Last updated: 12:00 PM ET, Fri February 26 2016

Reinventing Fort Lauderdale

Destination & Tourism | Robin Amster | February 26, 2016

Reinventing Fort Lauderdale

Photo Courtesy of Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB

Fort Lauderdale’s reputation as the nation’s Spring Break Capital is a not-so-fond memory for this Florida city, but its many successes on the road to transforming itself have done a lot to ease the pain.

At a recent press event in New York City,  Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau President Nicki Grossman said one of the  latest steps in the city’s transformation—the push to attract the luxury market—is well underway.

“Eight years ago, we went after the post market,” said Grossman. “But that proved to be too early. Now, the affluents are coming to Fort Lauderdale.”

What they’ll find is a host of new luxury properties.

Among the properties, a $500 million Auberge Beach Residences & Spa is expected to open next year. A $40 million beachfront Conrad Hotel, Hilton Hotels’ luxury brand, is slated to open this winter while a new $200 million Four Seasons Hotel & Private Residences will debut in 2018.

The Hyde Resort & Residences, a $240 million project, will open in phases from this year through 2018. And the $120 million Gale Boutique  Hotel & Residences Fort Lauderdale Beach is scheduled to open next year.

READ MORE: Greater Fort Lauderdale's Strong 2015 Tourism Gains

The new $147 million, 349-room, Margaritaville Resort, a Jimmy Buffett-themed project on Hollywood’s Boardwalk and the Intracoastal Waterway, opened last fall. Fort Lauderdale is also home to the luxury Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale.

The destination also has its sights set on other markets in addition to upscale visitors, said Grossman.

Traditionally the lion’s share of Fort Lauderdale’s visitor base has been leisure travelers but last year 30 percent of its business came from business and group travel, she said.

An enhancement project for the Greater Fort Lauderdale’s Convention Center District will include construction of a $600 million flagship Convention Center Headquarters Hotel and a 300,000 square foot expansion of the Broward County Convention Center expected to be completed in 2020.

The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is also being improved with a $2.3 billion expansion and runway extension project. The move was spurred by an increase in international traffic to more than 4.6 million passengers in 2014, up 26 percent over 2013.

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