Biloxi, Mississippi and the Beau Rivage

It was a bittersweet moment to book my recent trip to the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi. As a long time travel industry employee who had not been to this area in years I was thrilled to not only have an opportunity to assess the recent damage from Hurricane Isaac in September 2012 but also to experience a new destination. The reason for my choice of destination was my son’s first deployment with the army to Afghanistan and his impending departure. So, off to Biloxi I go… I booked my trip with my local travel agency through Delta Vacations. This gave me an opportunity to have all-expenses paid trip to the Beau Rivage with all my expenditures including the air, car, hotel and taxes paid up front. As an added bonus, we received not only the miles on our flights but also 500 bonus miles from Delta Vacations and miles with National Rental Car as well. (As a note of warning, car rental taxes are not prepaid with most tour operators and Delta Vacations is no exception. For a 3 day rental we paid an additional $45.00 at the National Car Rental counter in local taxes.)

Our flights were great with good connections though a bit tight with the latest seating configuration. We did have the opportunity to upgrade to Economy Comfort but chose not to on domestic flights. (For international flights, I do try to book Economy Comfort on Delta or Economy Plus on United if at all possible.) We arrived in Gulfport early in the morning on a beautiful warm September morning. The weather was just about perfect, not to hot but not chilly either. On our arrival at the Beau Rivage we found a beautiful destination resort. We were greeted by a friendly valet staff that took care of our complimentary valet parking. (Both the garage and valet service offer complimentary parking for resort guests.) The lobby smelled of fine food and fresh flowers. Our reception staff was most accommodating and quickly got us into our room, even though we were well before the check in time. Our standard category room had one king bed, a sitting area and beautiful marble bathroom with a separate shower and tub overlooking the ocean.

The hotel itself is truly a destination resort in every sense of the word. Though it is billed as an cceanfront resort and it is, it is not a beachfront resort. You must walk down the block a way to access the beach. The resort does have a spectacular pool area and separate sun deck that overlooks the water but does not have an actual beach. Knowing the damage the area sustained not only from the most recent hurricane but also from Hurricane Katrina I expected the beaches to be a mess. Though the beaches were closed and in the process of being reopened they offered a beautiful white sand beach and a great expanse of gorgeous water to admire. If you drive along the ocean you will notice on the other side of the highway across from the beach hundreds of foundations from homes that were destroyed by Katrina. While this seems sad at first glance, it also lends an air of openness as well.

Of course most people go to Biloxi for the casinos and the Beau Rivage does not disappoint. They have a beautiful casino that is large enough to feel spacious yet intimate enough to feel like you are part of a larger experience. One word of warning, the casino floor is strictly 21 and up. One of the members of our party was 19 and she was not even allowed to walk onto the casino floor to look around. In fact, they were militant to the point of being rude about not allowing her on the floor, which was very disappointing considering you had to cross the floor to go to many of the restaurants or the theater. The food at the hotel is expensive by Biloxi standards but it is very good. In the back of the casino is a restaurant called Coast that serves traditional sports pub fare with an extensive drink menu. The Buffet offers a wonderful breakfast assortment but beware that on the weekends it is a Champagne brunch and is very expensive. The poolside food and service were great with the exception of one pool boy who was very condescending when answering questions. However, we found his poor service to be an anomaly and were overall pleased with the service we received. I highly recommend a Biloxi Blonde beer while sitting out by the pool. It is the Beau Rivage’s own microbrew and very good on a warm afternoon by the pool.

Typically I have found the concierge to be one of the most helpful and deferential staff members at any hotel or resort. That was not the case at the Beau Rivage. My 22 year old son misplaced the key to his room and asked the concierge to kindly get him a duplicate. Again, he was met with the same poor attitude we had from the pool boy. He was simply rude and did not try to hide his disdain for being asked to do such a menial task. Overall, I was pleased with the service at the Beau Rivage but found service severely lacking from some particular employees. It did not seem to be an issue with the department or the hotel but more of individual employees. It seems the Beau Rivage training staff might be lacking in teaching basic customer service skills across the board.

 


So… on to the spa…ahhh. The spa staff as I have encountered across the globe were some of the most customer-service-minded employees at the hotel. They were friendly and accommodating. Be sure to take your bathing suit and try out all the mineral spas they offer in the spa area. The waiting room is cozy and offers the typical spa drinks and snacks. If I had any complaint (and it is so minor to barely be of notice) is that rather than the usual spa music that is piped in in the waiting room, this one offered a television which I thought broke the ambiance a bit. I was only able to fit in one facial but it was divine and my skin felt fantastic afterword.

Shopping at the Beau Rivage is a pretty interesting experience. We were able to pick up some awesome end of the season deals so be sure to look for the sales rack in each of the stores. Most of their offerings are high end but still in the mass market realm rather than boutique. I was able to get a beautiful black sleeveless dress that originally was marked at $178 for a final sale price of 32. What a deal! The shopping diva in me rejoiced!

Dining in the local area was a great experience. We really enjoyed a restaurant called Snappers that is right on the water with a fantastic view, outstanding but well priced food and excellent service. They are also open for breakfast and though I did not have an opportunity to eat breakfast there they advertise that you can see the dolphins right off the shore in the mornings. I highly recommend Snappers for any meal of the day. However, I would be remiss in not mentioning Margaritaville Restaurant and Casino. This is a quirky, fun and yummy dining experience. They had girls on stills doing a show and videos of Jimmy Buffet doing a concert. We sat outside on the patio in the early evening breeze overlooking the marina and found it a relaxing and fun experience. Make sure you try the fried pickles but don’t ask for lime in your Landshark! Do try their extensive Margarita list!

As for historical significance in the local area, don’t miss Beauvoir – the Jefferson Davis home. It is a stunning location right on the water and a Presidential Library and museum is currently under construction. It is a beautiful home with a beautiful story. I could have spent the entire afternoon on the rocking chairs overlooking the beautiful Biloxi Bay.

All in all, I truly enjoyed my experience in Biloxi and the Beau Rivage. If you are ever looking for a quick getaway that offers a beach, casino, great food and southern charm you need look no further than Biloxi.

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