At the last minute on a recent Friday night, my husband called the dog sitter while I packed up the girls and we headed east. After a short 20-minute drive, we arrived at the W Fort Lauderdale.
Located directly across from Fort Lauderdale Beach, known as the Venice of America, The W Fort Lauderdale is probably not the first place one would think of for a weekend get away with two little girls. I mean, the Nickelodeon Hotel it’s not! The W is probably better suited for a romantic weekend sans children, but we had heard wonderful things about the property and thought we would see just how family friendly this stylish and chic hotel might be. (The W offers babysitting services upon request so clearly the hotel is child-friendly.) The check in or Welcome desk is not in the lobby but on the 4th floor. And really there is no lobby but rather the “Living Room” features comfy spots to sit and play games (we loved the tic tac toe board with large silver X’s and O’s). For those without children, there’s the Whiskey Blue cocktail bar also located in the living room. The expansive outdoor terrace offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. While we were sorting out our room, we met Tokyo, a “W Insider” as stated on his card. I thought maybe he would have looked down upon having children at the sexy and sophisticated hotel but he was very gracious as he chatted away with my daughters. He even made a point to ask them the names of each of their stuffed animals and wished us all a pleasant stay, Snuffles and Lion included.
We opted for one large bed (my daughters still like to crawl into bed with us anyway) in order to have a room with a better view. What we did not know is that the rooms with the king beds have what we came to call the peek-a-boo bathroom and shower. The shower was in the center of the room and where one would expect to have walls, there was only clear glass from floor to ceiling. So when you were taking a shower, you could see the entire hotel room. And everyone in the hotel room could see you entirely! This meant that every time my husband wanted to take a shower, I took the girls for a short impromptu walk around the hotel. (We later learned if you request a room with two double beds, the shower would have shutters for privacy.) The loo or WC was behind a slightly frosted glass sliding door and did not cause as much of an issue. Other than that hiccup, our room was perfect, with its floor to ceiling sliding glass door leading out to the balcony that provided a magnificent view of the ocean and comfy lounge chairs. The hotel was designed as the abstraction of a sailboat in full sail and from our 21st floor balcony we actually felt as if we were standing on the deck of a ship. Upon arriving at our room we were greeted by a white fluffy alligator stuffed animal and a collection of candy, all available for purchase. Known as the Munchie Box, there were a variety of snacks from the healthy to the indulgent and bottles of water all around the room. You will not go hungry or thirsty at the W. The W’s catch phrase is “Whatever/Whenever” and they claim that no request goes unheeded, providing it is not against the law, as stated on their website:“At W Fort Lauderdale, your wish truly is our command with our Whatever/Whenever® service. We’ll make your special moment magical and transform your dreams into reality whether it’s a sunset cruise or mariachi serenaded spa services. Whatever you want. Whenever you want it (as long as it’s legal). “ Fortunately, my daughters were unaware of this W/W promise because I suspect they may have been tempted to put the hotel to the test. (Two 8-year-olds can get pretty creative. Cupcakes at 4am. A bedtime story sung by Taylor Swift. A pony. All definite possibilities. There were great sample-sized Bliss bath products in our room which I snatched up and stowed away in my suitcase immediately! I am just about out of the yummy lemon + sage body butter but there’s more to be found at the Bliss spa located inside the hotel.
Bliss is hip and trendy with a 1950s Floridian décor. Jazzy blues tunes waft through the air and there are separate men’s and women’s locker rooms and lounges that open out to a lovely outdoor terrace.
Spa services include waxing (literally every part of your body can be waxed, from your eyebrows to your toes and every part in between, even “extra hair ‘there’ as the spa menu reads, can be removed from your body for a mere $15.00.)
Their 30-minute hot cream manicure includes a hot cream hand soak, cuticle clipping, pushing, perfecting and polishing, all for just $25.00.
Their double choc pedicure treatment includes a hot chocolate milk skin-smoothing soak with a yummy chocolate treat on the side is $70.00.
Spa snacks are available (go for the brownie buffet!) and there is a retail boutique just across the hallway. If you have ever wondered where all of the fashionable South Florida moms buy their too cute cut-off denim shorts or the perfect little black dress, chances are they have visited the W boutique. Here is where you’ll find sexy bathing suits and sarongs, unique sandals and hats, and a lovely selection of South Beach chic jewelry.
Without a doubt, my daughters’ favorite part of the hotel was the magnificent infinity pool. Overlooking the ocean, the W pool is the perfect place to cool off and relax. At 9am, we were the first ones there on Sunday morning, most likely the other hotel guests were still sleeping it off. For a good two hours we had the entire pool area to ourselves. The padded lounge chair was the perfect place to unwind and the large umbrellas kept me from frying to a crisp.
Apparently, the W is big on peek a boo glass walls in odd places. As you come up the stairs from the living room area you are literally walking under a glass-tunnel portion of the pool. My daughters thought it was very cool that you could see the people swimming as you come up to the pool deck. There are also slats or windows at the bottom of the pool and the light from above filters down into the living room located directly underneath. At times you can see the silhouette of swimmers passing by.
WET Cabanas offer a bit more privacy, with a flat screen TV, Fiji water, sliced fruit and phone, private bathroom and High Speed Internet Access.
The other hotel guests started trickling after 11:30am or so and most were singles in their 20’s to early 30’s. The pool heats up later in the afternoon and becomes the place to see and be scene when the DJ starts spinning, but our little family of four did not feel out of place or unwelcomed among the beautiful (childless) people.
For those who want to work out (more power to them, I’ll be at the pool!) there are treadmills, elliptical machines and free weights at Sweat. The bowl of complimentary apples and individually packaged headphones were available to plug in to the flat screens and were appreciated by my husband who got a great workout at the hotel and by running along the beach.
It’s a quick walk literally across the street to the beach and The W will happily set up an umbrella and lounge chairs for an additional fee if you wish. For those who want to get out and see the area, there are numerous bars and restaurants within a 15-minute walk. If you want to go somewhere by car, the W offers the Acura Experience, an exclusive Whatever/Whenever service. The new 300-horsepower Acura MDX is fully outfitted and ready to show you the town (within a five-mile radius). Should you need a CVS, there is one at Beach Place just up the road. We ate lunch at Primanti Bros. Pizza, which was probably one of the best pizzas I have had ever. The triple chocolate brownie did not disappoint either. Then, to add insult to injury, we walked around the corner to Pop’s Corn and my daughters indulged in an ice cream cone. (My husband and I definitely won points for parents of the year since normally we allow one treat per night.) My husband and I could not resist a bag of their chocolate covered caramel popcorn which we devoured in bed later that night. I had to summon every inch of willpower to hand the bag over to my husband. Truly addictive stuff and worth the visit!
Soon it was time to say goodbye to the W and head back to suburbia.
If you are looking for a stylish get away on the ocean you may wish to save the W in Fort Lauderdale for an adults-only romantic weekend but if you find yourself in South Florida with your family, don’t be afraid to bring your well-behaved children to enjoy the magnificent hotel.
The W Fort Lauderdale is a sophisticated, chic hotel but is not so snobbish to shun families who appreciate a luxurious get away.