The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa
3555 S. Ocean Drive, Hollywood; DiplomatResort.com, 954-602-6000
Golf & Spa, 501 Diplomat Parkway, Hallandale Beach; 954-883-4900
Back story: Originally built in 1958, the 39-story Diplomat was rebuilt in 2002. Managed and operated by Starwood Hotels and Resorts, as of January 2010, the property now encompasses the former Diplomat Golf Resort & Spa. Guests can board the complimentary shuttle to experience either the soaring tropical ambiance of the beachfront location, or indulge in a round of golf or a spa treatment at the golf location on the Intracoastal Waterway. Staycations are key here, with a host of activities designed to entertain from the smallest of children to the busy corporate traveler.
Just for fun: The hotel's Director of Fun arranges activities for corporate guests, such as a 3, 5 or 10K run along Hollywood Broadwalk, as well as activities designed to bring families together. These include complimentary 'smores night and movie nights at the pool featuring a 36 foot blow up screen, bounce houses and water slides for the kids, with a poolside massage therapist on call for mom and dad, and many special holiday activities. Easter brings a petting zoo and an egg hunt accommodating 2,200 people, while winter holidays feature a life-sized gingerbread house in which guests enter for morning coffee and pastries then exit into Santa's workshop.
Eat, drink and be merry: For a romantic evening or special occasion, try Hollywood Prime. The resort's signature steakhouse, Hollywood Prime, offers melt-in-your-mouth steaks and a large selection of wines. Don't miss the extraordinary creamed spinach side dish. Other dining venues include AiZiA, with a contemporary Pan-Asian menu, RIVALS Waterfront Sports Grill, and BarSu Lounge featuring infused Sake martinis.
Just for kids: The Director of Fun also oversees Westin Kids Club, offering traditional activities such as sand and sugar art, to the much loved parent's night off, when children are treated to tours of the hotel's Presidential suite, then don chef's hats to help prep food in the kitchen. Dinner means sitting at the chef's table and instructing the chef's on such important issues as how many French fries to prepare. This is followed by stargazing through the hotel's large telescopes.
Sleep well: Almost every guest room offers either an Intracoastal Waterway or Atlantic Ocean view. Ten-layer Heavenly Beds are featured in every room, as are Heavenly Bath products, granite and marble bathrooms, in-room safes large enough to accommodate lap-top computers, Bose CD player/radios and in-room movies. Two Presidential suites are on the 36th floor. With 2,550 square feet each, the suites both have over $1 million in appointments.
Going green: The Diplomat is a designated property with the Florida Green Lodging Program, and USGBC LEED EBOM Registered property. In-room recycling, water conservation, dimming controls and timers on lights and air conditioning are a few of the hotel's initiatives. There is also an extensive outreach program with approximately 700 vendors, suppliers and charities to which worn hotels goods are recycled or donated.
Attractions: The Hollywood Broadwalk is a short distance away, or check out the shops and restaurants of downtown Hollywood and the Arts Park at Young Circle. Gulfstream racetrack and casino is nearby, with its 450 simulcast screens for year-round wagering on all the nation's top racetracks, and The Village at Gulfstream Park has an array of international shops, restaurants and cafes.
Celebrity cache: At one time a favorite of the Rat Pack and celebrities such as Bill Cosby, Sammy Davis Jr., and Judy Garland, stargazers have also spotted the likes of Madonna, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher at the Diplomat.
Rate: Superior rooms start at $199, while suites begin at $500 per night.
Tracey BroussardCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun