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Day Tripper: Pelican Grand

As much as COVID-19 has travelers itching to see a backdrop beyond their own backyard, not everyone is ready to dive into the deep end. Some people, still apprehensive about air travel or more adventurous and involved escapes, just want to test the water.

Enter Pelican Grand Beach Resort, a boutique oceanfront retreat that’s perfectly positioned to not only educate travelers and ease concerns, but also to provide a much-needed breath of fresh, relaxed South Florida air. Part of the Noble House Hotel & Resorts collection, the 144-room property is one of only three resorts in Fort Lauderdale with a footprint right on the sand.

Though the revamped rooms are awash in contemporary cool, the luxury vibe at Pelican Grand is Old Florida chill, a genteel ambience epitomized by the white rocking chairs that line a grand veranda overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Attentive staff throughout the property, all wearing masks and adhering to county regulations, adds to the throwback charm.

Speaking of safety, it’s priority No. 1 for the staff at Pelican Grand. Employees undergo temperature checks before starting a shift; there’s plexiglass separating customers from hotel personnel at the front desk; masks are mandatory for customers while inside (and worn outside when appropriate social distancing becomes an issue beyond your own party); there are hand sanitizing stations throughout the resort; pool seating is at 50 percent capacity; and cutting-edge sanitation technology is being used to disinfect the rooms and suites.

But that’s hardly the only reason to test the water at Pelican Grand (2000 N. Ocean Blvd., 954.568.9431; pelicanbeach.com).

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Accommodations: Early last year, the resort finished a $7 million renovation project that infused all the rooms with chic, modern furnishings, complemented by a mix of bohemian and rustic details. It makes for a cozy but elegant experience. Many of the 144 rooms face the ocean, with private balconies. The standard seaside suite checks in at 632 square feet with a separate living room area (with a loveseat sofa bed). The aptly named Sky Suite, a 12th floor penthouse, features a private dining room and living room, a rooftop shower—and a 1,100-square-foot balcony with views of the coastline as far as the eye can see.

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Dining: Naturally, the well-earned fine-dining reputation of Ocean2000 begins in the kitchen, where the emphasis on fresh ingredients, local sourcing and regional influences comes to life amid a tight, smartly curated menu of seafood highlights, broiler favorites and custom cuts. Cedar plank salmon delights with a Vermont maple-syrup glaze along with stir-fried grains, sweet peas and corn; seafood risotto (lobster, scallops, shrimp) soars with black truffle-fennel ragout; thyme-roasted free-range chicken surprises with creamy goat cheese polenta. Steak offerings include Wagyu cuts of ribeye, New York strip and filet mignon.

All of that said, dining at Ocean2000 also is about the experience; don’t miss an opportunity to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner on the oceanfront veranda—or at one of five dune-side tables.

In August, Ocean2000 introduced a pandemic-amended version of its popular weekend brunch, replacing the buffet stations with an impressive a la carte menu. Think raw bar items (including a seafood tower), sandwiches (like a salmon burger), salads, steaks, fish & chips, and, of course, breakfast favorites (Belgian waffles anyone?). Oh yes, and don’t forget the bottomless bloody marys.

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The spa: Befitting of a luxury boutique resort, Pure Spa boasts only three multifunctional treatment rooms and two outdoor spa cabanas—but it packs all kinds of splendor in its 3,000-square-foot space. It starts with 11th-floor rooftop views of the ocean, whether you’re sitting in one of the hanging chairs in the relaxation room or receiving a manicure/pedicure. The spa, which uses all-organic skin-care and makeup products by Maria Akerberg, offers a mix of massage therapy, facial, waxing and body scrub services. Among the signature treatments: the Royal Bathing Ritual, described as a “unique MicroSilk technology that cleanses, exfoliates and moisturizes the skin with an oxygen-rich blanket of micro bubbles upon submersion.” If you can even move after such a treatment, Pure Spa also serves up rooftop yoga classes.

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In addition: Beyond the pool (with its lazy river for kids), guests have access to the resort’s private beach and lounge chairs, with staff ready to assist with any requests. Onsite beach rentals include paddleboards; offsite rentals include Seabobs, the motorized underwater scooters that are perfect for exploring the reef just off the coast of Pelican Grand. … In doubling its meeting and event space five years ago to 10,000 square feet, Pelican Grand had emerged as a go-to destination for smaller corporate gatherings before the shutdown. Pandemic or not, exchanging vows on the top-floor terrace continues to drive business at the resort—especially in light of the trending microweddings, more intimate affairs of typically no more than 50 guests. … Kids can spend upward of six hours at Funky Fish Ocean Camp, which features beach games, arts and crafts, snorkeling, and educational activities connected to the marine world. … The Emporium serves up ice cream, coffee, baked goods and other treats.

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