Stepping inside the lobby of The Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort was like being reacquainted with an old friend. The clean lines, serene decor, and the unmistakable White Tea scent were all a welcome reminder of the years when each day started by clipping the Westin name tag to my lapel.
The nostalgia that brews inside me anytime I check-in to a Westin property was somewhat offset by my recollection of this hotel's former life. The Sheraton Yankee Trader, as it was once known, was a landmark on Fort Lauderdale Beach for over 40 years. The reviews from former hotel colleagues that stayed there near the end, however, were, shall I say, less than exemplary. The Yankee Trader closed in 2008 and reemerged a year later with both a new identity and, based on my first impressions, a clean slate of history.
|My kind of lobby...|
During check-in, I surveyed the surroundings in search of any trace of the hotel's former self, but it was as if that history didn't exist. The porteco was outfitted with stone pavers and a friendly staff handing out Vitamin Water to returning guests. In addition, the lobby, although a little small for a hotel of this size, was sleek and inviting. The kind of place I would normally kick back with my Kindle and a Starbucks, which was conveniently found in the base of the hotel's South Tower. In the end, I walked away from the front desk satisfied that "Westin" was more than just the name on the top of the building.
|Pull up a chair...|
Our stay at the Westin was short by design; a quick stopover before setting sail on the Oasis of the Seas. We chose the hotel because it was conveniently located near Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades, and gave us a good excuse to begin our vacation a day early with some time at the beach. The hotel's sky bridge across A1A was a nice perk, even if we didn't get to enjoy the beach as long as we would have liked. Instead, the customary Florida afternoon thunderstorm sent us to the poolside bar for an Old Fashioned. A more than acceptable substitute.
|A sea turtle nest outside the resort.|
The sun returned just in time for us to head upstairs to the room to get ready for dinner at Shula's on the Beach. When we entered the room, the first thing to catch my eye wasn't the Heavenly Bed, or the Heavenly Shower, or the comfy chaise lounge, but of all things the Goodyear blimp. For some strange reason, the airship was making runs up and down the beach and provided a few minutes of head scratching entertainment. Nevermind dinner, I suddenly felt compelled to go join the guys playing catch on the beach, just so I could claim to have played sports under the Goodyear blimp. MJ wasn't having it.
|Seriously, how often does this happen?|
Like the lobby downstairs, our room at the Westin had all of the modern comforts that have made the brand famous. Aside from the balcony, which could have used a pressure washing, there was little about the room that would have revealed the building's true age. As a bit of a stickler for small issues that get passed over day after day in hotels, I saw this as a true testament to the remarkable transformation of the resort.
One thing to keep in mind is that the rooms at the Westin are divided into two separate towers. Both buildings offer direct views of Fort Lauderdale Beach, however the South Tower is located across a small street and is accessed via a sky bridge which connect the two. Like a doofus, I declined assistance from the bellman before learning which of the towers our room was located, which resulted in a heart pumping hike with a weeks worth of luggage. The upside, however, was it saved me from having to pay a visit to the Westin Workout the next morning.
Even though we were about to board a cruise ship for a week, I still departed the Westin wishing our stay was longer. The hotel would have been perfect for a long weekend getaway, thanks to its location in the heart of Fort Lauderdale beach, a beautiful pool and spa, plus the service and amenities that travelers have come to love about the Westin brand.
And therein lies the most impressive thing about our stay at the Westin Beach Resort. I came to Fort Lauderdale with preconceived notions about the hotel based on what I knew of its history. I expected a new sign on the building, the Heavenly Bed, but not much else. I could not have been more wrong. It just goes to show that hotels, like people, can change, but only if you're willing to give them a chance.
Enjoy Your Stay
Special thanks to the Westin Beach Resort for hosting this edition of Check-In Florida. As always, all opinions and pontifications are my own.