Sat. Dec 10th, 2022

With its sprawling beaches traditionally attracting families, you would never guess Fort Lauderdale is the place to see and be seen this summer. But an increasingly young professional population is transforming the city—with its Venice-like waterways, trendy restaurants and international yachting scene—into a destination for those with refined taste. Known for attracting a stylish crowd, it’s no surprise the W Fort Lauderdale is leading the charge with their latest “It Was Written in the Stars” astrology-themed package.

While the W knows how to party, their “Detox, Retox, Repeat” ethos means they take relaxation equally as seriously. It’s why the astrology-themed stay begins in the AWAY Spa, with a zodiac-themed manicure. After painted in a color of the guest’s choice, nails are decorated with the symbol and spelling of the guest’s sign. Other unique spa offerings to get primped and pampered include hair and make-up services and body polishing treatments.

The zodiac theme continues across from the AWAY Spa at the hotel’s ‘Living Room’ (the W brand’s name for the lobby bar). While they’ve got familiar drinks and dinner bites on the standard menu, the special zodiac themed cocktail list is the real star here. Each drink is inspired by an astrology sign—Scorpios can expect a dark espresso martini while Geminis will see their scales represented in the slushy mix of strawberry daiquiri on one side of the glass and a pina colada on the other.

While neighboring Miami offers some of the best nightlife in the country, the W encourages an indulgent night in with their “It Was Written in the Stars” PJ party in one of their oceanfront rooms or the ‘Extreme Wow Suite.’ With a kitchen, dining and living room, plus panoramic views of the city and ocean, it’s no wonder celebrities like Lady Gaga have stayed in the two-bedroom penthouse suite. The spacious residence makes the perfect venue for an astrology-themed party, complete with room service dinner, tarot card readings and henna tattoos.

The creative theme continues in the morning with a ‘Sprayed in Style’ brunch. The W has teamed up with local arts program, Art Serve, to have graffiti artist Daniela Sanchez Vegas decorate a piece of guests’ clothing in a colorful design of their choice. While Vegas is painting, guests can enjoy a hearty room service breakfast complete with mimosas.

While the astrology-themed package includes in-room dining, foodies won’t want to miss the hotel’s other dining venues on the ground floor. Overseen by James Beard Award-winning chef Stephen Starr, Steak 954 and El Vez offer modern interpretations of familiar flavors. At the former, you can expect an extensive selection of raw and cooked seafood and dry-aged meats, including an impressive variety of Wagyu steaks, served in an intimate, posh environment. The latter is a more casual all-day eatery specializing in Mexican dishes like tacos and enchiladas, and offering more than 100 varieties of tequila. Both restaurants serve up insta-worthy plates with equally picturesque ocean views.

Those looking to venture further afield will find a vibrant city that is re-writing its reputation as a college spring break destination with an increasingly sophisticated crowd. While you can certainly still find rowdy bars along the beach, a short drive inland has you drinking speakeasy-style at No Man’s Land. Set in a strip mall, you would never guess this unsuspecting cocktail parlour serves inventive libations and shareable plates in a prohibition-inspired space decorated with velvet blue banquettes and regal gold curtains. While you’ve come for the creative cocktails, the provisions are equally as impressive with dishes like the ‘Foie Gras Old Fashioned’ presenting bourbon cured terrine in a giant smoking glass.

Nearby, another buzzworthy restaurant, Holly Blue, attracts locals and visitors alike to its verdant garden patio and chic indoor dining room complete with grand columns and a marble bar. Equally as impressive are dinner appetizers like the ‘Wahoo Tiradtio’—a local favorite topped with candied sweet potato—and the ‘Roasted Cauliflower,’ which presents the popular vegetable four ways—pureed, riced, pickled and roasted. Wine enthusiasts can take their pick from an extensive wine list while light drinkers will appreciate the low-ABV cocktails.

The aforementioned experiences appeal to those craving a stylish night out, but Fort Lauderdale has something for wellness-seekers too. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park offers a cool reprieve from the summer heat with its lush subtropical coastal habitat, the last Tropical Maritime Hammock in all of Broward County. Nature-lovers can flora and fauna, like turtles and iguanas, it’s a nature-lovers paradise. The easy 1.8-mile loop attracts local cyclists and hikers while off-road trails invite nature-lovers to spy the iguanas in the trees and turtles near the freshwater coastal dune lake, on which visitors can canoe, kayak and paddle-board.

Back at the W Fort Lauderdale, fitness enthusiasts can work up a sweat or stretch it out in the hotel’s boot camp and vinyasa yoga classes which take place on the beach twice a week. The classes are included in the W’s $40 resort fee, which also includes two-hour bike rentals and beach chairs with an umbrella.

Following a workout, fresh fuel awaits next door at SoBe Vegan. The bright and airy second location of the Miami-based fast casual restaurant serves up plant-based renditions of comforting classics like chicken tenders, burgers and soft serve, with plenty of instagrammable spots like a plant wall decorated with ‘The World Is Ours’ in neon lights.

From the W’s astrology-themed experiences to the sophisticated restaurants and bars to the many opportunities for some luxurious R&R—Fort Lauderdale is clearly maturing from a spring break hotspot into a sophisticated beachfront destination.

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