Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Fort Lauderdale – the experience of the Florida coast.

Fort Lauderdale was an unknown destination to me just a few years ago – as I discovered more I learned of its popularity among Americans ([particularly those from the North – think New York and Chicago). On meeting the Fort Lauderdale Tourism team I learnt it is a huge gay destination.

When I was invited to get familiar with the place how could I say no? Florida? Summer? Sun? Gay? Hell yes!

American Airlines flies direct from London  - Miami followed by a short 40-minute taxi transfer. Delta also flies in this direction, possibly with a stopover in New York (great for a two tiered vacation).

As the plane descends to its landing spot the sea transcends from a deep blue to a bright azure with each ripple emitting a shine of a 1000 stars – little different to a carpet of fairy dusting. The 8.5 hour journey could be made more comfortable by better food and entertainment on AA (AirFrance, British Airways and Virgin kick these guys above AA for preferred airlines) however the service is friendly and relaxed.

Fort Lauderdale is on the south of Florida – the weather is excellent all year round; winters can drop to a minimum of 5 degrees while the summers average 30+ degrees. Perfect weather for the perfect beaches.

Florida is certainly not short of hotels and was significantly affected by the recession – here in Fort Lauderdale there are properties abandoned, left dormant while the owners wait in hope that very soon the economy will pick up and they can reopen (or for some, open for the first time). However it’s certainly not all gloom, some hotels have performed well and invested in their future – among them The Royal Palms.

The Royal Palms is a boutique Hotel recently renovated especially for the gay market with a sleek contemporary European style meets splendour. This 62-room resort has been expanded courtesy of two additional buildings plus a more glamorous makeover in the shape of two heated swimming pools (one clothing-optional), a bar/grill, spa and fitness center, all just a few blocks from gay Sebastien Beach.

The whitewashed buildings create a bright open fresh space becoming a suntrap. GG’s Bar and Grill is the open-air showpiece decked in ruby-red glass tiles, misters, and a polished deep stone bar overlooking a pool adorned with patio furniture and poolside cabanas.

Steel, grey and black patio furniture and stylish poolside cabanas add to the scene. A spa with wet room and massage rooms for single or double use and a fitness center (with Dennis Dean photo gallery for inspiration) ensure guests can get appropriately relaxed or pumped before exploring Walton Manors, the city’s gay nightlife. Day passes will also allow non-guests to savor the Royal Palms experience.

Fort Lauderdale is next to Miami – and Miami says it all – here the 300 miles of coastline accompanied by predictably hot and sunny weather, the food is fresh and ripe and the people with a heath glow.

If you’re a keen sportsman the beach is packed with opportunities to join in team games, alternatively – like myself - you can enjoy an early morning run along the promenade to take in the full spectacle of the rising sun followed by a dip in the Pacific Ocean.

Fort Lauderdale is certainly an escape from the ordinary of the hustle and bustle.

American Airlines – will also charge you for Wine and Beer and you must pay by credit card, on this trip in USD. The option here is AA save you hours in transfer as it is a direct London Miami, however I have been assured the Sky Team are launching a direct flight to Fort Lauderdale by Summer 2011.

Royal Palms Resort & Spa: - +1 800 237 7256
Water Taxi – Fort Lauderdale, experience the “Venice of America” Adult fare US$20