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Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Florida

Margaritaville 
By "Commodore" Camille Pepe Sperrazza

When you gotta go where it's warm, The Margaritaville Resort in Hollywood, Florida brings Jimmy Buffett's song from a state of mind to reality. 

Margarita glasses hang from the lobby's ceiling, there's a giant flip flop sculpture with a pop top, and lyrics to his songs adorn the walls. A stay here can't help but bring a change in attitude as no detail is overlooked. The faucets in your room are whale tails. The chairs on the balconies are beach-themed. There are boat drinks, margaritas served in take-home blender glasses, and there are oceans of vibrant artwork everywhere. You won't be livin' on spongecake - not when places like the Shark Fin Bar and Grill, 5 o'clock Somewhere Bar and Grill, and the Margaritaville Cafe tease you with the smell of shrimp beginning to boil. Watch the tourists covered with oil from three pools or the beach. 

There's live music at the Hollywood outdoor theater and at some of the other restaurant/bar venues, too. Get into the spirit by purchasing a Margaritaville T-shirt at the shop. 

Walk along the boardwalk where there are plenty of cheap eats and quaint beach shops.

The chandelier of Margarita glasses at Margaritaville. 

The beautiful pool and beach area at Margaritaville. 

 

Riverside Hotel
By "Commodore" Camille Pepe Sperrazza

I feel like I have discovered a hidden gem - the Riverside Hotel in the Las Olas area of Fort Lauderdale.

This family-owned, beautifully decorated hotel is located on a quaint block surrounded by small shops and restaurants that belong to the family of Barbara Wells. It was her grandfather who started the Las Olas Company in 1936, developing this area. The clan remains dedicated to the community, welcoming both locals and out-of-towners.

As the name Riverside suggests, the hotel overlooks the river, making for sensational views. Dine at the delicious Boathouse, and watch yachts sail by, surrounded by a captivating setting of lush greenery and palm trees. Everything that defines old-world Florida is alive and well here.

Sandwiched on that charming block, it is easy to be deceived by the hotel’s seemingly small appearance. But it is not so small. There are 231 guest rooms, an abundance of meeting rooms that can accommodate hundreds of people, three restaurants, four bars, a spacious outdoor pool, a large fitness room, sky terrace, and lots of outdoor space, including a “secret garden.”  One public space, entered by opening an iron gate, is where senators and other influential people would gather to eavesdrop and learn what was going on in the community as the acoustics carry voices across the room.

The lobby is stunning, with its dark tiled floors, fireplace, and piano. Classical music is played on weekends. Rub the nose of the lion that guards the entrance, and make a wish. The gatekeeper has been there since 1936.

There are two sides to the hotel - the classic, and the executive. The classic features 300-square foot rooms, and the executive offers 500-square feet of luxurious space. Both are tastefully decorated with Tommy Bahama furniture and bedding. The latter is a bit more modern, but there is certainly nothing outdated about the classic side.

The tile floors throughout the halls are from Cuba, and during the installation process in the 1930’s, it was not uncommon for workers to be surrounded by dogs and birds, so one can spend some time hunting for paw and bird prints that remain embedded in the flooring. 

The modern fitness center allows guests to select videos to play on the huge television set. There is a lovely sauna - and there is no additional charge to use it. Cabanas are offered poolside, at no cost. The hotel does not charge its guests any resort fees, a pleasant and welcome surprise.

Other interesting facts: There are 300 security cameras on the premises. Keep an eye out for the hotel’s $3 Bloody Marys and mimosas. The Wild Seafood Oyster Bar and Grille, inside the hotel, is one of the top-rated seafood restaurants in the area. There is an old-world bakery across the street with scrumptious pastries and gelato. You can walk to shops, restaurants, banks, and attractions, including the famous Stranahan House, across the street. It is at this house where the roots of Ft. Lauderdale were planted by Frank Stranahan, a successful businessman, and his wife, Ivy, an educator. A $12 tour details the history.

While the hotel is not beachfront, it is only about a $5 Uber ride to the beach. It is close to the airport and cruise port, an ideal location for convenient and fabulous pre- and post-cruise stay.

The Riverside Hotel defines and personifies what a vacation to Florida should be like.

For more information or to book a trip, contact "7-Continent" Camille today.
 
This article was accurate when it was written, but everything in life changes. Enjoy the journey!

Copyright: Camille Pepe Sperrazza

View from a room at the Riverside Hotel 

The beautiful lobby

The Guitar Hotel
By "Commodore" Camille Pepe Sperrazza

The new Hard Rock Guitar Hotel can be summed up in a word - WOW!

This Vegas-style property is an impressive piece of architecture - a giant guitar that soars into the sky. At night, there’s a light show that dances across the sculpture’s façade to pulsating music. 

Inside, the public space is equally dazzling, with an oculus that streams water and colorful light from the sky. A nearby screen blasts music and images.  

This hotel has it all - from high-end restaurants and shops to cafes and buffets. There’s gelato and pastries, a food court, bars galore, a tremendous casino, a comedy club, a 7,000-seat theater where celebrities perform, a massive spa, enormous conference space, and a maze of tremendous outdoor pools, with countless lounge chairs, cabanas, and even paddle boats. Staying here means never having to leave the premises.

The casino is owned by the Seminole Indian tribe, and while their original Hard Rock Hotel and Casino has been here for a while, the addition of The Guitar Hotel has re-invented the space. One can now stay at rooms located inside the guitar itself, or at other towers on the sprawling grounds.

The Guitar accommodations are roomy and modern, decorated with warm colors. Some contain terraces that are worked into the musical instrument’s design. A junior suite I viewed was so spacious, one can only imagine the suite. I heard some were going for $10,000 a night during Super Bowl season.

Popular for bachelor and bachelorette parties, milestone birthdays, and any other celebrations, the Guitar Hotel impresses all.

For more information or to book a trip, contact "7-Continent" Camille today.
This article was accurate when it was written, but everything in life changes. Enjoy the journey!

Copyright: Camille Pepe Sperrazza 

The mesmerizing oculus. 

The Guitar Hotel, at night.