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The W.

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Fun, Fit, and Florida

Detox and Retox at W Fort Lauderdale

I hate to gain weight on vacations. Think about it: you have fun, eat, drink, then you return to alarm clocks blaring at 6 a.m., piles of bills, cold weather, and you have five extra pounds lurking around your midriff. Just… no.

I mean, I love to lounge around on vacation but I want to earn the lounge time. Cardio class - Great! I’ve earned a champagne brunch and an afternoon on the beach. Strength session? Good for me - I’ll grab a margarita and bob around the pool for a few hours. I always feel better in the afterglow of a workout, and that’s how I like to feel on vacation.

There are many of us out there, too. You may even be one. If you are, you’ll enjoy learning about the W Hotel in Fort Lauderdale.

The W, like all Ws, is a hip luxury hotel. I arrived early (7:30 a.m. direct flight from Westchester), threw on my bathing suit, and hit the pool.

I had heard about the 5th floor pool, WET, and headed there to swim (nap). The view above the ocean was stunning and I dig the black and white patterned tiles beneath the rows of white chaise lounges.

There are two WETs, WET East and WET West. West is where you go to chill, East is where you go to not chill. West has an infinity hot tub which people love.

At East there’s music, bar food like wraps, salads, burgers (the spinach salad is delicious), and drinks including custom cocktails. A plexiglass structure offered Instagrammers the opportunity to photograph themselves. Which is cool, but I’m shy when it comes to bathing suit selfies, so it didn’t consume much of my time. Plus I was too busy lazing between the great blue sky and the great blue ocean.

A word on the rooms: every room has a balcony and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the water. It’s pretty spectacular, especially if your last hotel room overlooked the generator…

I spent the rest of the day lounging about WET East; I liked the music and energy, but it wasn’t so distracting I couldn’t enjoy a book.

But, as I said, I must earn laze.

Which meant a late afternoon Pure Barre class outside. I love Pure Barre and I know it’s a solid workout. I wondered if doing it in a high-end resort would present the same challenges as Pure Barre in Westport, or if they’d make it easy so that guests would feel like they’re stronger versions of themselves here than at home. Answer: no. It was as good as it is in Westport and I was grateful that the beautiful evening breeze distracted me a teeny bit from my “don’t like/really want” burning thigh pain.

That night I dined with others at the sleek, urban Steak 954. As its name suggests, they serve steak. They also have a raw bar and serve a bunch of other things, like locally caught fish. We ate family-style and tried different entrées, including a $205 Takamori “Drunken” ribeye which was halfway beyond amazing.

There’s a 15-foot tank full of jellyfish against a wall at Steak 954. Which are not, unlike lobsters in a lobster tank, cooked to order. Thankfully. They simply float around being mesmerizing, like an aquatic lava lamp.

The next morning, having had an excellent dinner and wine the night before, I was torn between two options: breakfast in my room or breakfast while lolling around the pool. Fresh air won and I grabbed avocado toast and coffee at SoBe Vegan before heading to WET.

Dining options are abundant at W. I loved SoBe Vegan which offers a “healthy twist on traditional American fare.” You can also eat poolside - wraps, salads, burgers - or “grab and go” coffee, pastries, sandwiches and the like at El Vez (which I’ll get to later).

Later that day I joined an outdoor spin class, “Sea Cycle,” on the terrace. I’ve never “spun” outside, nor at a hotel, and I went into it thinking, “Okay, this will be a pleasant, easy workout” (do you sense a theme?). Then the instructor kicked my b*tt. You could do it at any level and no one would notice but I’m cheap: I want to get the most I can out of a workout. Although the class didn't cost extra here. Still.

(Oh - and there are regular bikes and a 2-mile path nearby, should you want to kick it old-school. Make a reservation, though!)

When I boarded the afternoon cruise I had that great “just worked out” feeling that I rewarded with the “I can consume everything” action. There were delicious snacks and cocktails, which I would have enjoyed even if the view hadn’t been as glorious. There’s something about clear blue water that makes me believe in the goodness of humanity. And the gorgeous homes - those are fun to look at, too. Especially with a cocktail.

Back at the hotel I did something I rarely do: a spa treatment. I’m not much of a spa person (too ticklish), but signed up for a detox massage because I thought it’d be nice to untangle some muscle knots. It felt amazing, actually, and the bright pink walls with white furniture gave it that “chic vacation” feeling. I wobbled out of the spa and changed for the evening.

For dinner we hit El Vez (named after a Mexican Elvis impersonator), James Beard award-winning chef Stephen Starr’s Mexican restaurant, in the W. There were murals on the walls, brightly patterned fabrics, and other fun, colorful touches. I had the snapper tacos with napa cabbage and baja mayo - muy bueno! And, of course, a Patron margarita (no salt).

The next day I worked out in the fitness room then hit the beach. Due to weather patterns in the South, there were plenty of waves. Normally it’s smoother.

On the last night we wandered through downtown Fort Lauderdale, which I loved because I’ve never been here before: I’ve only known it as a spring break destination. And it still is. We stopped for cocktails at Rhythm and Vine, which is a super cool indoor/outdoor beer garden. Throughout the week different food trucks show up and on one Sunday a month they hold a “garage sale”: vendors sign up to hock their wares while people drink, which is always great for the vendors. You can order more than just beer and seltzer-y drinks can be ordered by the bucket.

Then we strolled to dinner at Ya Mas! Taverna, a Mediterranean restaurant. The decor is lovey, inspired by the Greek islands: neutrals with touches of soft color and branches of hot pink azaleas. The cocktails are beautiful, and the menu is a lighter version of traditional Greek fare, such as chicken souvlaki, short rib moussaka, and stuffed grape leaves.

The next day I returned to Westport. It’s finally spring, the days are longer, and I didn’t gain weight. Though re-entry into real life is typically tricky, this wasn’t so bad.

W Fort Lauderdale

401 North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

(954) 414-8200

  • Jellyfish at Steak954
  • The W.
  • Every room has a balcony and ocean view.
  • Living room terrace.
  • Stunning bar.
  • WET
  • Ocean view.