Coral Beach Resort – Myrtle Beach

REVIEW:

When the Coral Beach Resort appeared on South Ocean Blvd in the late 80s it fit perfectly with the fashion and pop culture of that time, looking like something straight out of South Beach and the iconic TV show Miami Vice, with its pastel exterior mixed with neon pink and turquoise signage.  Not only was it a standout for its style, it was one of the first Myrtle Beach ‘resorts’ of its time, offering guests (in particular, families) far more amenities than the standard motels or hotels of that time ever could.  It also helped to set a benchmark for what was to come in this favored vacation destination.

As more and more resorts of this nature have appeared on the Grand Strand, offering numerous accommodation options and amenities for families staying together, Coral Beach has remained competitive with several updates and upgrades, all with an ongoing commitment to  ‘family vacations’.  When you combine that with its location and convenience factor, its no wonder this property books up quickly during peak summer months.

However, depending on YOUR personal standards and preferences, as well as your idea of what constitutes a ‘resort’, Coral Beach might exceed your expectations… then again, it may fall far short.  For some discerning guests, the dimly-lit, lackluster lobby and check-in desk will be the first indication that the property isn’t quite as pristine as the hotel website would lead you to believe.  On the other hand, if you look beyond the lobby toward the poolscape and oceanfront, you might be entirely thrilled. So if you’re planning a Myrtle Beach vacation and are considering this as your destination, let us give you the rundown of what to expect.

Coral Beach Resort is located just south of Downtown Myrtle Beach and occupies 3.5 acres of prime oceanfront property.  The area is rife with older hotels and resorts, as well as tourist attractions and watersports activities (jet ski rentals, parasailing, banana boats) so its safe to say it sits among the busiest section of the beach. On the plus side, the area offers plenty to do, much of which is within walking distance.  On the downside, don’t expect the quiet, laidback atmosphere you would find in North Myrtle Beach and don’t look for much in the way of shells and shark teeth in the sand because the beach is heavily trodden.

Known for its abundance of onsite amenities, Coral Beach offers a small but cute children’s waterpark, both indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, a compact fitness room, a business center, and a well-stocked gift shop.  Onsite eateries and bars are limited but include the Coral Bean Cafe (essentially a small Starbucks), Atlantis Restaurant (which serves a breakfast buffet) Oceans 6 (a brand new bar and lounge) and an outdoor bar & grill called Splash.

The fourth floor of the resort has been designated for fun and games, called the Entertainment Zone.  Essentially, it is a family-friendly area containing an arcade, foosball and pool tables, air hockey, an 8-lane bowling alley and an ice cream shop.  Live music and Karaoke are also featured on select evenings.

More fun can be found at the resort’s many indoor and outdoor pools plus a Lazy River Ride, the latter of which has become a Myrtle Beach standard. 

While all of these amenities may have been new and groundbreaking back in the day, the fact is that most of the bigger vacation properties along the Grand Strand these days offer the very same type of thing.  As a matter of fact, we’re willing to make a direct comparison to the Beach Cove Resort in North Myrtle Beach.

Yes, accommodations at Coral Beach are geared toward families staying together, but the options here are somewhat limited when taking into account the biggest unit is a one-bedroom condo layout, which sleeps six people with 2 Queen beds and a pullout.

Altogether, there are 7 varying room layouts offering different bed sizes (king or queen) and different views (oceanview or oceanfront) but the fact remains that multi-bedroom units are not available, which might be a drawback for larger families. So here’s where our comparison differs to the Beach Cove considering they offer 1,2 & 3 bedroom options.  That being said, the layouts and even the furnishings are highly similar at both establishments, if you take a look at our review here.  Considering Beach Cove has numerous sister properties, it would be easy to assume that Coral Beach was one of them.  Surprisingly, it’s not.

On the lower end of the scale, the Oceanview King or Queen rooms offer a small and convenient kitchenette, middle rate rooms include the Oceanview Efficiency unit which is a step up with a full kitchen, and the Oceanfront Family Suite which features your choice of 2 Queen Beds or a King Bed, plus a Murphy Bed in the living area, 2 TVs, and a fully equipped kitchen.

High-end accommodations include the Premium Oceanfront Queen or King Suite, which features a condo-style layout boasting far more living space than the other accommodations and includes a full living area, 2 TVs, a full kitchen, and one bedroom with your choice of  2 Queens or a King Bed.

If booking directly via the hotel, you can expect rates of $205 – $360 per night during peak season.  Our advice is to take advantage of early booking discounts online, which can reduce rates by approximately $20 per night.

Amenities include free Wi-Fi and local calls, and expanded cable TV, all of which are welcomed extras. Guests will also find controllable air conditioning, a built-in safe, hair dryer, tables and chairs on the balcony, a microwave and coffee maker (or a fully stocked kitchen in the family units) and daily housekeeping. Though several Myrtle Beach resorts of this nature include laundry facilities in their condo-style layouts, Coral Beach is not one of them. However, you will find an iron & ironing board if needed.

While online photos are capable of masking issues depending on the way they are shot, in-person inspections reveal all.  So, even though the units may look charming (and mostly they are), it doesn’t mean they are without problems.  The issue is that, like most Myrtle Beach properties these days, the units are individually owned with the hotel merely managing them.  As such, the cleanliness and level of maintenance (and in some cases the decor) can vary greatly from one room to the next.  Whereas some guests will be thrilled with their accommodations, others will see them as in desperate need of maintenance and an upgrade.  Like most hotels and resorts on the Grand Strand, Coral Beach suffers complaints of a musty smell which likely has to do with summer humidity and salt air permeating the ventilation systems and causing mold, followed by the rooms basically remaining locked up during the off-season.  A few complaints have also mentioned bed bugs but our research indicates that its a contained problem, showing up only in specific units as opposed to a resort-wide problem.

Another problem many guests have voiced is that this is not their idea of a “resort” wherein the nightly rate includes the use of all the facilities/amenities.  Instead, Coral Beach is a ‘pay as you go’ destination, where the only ‘package’ option available is one that includes the morning breakfast buffet at Atlantis.  Otherwise, everything else is priced individually.  And seeing as the hotel operates with a ‘No Cash’ policy, where everything you use or eat gets charged to the room, you might be in for a huge surprise on the day of checkout, especially if you’re not keeping track of everything your family is adding to the bill.

PROS:  The location is good if you want to be near the action of downtown.  Rates are competitive with similar resorts in the Myrtle Beach area. There are several onsite amenities to enjoy if you’re not the type of vacationer that likes to go out a lot in search of restaurants and entertainment.  The hotel offers a package deal that incorporates the morning breakfast buffet. 

CONS:  As one of the original resorts of this nature on the Grand Strand, the property is looking tired and is in need of an upgrade.  Although rates are competitive, the onsite amenities are indeed expensive and will substantially boost the price of your stay.  The hotel could benefit from the addition of 2 and 3 bedroom units.  Although Coral Beach claims its poolscape is one of the best in Myrtle Beach, it isn’t nearly as extensive as some other resorts in the region, not to mention that the pools are small when compared to the number of guests at the hotel.  The ‘No Cash’ policy is an inconvenience and tends to lead to greatly increased bills due at check-out.

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