Three highlights from a Ft. Lauderdale foray

Recently I made my first visit to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as part of a meetings FAM organized in conjunction with the Greater Ft. Lauderdale CVB, and came away with some very cool impressions.

I’d known of course that the city was a haven of beaches and sunshine, but had no idea it was sometimes referred to as “the Venice of America” due to its never-ending waterways and canals. One of our tour guides even joked that they’re pushing for Venice to be called “the Ft. Lauderdale of Europe” but said it hasn’t caught on yet. I also wasn’t fully aware of the gamut of hip hotels around town and the region, particularly of course near the city’s seductive stretches of sand.

Here are three highlights from my long weekend in Ft. Lauderdale.

Properties with Personality:

Planners know that ongoing hotel site tours can sometimes be a drain, but that definitely wasn't the case exploring Ft. Lauderdale’s gamut of cool lodgings, which range from charmingly traditional to wildly cutting-edge. 

My favorite lodgings were the colorfully creative W (by the beach; pool pictured above with built-in staircase), the family-friendly Bonaventure Resort (in Weston) and the dramatically modern Westin Diplomat (in nearby Hollywood). For something more traditional, the downtown Riverside Hotel is a handsome charmer, and our group definitely enjoyed our alfresco lunch there along tree-lined Las Olas Boulevard. Another favorite dining experience was at the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six, where a delectable spread of finger foods and the 360 degree views from their rotating Pier Top event space (pictured below) made for a memorable meal.

Affordable Outing:

Getting out on the endless waterways in Ft. Lauderdale is practically a requirement, and the city’s Water Taxis (pictured below) offer a relatively cheap way for attendees to explore the area, whether as a group or out on their own. You can ride all day for only $20, which dips to $13 after 5 p.m., and there are plenty of stops to get off and explore—in both Lauderdale and Hollywood.

Even with no set destination in mind, it’s beyond serene sitting in the open-air boat taking in the staggering waterside mansions and humongous yachts, and the captains provide plenty of insightful (and sometimes funny) narration. 

Tech Takeaway:

If you’ve never heard James Spellos talk about meetings technology, you’re missing out. President of Meeting U, and a longtime professor at NYU, Spellos is funny, insightful and always on top of the latest techie trends.

Spellos presented the educational element of the weekend, and among his numerous talking points were references to the mind-blowing ‘3-D Printers’ hitting the market (able to actually ‘print up’ three-dimensional objects!), his preference for Twitter as the best social media tool, and the recommendation of the Mophie battery-pack/protective casing for smartphones. I have one myself and it works great, btw!

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