After the seemingly all day and all night super fun event that was Miami and the iHeartRadio pool party, I needed a little relaxation to help me catch my breath and re-charge. A trip to Ft. Lauderdale seemed like just the thing to set me right again because compared to Miami, it has a slower pace and a more laid back vibe while still being right on the ocean. This is almost essential for me. When I am home, I live in the city. And the pace of life in NYC is anything but relaxing for me.
But what else does Ft. Lauderdale have? I didn’t know until my visit and it turns out…all the makings for a VERY good life….
The fabulous women who arranged my trip were so smart in putting me up at the beachfront W Hotel and from the moment I entered the space with its high ceilings and dark stone, I felt cooled off and almost instantaneously relaxed. It’s an incredibly designed property so that even though the first impression is darker and calming in one way, the other spaces are light and airy, with just enough color to match the vibrancy of Ft. Lauderdale and Florida in general.
The W is one of my favorite brands because — while each location is different, and all suited to their surroundings whether city, country, or seaside — they all offer a focus on the arts, good food and communing with good people. In fact, each hotel features a “living room” where you have to come and get your free coffee each morning, giving you the chance to make friends and to get to know your fellow travelers. (You can specify that a coffee maker be placed in your room instead, if this just isn’t your thing, but it doesn’t come standard. When you do request that option, it’s still free.) Another bonus of these living rooms is ultra fast WiFi so that you can also get work done if you’re traveling for business. As I pretty much always am. In Ft. Lauderdale they also offer terrific shopping right in the hotel, a BLISS Spa and multiple dining options. My favorite was Steak954 where I was able to dine for both breakfast and dinner. They also have a 24/7 “Whenever Wherever” hotline that will see to your every need, whim and beckon call. I put this to the test and it’s true, there’s nothing you need that they can’t provide. At least, nothing that I thought of.
Breakfast was one of the best I’ve ever had in a hotel: Short Rib Eggs Benedict over a Potato Pancake that fit the term, “melt in your mouth” to the tee. It was perfection! Dinner was a Dry Aged Strip that had a tough time competing with its side dishes: Truffle Mac&Cheese, Truffle Potatoes Au Gratin as well as Kale and Cauliflower. The cocktails befit the occasion, and were two of many many tempting options on one of the best cocktail menus I’ve seen in a while. It was all finished by warm-from-the-oven cookies and milk back in my suite.
Speaking of my suite, it was on the 17th floor in an ideal position allowing me 360 degree views of the ocean and all of Ft. Lauderdale. I had a balcony off my bedroom and off my bathroom that featured a stand alone soaking tub. This I used at night, during a thunderstorm, with the doors open, while reading a book and drinking a terrific glass of vino. Honestly, it was 10x better than any club could have possibly been. The only thing missing was my sweetie.
Last but certainly not least, the pool and its full service cabanas!! I really loved that walking up from the floor below I actually entered the pool deck THROUGH the pool. When I wanted full sunshine, I found the pool to be a very welcome relief — not too warm and not too cold, the water was ideally refreshing. When I wanted to enjoy my Bloody Mary in the shade, with aforementioned book, I retired to a cabana. Not even tropical storm Arthur could dampen the fun. The skies darkened for a few minutes but in my cabana I hardly noticed and when that was over, I was back in the pool. I never wanted to leave.
Getting a good picture of the good life to be had in Ft. Lauderdale?
But there’s so much more!
Ft. Lauderdale has an art scene that actually rivals Miami. Albeit, it is lower key just like the city. Which was fine by me. This allowed me the chance to actually visit with, and talk to, the artists and creatives who make up the city’s FAT Village Arts District. I was even able to enjoy, and not gulp, an “Electric Shock” latte at Brew Urban Cafe which stole the honor and is now my favorite coffee shop I’ve ever visited. BONUS: After hours it turns into a bar that serves craft cocktails on tap, run by neighboring C&I Reach.
Steak954 wasn’t the only restaurant to surprise and delight me while in town. I also enjoyed an excellent lunch at Himmarshee Public House (Florida craft beer, Chicken Tacos, Spicy Empanadas, a fresh salad and the STAR of the meal: Bacon Parmesan Grilled Brussels Sprouts) and dinner at Sweet Nectar (Grilled Chicken with a Sweet and Sour Teriyaki-style sauce that was AMAZING plus a Blackberry craft cocktail and Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding with Peanut Butter Ice Cream. I thought I’d died and gone to heave.)…I got a sneak peek of the REALLY good life, AKA: the luxe life when I rode the Water Taxi around town. The boat captains were all very knowledgeable about Ft. Lauderdale’s history and its famous residents. They helped me understand why it is called “The Venice of America” and why it is known as the Yachting Capital of the World. Homes of celebrities (see leading image in this post), actors, sports stars and politicians were all pointed out to me and the prices of yachts for sale were ticked off as if they were no big deal. Not, you know, in the millions of billions! It turns out, you can ride the water taxi for a really long time, and see a heck of a lot when you do, there are more than 160 miles of navigable waterways in Ft. Lauderdale and more than 300 in Broward County where the city lies!!! That’s my kind of good life: access to some kind of water, be it waterway or ocean, at all times. (Hmmm. Now I want to move south….)
I also got in a great workout while having fun when I did an Eco Tour with Sunrise Paddleboards among the mangrove forests and the waterways of residential Ft. Lauderdale. Since I don’t actually relish working out, this was so ideal for me. Our guide John was incredibly knowledgeable about the Ft. Lauderdale area, having been born and raised there, so he filled in all the holes my other experiences didn’t and he foraged a basket full of mangoes from a nearby tree so we could have fresh fruit after our workout!!
Almost the only thing I wanted to do, but didn’t get to, was visit the Bonnet House. Speaking of the good life, this house was designed specifically by Frederic Clay Bartlett and inspired by his third wife Evelyn. They were art collectors and avid travelers who filled the home with treasures from their travels. I am told that there is nothing quite like it in terms of creative decor and unusual architecture. But both my slotted times to visit, ended up in torrential rain showers caused by Arthur.
I guess I’ll just have to go back. After all, I think I could get used to the good life and more than 200 days of sunshine on average per year…