The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale

You’ve seen one Ritz-Carlton you’ve seen them all, right? Au contraire, mon ami…. What puts the “R” and the “C” in each individual Ritz-Carlton property is in knowing how to cozy up to its surroundings and become—ever so demurely—an elegant landmark in its new destination. And when The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale cruised onto the Fort Lauderdale scene back in August 2008, it did just that.

And here “cruised” is the operative word, because once guests get whisked into the property’s grand lobby by the welcoming staff—who never forget a name, by the way—they’ll feel as if they’ve boarded an old time luxury cruise liner.

“Our resort,” says Jim Oliver, the property’s general manager, “lends itself to be more contemporary than some of our other sister properties with a 1940s ocean liner-inspired decor,” with undulating curves that mimic ocean waves, playful murals inspired by the work of French artist Jean Cocteau, oversized domed chandeliers, and sweeping water views from all vantage points….

And if you book your clients into an oceanfront guestroom, those views will have them on their knees—they’ll feel as if they’ve stepped onto a ship and are off cruising in the waters of the Atlantic as nothing but the ocean waves are visible from inside the room. The accommodations themselves—there are 192 spacious guestrooms and suites, all with either a terrace or balcony and with views of either the ocean or the Intracoastal Waterway—are a sanctuary with a bevy of sumptuous amenities. Ritz-Carlton devotees will find everything they’re used to here, such as one-touch technology phones that feature useful hotel services including in-depth information about area attractions, WiFi Internet access, a state-of-the-art DVD theater entertainment system with a 37-inch LCD panel TV, a 13-inch LCD panel TV in each bathroom (the kids will love this added perk!), Bulgari bath amenities, a refrigerated mini-cellar of refreshments and oh, so much more divine touches.

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When it comes to choosing the right accommodations for families traveling together, Oliver recommends, “Our double bedded rooms, especially our pool terrace rooms located on the seventh floor. Each pool terrace room has an oversized terrace area all with pathways extending to the pool terrace.” These accommodations also give kids easy access to the poolside cafe, so tell parents to take advantage of the Kids’ Meal Plan, which will be offered through December at $30 per day for children ages 12 and younger. As part of the plan, they’ll also get to enjoy more sophisticated cuisine at Cero restaurant, and put to good use all of those lessons taught at etiquette school. Cero serves three meals a day and offers an ever-changing menu of delicacies. If your clients are lucky enough to be there when ceviche is on the dinner menu, tell them it’s a must. Tell parents with small kids in tow to choose the al fresco dining at Cero, since it gives kids more “freedom” to run around and allows the adults lots of fun people-watching overlooking Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard.

the beach awaits But really, it’s what’s on the other side of Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard that’s the big draw here: the beach, where clear blue waters caress fine white sand.

“Located directly across from the hotel,” says Oliver, “a beach concierge greets and assists our guests with complimentary beach chairs, umbrellas, bottled water, towels and an array of beach toys for a fun-filled family day at the beach. Guests may also order a beach picnic lunch to go 24 hours in advance with the time they are planning to leave and the concierge will have the lunch served in a soft cooler with wheels ready for them. It’s perfect for a day at the beach.”

Additionally, a skywalk connects the pool deck to the beach, allowing Ritz-Carlton guests seamless access to the beach without having to exit the hotel through the lobby or cross the street—a definite plus when you have little ones. Meanwhile, there’s an array of watersports options on Fort Lauderdale Beach, including jetskiing, parasailing, and ocean kayaking, among others. Although just sitting back and building a lopsided sand castle with the kids might be the perfect pastime to spend some quality time together. Isn’t that what a family vacation is all about, anyway?