Hotel Intel: W Fort Lauderdale brightens up the beachfront
January 11, 2019
The decor unites the sea and sky at this resort, which recently underwent a US$55-million renovation.
ROCHELLE LASH, SPECIAL TO THE MONTREAL GAZETTE
Updated: January 11, 2019
You can’t buy happiness, but W Fort Lauderdale promises to deliver at no charge.
W Fort Lauderdale is an engaging and entertaining resort that embodies Fort Lauderdale’s most winning qualities: high-spirited cocktail culture, spa life, great food and a sunny lifestyle at a broad, pristine beachfront and two swimming pools. The resort is stimulating and sociable, with lots of people-watching. It’s also reasonably good value, with top-drawer facilities and some free activities, including daily oceanfront boot camp or yoga.
The news: A recent US$55-million renovation has ensured that this southern Florida landmark stays bold, beautiful and fresh.
The overhaul means guests enjoy a restyled W Fort Lauderdale: 517 redone accommodations, exciting dining, high-tech meeting spaces and the gorgeous Living Room, a show-stopping lounge and terrasse overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. W Fort Lauderdale’s multi-level lobby is a spacious and dramatic study in white and glass, with pale wood adding a natural touch and the sky soaring above. And the Away Spa, a new brand for W, recently made its debut.
“It always has been an extraordinary destination hotel,” said general manager Anna MacDiarmid. “Now the restyling has taken W Fort Lauderdale and its guest experience to a whole new level.”
World of W: This is a full-service hotel, no doubt about it. The front desk smoothly handles a huge volume of check-ins and checkouts.
Updating the traditional concept of concierges, W Insiders dish expert advice on world-class everything: jogging trails, snorkelling sites, boating, bike rentals, shopping on Las Olas Blvd. and at the Galleria. The team’s Whatever/Whenever service claims to accommodate any request, “as long as it’s legal.”
W Fort Lauderdale presents nightly happenings in the Living Room (complimentary activities, with specials on drinks): hand massages on Mondays; henna tattoos on Tuesdays; artists painting on Wednesdays; interactive DJs on Thursdays; Latin Heat Wave on Fridays; ’80s tunes on Saturdays; and jazz-infused Saxxy Sundays.
The Away Spa, a sanctuary adjacent to the lobby, opened recently with a range of services, including party-worthy beauty treatments like mani-pedis and makeup, body buffing and couples massages.
Everyone’s favourites are W Fort Lauderdale’s two magnificent rooftop pools. WET East, restyled with new lounges and day beds overlooking the Atlantic, is the “it” scene on weekends, with DJs adding to a pool-party atmosphere. WET West is a secluded hideaway for sunbathers looking for tranquility. Drinks and food are available at both.
New rooms: With categories like Wonderful and Fabulous, the 517 guest rooms, suites and residential suites have been totally redecorated in a nautical theme — white and azure with unbleached wood and touches of rose gold for shine. The ombré curtains match the horizon, from cloud white at the top cascading down to deep blue, representing the sea. All have water views — the Atlantic Ocean or the Intracoastal, or both.
The accommodations have new everything: thick carpets, fine bedding, attractive lighting, large flat-screens and sparkling bathrooms, plus tech-centric NudeAudio Bluetooth speakers and bedside USB ports.
At the tip-top end is the spectacular Extreme Wow Suite, an ultra-luxurious two-bedroom suite with contemporary designer decor, a state-of-the-art kitchen, three TVs and panoramic views. It sleeps up to six, so it’s great for a bachelorette or friends’ getaway. And if you really are loving the world of W, you can buy one of the residential suites (with kitchens/kitchenettes).
Cuisine: So many options — salads and sandwiches poolside; cappuccino and croissants at the grab-and-go café; and the new sushi bar for lobster rolls.
El Vez, a new Mexican restaurant, does Latin lobster avocado toast, ceviche, steak quesadillas and grilled chicken. Happy hour — super fun on the patio — features half-price margaritas and bites.
Moving up — way up — the culinary scale: Stephen Starr, a celebrity chef and James Beard Award winner, hits gastronomic sweet spots at W Fort Lauderdale’s Steak 954 (954-414-8333, steak954.com), a lavish restaurant serving the best of surf and turf, plus fine wines and premium spirits.
Dinner features seafood delicacies such as oysters, king crab, shrimp, scallops and black cod, plus a bevy of steaks, from the $40 filet mignon to the $75 wagyu New York strip. Drinks and desserts are over-the-top. The Seeing Stars cocktail blends three rums and fruit essences, and is so potent there is a limit of two per guest. To finish the feast, consider the caramelized chocolate custard with bourbon sabayon and pecans.
IF YOU GO
Prices fluctuate; starting at about US$360 for two (watch for lower online specials), plus $35 resort fee. Price includes pools/whirlpool, beach setups, group fitness, nightly activities, 24-hour fitness centre, Living Room Wi-Fi, bottled water, bicycles. Extra: valet parking, in-room dining, pets, guest room Wi-Fi.
Fort Lauderdale tourism: 800-22-SUNNY (227-8669); sunny.org.