict the food that would appear in front of me at the Admirals Clubs. Pita chips, humus, cheese plate, vegetables and Tortilla soup. Without fail, it was a guarantee what would be in my stomach once I arrived. That doesn’t seem to be the case in Centurion Lounges. As a matter of fact, I saw some dishes that I didn’t quite expect. From casserole dishes to interesting nacho combinations and other seemingly out-of-place items for a lounge presented themselves. I found it interesting that the staff that would put the food out, would also take pictures of it. Proud? Maybe. But if it’s good enough to take a picture, it should be quite good.
One of the nicest perks that I appreciate with the Centurion Lounges, among others, is that all of the drinks are complimentary. Not just the domestic beers that can get quite boring, but a selection that made me smile. Yes, beer does matter to me and could easily be viewed as my Kryptonite, so this is a tremendous thumbs-up as I sip on my IPA. Having some morning mimosas before a trip to St. Kitts certainly didn’t hurt the mood either. Adult drinks are not the only items worth mentioning, as my girls enjoyed cup after cup of hot chocolate and an occasional coffee (multiple types).
In a lounge that provided many positives, there are actually a few negatives that could make some travelers a little reluctant to spend their day in this lounge. Even with its open concept, there seems to be heavy traffic through a majority of the lounge. We visited the lounge on the outbound (morning) and inbound (evening) and found there to be much more of a crowd late in the day. This was not a negative for us mind you. Again, a day in the lounge is better than a day in the concourse any day, but I do understand other travelers disdain when you compare the amount invested to take advantage of these clubs.
The only conclusion I can provide is that a 3-hour layover passed by very quickly and we left with full bellies, a slight beer buzz and rested shoulders from a free massage. If I look back on my many airport experiences, I will certainly rank this one at or near the top. If, by chance, I find myself with a spare moment in Miami International again, I’ll quickly wind my way to the D concourse for a drink and a rub down before I enter that tin can and fly away to my next destination. What were your impressions of this Centurion Lounge or others?
Live Within Your Means, Travel Beyond Them