There is no shortage of hotels in Fort Lauderdale. In fact, the city is home to more than 500 hospitality properties, ranging from budget stays near the airport to AAA Five Diamond beachfront accommodations. Most of the large resort hotels are located on State Road A1A, or “The Strip,” which runs along the Atlantic Ocean. And smack dab in the middle, at the corner Bayshore Drive and North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, is the W Fort Lauderdale.
Renovations Elevate W Fort Lauderdale
Part of Marriot International, the W brand of hotels was founded in New York City in 1998 by Starwood Hotels & Resorts. It was one of the first hospitality properties that marketed itself as a trendy, exclusive spot for hip, younger crowds. And while the upscale chain has become more mainstream over the years, it continues to grow. There are now almost 60 W hotels across the world. In 2016, W was acquired by Marriott.
Each W hotel is unique and designed to fit its locale. The towering white W Fort Lauderdale is no exception. And in early 2023, the hotel revealed the first phase of a $55 million dollar renovation that brightened the interiors, added new amenities and reflected the sun and sand of Florida’s Gold Coast.
The heart of the renovation is the fourth floor, where you’ll find the check-in desks. The floor also is home to the brand’s signature Living Room, which includes the expansive lobby with large comfy seating arrangements, a bar, an outdoor terrace, office space, the spa, and plenty of communal-style tables for dining or working.
Having the lobby on the fourth floor did cause some confusion among my group. We arrived at the grand porte-cochere, which cuts through the center of the building. As such, we entered on the ground floor, and signage wasn’t obvious. Luckily, a staff member walked by and directed us to the check-in counter.
While the hotel runs perpendicular to the beach, its two towers are curved. This ensures that every room has a view of the ocean or the Intracoastal Waterway, which runs parallel to the beach and is less than a quarter mile away. And in addition to traditional guest rooms, the hotel also includes residential condos. Separate elevators service the guest room and residential floors.
The W Fort Lauderdale has 517 rooms, which includes 171 residences. These range from standard king and two queen rooms to the over-the-top two-bedroom WOW and Extreme WOW penthouse suites.
Fun fact: Lady Gaga stayed in the 2,607-square-foot EWOW suite during a recent stay in Fort Lauderdale.
I, on the other hand, stayed in a “Mega”-level room, which essentially is a larger guest room. It runs about 617 square feet vs. the standard 452 square feet. My room offered a single king-size bed and a partial ocean view.
Overall, the Mega room is plush and comfortable. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors open to a wedge-shaped balcony. The decor is sparse but elegant. The platform bed is topped with crisp white linens. Blue carpeting echoes the ocean waves. And a standalone soaking tub is the centerpiece of the spacious bathroom.
Unfortunately, the drain stopper on my tub wouldn’t seal, so I was unable to use the tub during my stay — which was a disappointment as the water pressure in my shower was very low.
The rooftop pool deck also was part of the recent renovations. Located on the fifth floor overlooking the ocean, the sparkling blue pool sits in the center of the pool deck. It is surrounding by plenty of lounge chairs, circular beds, and private cabanas.
On the north side of the deck is WET Deck, a covered bar and casual eatery. And an eye-catching glass-enclosed staircase leads down through the pool to the fourth floor Living Room.
If sand and saltwater are more your thing, the W offers an exclusive stretch of beach directly across The Strip. Access to the beach and lounge chair and umbrella rentals are included in the resort fees. And in the mornings, guests can enjoy beachside yoga beach fitness boot camps on the sand. Or, they can rent beach cruisers and explore the Florida coastline.
After a day of sun-worshipping, you can be pampered at the in-house AWAY Spa. Boasting an array of eye-popping tropical hues, the spa offers everything from hair and nail care to massages and facials.
And once you’re tanned and relaxed and ready for a night on the town, don’t forget to stop by the Luxury Cart. A literal cart that can be brought to your room, it is filled with luxury accessories that you can rent for the evening. Choose from handbags by brands such as Dior, Gucci, or Louis Vuitton; baubles by Hermes; or scarves by Chanel. Or you also can rent belts, sunglasses, hats, and even cologne.
In addition to WET Deck and the Living Room bar/dining space, the W Fort Lauderdale offers three delectable restaurants. Two are by James Beard Award-winning restaurateur Stephen Starr.
First is Steak 954. This upscale steakhouse and seafood restaurant serves dinner as well as weekend brunch.
The other is an outpost of El Vez, Starr’s beloved Philadelphia-based Mexican restaurant. Here, guests dine indoors among colorful murals and beer can wall art or outdoors on the expansive patio. Or, order to go and take it to your room. The menu at El Vez is filled with classic South of the Border dishes, including guacamole, quesadillas, ceviches, tacos, and enchiladas. And it can be washed down with a margarita or two.
As a former Philly resident, I was excited to see this familiar favorite. I picked up lunch to bring back to my room, and the flavors and freshness were as good as I remembered.
In the mornings, stop by El Vez Grab & Go for baked goods, coffee, and juices.
Finally, Sobe Vegan offers all-day brunch, a selection of light bites, salads, and plant-based burgers and sandwiches.
Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale
When it comes to choosing a place to stay while in Fort Lauderdale, you can’t go wrong with the W hotel. It offers easy walkability to the bars and shops on the southern end of The Strip. And Los Olas Boulevard, with its many restaurants and attractions, is just a 5-minute ride away. But despite being in the center of the action, the hotel offers privacy and quiet.
It also is dog friendly. Dogs up to 45 pounds can stay for a non-refundable $100 deposit and $25/day fee. And all four-legged guests receive plush doggie beds, in-room food and water blows, a Bark Box, and a special doggie menu curated by Starr.
Room rates start at about $300 per night for a resort-view king room, depending on the season. You can also check rates at an online booking site such as Booking.com or Expedia to see if you can find a deal. If you want to splurge, try the EWOW Suite. But be prepared to fork out some serious cash. According to Elite Traveler, the room goes for $18,000 a night.