Ft Lauderdale is the Yacht Capital of the world. It’s a place where people from all walks of life come to work and play. For the wealthy, there are a few options for hospitality that come to mind on the always fun Fort Lauderdale Beach. One of the first places that comes to mind is the W Hotel at Ft Lauderdale, and today I’ll share my full review of staying on the property. Being a local, and spending plenty of time on this property for gatherings, business meetings, and just being social at the W Living Room, I have had plenty of time to check it out. As an aside, I looked into purchasing an investment property at this hotel as part of their W Residences Ownership program. I’ll cover every nook and cranny of this hotel in what will be a review you won’t want to miss out on if you are intending on visiting Fort Lauderdale in general or looking to vacation in the area.
The amazing view from the 17th level.
The terrace was spectacular!
The Ft. Lauderdale W Hotel on the Beach in Review
This review has been a work in progress based on years of visits to this property. Since I’m a local, I’ll certainly update the review as I make more visits in order to keep things current. The most recent visit I made was a stay in an amazing 17th floor room with a beach view and gigantic terrace in May of 2017. The rates will vary for this suite depending on time of the year, how long in advance you book, and if you are an SPG member. I’ll say it’s worth every penny if you are going as a couple or just want space as a single traveler.
The Hotel Amenities
Let’s first talk about all the property has to offer.
Situated on the main drag of Fort Lauderdale Beach, yet a few blocks north of Beach Place (where there are many bars and restaurants, as well as the Ritz Carlton Fort Lauderdale), this is in a great location. There are other hotels going up near by, namely the Conrad, but at this time it’s still under construction. The water is crystal clear and the beach isn’t as slammed as it usually is a few blocks south, making it a great place to enjoy some relaxation time. The hotel offers beach chairs and umbrellas, but that comes with an asterisk, and I’ll touch on that later in the review.
There is a full Spa, called “Bliss.” Every room is equipped with Bliss skin products and shower arrangements. It’s not the best quality, but it’s better than the Asprey brand they provide at Ritz Carlton resorts. (Seriously, those are the worst skin products I’ve ever come across, and I’d like to think I know a thing or two about skin care products being I own a skin care business and am an anti aging blogger for the Huffington Post!)
The “Living Room” is the focal point of the hotel and it offers a full bar with televisions for those of you who want to follow your favorite sport. It’s not a sports bar at all, but knowing the big game will be on television (without sound) is always a plus in my eyes. There is a Dj playing everything from ambient vibes to 80’s during the night, and the room is always having events. To me, this is the best feature of the hotel as you can hang out here and enjoy the luxury property even if you aren’t a guest. To keep people from intruding on the rest of the hotel, there is plenty of security ensuring people aren’t accessing the pool level or meandering through the hotels various floors, which you need a key to access anyways. There is a full menu of exotic cocktails as well as the normal bar fare. I’ve always found the Living Room to be an enjoyable time. They even have a patio with an ocean view if you don’t want to enjoy the air conditioned interior.
Two pools (West and East) are located on this property. Below is a photo of the East Pool, which faces the beach and is located on the fifth floor. While I love the pool, it also comes with a major asterisk, which I’ll touch later in the review as well. I like to group all the nuances into one portion and not create any negative vibe throughout my reviews so you can get all the facts and then see if the nuances are something that would be a decision maker for you if you are looking to stay at the property.
There are bike rentals, yoga classes, boot camps, and even a decent sized fitness center at the W. You can rest assured knowing that you won’t miss a workout unless it’s by choice. The boardwalk is right in front of you as well as the beach, so if you are a runner or enjoy walking, you won’t find much better places to do that than right here.
I find the valet service very reputable and friendly every time I visit the W as a guest or visitor. Just my two cents.
The Downside of the W Property in Fort Lauderdale
Unfortunately, there are a few things the W Ft Lauderdale has to clean up if they want to be a place that will get repeated business from me.
Let’s start with the thing that irked me the most: The Elevator Situation.
This has to be the worst elevator situation I’ve ever come across, and I’ve stayed in every hotel in Las Vegas from dingy to ultra luxury. I will guarantee that when people who have stayed at this hotel read this review it’ll be the chief complaint they share as well.
Here’s some bullet points about this awful situation:
- Whether you are going up, or down, the wait is several minutes. Often times up to 5-8 minutes. (Yes, I timed it. Call me names if you want.)
- The Living Room is on Floor 4, so many people stop there.
- The Pool is on Floor 5, so more people stop here.
If you are going down from say, the 17th floor, like I was, here is what you can expect.
- Push the button down.
- Wait several minutes.
- Board elevator.
- Stop on several floors to pick up people who are going to the living room or pool.
- Repeat #4 (many times.)
So if you are going to the ground level to get your vehicle, go to the beach, or just leave the property, which you should be allowed to do, it’ll take you some time. Mind you this was on a weekend, a Holiday weekend at that, but let’s face it, we’re in Florida here, and this is a tourist hotel. People are going to flock to it and take advantage of all of the offerings, so stopping on several floors is just the norm here. It’s sad that they only offer two elevators in the tower, because compared to my favorite Las Vegas hotels (Wynn & Encore), they seriously lack the motivation to keep people moving. It’s tiresome and just awful, all the wasted time.
The other thing that really irked me was The Pool Situation.
The Pool is nice, but it’s about as organized as my 11 year old’s closet. You don’t even want to know how messy that is so I will spare you the visual.
Let’s start off with a Saturday morning attempt at enjoying the pool.
We first stepped onto the pool deck at 10 AM sharp, after dining below at Steak 954. We asked to be seated and were told “let us see.” After several minutes of walking the pool, we found two seats that were separated by an object and far away from the pool. I guess that was all they had, because no other options were offered to us. We were told that it was full that day and that was the situation. On a side note, there were many day beds with reserved signs on them, and we were told a wedding party had booked half of the seating that day.
This was a similar situation as to the Ritz in St. Thomas, where savvy visitors apparently just threw down towels at the crack of dawn and that was a good enough move to reserve a seat for them that would go unoccupied for hours while there were plenty of people (ahem – me) who would have gladly used them and started a pretty large bar tab.
We retreated to the room for an hour to come up with a plan b, which was initially going to be the beach. However, after an hour and twenty minutes passed, I decided to peak down over the balcony and noticed the landscape didn’t change one bit around the pool. There were many unoccupied chairs at the pool and about 5-6 day beds that went unaccounted for. We made our way downstairs to ask politely once again if we could get a seat at the pool and you know, enjoy the amenity we were promised we could enjoy, but we ran into pure gold.
There was a woman, thirty-ish and Latina, who was berating one of the attendants because they couldn’t get a seat for herself, her husband, and two young children.
“I didn’t travel all this way to not use the pool, not for these prices!”
“What am I supposed to do, take my kids to the beach? They can’t be in the ocean with the waves, they are too little.”
“We need somewhere for our kids to be out of the sun sometimes. Why isn’t there room?”
She was a spicy one, and after watching everyone try to find something to tell her that would calm her down, I finally got a chance to speak to someone.
“I’m looking for somewhere to sit, but it’s only two of us and no babies,” I grinned.
After waiting 15 minutes, we were sat in the section that was reserved for the wedding party. Apparently some of the people went to the beach and after a certain amount of time the staff just started giving away their seating. Thankfully once we were seated we didn’t get approached by anyone who may have returned from the ocean looking for their seat, because that would be have been some drama I didn’t need.
Aggravated, thirsty, and in need of a cocktail, I waited, and waited, and waited to be offered a beverage.
However, nobody came. The wait staff was simply not interested in working hard so I went to the bar and started a tab. Later on, probably 3-4 drinks in, the staff asked me if I wanted a drink. Better late than never, but seriously, how bad are you when you walk right past us and we stare at you with a thirsty look? This wasn’t service that is expected at a hotel of this caliber.
The people watching was fun for the rest of the day. We were able to witness a good 50 or more people who wanted to sit down and enjoy the pool deck and view, but were told there wasn’t any space. Basically the W wants to offer a nice pool that only a small portion of their visitors can actually use. It created an awful lot of chaos, tantrums, and stress on the jam packed Memorial Day weekend.
Based on this alone, I’m glad I did not purchase a property at this hotel!
So on Sunday we decided to avoid the whole pool situation and just take our talents to the beach. Figuring it would be stress free, this would be a nice closure to our staycation.
However, in typical fashion, it wasn’t all puppies and candy canes like we expected!
The property has about 10 umbrellas, give or take, for all of it’s hotel guests. We arrived around 10 am and were put on a wait list. While we did get beach chairs and towels, the umbrella list was deep, so I was about number 10 already. After a couple hours of sun, which was enough for us on this scorching day, we left. As we exited the beach and turned in our towels, we heard the rumblings of many more guests who were angry that they couldn’t use the umbrellas which were promised in the $30 per day resort fee.
Final Thoughts on The W in Fort Lauderdale Beach
The W has a lot of work to do. Sure, the rooms are nice and the location is great, but who wants to pay that price and not enjoy things that were promised and paid for? At least I got Bonvoy points during my stay.