With a tighter travel budget this year, saving money is a priority for my annual beach pilgrimage. So which seaside spot am I going to visit? I’m staying home to explore my own backyard, Fort Lauderdale beach. Yes, I'm doing the "staycation" thing.
I have lived in the Lauderdale area for 15 years, and for those that have not recently visited, Fort Lauderdale beach has transformed into a chic hot spot with new luxe hotels and restaurants. I hardly recognize the beachfront with the Ritz-Carlton and the Atlantic Hotel. Same great beaches though. So I decided to use this vacation to try a new Fort Lauderdale hotel, the W Fort Lauderdale, which just opened. The rates are at their lowest right now and I can enjoy the “good life” at a great price.
As I arrive at the new W hotel with its feng shui design and blue hued brick, I am greeted by a gang of cute boys eager to park my car. A cool vibe permeates the arrival area. Mood lighting transports me from my stressful, rushed life to an ultra trendy haven where I can just let it flow. This is not your standard hotel lobby, this is a W Hotel lobby, where you can people watch for days and see all the action through overhead tilted mirrors. There is comfy seating all around the bar and outside on the veranda, a very cool fire pit is a gathering place for hipsters. I just love a fire pit on an outdoor veranda, although in Fort Lauderdale you really don’t need them for warmth — they just have high cool factor in my book.
Waiting for my girlfriends to arrive for a relaxing weekend, I peruse the modern room and think, “I could get used to this type of living.” At 7 p.m., the girlsarrive and we go to dinner at Steak 954 in the W. We order cocktails from the restaurant bar: I asked for the Las Olas, a $10 signature cocktail with a kiwi garnish that smelled divine. Anna ordered a Prosecco and Susannah a dirty martini, so predictable! The hostess sat us in one of the best spots where we had an unobstructed view of the jellyfish tank. Most restaurants have lobster or exotic fish, but in true W fashion, this restaurant features a glowing jellyfish tank that is mesmerizing. I ordered the poached lobster, Anna the lamb chops fit and Susannah the 8-oz filet that was cooked to perfection. We split a wedge salad with homemade blue cheese dressing and grilled asparagus as a side.
After dinner we headed to the Living Room veranda for a quick drink and contemplated how we could top our evening tomorrow night. I suggested a day at the spa with massages, followed bya wine tasting at The Ritz-Carlton, which is a deal at $35 per person. We heard the sommelier performs the tasting in the chilled 5,000-bottle wine room. Since we are living the high life on a budget this year, we decided to take advantage of 2-for-1 deals at many local attractions during the summer. There are 2-for-1 spa treatments that I think we are going to take advantage of this weekend. That will help us relax and rejuvenate and stretch our money, so we might be able to get a few more cocktails.
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Jessica Taylor is theMedia Relations Director for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. When she’s off-duty, Jessica can be found working on her tan at the beach or working over the couture racks on Las Olas Boulevard.