Wednesday

Apartment living on the beach…at a hotel

The Atlantic Hotel

601 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33304
(954) 567-8020
atlantichotelfl.com

It was cold and rainy in L.A. and we decided to jump a plane to Ft. Lauderdale to warm our bones in the near-Caribbean sun and fun.  It’s easy to fly off to Hawaii, but it’s just as easy to go East...
 with several direct flights going from LAX right into the Ft. Lauderdale International Airport on one of our favorite airlines, Virgin America.  It’s also really fun with ubiquitous fabulous nightlife.

We wanted our own beach pad in which to spread out and something more than just a hotel room.  After some research, we settled on the Atlantic Hotel, which seems to be smack in the middle of the beachfront action of Ft. Lauderdale.  Most of the rooms—unlike other hotels—face directly to the beach and provide an adequate balcony for morning coffee and beach/pool cruising. 

We settled in on the One bedroom Ocean Front Luxury Suite because it’s 1,225 square feet and goes for a reasonable $795 per night (which changes with the day of the week and level of occupancy).  For some odd reason, Florida is all about small rooms even though there are miles and miles of beachfront property, and although the Ritz Carlton serves up elegant white-marbled lobby and top notch service, the rooms are tiny).  The Duo loathes when folks say “you only sleep in a room so who needs a big one”.  So when we arrived, it was like arriving at our own apartment. 
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Replete with marbled floors and mod carpeting, there is a large powder room that includes a second shower for convenience.  A full kitchen is equipped with a regular sized refrigerator for all our goodies.  The kitchen opens to the living room, which is faced with picture windows looking out to the pounding surf of the blue-green Atlantic Ocean.  Adjoining the living room is a large master, with a day bed and marbled bathroom.  The bathroom has a 4-foot by 7-foot shower, with two strong heads, that is definitely party size. 

The entire hotel scallops back from the oceanfront, with the pool and spa on the 5th floor.  We recommend Suite 609, which is on the north corner and affords spectacular views up and down the beach, a corner window and the privacy of a covered and shaded balcony.  Directly above the end of the pool, it also allows for spying the action down below.  If you want a bit more privacy, try 709.  Room 809 does not have a covered balcony (hence no shade) and as the floors go higher, the rooms get smaller, and you are removed from the white sand views unless you step out on the balcony.  The Dining Duo had plenty of room to spread out, and the desk in the living room provided a good workspace without having to intrude on the other person sleeping in the master.  The flat screen TVs in the bedroom and living room are new and the rooms are clean with plenty of amenities in the bath and shower.

There’s no resort fee here, which is nice.  The Dining Duo just hates getting nickel-and-dimed for amenities that should be provided.  That said, beach chairs and umbrellas on the public beach will set you back $65 per day; but the lounges at the pool are free and the views and priceless. 

The biggest asset of this property is the people.  The housekeeping staff greets you in the halls with a friendly hello; the concierges, Paul and Sonny (both quite handsome), are knowledgeable and more than willing to help out with whatever questions you may have; and the bartender from White Plains at the pool deck is just adorable.  Clearly this reception comes from the new General Manager, Aref Sayegh, whom we had the good fortune of meeting as he was picking up towels around the pool and busing dirty dishes.  That’s the stuff that makes for a good place worth calling home for a fabulous 4 day weekend.

<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> SPA TIME AT THE ATLANTIC HOTEL

The Dining Duo loves spas wherever we go, so with a couples spa booked, it’s hard to not appreciate relaxation of any kind.  Although we’ve experienced more luxurious spas, the quiet room was done in whites and provided a soothing water fountain, and the walkway to the treatment rooms were lit in such a peaceful fashion that you immediately inhaled the expectations of strong hands on your travel-weary muscles.  We were not disappointed, and for $250 for the two of us, we became one with the tables.   If you’re so inclined, the gym faces the ocean for inspiration, and there is a fair amount of equipment to make you happy.  The couples massage room was big, anchored by a tub for some fun bubbling, provides a communal spa experience for two of you.  Ask for Alberto who has strong hands and a keen sense of locating the sore spots.

TRINA


The signature restaurant for the Atlantic, Trina’s, is a small but comfortable space complete with serving patio that is smack on the main drag of Ft. Lauderdale with sweeping views of the beach and ocean beyond.  Anything is going to taste better with this type of a setting.  The lighting at night was nice and provided a sophisticated ambiance. 

We experience both dinner and brunch at Trina’s.  Dinner provided attentive service that delivered some very nice tastes.  Scott decided on a few appetizers, starting with a lettuce wedge that was crunchy and delicious with a bit different taste to the dressing that worked ($13). The Baratta salad was sublime over garden fresh tomatoes and melted in our mouths.
The Lamb appetizer was also quite good, but a bit heavy on the seasoning (although it didn’t stop Scott from eating all three of them). Michael started with a jumbo shrimp cocktail at $15 (how can one go to Florida without shrimp) accompanied to delicious varieties of cocktail sauce. We highly recommend the Lobster and Scallop risotto, which is $36 and loaded with fresh lobster.

Brunch at Trina’s was about location, location, location.  We must say the bloody Mary was amongst the best (and spiciest) we ever encountered. It is hard to get a really fluffy egg white omelet with fresh vegetables including artichoke, peppers and spinach served piping hot and at $12, we were extremely pleased. Another winner is the Crab Hash ($15), which is literally loaded with crab. We couldn't resist the chocolate dessert that delivered the chocolate punch we were craving.

Mario’s Catalina Restaurant

1611 N. Federal Hwy
Ft. Lauderdale, Fl 33304
954-563-4141

Fun. Fun. Fun.  What a fun place.  Paintings everywhere, chandeliers, stuffed panda bears; you can’t believe this place.  And the food delivers.  Mario is the consummate restaurateur, always present and ready to welcome you with a kiss (whether you’re straight or gay).  Although he’s from Honduras, the food is Cuban and Spanish fusion, and you should just let him cook for you.  The Sangria is divine, complete with frozen pieces of orange that melt on your tongue as you gently become drunk.  The food is equally divine, and the tastes are as sassy as Mario.   

We are not even going to tell you what to get because we never looked at a menu.  It was superb, so just go, enjoy and have fun! If you let Mario cook for you and drink up a storm, it should come to about $90 per person, you will leave very satisfied in every way.


Other Fun Stuff to do while in Ft. Lauderdale.

  1. Visit the Ft. Lauderdale Museum at 1 Los Olos Drive.  We were fortunate enough to catch the Norman Rockwell show, but the Steichen show is coming next and the permanent collection is fun and manageable including Stella, Warhol and Guston.

  1. Visit the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens at 900 N. Birch Road.  Just around the corner (10 minutes walking) is the first estate in Ft. Lauderdale, situated on 35 lush tropical (and swampy) acres.  This is the only American home and studio of two recognized American artists with original furnishings that is open to the public.  This hour-long guided tour of a Caribbean-style plantation house was totally enjoyable, and the former owner lived there until she was 110 years old.  We’re hoping that part of the tour rubs off on us.

  1. Visit the Swimming Hall of Fame.  Scott was a swimmer most of his life, and Michael likes to swim in their indoor pool, so what could be better that a quick visit to this unusual hall of fame.  If you look closely, you just might see Scott’s picture next to Johnny Weissmuller’s.  Or not.

  1. Stroll along Los Olas Blvd.  Take a stroll up or down this hotbed of activity.  There are quaint shops, myriad restaurants, bars, and tons of people.  Just 10 minutes away by car, it was a place the Dining Duo visited a few times.

  1. Hang Out at the Pool and Drink.  Why move more than 5 feet when you can lounge at the pool and watch the view up and down the coast?  This is what the Duo did most of the time, and sadly never got to jump into the Atlantic just across the street, which was a lot warmer to the touch than the waters of the California coastline.  We’ll be back for that activity soon.

Posted by The Dining Duo | 8:15 AM | , , , , , | 2 comments »

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2 comments

  1. Anonymous // February 18, 2010 at 9:49 AM  

    How about a photo of your suite, guys? Please?

  2. Leo // February 18, 2010 at 10:44 PM  

    Costa Rica is one such place that is popular for its spas. It is suggested to choose the type of spa that suits your personal needs. Prefer a resort spa if you wish to feel homely environment along with the entertainment and spa experience. For more information visit here: http://www.costaricaviews.com/costa-rica-spa1/

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