As the first and only AAA Five Diamond Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, I had decidedly high expectations for my vacation experience at the Ritz-Carlton Ft. Lauderdale. From the moment I arrived and was graciously greeted by the valet personnel who eagerly escorted me to the registration area to be checked in by equally affable front desk attendants. With this first interaction, coupled with the litany of stellar staff interactions that ensued, it became quite clear my expectations would likely not only be met, but also readily exceeded at this property where a mandate of guest service excellence clearly reigns supreme.
“We pride ourselves on creating unique, memorable, and personal experiences for all of our guests,” said Michael Chiusano, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Ritz-Carlton Ft. Lauderdale. This is a lofty goal the property achieves on a daily basis, as attested by the hotel’s consistent exceptional ratings. Among other accolades, the property has, in fact, been the recipient of the Mobil Travel Guide Four-Star rating and the “Top New Hotel” on Condé Nast Traveler’s “Hot List.”
Chiusano describes the award-winning hotel as “refined luxury” with a “contemporary” ambiance and further explains the staff is “here to assist our guests with making The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale a home away from home. ”But, far beyond a homespun sensibility, this respite comes with an elevated array of creature comforts, such as a property-dedicated sommelier. It’s understandable why this is Chiusano’s personal favorite hotel feature given the sommelier offers private wine and food pairings in the on-site Wine Room, which impressively houses over 5,000 bottles of wine from around the world.
The hotel sits on a prime beachfront location that was once the site of the infamous Candy Store, a spring break fixture in the 1970s and 1980s. Also of note is the structure itself. The 24-story hotel boasts tiered and glass-walled architecture that is reminiscent of a luxury cruise liner, designed by Miami-based Arquitectonica, while the Hirsch-Bedner designed interior plays homage to the seascape with stunning murals. Seashells and other beach-themed decor as well as neutral sand, wood, and wave-inspired interiors throughout set just the right tone.
Offering an unforgettable escape, the Ritz-Carlton Ft. Lauderdale offers 192 1940s-inspired guest rooms and suites, full-service spa, championship golf at the nearby members-only Grande Oaks Golf Course, sweeping Atlantic Ocean and Intercoastal views, and a plethora of top-notch amenities.
All of the guest rooms and suites feature private balconies with a water view. There are seven Oceanfront Executive Suites and 15 Intracoastal Junior Suites as well as 26 Residential Suites, including one, two, and three bedroom options. No expense has been spared when it comes to the accommodations, including 400 thread-count Frette linens and goose down pillows, marble baths, and elegant, leather-wrapped and mahogany furnishings. All the latest technology is available with wireless high-speed Internet access, computer and fax hookups, multi-line telephones, data port connections, fully-integrated electronic guest control system, and a state-of-the-art DVD theater entertainment system with a 37" LCD panel TV and LCD panel TVs in each bathroom. Guests also enjoy the fully stocked refreshment cabinet, complimentary morning newspaper, and twice-daily housekeeping service.
The property is rife with options to stay entertained and pampered. There’s the heated zero-entry pool located on a 29,000-square foot elevated tropical pool deck replete with full service bar. Lounge like a VIP by snagging one of the 10 Oceanfront Cabanas that feel as though they are suspended over the ocean. Each comes with its own “Cabana Captain” who remains at-the-ready to serve drinks, food, or advice as a personal concierge. There are many cabana packages to choose from that offer varying amounts of time and service, depending on what suits each guest’s fancy.
The spa, with its minimalist décor and soothing color palette, is a great place to unwind. With 8,500 square feet of refined relaxation, including 10 treatment suites and one couples’ suite, separate lounges for men and women, and a gift boutique, it behooves you to find time to partake in some of the spa’s signature 99 percent organic treatments. It’s the only spa in the area that offers natural, “chiral” anti-aging facials. This superlative spa has a wide range of European and contemporary spa treatments, including those utilizing organic botanicals. The fitness center is fully stocked with nautilus equipment, free weights, and cardio machines that allow you to work out while overlooking the Intercoastal Waterway and downtown skyline.
The on-site oceanfront restaurant, Via Luna, is an elegant Italian eatery that focuses on grilled meats from a local butcher, fresh seafood, and Italian favorites as well as scrumptious desserts. Visit the Via Luna Bar for signature libations and small bites, or eat on deck at the Poolside Café where specialty fruit drinks complement a fresh menu that highlights local staples, including ever-enticing conch fritters.
Perhaps my personal favorite feature of the property is the Club Lounge, the only one of its kind at any luxury hotel in the city, which is included in all Residential Suite and a limited number of oceanfront guestroom reservations. Located on the 8th floor and boasting both Intracoastal waterway and ocean vistas, this 2,200 square-foot sanctuary provides access to exclusive amenities, such as complimentary gourmet breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner buffets with libations and other beverages, a private TV and computer station, and a Club Concierge eager to tend to a guest’s individual needs. This enclave also has an expansive balcony to enjoy the breathtaking sunrise and sunset.
With its perfect location to the beach and popular area attractions, unsurpassable guest service, and impeccable accommodations, the Ritz-Carlton Ft. Lauderdale is oceanfront elegance at its best.
"The Luxe List" Executive Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Submissions are accepted at www.LuxeListReviews.com. Follow her on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/LuxeListEditor and Facebook here: www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList.
***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***