This week, I'm checking out Hollywood... Hollywood, Florida to be exact. With it's neighbor city Ft. Lauderdale being more well known, Hollywood may be new to you. The last time I was down in this area and stayed at this resort, it was a Westin property. It was not a place I would have stayed on vacation as the massive adjoining meeting space made it feel too much like a convention hotel to me. The resort, however, has undergone a massive $100 million renovation and the place truly has a new identity.
Located about 30 minutes from Ft. Lauderdale - Hollywood International Airport, The Diplomat Beach Resort is wedged between downtown Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. The area is filled with snowbirds (people who spend the colder months in warmer weather) and offers up beautiful beaches and great restaurants. It's also a hotspot for people heading out on cruises as many of the major cruise lines come in and out of Port Everglades. The port is ranked as the third busiest in the world after Port Miami and Port Canaveral.
The check in process at the hotel was pretty seamless. When I arrived, the bellmen greeted me immediately, opening the car door and removing my luggage in a flash. I was pointed in the direction of the front desk where I met a super friendly front desk agent. She took one look at my reservation and told me discreetly that my room on the sixth floor was not her favorite, so she took the liberty of changing me to a corner room on the 28th floor. I never remember my Hilton Honors number (I must get better about that!), so without even asking she quickly looked it up and got me all set up.
The open atrium lobby with the front desk just beyond the palm trees
While I'm certainly glad the front desk agent moved my room up to the 28th floor, it seems odd to me that not all rooms have balconies, especially since my room had a lovely view of the Intercoastal Waterway. Despite this, my room was comfortable and reminded me of a little NYC apartment with its city views and hardwood floors in the entrance. The best part about my room was that I did not have to close my blinds at night because there were no tall buildings nearby. I was happy to have the city lights at night because when I travel I always keep the bathroom light on and crack the door of the bathroom just a bit as a little nightlight. As someone who travels frequently, I have woken up in the middle of the night and gone to use the bathroom, but nearly walked into the wall because I was following the footprint of the last hotel room I stayed in. I once woke up at the Four Seasons Nevis and for a good five minutes I could not recall where in the world I was in my sleepy haze. In my mind, I ran through all of the different scenarios that it could be before it finally dawned on me that I was at a resort in the islands.
My biggest complaint about my room was the housekeeping service. Upon checking in, I noticed a few rogue long dark hairs and as a blonde, I knew that they definitely didn't come from me. They were present in the usual places in the bathroom (the shower and at the bottom of the tub), but I got a little skeeved when I noticed one stuck in the telephone cord on the nightstand.
One evening I came back to my room at about 7:00pm and noticed that housekeeping had not yet serviced my room for the day. I called Guest Services who, instead of saying "no problem we will send somebody right up," put me on hold so they could call housekeeping. When they returned to the line, they told me that the reason my room wasn't serviced was because I had chosen the green option. This means that housekeeping pays a visit to my room less frequently and I receive additional Hilton Honors points as well as a resort credit. I had not, however, chosen this option and it seemed strange to me that my room would suddenly come up under that option after already having had a few days of service. I informed the operator as such and was put on hold again for another few minutes before he finally came back on the line to tell me that someone was on their way. The whole thing seemed like a waste of time.
Here is where the hotel really shines. As part of the renovation, the resort's lobby was completely overhauled. With a massive lounge area in the center, a long lobby bar services the area. Just off of this lounge area are the main restaurants of the property. It features Point Royal by Geoffrey Zakarian (you may know him as the well-dressed, white haired gent of Food Network fame), Monkitail by Michael Schulson, and AAA Four Diamond Rated Diplomat Prime. Along with these three restaurants are Counter Point by Geoffrey Zakarian, a little cafe, the grab and go Canteen, beach bar & grill Playa, the hidden cocktail lounge Nokku that offers karaoke, and Candy & Cones which needs no description at all.
View of the lobby from above
Geoffrey Zakarian's lobby coffee shop
Geoffrey Zakarian's coastal American restaurant Point Royal
Bar inside Point Royal
Raw bar at Point Royal
Michael Schulman's Japanese restaurant Monkitail
The dining options don't stop there. The property continues across the street to Diplomat Landing, connected to the beach side via a bridge, which sits along the Intercoastal Waterway. On that side is the wine and beer garden Portico and Bristol's Burgers. One of the best features of this area is that you can dock your boat right here complimentary if you're dining at any of the restaurants.
The Diplomat throws hotel traditions out the window with their room service offerings. Instead of your standard room service menu (which usually features pizza and a club sandwich), the resort offers Diplomat Restaurant Delivery. Allowing you to order off the restaurant menus for delivery to your room day or night, consider it your own personal Seamless or GrubHub. I think this is a great touch, especially for those who may be confined to their rooms in the evening with small children and their early bedtimes or if you are a business traveler who does not feel like sitting in a hotel bar after a long day of meetings.
Unfortunately for me, although I was here on business and did not have much free time, the beach was undergoing beach renourishment which meant the dump trucks were driving up and down the beachfront from 8:30am until 5:00pm. Even more unfortunate for the hotel is that it is completely out of their control as the city is handling the project. From what I could see, the beach is probably very nice and inviting when you aren't having to dodge construction vehicles.
There's no doubt this winter has been brutal for most of the country. If you're looking to escape for a few days, South Florida is an easy location and The Diplomat Beach Resort is a nice option, especially for those looking for a one stop shop that doesn't require much travel off property for food and activities.
(out of 5)