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The New Diplomat: A South Florida Classic Gets a Modern Renovation

alex yocu

With guests like the Kennedys, this iconic hotel and resort is making a comeback.

Few Southern Florida establishments have a history as illustrious as the Diplomat Beach Resort. Opening its doors in 1958, it's seen guests from the Kennedys to the Reagans to the Rat Pack, with performances from the likes of Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, and Bob Hope. It remained an iconic piece of Americana for decades.

Having experienced some financial hardships during the '80s, it saw a series of new owners and reopenings, but its future remained uncertain until joining Hilton Worldwide's Curio Collection in 2014. Coming off a $100 million renovation this year, the classic resort is reclaiming its status as a modern icon. With 1,000 guestrooms and suites, two pools, ten restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs, and multiple top-of-the-line guest amenities, it provides a fun family atmosphere, as well as an indulgent experience for adults.

Located in the little-known township of Hollywood, it's conveniently situated between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. A bordertown by the sea, it's a short drive to both. Undiscovered by most, it's where Southern Florida goes to escape.

ABOVE: The view from a corner suite at Diplomat Beach Resort. BELOW: The master bedroom of a corner suite at the Diplomat Beach Resort. (Photos courtesy of Diplomat Beach Resort)

I recently paid a visit to the newly renovated resort for a weekend stay. Arriving in my corner suite, it's hard not to be overwhelmed by the hospitable beauty. Vast sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Southern Florida skyline consume the wrap-around balcony. And with the suite's luxurious furnishings and chic decor, I almost didn't want to leave.

With a 24-hour state-of-the-art gym, you can work up a sweat whenever you feel like. It's the best way to start the day, followed by a trip to the Counter Point, the resort's answer to Starbucks-dependent guests. With fresh local ingredients, their fruit juices will leave you refreshed and ready for a day at the beach.

For lunch by the sea, the Playa is the place to be. An open patio just steps away from the water, there's no better spot for lunch with a view. The Playa Colada is ideal for day drinking in the sun. And don't fill up on the fresh guacamole, as hard as it may be to resist. The Cuban Sandwich is a delicious option and a savory taste of Southern Florida.

Poolside cabanas designed by Trina Turk at the Diplomat Beach Resort. (Photo courtesy of Diplomat Beach Resort)

After lunch, head over to the upper bridged infinity pool, with a waterfall that pours into the massive lagoon-style pool below. Set up camp at one of the 26 poolside cabanas, four of which are designed by Trina Turk. With a dedicated waitstaff serving snacks from the Playa, it's a VIP way to enjoy the sun, even in December.

For dinner, head down to the hip, Japanese-inspired Monkitail. Chef Michael Schulson offers a contemporary take on classic izakaya. Shared Japanese fare and craft cocktails in the intimate lounge setting create a uniquely stylish dining atmosphere.

For a nightcap, head through the back of the restaurant to Nokku, a Japanese-inspired speakeasy that's still hush hush among the locals. With private karaoke rooms and delicious cocktails like the Blooming Blossom, it's a fun way to end the night.

ABOVE: The bar at the Japanese-inspired speakeasy, Nokku. BELOW: A private karaoke room at the Japanese-inspired speakeasy, Nokku. (Photos courtesy of Diplomat Beach Resort)

Start the next day with breakfast at Point Royal, for some coastal American cuisine by Geoffrey Zakarian. With a raw bar and a menu of fresh juice based cocktails, it's an ideal option for a seafood breakfast.

After breakfast, unwind at the Diplomat Spa. With an expert staff of massage therapists, they'll hit all the right spots. Follow up your appointment with trip to the Halotherapy salt steam room or the spa terrace, overlooking the ocean.

If you have a sweet tooth to curb or just some time to kill, stop by Candy & Cones. With ice cream churned fresh on site for custom sundaes, ice cream sandwiches, and pops, it's perfect if for travelers with kids or just kids at heart.

Cross the bridge in front of the resort to Portico for a pre-dinner beer or glass of wine. This relaxing open air beer and wine garden is right on the Intracoastal Waterway, for the water views without the beach crowds. A daily happy hour make it ideal for adults, and outdoor games make it perfect for kids. On Saturdays, live music also graces the venue, courtesy of Latin Grammy nominee, Mr. Pauer.

The dining room at the Diplomat Prime. (Photo courtesy of Diplomat Beach Resort)

There's no better place for your final dinner than the Diplomat Prime. This majestic steakhouse offers an intimate, warm ambiance, with a fine dining motif and unique details like the tomahawk steak knife by Corby Hall. With flawless service, its staff almost rivals the exquisite menu by Executive Chef Nicolay Adinaguev. Although his Ribeye and Whipped Potatoes are a masterful take on a steakhouse classic, it's the rare modern delicacy of the bone marrow that cannot be refused.

Departing from the Diplomat is difficult, not because it feels like home, but because it feels better than home. This classic resort's modern comeback is fit for royalty. With an update on iconic Americana and an unbeatable location, it's the place to be in Southern Florida.

For reservations and more info, visit the Diplomat Beach Resort.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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