We visited the Ritz Carlton in Fort Lauderdale for a week around the New Years holiday. It was our first vacation with our 6-month old and we were really looking forward to some R&R in high end accommodations. Our ocean front room was fine- beautiful view, great balcony, decent size, beautiful and massive marble bathroom, but I agree with other contributors that the white decor looked tired and worn. The room just felt a little dingy. The staff was excellent- attentive, warm and welcoming, but unfortunately, they couldn't make up for the fundamental issues with this property.
The big issue is the location. The hotel is located at the southern end of a strip of new hotels on Fort Lauderdale beach. Immediately next to the Ritz is a seedy outdoor mall with a Hooters and a bunch of spring-break-style open air bars (Fat Tuesdays, The Big Kahuna, and LuLu's bait shack). The beach is public, which meant that stepping outside of the Ritz involved navigating a promenade of drunk early twenty-somethings clutching Fat Tuesday-branded thermoses of cheap liquor to get to a beach that was littered with hoards of locals soaking up the sun. The Ritz outsources the beach chair/umbrella service to a third party vendor. The beach service team was very nice and really attentive, but the chairs and umbrellas were very basic (no plush cushions or nice towels) and no food or drink service was available. The beach towels were pretty gross, and they were in short supply, so we had to smuggle towels down from the pool when we wanted to go to the beach. The 7th floor pool was an oasis from the busy beach, and there is an elevator and skyway over the A1A highway from the pool deck to the beach. The elevator from the pool to the skyway was either broken or slow half of the time, and both were pretty worn, so we ended up walking through the main hotel lobby to get to the beach most times.
The pool was small, but never felt crowded (even with the busy holiday crowd). It is not big enough to swim laps, and it's way too shallow to dive into. It's really just for lounging/beating the heat. The pool deck was comfortable, and the staff was great. Fast, friendly and attentive. The lounge chairs at the pool were nice with plush cushions (if you arrived early. We had to fight for the good chairs and good locations near the pool. Some of the nicest lounge chairs are reserved for residents of the hotel). The food was fine- essentially bar food (quesadillas, burgers, sandwiches) and the bar offered the usual drinks. The only down side at the pool is that the smoke and greasy smell from the kitchens at the neighboring Hooters/spring-break bars blew right into the Ritz pool area, so it tended to stink in the afternoons. The mall also had sewage problems while we were there, so the pool stunk like sewage for an afternoon, but that was an anomaly. There are also these vicious little crows that swarm down on the lounge area of the pool during lunch, which was annoying.
The food at the restaurant and bar was excellent (great service at the restaurant, too). We really enjoyed it. We ended up ordering room service for a few nights since we had the baby, and a lot of the good dishes from the restaurant were available for room service, and that was nice.
The staff was very good- they accommodated early check in and late check out, and responded to our complaints about the sewage smell at the pool and the lack of towels at the beach with a free spa service and dinner at the restaurant.
We walked North of the Ritz to the Westin, the W and the Hilton, and the beach and vibe on the A1A promenade there was much nicer since there was greater distance from the seedy bars and shops next to the Ritz. We'd stay at one of those hotels if we ever return. We didn't rent a car, so you might be fine with the Ritz if you stayed in the hotel and drove away from the area for restaurants, beach and night life.
This Ritz isn't worth it, in our opinion. Especially for the money.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale infuses the Gold Coast with casual luxury as the city's first and only AAA Five Diamond hotel. The 24-story, dramatically tiered and glass walled structure has sweeping curves that are reminiscent of a luxury liner. Design elements recall the 1940's, with artwork that includes playful murals inspired by French artist Jean Cocteau and a 13-foot high mural of a seascape inspired by the 1880 painting, "King Neptune and His Horses." The property features 192 guest rooms and suites; a 2,200 square foot Club Lounge, 24,000 square feet of light-filled meeting space; a 29,000 square foot oceanfront sundeck with an infinity pool and private cabanas; destination Spa with an organic and active-botanical treatment menu and a water-view fitness center. Four dining and entertainment options include the new Via Luna Italian grill with seating indoors or al fresco on an oceanfront patio, the dramatic oceanfront Via Luna Bar, a private Wine Room with a 5,000 bottle wine cellar and a seventh floor Poolside Cafe with commanding ocean views. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Ritz Carlton Fort Lauderdale Hotel Fort Lauderdale
- Ritz Carlton Fort Lauderdale
- Fort Lauderdale Ritz Carlton
- St Regis Fort Lauderdale
- St Regis Ft Lauderdale