By Liz Doup
January 21, 2010
Back story: When Fort Lauderdale beach wanted a new look, it went from Spring Break Cheap to Year Round Luxury. One by one, luxury hotels emerged on the oceanfront drive, including The Ritz-Carlton, which took over the St. Regis and opened in 2008. It recently became the only Broward County hotel to earn AAA's Five Diamond Award.
Apropos of its location, the hotel's look evokes an ocean liner, with sweeping curves and glass walls. From the lobby, floor-to-ceiling windows offer an ocean view. Every room in the 24-story hotel also has a water view, either of the ocean or the Intracoastal. There are 192 rooms, with the top three floors belonging to private residents.
The look is elegant and opulent. The lobby's white marble floors gleam, and architectural accents, all evoking the sea, are in crystal, stone and mother of pearl. The colors throughout are ecru and sandy beige with splashes of ocean blue.
Just for fun: On the hotel's seventh story is a 29,000-square-foot sundeck with an infinity pool, private cabanas and a bar. It's designed in such a way that you look out on the water and don't see A1A, which divides the hotel from the beach. A sky bridge connects the sundeck to the beach. The 8,500-square-foot spa includes 11 candle-lit treatment rooms, including a couples room. For working out, the hotel offers an 8,000-square-foot fitness center.
Golfers have privileges at Davie's Grande Oaks Golf Club, and a concierge can arrange any number of water sports, including boating, jet skiing and snorkeling. During holidays, such as spring break and Easter, a full menu of children's activities is planned, including arts and crafts and beach games.
Sleep well: The hotel has several types of accommodations, from rooms to two-bedroom suites. Rooms range from 300 to 659 square feet; suites from 600 up to more than 1,800 square feet.
In your dreams: The Residential Suite measures 1,584 square feet and includes a living room, dining room for sit-down dinners and a kitchenette with granite countertops. It includes one bedroom with a den and one-and-a-half baths. The private wrap-around balcony offers views of both Intracoastal and ocean. Rates range from $1,299 to $1,699 per night.
Eat, drink and be merry: At Cero, the hotel's main restaurant, try the whole butterflied yellowtail snapper or the North Atlantic Sea Bass filet. You can eat indoors or on the oceanview terrace. The lobby bar has a 13-foot seascape mural, and the nearby Wine Room features rare scotches and a 5,000-bottle wine cellar. Sommelier Sven Vogtland leads weekly wine tastings for $65, and the hotel will offer a four-course Valentine's Day menu from 6 to 11 p.m. for $85. (Plus 6 percent tax and 18 percent gratuity for both.)
Attractions: It is close to downtown Fort Lauderdale and its entertainment district, including museums and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Nearby Las Olas Boulevard has restaurants and boutiques.
Prices: Highest rates are from Jan. 3 to April 17 ($399 for a king with an Intracoastal view to $899 for an oceanfront suite). Lowest from May 26 to Sept. 30 ($179-$449). During the other dates, rates range from $269 to $699. Tax is 11 percent.
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