Most of the northern trees have already shed their leaves. Daytime and evening temperatures are slowly dropping. Brrr … snow and icy temperatures will soon be a reality! If you’re dreaming of white sand beaches and sunny skies, then don’t delay making reservations for Fort Lauderdale, a convenient beach and cruise port destination for decades. Some favorite spots might be outdated but you can dive head first by planning to visit a sparkling new or revitalized venue. Here’s a list of what’s available within the next year in the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood area.
With increased demand, the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is meeting the needs of its passengers. The airport is in the first phase of a $450 million expansion and modernization project. Look for more domestic and international gates, interactive walkways, new and improved concession areas, and a customs inspection facility.
Port Everglades Terminal is conveniently located next to the airport and services nine cruise lines. At the start of the 2016 cruise season, US Custom and Border Protection inaugurated an expedited clearance for Global Entry participants. This cruise season, Holland America’s MS Koningsdam and Royal Caribbean’s largest ship, the Harmony of the Seas, will cruise out of Port Everglades. Next year, Carnival Cruises’ Carnival Splendor will also use this port and Crystal Cruises will enter this marketplace.
PLACES TO STAY
Hyde Resort & Residences (Hollywood) will tower 43 floors above the Atlantic Ocean in January 2017. It will add 363 one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites to the local beachfront. This full-service hotel will have two infinity-edge ocean view pools, a fitness center overlooking the ocean, a spa with steam and sauna rooms, a restaurant, 24-hour concierge, and 24-hour room service.
Starting in mid-2017, the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach will treat guests to spacious oceanfront studios and suites that include kitchenettes with touch-screen stoves and Sub-Zero refrigerators. Additional amenities will include a 24-hour room service menu, four onsite restaurants, heated outdoor pool and whirlpool, 4,000 square foot ocean view spa and fitness center, and 20,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
Airport/ Port Everglades
TRYP by Wyndham Maritime Hotel is scheduled to open in March 2017. Its Marina Bay location coordinates effectively with the hotel’s nautical theme. Guests who stay in the 150-room property will be treated to 11 aquariums that promote local marine life and will also have access to an onsite European tapas bar.
In the fall of 2017, the seven-story Wyndham Garden Hotel will add 142 new rooms to Dania Beach. Cruise ship passenger and sun worshipers will be delighted with its proximity to the airport.
An icon from the past, The Diplomat Beach Resort (Curio Collection by Hilton), has undergone a substantial $95 million overhaul that has updated guest rooms, the lobby, restaurants, and lounges. Its prime Hollywood location has been a major draw for couples and families for years.
The W Fort Lauderdale has spent $55 million redoing its 430 guest rooms and suites, lobby, pool decks, and public spaces. A new Stephen Starr restaurant will feature a 3-meal a day menu.
Travelers coming in December 2016 should be aware that the former Comfort Suites Airport and Cruise Port is now called the Fort Lauderdale Airport/Cruise Port Inn.
On a smaller scale, the three-story Ikona Hotel (previously named the Shell Motel) underwent a major renovation of its 24 deluxe rooms, family apartments suites and penthouses. This beachside retreat is the second boutique hotel to be opened by the Gzella Collection. Look for the Mirra Hotel (former Martindale Motel) in the third quarter of 2017.
The Escape Hotel is being rehabbed and renamed. The Gale Boutique Hotel near Fort Lauderdale’s North Beach Village will open at the end of 2017 and will have 96 rooms and 129 condo residences. Upscale amenities include a rooftop sky deck, fitness center and spa, concierge services, and a pool.
Travelers desiring to stay near the airport or cruise port in the last quarter of 2017, should also consider the Le Meridien Dania Beach (formerly the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Airport & Cruise Port Hotel). The $30 million dollar facelift will include the revitalization of 245 guest rooms, the meeting space, and 2 restaurants.
Foodies can treat their tastebuds at one or more of these new restaurants and bars.
Top Bravo TV chef star Josie Smith Malave opened her first restaurant Bubbles & Pearls in the heart of Wilton Manors. This casual dining experience specializes in champagne, sparkling wines, oysters, and an upmarket selection of seafood and small plates.
Large and small plates can be ordered from the global tapas menu at One Door East. Cocktails are made to compliment the cuisine and introduce patrons to new flavors. The restaurant is located on the east side of US1 just south of the New River Tunnel.
A mixed crowd will enjoy the diverse cuisine at the lively and dance friendly Amsterdam Bar and Restaurant in downtown Hollywood. Burgers, Mediterranean food, and vegetarian dishes top the list of popular items. Early reviews rave about happy hour specials.
Carnivores are smacking their lips at the Diplomat Prime. Piggybacking on the Diplomat’s renovation is the opening of the resort’s seafood and steak fine dining experience.
A photo posted by B Square Burgers & Booze (@bsquareburgers) on
New burger eateries include Bristol’s Burgers at the Diplomat Beach Resort and B Square Burgers and Booze on Las Olas Boulevard. Vegetarians can feel at home with Bristol’s Burgers’ selection of salads, slaws, and sides. Happy hour at B Square lasts from 4-7 pm.
Y’all can taste good ole southern cooking at Spring Chicken. Chicken is served as an entrée, in sandwiches and as part of a salad. Shakes, floats, freshly squeezed lemonade, craft sodas, and local beers are offered as thirst quenchers. This small chain of south Florida restaurants now has a Fort Lauderdale location on US1.
Hawaiian cuisine makes its debut at Raw Poke Bar. The chef’s recipes are showcased in an assortment of made-to-order poke bowls and burritos. Its surprise location inside the Las Olas Chabad Jewish Center means that it follows kosher dietary laws and is closed on Saturdays.
Russ Aaron Simon, a native Floridian, opened American English Kitchen and Bar. After working for Wolfgang Puck in various locations for the last 15 years, he returned to Hollywood to open his own restaurant. His eclectic menu will lure in foodies who crave a mixture of flavors from a variety of cultures.
Take a 10-minute boat ride to 1-½ miles off the coast of nearby Pompano Beach (about 11 miles north of Fort Lauderdale). At Shipwreck Park, divers can explore the recently sunk Lady Luck, which is as long as football field. This artificial reef system and dive site includes underwater art exhibits and 16 nearby shipwrecks.
Here’s a brief overview of live performances for the next few months.
On December 3 and 4, Fort Lauderdale Beach will host the premier performance of the Riptide Music & Food Festival. The main attraction will be music from the 70s, 80s, and 90s.
In addition to hosting the Florida Panthers, The BB & T Center in Sunrise will be offering top-notch musical performances—Barbra Streisand (December 3), Kanye West (December 4), Trans-Siberian Orchestra 2016 Winter Tour (December 16), Y100 Jingle Ball (December 18), Bill Joel New Year’s Eve (December 31), and Bon Jovi (February 12).
The Hard Rock Live in Hollywood will showcase Donny & Marie (December 5), Dancing with the Stars: Live! (December 29), Don Henley (January 25), Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons (January 27-28), and The Four Phantoms (February 17).
Parents with kids in tow can reserve seats at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts for their family-friendly performances— Roger + Hammerstein’s Cinderella (December 13-25), Disney’s The Little Mermaid (February 22-March 5), and Roald Dahl’s Matilda (April 25-May 7).
When you travel, do you prefer to visit places that have a long-standing reputation or are you eager to be one of the first to experience an unknown offering? Share your opinion in the comments section below.