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Luxury Meets the Water’s Edge in Fort Lauderdale

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Immerse yourself in the allure of Fort Lauderdale, a city where every corner reveals a new adventure, whether it’s dining along the waterfront, strolling through cultural hotspots, or indulging in luxurious accommodations!

Jenni Morejon, the president and CEO of FTL’s Downtown Development Authority chimes in on the popular Florida destination.

What makes Fort Lauderdale a unique, top destination?
Fort Lauderdale’s connectability is what makes it a unique, top destination. A buzzing downtown district is connected to Fort Lauderdale’s famous beaches by just two short miles along its famed Las Olas Boulevard. As the “Venice of America” and a yachting capital of the world, everything in Fort Lauderdale is connected by water. Whether dining along the water, walking along the Riverwalk, or traversing the city’s 300 miles of canals and waterways by private boat or Water Taxi, this nautical environment sets Fort Lauderdale apart from other tropical destinations. Further, Fort Lauderdale is home to an expanded nightlife and restaurant scene, with neighborhoods such as Downtown, Las Olas, FAT Village, Flagler Village and Fort Lauderdale Beach often drawing in dynamic crowds where residents and tourists alike connect. 

Economic Impact and Downtown Development
The economic growth of Downtown Fort Lauderdale has been instrumental in shaping the overall city, allowing it to evolve with new luxury housing and commercial uses, thereby attracting new residents and businesses across several different sectors. Over several decades, the DDA set this path in motion by encouraging high density housing, new office development, and quality civic assets in the urban core like world class cultural venues and great public parks. Patrons of the arts are attending Fort Lauderdale’s multiple cultural hotspots, including NSU Art Museum, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and Parker Playhouse. With connectivity as a driving factor, 88% of employees in downtown Fort Lauderdale live within 5-miles of their workplace. These amenities not only attract high wage earners and big businesses, but interest from restaurants and top-performing chefs looking to migrate to the city have skyrocketed. Recently, restaurants such as Vitolo, Maass, Moxie’s, The House on the River and Val+tino have all opened hot dining spots in Fort Lauderdale, drawing in the masses with their delectable cuisine and lively atmosphere.

Luxurious Accommodations
Due to their excellent service and luxurious accommodations, these renowned hotels turn guests into hotel-repeaters or, even better, full-time residents. Whether it be a relaxing beach-front stay or an active nightlife scene just off Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale’s hotels allow for a range of experiences. In fact, Fort Lauderdale is witnessing elevated levels of tourists coming into the city and choosing to stay here, rather than neighboring cities Palm Beach and Miami. As such, new high-end hotels are being built in Fort Lauderdale to accommodate demand; one such example is the Whitfield on Las Olas, which aims to be a world-class hotel and take inspiration from iconic boutique hotels in great cities such as New York City, London, Paris, Los Angeles and beyond.

Culinary Delights
Dining in Fort Lauderdale has been elevated for tourists and residents alike. With Michelin-starred chefs like Ryan Ratino of Maass at the Four Seasons Hotel and Residences, and James Beard-nominee chef Timon Balloo of The Katherine in downtown, tourists are finding that they can enjoy an upscale and memorable meal in an approachable, relaxed vibe that you can only get in Fort Lauderdale.

Nightlife and Entertainment
Visitors and residents alike want to enjoy nightlife experiences that are bespoke and off the beaten path. Destinations like Room 901 and Sparrow started as exclusive and unique and paved the way for other entertainment destinations that appeal to a discerning audience. They have shown that Fort Lauderdale’s entertainment is on par with that of Miami’s and Palm Beach’s and more accessible.

Cultural Enrichment
Fort Lauderdale’s cultural venues were built before there were any hotels or residents downtown, and with the vision that this city would evolve into a sophisticated cultural destination, attracting repeat visitors from all over South Florida. The high-caliber performances, programming and exhibits offered at these institutions appeal to a diverse audience of art and cultural enthusiasts, from Miami to Palm Beach to around the world. From the NSU Art Museum, to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, and the Museum of Discovery and Science, these venues have collectively invested $100 million or more over the past decade expanding facilities and incorporating new programming.

Upcoming Additions
Pier Sixty-Six Hotel and Marina is an incredible example of a project that celebrates the best of Fort Lauderdale’s history with its future potential. With a complete renovation of the iconic mid-century modern hotel tower, the new residential offerings are designed to fuse stunning amenities with the waterfront lifestyle the city has to offer. The new design perfectly fits the mold of the Fort Lauderdale of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Fort Lauderdale is committed to acknowledging our roots while crafting projects of tomorrow along our beautiful intercoastal. Fort Lauderdale’s luxury stems from this beauty and the convenience of our intercoastal.

Population Growth and Development
Fort Lauderdale, specifically Downtown Fort Lauderdale, has witnessed exponential growth over the last decade. Since 2010, the population of Downtown has increased by 92%; the area has also acquired more than 7,000 residents since 2020, surpassing 26,000 residents. Specifically, Downtown Fort Lauderdale’s growth over the last five years has been fueled by the addition of kids, families and young professionals – 26% of all Downtown residents are between the ages 25-34. These statistics showcase that Fort Lauderdale not only continues to grow and flourish, but it is becoming a haven for young professionals who want to enjoy all the offerings of a dynamic coastal city.

Adapting to Changing Preferences
South Florida and Fort Lauderdale are addressing the needs of luxury tourists by incorporating more transportation options for residents and travelers. The introduction of the inter-city passenger train line, Brightline, and micro-mobility options like Circuit, have provided seamless alternatives for travelers wanting to move around the destination in ease.

Preserving Cultural Identity
Fort Lauderdale has evolved its cultural identity as a spring break destination from only college-age visitors, to a more sophisticated spring break destination that can be enjoyed by families, couples and visitors of all ages. The city’s cultural identity is preserved through the amazing architectural design of newer hotels that showcase Fort Lauderdale’s best assets: water, sun and outdoor living and dining.

Future Initiatives
Looking ahead, Fort Lauderdale is poised to solidify its standing as a premier luxury destination through various upcoming projects and initiatives. The imminent opening of the Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina in late 2024 is expected to contribute significantly to this transformation, promising an exceptional and lavish experience. Additionally, projects in the pipeline such as the Natiivo, Whitfield hotel, Sixth&Rio, FAT Village and more are encouraging a new strata of visitors and future residents.

As the city continues to evolve and innovate, its reputation as a haven for discerning travelers and residents alike is sure to endure.

Coach is South Florida Insider's Owner, President, Webmaster, as well as a Reporter and Photographer covering events all over the world. Born in West Palm Beach, Coach continues to call the sunny Florida area home. He received his Associate degree from the University of South Florida, then transferred to the University of Florida where he received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Journalism & Communications. During his journalistic career, which has been featured in local newspapers and magazines as well as national publications, Coach has also continued his love of being an educator. It’s through both endeavors that he’s actively got students interested in following in the field of journalism. Coach loves sharing the world of entertainment with others and giving people the opportunity to step out of the everyday life.

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