Here's a look, in alphabetical order, at some of the most inviting GLBT-popular lodging options in one of America's premier gay destinations, Fort Lauderdale. Also, take a look at the Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors Gay Nightlife Guide.
For ideas about what to see and do while visiting, check out the Fort Lauderdale Gay Vacation Guide, which lists five of the area's top attractions and activities for gay travelers.
A 16-story condo hotel with a prime location directly across Hwy. A1A from one of the main gay sections of Fort Lauderdale Beach, the upscale Atlantic Hotel and Spa (601 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) has roomy (600 square feet and up) studios with kitchenettes, large sitting areas, and private balconies overlooking the water, as well as much larger (1,200 square feet and up) suites that have separate living rooms, and full-size and nicely outfitted kitchens. Standard in all units are glitzy marble bathrooms, and Bose CD players, 42-inch high-def TVs.
As many units have two bedrooms, and all have at least limited cooking amenities, this property is a great choice for a longer stay on the beach. The Atlantic has its own full-service spa offering all sorts of soothing treatments and wraps, and guests can also enjoy hanging out around the large pool, which overlooks the ocean; there's also good-size fitness room open 'round the clock. There are also two well-regarded restaurants, Beauty & The Feast and, overlooking the fifth-floor terrace, Ocean Market Grille.
Situated on a canal less than a mile from the GLBT-popular dining and nightlife strip in Wilton Manors, the 18-unit Cabanas Guesthouse & Spa (2209 N.E. 26th St., Wilton Manors) is the largest of the gay resorts in this part of Broward County, as most of the others are over by the beach. This makes it a great choice with visitors who want to be close to the Wilton Manors action, and the gay beach at Sebastian Street is still relatively easy to get to from here - just a 15-minute drive.
Run by a helpful, easygoing staff and drawing a fun, diverse bunch of guys, Cabanas has attractive, mid-priced rooms, some of them with views of the scenic canal - they're done with tile floors and a clean white-on-white color scheme, and all have DVD players, flat-screen TVs, refrigerators, microwaves, and coffeemakers; premium rooms also have iPod docks, and some larger suites have two private patios, full kitchens, and sitting rooms. The clothing-optional grounds include a heated saltwater pool, 10-man Jacuzzi, steam room with aromatherapy, and gated off-street parking; Continental breakfast is also included. The other major reason Cabana Guesthouse stands out is that it has a full-service men's day spa, with peaceful treatment rooms in which you can pamper yourself with facials, deep-tissue massage, body wrap exfoliation, hair and nail services, and other services.
The intimate Calypso Inn (2520 N.E. 6th Ave., Wilton Manors), formerly known as Aragon Guesthouse, has just three warmly appointed rooms (one of them is equipped to welcome pets) as well as a cottage - each unit has its own private entrance. Fenced in for privacy and surrounded by leafy plants and trees, the inn has lovely indoor/outdoor common areas where breakfast is served each morning.
The location is perfect for fans of the vibrant gay nightlife, dining, and retail in downtown Wilton Manors - the main strip, Wilton Drive, is just a block away, with bars like Bill's Filling Station and the Village Pub just a five-minute walk. Those planning to stay for more than a couple of days often favor the 372-square-foot cottage, which has a bit more room to spread out, plus a 40-inch flat-screen TVs, fridge, and microwave, and French doors that open to the inn's courtyard. The other rooms are a bit cozier but also have 40-inch flat-screen TVs and smaller fridges. Even in high season, rates start around $100 on weekdays, which is a terrific deal considering the location and amenities.
One of the largest gay accommodations in the country, Grand Resort (539 N. Birch Rd., Fort Lauderdale) is also one of the classiest and most inviting getaways in Fort Lauderdale. This 33-room complex comprises a few interconnecting buildings, one main pool area (where swimsuits are required), a more secluded clothing-optional lanai with a hot tub and fountain, and a first-rate full-service spa is just two blocks from the gay section of Fort Lauderdale Beach.
Low-keyed and with a friendly, professional staff, the Grand appeals to a wide range of guys - it's a good place to mix and mingle, but the suits-on policy around the pool lends a less sexually charged air. There's a small gym with well-kept equipment, a lounge where breakfast is set up each morning, and - in the rooms - snacks and beverages sold for about the same prices you'll pay at a local convenience store. A major asset here is the spa, which caters both to hotel guests and walk-ins - just call ahead (954-630-3000) to make an appointment.
Everything from deep-tissue massage (individual or couples'), facials, manicures, pedicures, waxing, and haircuts are offered, and the staff is first-rate. Accommodations at the Grand are spacious and tasteful, decorated with contemporary flair and opening either to the pool or courtyard. Quite a few suite and penthouse options, with large sitting rooms and full kitchens, are available - these are hugely popular with guests staying longer than a few days. Some have private lanais and outdoor showers, and all rooms are equipped with HD TVs, refrigerators, microwaves, coffeemakers, DVD and CD players, and free Wi-Fi. A few select rooms are also pet-friendly.
With lushly landscaped, a peaceful setting in the historic Victoria Park section of Fort Lauderdale, and a gorgeous mix of rooms, suites, cottages, and over-the-top sumptuous villas, Pineapple Point (315 N.E. 16th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale) has made a name for itself as one of the poshest and classiest gay men's resorts in the world. Opened in the late '90s, the property actually dates to the 1930s and has been beautifully restored - the clothing-optional grounds include about 2 acres complete with two hot tubs, a pool, several shaded hammocks, sun decks, a massage studio (where you can book treatments with highly talented massage therapists), and a gym.
Rates include an expansive Continental breakfast as well as evening happy hour, the use of bikes, umbrellas, and beach chairs, and a variety of snacks. Pineapple Point has rates comparable to other upscale hotels in the area, and part of what you're paying for are the services of the ultra-helpful, top-notch staff - they'll arrange just about anything you need, from hard-to-score dinner reservations to help with planning fun around the area. Rooms are done in a classic plantation-style, with high-end bath linens and bath amenities, walk-in showers, DVD players, plush robes, and all sorts of other perks.
The two-level town-home-style villas are favorite roosts of gay celebs and those in town to enjoy special occasions - they have full kitchens, private rooftop sundecks, and plenty of room to kick around (the closets in some of these units are larger than most standard hotel rooms). One thing to keep in mind is that Pineapple Point isn't within walking distance of either the beach or the Wilton Manors nightlife scene; however, it is a short drive from either area, and it is an easy and pleasant walk from the trendy shopping and dining along charming Las Olas Boulevard. With this in mind, most guests tend to arrive with a car.
Fort Lauderdale Beach, which is one of two areas in Broward County (the other being Wilton Manors) that acts as a magnet for GLBT visitors, has changed a great deal over the past decade, as several high-end, high-rise resort hotels have opened along the beachfront. Arguably the hippest and most gay-popular of these, the stylish and contemporary W Fort Lauderdale (401 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) rises 23 stories above the boulevard, promenade, and beachfront - it's just a few blocks from the main gay section of Fort Lauderdale Beach (at Sebastian Street).
Rooms are big and have private balconies with either full or partial ocean views - they start at a generous 400 square feet and have comfy, low-slung beds, impressive entertainment centers (and media libraries), iPod docking stations, fun walk-in showers that have a full view of the room (curtains are available on request, if you're a bit bashful about such things), and well-designed work areas.
And apart from having sleek, smartly furnished rooms with a number of fun amenities, the hotel is home to such notable spots as the superb Steak 954 restaurant (part of the empire of celeb chef Stephen Starr), Randi Gerber's see-and-be-seen Whiskey Blue nightclub, the more relaxed, come-as-you-are Living Room lobby bar, an impressive and expansive fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment, and a fab pool deck with a hot tub, cabanas, full food and bar service, a fire pit, and some of the hottest weekend pool parties along the beachfront. Another key asset is the rather intimate but well-equipped Bliss Spa, which offers the full gamut of treatments - from ginger-infused body rubs to deep-tissue massage; the spa has its own private sunning area, too.