PHOTO: A guestroom at the oceanfront Plunge Beach Hotel, slated to open in late March/early April.
When you’re booking cruises out of Port Everglades, don’t forget to sell your clients on pre- or post-cruise stays in Greater Fort Lauderdale. Not only are an increasing number of passengers choosing to explore the area, but 62 percent of the port’s cruise guests also book a pre-cruise stay and 21 percent book a post-cruise stay, according to a 2016 Port Everglades study.
Furthermore, the destination boasts an ever-expanding roster of hotels to host them. Competition in the hotel market is heating up in Greater Fort Lauderdale, where occupancies are strong (last February’s was the highest for 2016 at 89.2 percent). Established properties have emerged from major renovations, several hotels have recently opened and more are slated to debut this year.
Here’s a rundown on the latest area hotel news.
Broward County’s largest hotel, the 1,000-room Diplomat Beach Resort (formerly the Diplomat Resort & Spa) in Hollywood emerged from a $100 million transformation. Part of Curio – A Collection by Hilton, the property pays homage to its past, which began in 1958, with vintage artwork and midcentury-influenced design. The resort now offers a Dip + Slide water play area for kids, as well as 10 new culinary concepts, including the recently opened Point Royal by Geoffrey Zakarian.
The newly opened sleek and sophisticated Hyde Resort & Residences in Hollywood Beach – set in a new oceanfront 43-story building – features 363 one-, two- and three-bedroom suites with gourmet kitchens and terraces, two infinity-edge ocean-view pools, luxury spa, and beachside and poolside restaurants.
The oceanfront W Fort Lauderdale emerged from a $55 million facelift designed by New York-based firm Meyer Davis Studio. All guestrooms have been renovated, as well as the WET Deck oceanfront pool area, the brand’s signature Living Room lobby, the fitness center and more.
The Ikona Hotel on Fort Lauderdale’s Bayshore Drive, which opened in August, features 24 deluxe rooms, family apartment suites and penthouses. With interiors evoking a contemporary seaside cottage, the Ikona, part of Fort Lauderdale’s Gzella Collection of boutique hotels, features smart technology, a pool and courtyard garden, and a second-level balcony overlooking the ocean.
At press time, the 163-room oceanfront Plunge Beach Hotel was slated to open in late March/early April in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. The hotel offers direct beach access and features three individual buildings, each with its own distinct vibe and aesthetic. The hotel is designed for the “emerging creative class of millennials and young families who desire an off-the-radar, experiential vacation,” said Paul Ditheridge, the property’s director of marketing. It will be equipped with a beachfront pool, fitness center, Backflip Beach Bar, Octopus Lobby Gastro pub and the Wells Coffee Shop.
The 150-room TRYP by Wyndham Maritime Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, slated at press time to open in March, is the TRYP brand’s first hotel in Florida and third in the U.S. The new build property anchors Marina Bay, which is a luxury yacht marina, and features a maritime theme, with 11 aquariums showcasing local marine life. Additional features of the $23 million hotel include a Spanish-style tapas bar (a trademark of the TRYP brand), a rooftop bar and lounge, pool and outdoor deck, and an indoor basketball court.
Expected to open in July, the 24-story Conrad Fort Lauderdale is an oceanfront residence and resort with studio and suite accommodations, a spa, state-of-the-art fitness center, oceanfront dining, beach concierge and elevated pool deck.
Le Meridien Fort Lauderdale Airport in Dania Beach, formerly the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Airport & Cruise Port Hotel, is undergoing a $30 million renovation and will open this fall with 245 contemporary guestrooms, 20,000 square feet of meeting space and two redesigned restaurants.
The Melia Costa Hollywood Beach Resort, scheduled to open this fall, is located beachfront on the Hollywood Broadwalk, with 304 new condo-hotel rooms ranging from oceanfront studios to three-bedroom apartments, and a spa, rooftop bar and lounge, and rooftop infinity pool.
To learn more about the area, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, in conjunction with Travel Agent Academy, offers the Greater Fort Lauderdale Specialist Program. The program includes resources to help you market, plan and sell the destination.
New Brightline Train Service
Fort Lauderdale visitors will soon have a new way to travel north to West Palm Beach and south to Miami. It will take about 30 minutes to reach either city aboard the new Brightline train service, launching this summer. The trains will offer complimentary WiFi; reserved, spacious seats with power outlets; and food-and-beverage selections.
Brightline’s downtown Fort Lauderdale station, in the Arts & Science District, will offer a comfortable lounge and a streamlined, modern aesthetic that it shares with the stations in Miami and West Palm Beach.
The company is “looking to work with key travel partners who will want to add on the Brightline train service for their guests,” said AnneMarie Mathews, Brightline’s vice president of media relations. “Overall, we think it’s important for agents to know about this new way to get around South Florida, without having to rent a car. Our product is perfect for tourists or business travelers, as we are much more of a hospitality company, offering a higher-end travel product.”
Brightline’s phase two will add service from South Florida stations to Orlando, where the train station will be set next to the Orlando International Airport.