Fort Lauderdale is a part of Florida which has enjoyed a massive transformation over the past decade. While it has always been an affluent area, with plenty to attract visitors to its white sand shores and tranquil waterways, it was the type of visitors being attracted that was the problem – truckloads of college students and massive Spring Break parties meant loud music, heavy drinking, obnoxious behaviour and at least a little public nudity. That is now all in the past for Fort Lauderdale, the public beach parties have been restricted, and the drunken behavior and nudity have been moved elsewhere, or into clubs.
A much more welcome and sophisticated image has come to Fort Lauderdale, with the beer- hat-and-flip-flop clientele having been returned to sender, in exchange for a cocktail-and-boating-shoes crowd, who come to enjoy the finer things in life, like the peaceful beaches, fine dining, high-end shopping, boating on scenic canals and a relaxing break from big city life just 30 minutes away in Miami.
There is one permanent Fort Lauderdale resident however which has been here since long before the college kids arrived, a family run hotel which has long set the standard for luxury accommodation, personal service, fine food, relaxation, and rejuvenation. The Lago Mar Resort and Club was founded in 1959 by Sidney Banks, who moved here with the dream of creating a luxury resort with a family-friendly atmosphere. True to Sidney Banks’ dream, Lago Mar grew and evolved to become known for quiet sophistication, attention to detail and a personal approach to every aspect of its service. 57 years later, Lago Mar Resort and Club is now in the caring hands of Sidney’s son, Walter, his wife Debbie, and the 3rd generation of Lago Mar, their daughter Debbie.
The warm atmosphere and personal touch I’m talking about is something that we could feel as soon as we stepped out of the car, we were welcomed and helped with the car and our bags, just as with any other hotel, then we checked in and were shown to our room just as with any other hotel. But everything was a little bit different from every other hotel, a bit more personal, a little bit warmer, and more genuine perhaps. The best way to describe it is that there was a slight sense of arriving at a family gathering for the holidays, a subtle but very noticeable difference. In South America, it would be called, ‘con poco mas cariño,’ or with a bit of extra care!
How to book a room? You can check details, and latest rates on their website directly at Lago Mar Resort and Club or Booking.com Don’t just take our word for it though, check out their reviews on TripAdvisor
Our suite in Lago Mar Resort and Club was spacious, entering into a kitchenette, dining and living room area, at the end of which the sliding glass doors opened up onto the sea-view balcony, flooding the room with natural light and fresh sea air. Being just around the corner from Everglades Port, we heard the horns of the cruise ships setting sail, letting us know when we could watch them heading for the open ocean from the balcony. No matter how many times you see them, their sheer size and scale never cease to amaze. In the living room was a very comfortable sofa, a widescreen HD TV, a lovely wooden writing desk next to the balcony and most importantly of all, the coffee machine!
The separate bedroom was centered around a king size bed with another flat screen TV fixed to the wall, for lazy bedtime viewing! The soft pillow-top mattress felt like sleeping on feathers while being wrapped in a thick, downy duvet with another window to the balcony.
A lot of thought has been gone into the layout and space design of this suite – A dual-access WC, separable from the walk-in shower bathroom, then a dry dressing room accessible from the bedroom, all mean that at least three people can do everything they need to, all at the same time, while someone watches a movie in the living room undisturbed. That wouldn’t be possible in most full apartments!
The warm and friendly atmosphere of Lago Mar Resort and Club is directly attributable to the culture and values instilled into the property back in the beginning and has been passed down through the years, carried forward by the people who make a hotel – the people within it. It’s not something that can simply be painted on and bought; it has to evolve and be cared for over time, which is why you can feel that the people here really want to be here.
We met with 3rd generation owner of Lago Mar, Debbie, her two daughters Dani and Demi and family friend Andrew for dinner in the hotel’s Aquario restaurant, which serves a menu of reinterpreted classic dishes from around the world, with a unique twist by Chef Phillip Damien Kahn. We shared starters of home-made vegetable chips and fresh tuna salad, authentic hummus, with Mahi Mahi and pan-fried scallops for the main course.
10 acres of private property and 500 feet of private beach mean that there is never a shortage of space to relax a find your perfect corner or palm tree, to escape to. There are two swimming pools, one central feature pool and one more relaxed area. To keep entertained, there are activities like giant chess, a putting course, and even two full-size tennis courts.
The Spa at Lago Mar is a perfect haven for relaxation with steam rooms, scrubbing salts, treatments, and massage. We warmed up in the steam room before enjoying a couples deep tissue massage, a strong, focused massage designed to penetrate deep into the tired, stressed muscles to break down tension and allow the body to restore itself to its natural order. Then we relaxed in the comfortable chairs in the relaxation room, while drinking hot, herbal tea.
At around 1 mile away from the crowded areas of Fort Lauderdale Beach, Lago Mar Resort and Club has its slice of perfect beach to relax on, so make the most of it!
Las Olas Boulevard
The centre of things that happen in Fort Lauderdale, a high street full of high street shopping, bars, clubs, cafes, boutique shops and art galleries, linked in at one end to a series of canals and waterside homes.
Fort Lauderdale has its network of picturesque canals, where you can take a romantic gondola ride, or a family guided tour!
Everglades National Park
Only a short drive from downtown Fort Lauderdale, there’s a host of Everglades activities to enjoy in this incredible natural environment – from the iconic airboat, swamp hikes kayaks and even Everglade campsites.
Note: We were guests by the hotel, and all opinions and text are all mine!
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