Our very last stop on our trip around the world with Semester at Sea wound up being a place with which I am very familiar: Florida. I spent my Spring Breaks growing up at my parents’ condo in Orlando and many a summer laying by the pool at Sandestin in the Panhandle. I’ve been to Miami a couple of times in my adult years. However, one Florida city I had yet to visit was Fort Lauderdale. So when we docked there in mid-December, SVV and I chose to stick around for a couple days before heading back to the real world.
The majority of voyagers who also stayed in Florida for a bit headed down to Miami, but we didn’t want bright lights, big city, crazy nightlife; we wanted peace and quiet. So we checked into the beachfront W Fort Lauderdale for two nights in hopes of finding just that.
I’ve stayed at a couple of W hotels before—in San Francisco and Hollywood—and the Fort Lauderdale property was consistent with the brand: super swanky and sexy with plenty of modern touches that I wanted to slip in my purse and take home with me.
Our visit fell just 10 days before Christmas and midweek, meaning that it was very quiet, and at times it seemed like we had the whole hotel to ourselves.
After four months of sleeping in a tiny twin bed, all I wanted to do was sprawl out on this king and sleep for a week. Unfortunately, I had competition.
And while the rooms are might comfortable, my favorite part of the W is the obvious…the bath products! I’m obsessed with Bliss and can’t go into Sephora wittout being suckered into buying something from the line at the checkout bins, so the fact that you get these mini bottles for free when staying at a W is enough of a reason for me.
But we ended up not being the only ones who stayed put in Fort Lauderdale. Our pals Andrew and Jane and Brian and Layne all decided to hang out in the area, so we went to ROK:BRGR the first night to celebrate the end of a successful voyage (and because we all desperately craved some quality American food—in this case, burgers and fries—like nobody’s business).
After four months of beer and wine on the ship—yes, the faculty and staff have their own bar, and it does include a full liquor selection but we usually were cheap and stuck to Heineken or Red Strip—SVV exercised his right to order a very manly pink drink. (SVV fact: His drink of choice is a cosmo and he’s from San Francisco. I often question his sexuality, too.)
It turned out that some of the students were having one last hurrah at a bar next door, so we popped in for one last opportunity to mingle.
I’m excited to go back on the M/V Explorer in May, but I’d be lying if I said it’s not going to be bittersweet without all of my Fall 2011 friends on board, too.
The next two days were extremely windy, so much so that you didn’t really want to be outdoors, so we spent a lot of time sleeping in and lounging inside the hotel and basking in our high-speed Internet connection (after four months without, I was tearing through some webpages). We had brunch and we went to see a matinee (The Descendants…meh), and we wandered the beachfront boardwalk a couple of times.
We had yet another delicious meal at Canyon, thanks to a quick Yelp search, our first proper date with just the two of us in months.
On the last day in town, the weather wasn’t improving, so we still didn’t get a chance to make the most of the W’s beautiful pool, which was just taunting me throughout our stay.
But we did capitalize on the oceanfront hot tub, and Jane and Andrew came over for a dip and some poolside cocktails before we boarded a plane and said good-bye to this life of leisure we’d grown accustomed to.
What a nice way to ease back into life in the real world. I’ve never stayed at a W hotel before – I had no idea that they had Bliss products! I have a bit of an obsession myself. 🙂
And if you stay multiple days, that’s multiple bottles of Bliss to take home with you, ha! Every time I stay at a W and see the housekeeping cart, I’m so tempted to ask if I can just stock up =)
Hi friend! I love that you’re writing about W Fort Lauderdale! I am doing a party there in a month and they are being AMAZING! Also, glad to know my three days in their rooms will be restful!!
Oh, how fun! It was a really great hotel: perfect location and the service is phenomenal. A great place for an event, for sure!
Great place to end your trip…W’s are great hotels…Stayed in my first one last summer and really enjoyed it. Hope to hit the one in Ft Lauderdale soon…it’s only a couple hours away!
It was named by Conde Nast Traveler as one of their top hotels in the US–I definitely hope you get to stay there soon, as well!
We were in Miami when you were in FL …. AND you re the only other people we know who thought The Descendants fell short (to put it nicely). You just got a fast pass to the inner circle of trust.
It was just soooo slow and I’m generally in the Clooney-can-do-no-wrong camp, too.
A bitter sweet end to an awesome adventure. The next one will be better/different.
Nothing ever feels like it will be as great as the last big adventure, does it? And then it inevitably surpasses expectations. Then again, I just think I REALLY lucked out by getting to sail with such an amazing cast of characters, and I’m not sure that opportunity will come around a second time.
Ft. Lauderdale is kind of my fav spot in Florida although I have not explored the whole thing. I just like the laid-backness of the place. I stay in the Westin which is just next door and love the beach there. We were there at Christmas and had nice days but also super cold windy days too, but I will take that over humidity and mosquitos!
All the students who stuck around were in the Westin next door…which is precisely why we stayed in the W instead, ha 😉
I do not get the hype about The Descendants! I found it to be a very boring movie!
Me, toooooo. *snore*
I’m glad I wasn’t the only one! My family didn’t like it either. I just don’t get all the Oscar buzz over it.
I don’t get the Oscar buzz about Moneyball either. I thought it was OK–better than The Descendants for sure–but not Oscar worthy. The only nominated films (that I’ve seen) which I agree with are The Help and My Week with Marilyn.
Okay, I’ve never stayed in a hotel as nice as that one, but without a single other picture you could have sold me on it with the stuffed gator. Love it!
One of the places we stayed recently in Hawaii had a stuffed sea turtle on the bed. I totally thought it was an amenity for guests and was fully planning on taking it home, then saw a note somewhere in the room that I *could* take it home…for the bargain price of $40. I don’t need another stuffed animal that badly (though Ella, no doubt, would have loved the gator).
What a cool experience to be in such a fantastic hotel and you feel as if you have it to yourself!
Ft. Lauderdale is also one of the few Florida cities I’ve never visited, and I share your love of the Bliss products (which a friend of mine who often stays in Ws introduced me to). Sounds like a lovely ending to a spectacular time (despite the weather).
I have a terrible beauty regimen (and by that, I mean, I wash my face in the shower and I moisturize after that and then NOTHING ELSE), but I am obsessed with the Bliss foaming face wash. It feels so good, and it smells like bubble gum!
The W looks amazing! I’m currently traveling through Colombia, and while staying in hostels is part of the adventure, I could totally use a night at a luxurious hotel like that one!
The problem is then you can’t go back. When I was living in Europe (both times), I only traveled by hostel, and now even when my husband and I are in a really expensive city (like Japan), we just splurge (or use a ridiculous amount of hotel points) as it’s hard to go back to the backpacker lifestyle! Then again, I’ve never really stayed at many nice hostels, and I know there are a ton out there now so…
W hotels are amazing and this one looks really good!!! Looks like you had a great time!
I love the pool at the W Ft. Lauderdale!!! and the bar at the lobby!!!!
We camped out in that bar for an afternoon once we realized the pool wasn’t happening. Didn’t have a cocktail (too early in the day–even on vacation!) but the food was delicious.
I have to try the food next time! And the spa!!!! 🙂
I sent you info about Ecuador. Did u get it?let me know if you have questions I will ask my sister in law! Have a good weekend!
I did! I thought I had replied to you, but it was sitting in my draft from weeks ago. So sorry about that!
We stayed right around that same area when we were there a few years ago before going on a cruise and I really liked it. It’s definitely more my style that the craziness of Miami.
I’m so not a partier, so Fort Lauderdale is definitely more my speed. Miami makes me tired just thinking about it!
Looks beautiful. I, too, already have a list of things I must consume when we make it back home. Love the cushy hotel. I need one of those too. 😛
Makes it hard to return to sharing a snug queen with Scott and the dog. I need to figure out a way to add a (California) king bed to my current lifestyle!
When I lived in Atlanta, my office building was right next to the W. I would go over there often to grab lunch and just sit in gorgeousness! Never got to experience staying in the hotel though. Mmmm. Looks lovely!!
The one in Buckhead? I’ve been dying to stay there next time I’m visiting Atlanta. (I forgot you lived there!)
I love W hotels! Best beds ever!
Love the pics!!! I’m obsessed with Ws!
It’s nice to read a blog about someone as adventurous as your self. In a world filled with misery it’s nice to see someone smiling!
Keep up these amazing posts! And say Hi to your friends from all of your happy blog viewers!
Just noticed I miss typed your name! My apologies Kristin!
The food must have been amazing, also you guys photos where really sweet pics!