The Westin Beach Resort, Fort Lauderdale

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There’s a new side to Fort Lauderdale, one where high-end hotels dot the beachfront and vacationers are welcomed by a tranquil setting where they can kick their shoes off and unwind. One property that is definitely embracing this laid-back ambiance is The Westin Beach Resort, Fort Lauderdale. In fact, the property—following the Westin trademark—embraces the theme, “to restore the mind and refresh the body.”

“Fort Lauderdale has recently experienced a coming of age bringing luxury accommodations, eclectic shops, sophisticated museums and vibrant dining and entertainment venues to the destination,” says David Wahba, the complex director of sales and marketing for The Westin Beach Resort, Fort Lauderdale and the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort. “The Westin Beach Resort, Fort Lauderdale is at the forefront of this evolution with the completion of its own multimillion dollar transformation and we could not imagine a setting better suited for our property than the shores of Fort Lauderdale Beach.”

Formerly the Sheraton Yankee Trader, the property reopened in March 2009 as The Westin Beach Resort, Fort Lauderdale sporting a whole new look—one ideal for both families and couples seeking a bit of relaxation. That’s not to say, though, that you won’t come across the occasional party-goer (this is Fort Lauderdale, after all).

“As a long-time South Florida resident,” says Wahba, “I have witnessed firsthand the evolution of a former spring break hotspot, which has re-emerged as a trendy hotspot for those looking to escape crowded Miami and Key West and the expense of Palm Beach. Fort Lauderdale provides high fashion, historic homes, an exhilarating nightlife and miles of white-sand beaches for sophisticated travelers of all ages. The Westin Beach Resort, Fort Lauderdale is also a member of the Lauderdale Luxe Collection, a new program highlighting luxury hotels and attractions in Fort Lauderdale, which is yet another testament to the evolving destination.”

relax The property features 443 expansive guestrooms, each with Westin’s signature Heavenly Bed—which are, in our humble opinion, truly divine—a Heavenly Bath, a 32-inch, flat-screen TV, high-speed wireless Internet and in-room movies. Each guestroom is adorned with hues of blue and green and features floor-to-ceiling windows, most offering unforgettable views of the Atlantic or Intracoastal.

“The Westin brand experience is designed to restore the mind and refresh the body, and complement the needs of travelers,” says Wahba. “At this property, the brand seeks to awaken all senses from the moment a guest arrives.”

Indeed, upon entering the resort, guests are greeted with a “sensory welcome,” complete with calming scents and music, fresh botanicals and atmospheric lighting. Meanwhile, all guestrooms and facilities are smoke-free to promote a clean and healthy environment.

“Throughout the multimillion dollar rejuvenation project, The Westin Beach Resort, Fort Lauderdale has maintained and combined the character and spirit of the original Sheraton Yankee Trader Hotel with a refreshed feel that provides upscale comfort and distinctive service—without the stuffy vibe often found in other luxury properties,” says Wahba. “The resort offers families, business travelers and beach lovers a spirited, yet sophisticated getaway that is hard to find anywhere else.”

restore When it comes to dining, options at this Westin property are plentiful, but this editor’s favorite dining venue was definitely Shula’s on the Beach.

This upscale restaurant, which is designed around the Miami Dolphins’ 1972 perfect season—when Don Shula was head coach—features an elegant dining room showcasing Miami Dolphins photographs and memorabilia; guests can also enjoy dinner outside on the terrace. Shula’s offers Certified Angus Beef-brand steaks, renowned Shula cuts, fresh seafood and delicious desserts to satisfy even the heartiest of appetites. The Steak Mary Anne—actually named after Shula’s wife—is a must. Shula’s is open daily, also serving breakfast and lunch, and reservations are strongly recommended.

For a more casual dining experience, then the Waves Bar & Grill. Located poolside and offering indoor and outdoor seating, Waves serves light lunch fare and dinner dishes, as well as an array of yummy drinks. And with the wait staff taking orders from the lounge chairs, your clients need not give up their perfect sunbathing spot.

Coffee lovers will be pleased to find a brand-new, full-service Starbucks on site. Here, guests can enjoy fresh brewed coffee, pastries and quick grab-and-go sandwiches in the indoor lounge area or private lanai with views of the Atlantic Ocean. Recommend clients take advantage of the lanai area as it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a morning cup of coffee and watch as locals and other vacationers stroll the boulevard.