Great value, close proximity to the port, and a vibe that says "I'm on vacation." These are the prerequisites for my ideal pre-cruise hotel. Fort Lauderdale presents no shortage of options that meet this criteria, which usually poses a considerable challenge to my indecisive nature. That is unless you're the closest hotel to Port Everglades offering a rate considerably less than competition, just as we found at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66.
My first impression of the Hyatt Pier 66 was that it's an older resort held together by the hotel equivalent of cosmetic surgery. While the guys from "Botched" couldn't help this hotel's exterior, which sticks out like a sore thumb against the backdrop of Fort Lauderdale beach, the sleek furnishings and pulsating music in the lobby did their best to give a facelift to this socialite just a few years past her prime. Besides the superficial challenges in appearance, the rickety elevator rides were also constant reminder that this gal has some serious osteoporosis.
In complete contrast to the Hyatt's somewhat dated feel, the hotel is literally surrounded by some of the most incredible yachts I've ever seen. For anyone that enjoys being by the water and watching the coming and going of boats (which I do), a tower room with a balcony overlooking the pier is about as good as it gets. Thankfully, that's exactly what we landed.
|Looks can be deceiving.|
Like the rest of the hotel, the room was a mix of 1974 and 2015. The bed would easily rank in the top-5 worst I've experienced in a hotel, and the lounge chair was best designed for almost anything but sitting. But the view? Well that managed to overcompensate for every other shortcoming this hotel could toss my way. From Port Everglades on the left, to the ocean on the right, with the pier and downtown Fort Lauderdale in-between, the Hyatt could have charged a $25 resort fee simply for the view and I wouldn't have cared. Well, I detest resort fees so that's not entirely true, but you get the drift.
|The awesome balcony. Fair warning: Keep your curtains shut. That fence is all that separates the two rooms.|
After watching American Pharoah win the Triple Crown - from our room, because no one seemed to care in the bar - we strolled out to the end of the pier for dinner and cocktails at Pelican Landing. This is the more casual of the two dining options at the Hyatt, with Grille 66 being the hotel's upscale, yet seemingly less popular, eatery. The outside deck at Pelican's offered a sublime view of the sunset, that was nearly equaled in greatness by their conch fritters and fish tacos.
|The magnificent sunset from Pelican Landing|
While the Hyatt is in a no-mans-land of sorts between the beach and Intercoastal Waterway, everything about the hotel's pool says "South Florida paradise." Their crisp blue waters were also surrounded by various activities like corn hole, lawn chess, and a few hammocks for a solid poolside nap.
From a service standpoint, our experience at the Hyatt Pier 66 was hit and miss. The servers at Pelican Landing and poolside were both excellent, but the bartender and bellman I encountered had the personality of a lead brick. I sympathized with our front desk agent as well, who was bombarded with not 1, not 2, but 8 phone calls within the first minute of her beginning our check-in. Clearly the Hyatt has not heard of a centralized guest services department away from the front desk, or those folks decided it was a good time to kick back for break.
|Oasis of the Seas heading out to sea.|
Despite its numerous flaws, the Hyatt Pier 66 delivered on its role as pre-cruise hotel in spades. I could hit Port Everglades with about a 7-iron from our balcony, and it was pretty great waking up the morning of the cruise to see our ship waiting for us. Combine the location with a rate that was roughly 40% less than our usual Fort Lauderdale pre-cruise hotel - Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach - and suddenly all of those shortcomings didn't seem so bad.
|Hard to miss the Hyatt as you sail away...|
The Hyatt Pier 66 would not come close to my first choice for those vacationing in Fort Lauderdale. However, for someone seeking a mid-tier hotel, close to the port, with a South Florida vibe to get into what I call "cruise mode," the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 will certainly do the trick.
Enjoy Your Stay