pursuitist-platinumFort Lauderdale has evolved tremendously since the days when it was best known as the spring break destination for throngs of college students. Indeed, anyone looking for an easy escape need to look no further than the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale, which is arguably, the most luxurious property to be found in this beachside community north of Miami.

Located 20 minutes from the Fort Lauderdale airport, the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale is a wonderful place for a romantic weekend or a family vacation and is an excellent alternative to Palm Beach or South Beach.

Pursuitist recently visited the property for the long Presidents’ Day weekend and was extremely impressed with the level of service offered at the hotel in addition to the exquisite décor and breathtaking ocean views.

The 24-story curved glass-walled property is reminiscent of a luxury liner. Each of its 192 guest rooms and suites have sweeping views of the Atlantic or the Intercoastal Waterway and all are equipped with private balconies. Guest rooms are expansive and decorated with tones of ecru and white with oak wood floors and enormous marble bathrooms. Residential suites are also available and range from 764-square foot one-bedroom units to 2,167-square foot three-bedroom apartments. Our room overlooked the Atlantic Ocean and we enjoyed watching the spectacular sunrise from our balcony each morning.

The Club Lounge is available for an additional daily cost to a limited number of guests who book a guestroom or residential suites. Located on the 8th floor, amenities at the club include cocktails, wine, champagne and a delicious assortment of food which varies depending on the time of day and includes fresh fruit, cheese platters, hot hors d’oeuvres , freshly baked cookies, as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner items. The lounge is staffed by a dedicated concierge and several other staff members who welcome each guest by name, giving the club a homey feel. While the lounge is an additional daily cost that is added in to the price of the room or suite, it is well worth the expense as it adds another dimension to the experience of being at the hotel. It was a wonderful place to spend time throughout the day: we stopped in each morning for a quick breakfast and returned each afternoon for a snack. We also went to the Club Lounge each evening for a cocktail before going to dinner. The lounge is equipped with a separate sitting area with a large flat screen television and age-appropriate DVDs for children who might want to watch a movie and there are several computer stations set up for internet access.

The 29,000 square foot tropical pool deck is situated on the seventh floor, high above the ocean, offering stunning views of the ocean and beach below. The attentive service at the pool area constantly attend to the needs of the guests, by offering glasses of ice water, sun screen, towels and even trays of complimentary Haagen-Dazs ice cream cups and strawberry smoothies on the days we were visiting. The poolside café offers a light menu featuring tropical fruit, salads and grilled fish (be sure to try the fish tacos, which are amazing). For guest who desire more privacy, there are 10 cabanas available for booking, complete with a private cabana captain. A day at the pool brought a much needed sense of tranquility.

There are numerous complimentary activities offered to younger guests at the pool deck. On the days Pursuitist visited the property, children were busy tie-dying Ritz-provided t-shirts and making arts-and-crafts projects to take home. One afternoon, a cartoonist was on-site drawing portraits to the delight of the young guests.

For beach lovers, the Ritz offers a private area with umbrellas and chaise lounge chairs that are attended by a staff. The beach is accessible by private elevator and elevated walkway so that guests can easily move between the pool and the beach which is located below and across the street.

The 8,500 square foot spa features 10 treatment suites and one couple’s suite. Treatments include SkinCeuticals anti-aging facials, body treatments, a variety of massages, pedicure and manicures for both men and women. The spa features a 99% organic treatment menu and a team of internationally trained therapists.

The hotel’s elegant restaurant, Via Luna, features exceptional Italian cuisine and a 5,000 bottle wine cellar. The Wine Spectator award-winning wine list is impressive and features wines and vintages from all over the world, including many that are hard-to-find, such as Colgin, Chateau Haut Brion and Chateau Margaux. The restaurant offers outdoor dining on a terrace overlooking the beach and a large dining room with crystal-embedded chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling windows from which spectacular views of the ocean can be viewed. The menu offers a wide selection of slow braised veal osso buco with saffron risotto, pepper crusted tuna, Maine Diver scallops, tuna traditional pork/veal/beef meatballs, imported artisan cheeses, Parma ham and garlic crostini and an impressive selection of hand-cut beef. There are also several charcuterie and cheeses to choose from, all of which were delicious. We loved the heirloom tomato salad that was served with a local burrata. The classic spaghetti with San Marzano tomato with the Via Luna Meatball was outstanding as well. The restaurant’s pastry chef creates delectable desserts including warm Nutella beignets. The restaurant also offers a Chef’s Five Course Tasting Menu for $95 per person ($130 per person, including wine), but all guests at the table must participate.

Perhaps the best feature of the property, though, is the impeccable, professional service and the attention to detail in every part of the property. From the front desk staff to the concierge at the Club Lounge, the team at Via Luna, the spa staff and the poolside staff, everyone bends over backwards to make sure each guest has the best experience possible.

We were perfectly content to spend our entire stay at the hotel, but should you desire to venture out, be sure to ask the concierge to make a reservation at one of thirty al fresco dining options on Las Olas Boulevard in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Las Olas is an electic shopping and dining district with 65 different boutiques, ten international art galleries and two museums.

For reservations, call (954) 465-2300 or (800) 241-3333 or visit www.ritzcarlton.com.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton