Once considered a hot spot for spring break students, Fort Lauderdale has undergone a major transformation. The extensive boating canal system is often called the Venice of the United States and combines beautifully with white sandy beaches. In reality, there is nothing too far from the water’s edge. Hotels are centered around The Strip, a section of A1A that runs from Las Olas Boulevard north to Sunrise Boulevard along the Atlantic Ocean, and this is the best area to stay. Also known as Central Beacha pedestrian walkway here is filled with joggers and walkers, a great spot for people watching from one of the many cafes nearby. Las Olas, running east/west, is a popular destination for specialty shops, galleries, restaurants and entertainment. More than 300 miles of waterways, sunny skies and sparkling seas draw visitors from all over the world to this year-round destination.
Where to stay for luxury
The Ritz-Carlton has always been synonymous with glitz and glamor and its beachfront location in Fort Lauderdale is no exception. The top floor rooms offer spectacular views in all directions and elegant accommodations are decorated in a traditional style. Seek rejuvenation in the spa’s sea-inspired treatments, including a large wooden steam sauna. On-site dining offers a modern menu with an accent on local seafood. The boutiques of Las Olas are less than a mile away and the hotel’s carefully curated activities will delight guests of all ages.
The style and grandeur of the old style welcomes guests to the Pelican Grand Beach Resort. The 500 foot private beach is complete with free umbrellas and chairs. For extra family fun, the city’s only lazy river is a highlight. Enjoy a massage in the beach spa cabana before heading to lunch poolside. With two-thirds of the rooms as suites on the coast and with phenomenal water views, this is a holiday you will never forget.
The award-winning Lago Mar Beach Resort & Club is a secluded 10-hectare property in the exclusive area of Harbor Beach. Known for its deep-rooted hospitality, the hotel features an understated décor that combines the influence of the Mediterranean with a bit of Key Largo. There are many dining options on site, from casual to more formal. Resort amenities include a private beach, two swimming pools, tennis courts, putting green, full-service spa and fitness center.
Where to stay for the best value
Clean, fresh and conveniently located, Snooze is considered a hidden treasure for value, with ocean views. Many of the rooms have kitchenettes and the open-air rooftop lounge is a favorite place to read or relax away from the surf. A nice extra are the towel, sunshade, umbrella and water toys, at no extra cost.
The general consensus for staying at the centrally located Premiere Hotel is a lot of bang for your buck. Free parking, umbrellas, beach chairs and Wi-Fi make this three-story, smaller property a good mid-range choice. Lush greenery and parasols decorate the pool. The intimate indoor public space is warmed by wooden accents and bookshelves. The rooms are simply decorated in white. It is steps from the beach, close to popular Fort Lauderdale attractions and 7 miles from the airport.
A beachy atmosphere and state-of-the-art amenities are a hallmark of The Aqua Hotel. Located in the unique North Beach Village collection of mid-century modern architecture, this family-friendly spot has two pools and easy access to the beach two minutes away. Palm trees provide shade in the inviting gardens, where you can have a picnic or barbecue. Access to the Port Everglades makes it ideal for cruise passengers.
A short walk to the white sandy beaches at the south end of Fort Lauderdale Beach is the Bahia Mar Doubletree. Bright and sunny interior accents reflect the Florida weather. Stroll past a marina of million dollar yachts parked on the Intracoastal. For a change of pace, take a water taxi to shops and restaurants on Los Olas Boulevard.
Where to Stay on a Budget
Travel a few miles north on Ocean Avenue and it is possible to find budget accommodation on the beach with a pool. Ocean Manor Beach Resort Hotel has many loyal guests who return year after year. Efficiency rooms have large kitchens. Water sports and cabanas are available. Their Bamboo Tiki Hut has a relaxed menu and offers live entertainment on weekends. After yoga on the beach, enjoy a massage to the sound of the ocean in a thatched beachside pavilion. Please note that you pay for all extras.
The Galt Villas Inn is a vintage motel property, across the boardwalk from the beach, with a Tommy Bahamas feel. Free internet, a refrigerator and a microwave are available in all rooms. Fort Lauderdale Beach is four blocks away and long-term guests will appreciate the coin-operated laundry facility. A small swimming pool and decorative murals brighten up the outdoor area.
Located about two miles from the beach, La Quinta’s reliable quality makes it a good budget choice. Comfortable rooms are equipped with the usual amenities and a complimentary breakfast is offered. The Las Olas and Galleria areas are a short drive away. Guests can also relax by the hotel’s swimming pool.
Located two miles from the airport, The Comfort Inn is another option in this category. The rooms are brightly decorated and guests will appreciate the pool and hot breakfast.
Photo courtesy of The Bridge in Cordova
Where to stay for romance
For a romantic setting, especially as the sun sets and the lights begin to sparkle on the water, look no further than The Pillars Hotel. This 18-room property is nestled in an elegant garden on the Intracoastal and is part of the independently owned Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Gourmet dining takes advantage of nature’s bounty and is only available to hotel guests and private club members. You will find comfortable luxury in a boutique hotel just a short walk to the coast.
An Instagram-worthy rooftop pool and luxurious Bliss spa make The W Fort Lauderdale a favorite with couples. This modern beachfront resort offers a boot camp and yoga on the beach to start your day and dog-friendly accommodations for guests traveling with their four-legged friends.
The seventeen-story Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six is a modern building on the Intracoastal. Well-equipped rooms offer beautiful views of the surroundings. Arrive by boat and reserve a spot at the 142-slip marina. Golfing couples will enjoy guest privileges at nearby Grande Oaks Golf Club and can return for treatments at the hotel’s full-service spa.
Active couples will find a romantic spot poolside at the lemon-yellow Atlantic Hotel and Spa. The elevated facility directly overlooks the ocean and is just steps from the beach. Private balconies are located in all rooms. The kitchenettes, complete with a two-burner stove and microwave, make for cost-effective in-room dining. The spa offers natural treatments and a romantic package; the fitness center is open 24 hours a day.