We were searching for a getaway near Miami that would be enjoyable for us and our four year-old when a friend recommended Lago Mar. In short, with the exception of a few minor bumps, we were thrilled with the place.
First, the rooms: we had an ocean view one bedroom suite and it was huge. The kitchen was more of a kitchenette with a two-burner stove but the drawer-style fridge and freezer held more than expected. It comes equipped with pots, pans, dishes, and silverware but no real knives or serving/cooking utensils (though I've no doubt they would have drummed some up had we asked). The couch folded out into two separate twin beds with a narrow gap in the middle--brilliant for fussy siblings who don't want to share a bed (you can even fit one of the cushions between them to separate the two). The A/C was inconsistent, however--it didn't seem to reach the bedroom as easily and it was probably 3-4 degrees cooler in the living room where our 4 year-old was sleeping.
The food at the resort was a bargain compared to what you'd find at other resorts, and fantastic (drinks were on par with a pricey resort, so we kept our own stash of juices and rum in the room). While the food was incredible--especially at just $35 for three courses--service at the main restaurant was incredibly slow, to the point where our child had finished his mac and cheese and fallen asleep at the table before our salads even arrived. We asked for our desserts to be wrapped up so we could put our boy to bed and that alone took 25 minutes. It's a shame, because we would have eaten at the restaurant more frequently if we didn't think we'd be faced with such an agonizing wait. Instead, we opted to eat at the bar area where service was speedy (server Stephanie from MA was great!) and the food also quite good (don't miss the salads!). Oh--and the breakfast buffet was also fantastic and a bargain at $16 for adults and $6 for kids. Do note that an 18% tip is included on all meals (the first day we double-tipped on drinks at the bar).
The beach area was spectacular--uncrowded, well groomed. We never had to opt for the $25 chair/umbrella combo since our child either wanted to be in the water or playing in the sand, and instead wrestled with the free blue chairs. One mark off on that front: while the beach service is very aggressive in collecting the chairs at dusk, only one day out of five did they ever offer to help me set up the free chairs, when I was clearly struggling to carry them among our other beach gear and they weren't occupied. I can understand that to a degree--they're there primarily for customers who are paying for chairs-- but what was more annoying was the pushiness in collecting chairs. Signs clearly say that rental chairs are available from 9-5 and that other chairs will be collected an hour before sunset-- which was around 8 PM when we were there. When we arrived at the beach at 4 PM (to avoid the harsh midday sun and heat, esp with a child), the beach attendant warned us that he'd be taking our free blue chairs from us by 5 PM. In June, when the daytime temps are high and with the sun setting so late, it would have been great if they'd been more accommodating to those of us who want to take kids to the beach a bit later in the day--esp. since their actions contradicted stated policy. Perhaps it was because we were there at a slow time--indeed, one evening we tried to order from the beach bar at 8:30 PM and they were already closing up, even though they're supposed to be open until 10 PM. "We haven't seen a customer in an hour and a half," the bartender said, and told us we could still order the full menu from the indoor bar--which was okay, but if we're paying for the full services of the resort shouldn't they be open and available?
Service throughout was mixed like that. We were there to celebrate a big birthday and found a bottle of wine waiting in our room with a note--a very kind and unexpected gesture. Joey the valet was incredibly friendly and a wonderful resource--he really stood out and wanted to do everything possible to make our stay a great one. When he heard that we were going grocery shopping he suggested we drop groceries with the valet and have them brought to our room so we wouldn't have to haul them. Sure enough, we bought too much heavy stuff and swung by the valet station to drop the groceries (our room was on the third floor, far from checkin). Unfortunately, Joey was with another client and the valet who was there looked annoyed and overburdened by the suggestion that he help with the groceries (he did offer to meet us in the parking lot so he could carry them up, but he seemed so annoyed by us that we just parked the car and made multiple trips ourselves).
Overall, the annoyances were minor and the stellar room, pool area, food, beach, play area, etc overshadowed the negatives here. We'd definitely come back and recommend it to others as a great destination for those traveling with young kids. It had everything we needed on the property to keep our boy entertained, without breaking the bank, while still providing a great getaway for the parents.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A Fort Lauderdale beachfront resort that is decidedly, and purposefully, different. Understated, not loud. Gracious, not pretentious. Deferential, not presumptuous. In short, a sophisticated retreat where you can appreciate the enduring traditions of genuine hospitality. With its spectacular 500 foot private beach and secluded location emcompassing 10 acres in the exclusive Harbor Beach neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale, Lago Mar Resort and Club invites you to discover one of the best vacation resorts to stay in the world. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Lago Mar Resort And Club Hotel Fort Lauderdale
- Lago Mar Hotel
- Ft Lauderdale Lago Mar
- Mar Lago Hotel
- Lago Mar Fort Lauderdale