Only a select few South Florida hotels possess the discernible swagger that flows freely through the contemporary spaces at W Fort Lauderdale. It helps that the 24-floor property still wears its hip, airy, nautically inspired redesign so well—a $55 million soup-to-nuts revamp, finished in 2017, that touched all 517 rooms.
But it’s also the result of how well the W brand’s effortless cool plays on a stretch of Fort Lauderdale Beach that continues to undergo its own change of identity. Decades removed from being the spring break capital of the United States, the strip now plays host to chef-driven dining destinations, and luxury resorts and residences (with more on the way).
More than a decade into its run, the W is no longer the new kid on the block. But spend a Saturday afternoon at its rooftop pool, or dine at one of its impressive restaurants, and it’s clear why the resort maintains its street cred. On the one hand, it fits right in to an increasingly high-end neighborhood; on the other, the W remains the place where anyone who’s anyone wants to be. Here are some of the reasons why.
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Any talk about the rooms at the W begins with the down-filled embrace of beds and pillows so ridiculously comfortable that it’s surprising the resort’s largest repeat-business category isn’t chronic insomniacs. Standard room sizes max out at 555 square feet for corner suites and 600 square feet for oceanfront studios; for those needing more space, the W offers one- and two-bedroom options with kitchens and sofa areas. For those needing a little “wow” factor, the resort also has you covered. There are a pair of two-bedroom penthouse “Wow” suites—including the “Extreme Wow,” an epic 2,600-square-foot space on the 24th floor with a sprawling wraparound terrace (and views up and down the coast), spacious living room and fully equipped kitchen.
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Two of renowned restaurateur Stephen Starr’s four Florida restaurants are featured at the W. As the name suggests, Steak 954 places prime cuts of beef in the spotlight (and deservedly so given the kitchen’s five-star preparation), including three wagyu selections. The tightly curated menu also boasts seafood treats (like miso broiled sea bass), salads (Caesar, wedge and Greek) and raw bar standouts—among them jumbo lump crab and Alaskan king crab cocktails that are not to be missed. The Mexican fare and colorful flair at El Vez serve as a casual complement to the fine dining experience at Steak 954. The menu here also is short and sweet, featuring chef-driven takes on tacos and quesadillas—and a selection of serious margaritas, among them a lavender-honey jalapeno concoction with Milagro Silver tequila.
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The pandemic may have silenced the live music scene across clubs and concert halls, but don’t tell that to the W, which is marching to its own beat. As part of its “Suite Sounds” offering, patrons can choose one of five musical experiences—DJ, saxophonist, keyboardist, acoustic guitar duo, or violinist—for a private performance on the balcony of an oceanfront guest room. The resort, which is collaborating with entertainmentresource.net on the program, will include bottle service for an additional fee. Prices start at $350 for a 30-minute concert (the DJ option starts at $450), with limits on the maximum number of people in the room based on the suite’s capacity. Call 954.414.8200 for more details.
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The pup-friendly resort certainly knows the way to the hearts of pet owners and their four-legged friends—sparkling beverages and sweet treats. With the “Dogs are a Girl’s Best Friend” package (available through Dec. 31), adults can pop the top on a chilled bottle of prosecco while savoring the contents of a swag bag filled with gummy bears, M&Ms, chocolate-covered pretzels and other goodies. Meanwhile, your furry companion will be lapping up dog-friendly “barking bacon” ice cream while sipping safe bubbly from the Pet Winery—either “Dög Pawrignon” or rosé. Use CODE: T5971 to book at wfortlauderdale.com.
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The fifth-floor scene at Wet East, one of the two elevated pool venues at the W, never fails to make a splash. In non-pandemic times, with a live DJ keeping the party going and a rooftop perch overlooking the Atlantic, it’s one of the most buzz-worthy weekend spots on the beach. But even with socially distanced sunbathing and piped-in music, there’s still a see-and-be-seen vibe to an infinity-edge pool setting that’s encircled by lounge chairs and a host of kick-back-and-relax rental options—seashell beds, day beds, bungalows, canopy beds and more. Attentive servers are on hand for those interested in light bites (salads, sandwiches, guacamole and chips), cocktails or both. If you prefer Broward bliss to South Beach chic, check out Wet West, the quieter of the two pools on the opposite side of the fifth floor.
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Planning a better-late-than-never getaway around an event affected by COVID-19? Kick off the weekend in style with the W’s “Cause for Celebration” amenity—a rollaway cart with LED lights, balloons, a disco ball, and either a bottle of liquor or Champagne. Call the resort for pricing and details. … The fourth-floor Away Spa offers a mix of full-service massage, facial, nail, hair and body services—as well as quick-fix options (like a 15-minute polish up for your nails, or a 25-minute “beauty boost” facial). The quick-fix massages incorporate a cutting-edge massage chair for neck, back and shoulder work. … The contemporary cool of the fourth-floor Living Room (and its outdoor terrace) is the perfect place to unwind for pre- or post-dinner cocktails.