Like the famed man of La Mancha, I have an impossible dream when it comes to vacations.
I want impeccable accommodations in a stunning location with panoramic views from my room. I want five-star dining, fine wines, and perfectly mixed, shaken, or stirred cocktails. I want to be pampered with expert massages and soothing spa treatments. And I need to be surrounded by discreet servers (I think you know the type) available to bring snacks and drinks, and maybe even plump my pillows in a pinch, whether I am relaxing by the pool or on the beach. And I want it at a price point I can afford.
The W Fort Lauderdale (above) is just steps from the beach
Here's the kicker: I want all of that and I want it without paying a health tax. I, like a growing number of travelers, want my luxury experience to be physically restorative. I don't want to have gained weight from a buffet line, or fallen off my fitness game while being pampered.
Luckily for me, I recently had the opportunity to experience the W Fort Lauderdale’s customizable Detox, Retox, and Repeat package. I was able to pick the treatments and activities that best fit my body's needs and abilities, and to do so at my own pace.
The W Fort Lauderdale is centrally located on The Strip, the city’s famed oceanfront promenade, beckoning visitors with an array of shops, restaurants, galleries, and bars. Not to be missed, even if you tried, are the seemingly never-ending parade of shirtless men reflecting the sunlight via their well-oiled and glistening pecs, biceps, and obliques.
The ultra-modern W Fort Lauderdale recently underwent a facelift, and now features a nautical theme throughout the property, especially in the Living Room, the fourth-floor central gathering spot overlooking the beach and ocean. There’s a bar, comfortable seating, and an inviting, casual ambiance. While the W is still a happening place after dark, it’s also more family-friendly these days, as evidenced by the smattering of diverse families casually lounging amid the other guests at the W’s two pools.
On my arrival night, we dined at El Vez Mexican Restaurant from the acclaimed Stephen Starr, winner of a James Beard Award as the country’s best restaurateur. After sampling three different offerings of ceviche and nachos, I settled into an order of carnitas tacos. Of course, everything tasted better when washed down with El Vez’s collection of classic drinks. My personal faves were the Classic El Vez and Vez’s Perfecto margaritas.
Following an evening like this I admit I'd normally be stressing about the pounds and inches it all added up to. But instead of feeling guilty about enjoying El Vez's offering, I was able to be proactive, checking out one of the W’s stable of bikes (complimentary for guests enjoying the Detox, Retox, and Repeat package) and ventured a few miles north along the promenade to Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. The 180-acre, tree-filled park features a main road for biking, hiking trails, canoeing on a freshwater lagoon. (And more opportunities for additional food and beverages at an outdoor restaurant and bar area.)
Returning to the W, I spent a few hours relaxing on my room’s balcony, listening to the waves of the Atlantic roll onto the beach 23 stories below. Just as the sun was setting, I donned workout-gear and headed down to the Living Room Terrace where I was soon sweating and detoxing again at a class from Pure Barre Fort Lauderdale. The popular class is also opening to the public as well as hotel guests so you’ll want to reserve your spot early.
After the workout, replenishing with a dinner at the W’s famed Steak 954 steakhouse was a perfect compliment to the day.
While El Vez placed a tantalizing spin on traditional Mexican cuisine, Steak 954 is all about the surf and turf. The seafood sampler appetizer was a mouth-watering jaw-dropper. Fresh Maine lobster, Alaskan King crab legs, oysters, jumbo prawns, and sashimi were all perfectly prepared and presented, and they tasted even better than they looked.
The Steak 954 seafood platter must be seen (and eaten) to be truly appreciated
For the main course, our group ate family style. While everything was truly amazing, some entrees did stand out. The sea scallops were meaty and perfectly seared, while the filet was thick and flavorful. If you have pockets deep enough you simply must try the Sanuki Olive-Fed Ribeye. Fed baked olive skins from a neighboring olive oil vineyard and press, the steak is better sampled than described. The eight-ounce steak is listed at $195 on the menu, but is worth every dollar.
The next morning started off with a Sea Sycle outdoor spin class on the Living Room Terrace. The four-times-weekly classes are popular with both guests and the public so it's a great place to meet new people as well.
Ater the workout I received from the fun, fit, and out instructor Jason of The Ride Element fitness studio in Fort Lauderdale (@therideelement), I could understand the draw. Following the 60-minutes go-at-your-own-pace class, we joined the bubbly Jason (@jason_rideelement) and a few others on the fifth floor Wet Deck for special healthy cocktails and a small selection of finger foods, chips, sliders, and sandwiches.
Next, I headed to the package's included 60-minute detox massage at the W’s Away Spa. While I normally opt for a deeper tissue massage, this mix of detoxing oils and the gentle massage was actually perfect for my aching muscles. Following a refreshing steam shower, I was ready for the day's remaining activity, testing out the resort's deck chairs.
First I took to the reclining chairs of W's Wet Deck with a light yet pleasantly potent Peach spritzer cocktail. Then I migrated down to the beach to taking in the sun and sea air from one of the hotel’s dedicated lounge chairs, another perk of the Detox, Retox, and Repeat package. Lounging beachside proved the perfect prescription for muscle recovery.
After freshening up in my room, I rejoined our group as we left the property and headed into Fort Lauderdale for our final night. We first stopped at Rhythm & Vine, a unique and casual establishment with an outdoor courtyard offering plenty of seating and greenery, and a visually-intriguing indoor bar area as well. Rotating food trucks from local dining establishments provide appetizers, sandwiches, and entrees for purchase. Rhythm & Vine (@rhythm_vine) also has an eclectic mix of exclusive cocktails, my fave being the tequila-based Gator Boyz.
Then it was on to Luigi’s Tuscan Grill for pizza, pasta, and chianti while overlooking the famed intercoastal waterways that have earned Fort Lauderdale the moniker “Venice of America.”
I began my final morning at the W Fort Lauderdale the same way I began the others, with a stop at Sobe Vegan conveniently located on the property. The refreshing drinks, wraps, sandwiches, and bowls are delicious and healthy, and they even offer a selection of alcoholic beverages. And, for influencers large and small, the cozy establishment is one of the most Instagrammable spots I’ve visited in quite a while.
The Detox, Retox, and Repeat package from the W Fort Lauderdale was just the winter respite I needed from the cold outside and the stresses of work inside. I was pampered beyond belief, enjoyed some of the finest dinings in the area, and was able to work off all those extra calories in fun exercise classes that challenged without overwhelming.
The best part of my perfect 4-day, 3-night Detox, Retox, and Repeat vacation at the W Fort Lauderdale? I didn’t gain a single pound. Eat your heart out, Don Quixote.
You can learn more about the W Fort Lauderdale’s Detox, Retox, and Repeat package, the perfect gift for that special someone (including yourself!) at wfortlauderdale.com.