The Ritz Carlton
1 North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Date of Last Visit: Tuesday, December 21, 2010
The Background: Here’s the truth. My parents were married for over 30 years when they suddenly realized that they didn’t really like each other much anymore. So now here I am in my mid-30s, playing that game: who to spend what time with over the holidays.
Lucky for me, they only live about 90 miles apart. (I mean, it could be worse…they could live in different states.) But still…every year it’s the same story. How long am I going to stay with my mom? How long am I going to stay with my dad?
- Mom owns a comfortable three bedroom, two bathroom home in a gated retirement community. There’s a gym and a swimming pool and a bike in her storage locker. She does not have any cats and her towels all match. There is a nail salon within walking distance, and wireless Internet access throughout her home and up at the clubhouse. (Yes, there’s a clubhouse. Where we play canasta. And bridge.)
- Dad owns a one bedroom apartment in a condominium building in Fort Lauderdale. I can’t really walk anywhere from there without getting killed in traffic. He’s furnished his place in a style I can only call “early bachelor.” (La-Z Boy Recliner, big screen TV, etc.) He has a cat–Snickers–and I’m allergic. And he “borrows” his neighbor’s wireless Internet.
Call me crazy, but for me, this is not a difficult decision.
So visiting my father in Fort Lauderdale always gives me the opportunity to try out different hotels. I’m a huge fan of the boutique hotel, The Pillars, which is located right on the Intracoastal. (The intracoastal is a 3,000-mile (4,800-km) waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States, providing a navigable route along the US southeast coast without many of the hazards of travel on the open sea.) Last year, I stayed at the nearly brand new Hilton and found it amazingly clean and lovely. And a few years prior, I checked into The Atlantic, where I was upgraded to a spacious suite.
This time around, the price at The Ritz Carlton was too good to pass up. $239 a night. So I booked myself in and hopped into my mom’s Volvo for the short ride down. (That Volvo, by the way, cost me $30 to valet overnight. Uggh and perhaps the only dark moment during my stay.)
Imagine my surprise–seriously–when I checked in to The Ritz learn that I’d been upgraded to a Junior Suite. I wanted to make all sorts of plans to make the best use of the suite. Invite some people over. Write my novel. Get an in-room massage.
Instead, I popped open a bottle of the house chardonnay and checked out the view. And then I went downstairs for lunch.
This chicken caesar salad was a prototype for caesar salads everywhere. The dressing was perfect–creamy and peppery. It was also, as you can tell, extremely large. God bless America, really.
My view at lunch was gorgeous. As you can maybe tell from the shadows, this was a bit of a late lunch. The beach was cast with golden shadows.
After a night of Latin dancing with my dad (seriously–this man loves the mambo), I came back to The Ritz to find these lovely chocolates, a bottle of water, and this nice note from The Ritz Carlton management.
And when I woke up in the morning, I hopped down to breakfast to enjoy some of the best Eggs Benedict I think I’ve ever had. GREAT Hollandaise sauce, perhaps a bit more lemony than I’m used to, but as a fan of all things lemon, I was not disappointed.
The Verdict: For $239 a night, The Ritz Carlton Fort Lauderdale is a no-brainer. And I haven’t even discussed the service! Each time I entered and left the hotel, it seemed like anywhere from four to eight people ran to open the door for me. When I told them I preferred The New York Times to USA Today, they delivered BOTH. And when they brought my car back when I checked out, they plied me with multiple bottles of water and all sorts of advice on the best way to get back up north.
In short, The Ritz Fort Lauderdale is one of those places where the service is so good that you can’t help but smile and think, “Well of course they’d do that. This is The Ritz, after all.”