Checking In: il Lugano Suite Hotel -- Fort Lauderdale hotel sits pretty on the Intracoastal
The bar at il Lugano Suite Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. (IL LUGANO / April 14, 2009)
Back story: At il Lugano, you know you're in Fort Lauderdale -- "the Venice of America" -- because you can motor your boat right up to the hotel. It backs up to the Intracoastal and has 10 boat slips, which accommodate crafts up to 50 feet.
The 15-story suite hotel opened last year and is geared to getaway weekends or extended stays. (Five floors are suites; the top five floors are residences. Parking is below the accommodations.) The hotel has a Tuscan feel, decorated in golds, bronzes and russets with Chihuly-like glass sculpture lighting in the lobby and wine bar.
You're a couple of blocks from the beach but a beach buggy, which accommodates eight, delivers you to the ocean's edge. Complimentary Cadillac Escalade car service drops you off at restaurants and attractions within a three-mile radius. The service ends at 11 p.m. The hotel is popular with families in the summer. During the season, business travelers mingle with boating enthusiasts and wedding parties who want the Intracoastal as a backdrop for the ceremony and the landscaped pool area for the reception.
Just for fun: Book your own private cruise aboard the hotel's 29-foot boat. A captain takes you along the Intracoastal. Minimum two hours ($300). Your precious pooch (40 pounds and under, please) also gets the royal treatment. Your pet's personal doggie bag includes treats, baked on premises, a stylish leash and doggie bags, packaged in a toy dog. For workout buffs, there's a 450-square foot 24-hour fitness center
Sleep well: Il Lugano's 105 suites, in earth tones, range from 500 to 950 square feet. Some have a separate bedroom. All suites have views of the Intracoastal or the ocean about two blocks away. Each has full-sized refrigerators, microwaves, cook tops, washers and dryers. Also: flat screen TVs, Bose Sound systems and iPod docking stations.
Eat, drink and be merry: The star attractions are the four 800-square-foot entertainment suites with terraces big enough for 40 partiers.
Celebrity chef Todd English's restaurant, da Campo Osteria, offers an Intracoastal view and his signature grilled flatbreads. The house specialty is mozzarella prepared at your table. You pick the fillings – prosciutto, figs, walnuts and olive tapenade.
Attractions: Several restaurants and a jazz club are within walking distance. You're within a few minutes of restaurant/boutique-filled Las Olas Boulevard, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and several museums.
Rates: Suites start at $169; entertainment suites, $379. Tax is an additional 11 percent. Parking, $15 daily.