The secret is out about the American Express Centurion Lounges, as I discovered during my recent visit to the new Miami Centurion (which opened at the beginning of June 2015). While it’s an excellent lounge with décor, food, and drinks fashioned in a style similar to the rest of the Centurions, I also found it to be somewhat on the smallish side and, as a result, rather crowded.
Fortunately, even though it was not mentioned by the Centurion staff, I discovered another seating area separate and away from the actual lounge which, even at prime time, had plenty of open space. While this extra seating area requires walking to and from the main lounge room for food and drinks, it’s a good place to settle yourself and your belongings without having to worry about fighting for a seat.
Entrance and Welcome Desk
The Miami Centurion is located in Concourse D of the Miami International Airport near gate D12 and is open from 5am to 11pm every day. The lounge is on the 4th floor so the entrance on the ground floor actually leads to the elevators which will take you to the top of the atrium.
Aside from the seating issues, the biggest downside of the Miami Centurion is the elevators, which are painfully slow. That may seem like a trivial complaint until you discover the “one more drink” you thought you had time for causes you to have to make a mad dash to the gate in order to arrive just moments before the boarding door closes.
But once inside, you’re greeted at the Member Services desk done in wood trim and Florida fauna. The staff at the desk is, as usual, pleasant and efficient.
Interestingly, the staff member who checked me in noted that this was the 4th Centurion Lounge I had visited. In fact, he was able to see my entire Centurion Lounge visit history, including the fact that I’ve spent some serious quality time at the Las Vegas Centurion (I’m blaming my LAS-PHL mileage runs). I’m not sure how thrilled I am about American Express keeping track of this info, let alone making it available to their check in staff, but I suppose in this day and age it’s par for the privacy course.
The Main Lounge Room
Beyond the check in desk is the actual lounge, which features as its main attraction a full length curved window wall with a view of the airport tarmac.
As you can see, it was already very full when I arrived around 3:30pm, and while mid-afternoon on a Monday is going to be a relatively high traffic time, the only open seat I could find in the main lounge area was this one next to Pitbull…
On one end of the lounge is the bar, which does not have a particularly large seating area with only half a dozen seats, but does appear to be well stocked.
Several separate seating areas follow along the long curved window through to the other end of the lounge, where you’ll find a computer area with ample outlets for plugging in laptops and electronics.
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!
I put down my bags and headed for the food, which features dishes from South Florida chef and restaurateur Michelle Bernstein, who has also in the past been one of the consulting chefs for Delta on their premium cabin dishes (though not necessarily to rave reviews). She is known for her Latin-style cooking, which clearly influenced this Chimichurri Grilled Chicken and Creamy Polenta side dish.
As with other Centurion Lounges, there was also a well stocked salad area with fresh lettuce and enticing vegetables.
But of course, a Centurion Lounge meal isn’t complete without a cocktail. Normally the Centurion Lounges are known for their wide assortment of specialty drinks, so I was a little disappointed when the bartender said the only signature drink he had available was the 305 (which I presume is named after the primary Miami area code). The 305 is a mix of apple, grapefruit juice, and tequila, and while tequila is usually not my friend, I decided to partake in one to go along with my meal.
I found the chicken and polenta to be delicious, enough to go back for a second helping of each. The 305 cocktail was also quite good, though I thought better of going back for another as I knew a second drink would likely lead to a third and eventually an overnight spent in the Miami airport.
The only food disappointment was the soup, which did not have a placard identifying it but which appeared to be carrot soup. After trying it, I determined it was kinda like carrot soup.
My meal did suffer from a tragic conclusion when I went in search of dessert and encountered this distressing sight…
Despite waiting around 5-10 minutes and inquiring with staff, no cookies ever appeared to accompany this sign. However, the coffee and post meal-type drinks were readily available and, while not as satisfying as a chocolate chip cookie would have been, sufficed as an adequate finale to the meal.
Other Lounge Features
The Miami Centurion features spa services provided by Exhale (who also provides the spa services at the Dallas Centurion). I didn’t have time to sample them, but as with the Dallas Centurion, 15 minute treatments are complimentary for guests.
The restrooms are small but well designed and feature products by L’Occitane, though the lounge suffers slightly from the lack of more than one shower.
For folks traveling with kids there is also a separate Family Room area, which like the rest of the lounge did not appear to be very large, but was well used while I was there.
The “Secret” Seating Area
As I was about to leave the Lounge, I discovered the Miami Centurion does in fact have a second seating area. I’m referring to it as “secret” because it’s easy to miss as you first arrive, and the desk staff did not mention it despite the fact that the main lounge was packed. However, you’ll find it when you first exit the elevators just past the Centurion sign on your left (but before you reach the welcome desk).
This seating area runs in a long narrow corridor along the side of the atrium, with windows in some places looking out onto the concourse. It’s definitely nowhere near as spacious and beautiful as the main lounge, but it has the same comfortable chairs as the main lounge and, even in the middle of the afternoon, there were plenty of spots available.
So if you go into the main lounge and find it full, come back out to the Member Services desk and look for this separate area. You’ll have to bring food and drinks back from the main lounge, but you should be able to find a nice spot to spread out and enjoy it.
While I recently wrote a critique of the Centurion Lounges in general from the viewpoint of the Devil’s Advocate (see “Another Amex Centurion Lounge? Ehhh…“), I do think Amex is doing a terrific job with these new lounges, and the crowding issues are clearly a case of them being a victim of their own success.
It would have been great to have known about the extra seating area, and there’s still a few hiccups when it comes to drinks and desserts. But overall the Miami Centurion Lounge is a welcome addition to travelers looking for a brief and relaxing respite away from the hustle and bustle of the airport.
Read more about other locations in the Centurion Lounge network: