On the Atlantic Coast north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale has seemingly endless sunshine, intricate canals and miles of glorious beach, making it the perfect destination for a resort holiday. The Venice of America remains one of the country’s vacation fun-shine beacons, drawing a varied clientele from wealthy retirees and trustafarian yachties to backpacking hipsters and apple-pie families. There’s something here for everyone. Read Culture Trip’s guide to the city’s best resort properties.
Backed by the verdant mangrove-lined gardens of historic Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, Tranquilo boasts an enviable location in a quiet neighborhood two blocks from the ocean. There’s a wide range of rooms and suites with kitchenettes in its adjoining buildings, plus several small heated pools. It feels like a slightly upscale motel with neat unfussy rooms, gleaming white walls and cream furniture. Guests can hire bicycles or enjoy barbecues in its open sunny courtyards and terraces.
Just beyond the northern tip of Birch State Park, the Pelican’s gleaming pale-yellow facade seemingly reflects the glorious sands over which it looms. A recent refurbishment has upped its game and helped clinch several awards. The lobby and public areas exude a classy retro feel, with wingback chairs and deeply molded ceilings – almost at odds with its exterior; while most rooms suggest boho-tinged beach chic. A 152m (500ft) private beach is staffed by attendants and waiters and there’s a good spa to help tease the sand from your toes.
Right on the city’s rim by the edge of the Everglades, Bonaventure’s lush 23 acres (9ha) encompass a largely self-contained resort with three pools (one featuring a waterfall), restaurants and a spa. Many guests simply rest up here for the duration of their vacation. If the space and facilities aren’t quite enough, a tennis club and golf course lie within walking distance. There’s a shuttle service to one of Florida’s largest shopping malls and Lauderdale’s famous beaches lie 20mi (32km) east.
Lago Mar (or Lake Sea) stands close to where the Stranahan River meets the Atlantic at the barrier island’s southern tip – a quarter virtually surrounded by a knot of canals. This expansive family-owned property is a venerable Lauderdale landmark with a clutch of accolades and awards. Wood and rattan furnishings suggest an elegant Old Florida style, and spacious suites dominate the accommodation. Facilities and activities, from a private beach and two pools to tennis courts, volleyball and basketball courts, make it particularly popular with families, many of whom never stray beyond its bougainvillea-dotted gardens.
Few, if any, Lauderdale hotels resemble a cruise liner; fewer still offer a surreal mermaid aqua-burlesque show. In reviving (and completely renovating) the Yankee Clipper, an iconic 1950s beachfront property, B Ocean Resort has made it their own. Stylish modern design with a playful beach-chic aesthetic and marine-inspired artwork are complemented by infinity pools, five restaurants and bars plus a fitness center. Tired of the private beach? Revive in the spa or explore the local byways on complimentary bicycles.
Framed by the Intracoastal Waterway and a marina on three sides and the azure ocean on the fourth, Bahia Mar’s particular location is unique even by Lauderdale standards. And then there’s the private road-crossing skywalk bisecting its compound between the pool and beach. Oddly, then, the paired buildings – one a dazzling white tower with the more panoramic rooms – still don’t quite conjure a truly swanky resort, though its casual beach-chic vibe is perfectly comfortable.
With its balconies’ distinctive blue glass railings and sea-facing pool alongside a thatched-roof tiki bar, Ocean Sky pays almost playful homage to the ocean it overlooks. Featuring plenty of wood tones and finishes, rooms and suites are comfortable rather than stylish and all have coffee-makers and mini-fridges. Children will likely love the mini-golf and games room, but at heart this is a casual and unpretentious hotel that embraces the beach and water sports on its doorstep.
Behind the slightly austere curved-block facade overlooking Lauderdale’s palm-lined northern beach strip, Sonesta’s recently renovated interiors offer sleek crisp design – think yacht-club chic fused with natural sand patterns – in spacious rooms and suites. Their recurring blue motifs echo spectacular sea-front views, particularly from the lofty upper floors. The pool and fitness center tick those resort-ready boxes. Unusually, the sole restaurant eschews standard fare by delving into Caribbean-American fusion cuisine, and there’s a Beach Market for casual snacks and takeout.