We recently stayed at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort, a four-and-a-half star hotel according to TripAdvisor. Having read through several of the more than 4400 reviews, we can agree with most of the positives, and must say we did not experience any of the issues reported in the recent negative reviews. That doesn’t mean our stay was perfect but, overall, it was far from bad.
Several times during this visit, we commented how the hotel or staff deserved “cool points” for this or that, and occasionally had to deduct points from our running tally. Then it hit us: maybe we should use our Cool Points as a rating scale. On one hand, it would be pretty subjective and tailored to our expectations, likes and dislikes but, on the other hand, it would be way more fun than assigning a random number of stars!
Starting Before We Begin
Before you get to the hotel, you have to decide on a hotel. This was our first trip to Fort Lauderdale, and we really had one goal in mind: Beach. Proximity was key, and we considered several hotels, taking note of important factors such as “number of steps to the water.” Of course, we like eating, so “number of steps to restaurants” was important, too.
We couldn’t find a location that scored big Cool Points on both. Right up front, the Hilton gets a negative 1,000 Cool Points for having to cross a street to get to the beach. However, since that seems pretty normal for Fort Lauderdale, they get 900 Cool Points back for being as close to the beach as they could be. All things being equal, removing the street would be a 100 point bonus.
To be fair, we did have to walk a few blocks to get to some restaurants. We don’t consider this a negative because A) We like walking on the beach to get to anywhere, and B) The need to work off some of the deliciousness we counted on packing in. If you like a busy beachfront restaurant / boutique scene, there are several hotels that are closer to Beach Place and Las Olas, the epicenter of the area. Balance that against Cool Points for NOT being closer to the crowds and noise. You pick which you like better and give (or take) about 200 Cool Points, depending on your preference. As mentioned, we liked the walk; +200 Cool Points.
(By the way, Fort Lauderdale gets 25,000 Cool Points for having such a nice beachfront sidewalk to stroll along. Although, again, removing the road would add to the score.)
The Hotel Experience
The guy who checked us in – and out, and seemed to be working whenever we had a question – was a Cool Points Rock Star: thoroughly professional, very informative, and genuinely friendly. We knew that, if he was any indication of the culture here, we were going to be giving out Cool Points like candy at a Star Wars Halloween Party. For his part, an easy 1,000 Cool Points, and probably worth more.
Here’s the exchange that catapulted him into Rock Star status: “Do you have any room preference? High floor, low floor…” We had never been at this hotel, so had no idea what to ask for. “You want ocean views, right?” Duh! “Let me put you up on the 23rd floor. You’ll have a view all the way down the beach.” Score! 500 Cool Points right there, with a 1k bonus if the room really does have a great view. Note: We have the exalted “tarnished copper” status (aka: bottom end Blue Tier) in Hilton’s loyalty program, so we’re confident that had nothing to do with the room selection.
The Resort Fee Issue
Let’s be honest: Resort Fees are a scam. Mandatory fees should be part of the advertised room rate, just as airlines have to include fees in advertised fares. To do otherwise is simply dishonest, and any hotel that still does this automatically loses 1-million Cool Points in our book. Most hotels can’t recover from that kind of setback, but we have to give kudos – and Cool Points – to this Hilton for actually justifying their resort fees. Sort of.
While booking, and again on our confirmation, we were told the $25 daily resort fee included two bottled waters, two Venti Starbucks drip coffees, unlimited Wi-Fi (as in, we could connect all two billion devices we travel with), a 10% discount in the gift shop, 20% discount in the spa, and two beach chairs per day. Through an arrangement with the city, beach umbrellas are available at $20/day and are not included in the resort fee.
We were so shocked that a hotel would offer something of any value in exchange for a resort fee that we dropped our jaws…and our million-point penalty. Does the value match the fee? Unlimited Wi-Fi, in our opinion, should be a given at any hotel at any time, and the discounts are negligible unless you plan on spending more than a hundred dollars. We sometimes pay $40 or more per day for a beach chair in south Florida, though, so this was our break even point. However, had we not planned on using that beach chair every day, the Million Point Penalty would stand and we would have booked elsewhere.
(Ed. Note: A “smart” technology malfunction conveniently erased all room pictures and most interior photos from our visit. We can attest the hotel’s room photos are accurate, but they don’t show a whole lot. We’ll go ahead and dock ourselves a gazillion Cool Points for the technology fail.)
The promised ocean views were delivered, so we had to make good on our 1.5k Bonus Cool Points. We also gladly gave away some points for having a fan in the bathroom, a small kitchenette, and lots of places to plug in our devices. The staff earned some points by quickly delivering requests for more towels and amenities, and including sunburn care in those amenities was worth a ton of Cool Points!
On the other hand, a handprint on the sliding window was there when we checked in, and stayed there until we wiped it off ourselves a couple days later. That’s worth at least 500 Gross Points, which transfer at a 2-to-1 ratio. Everything else was clean and in great condition. We had an in-room safe in our decently sized closet, and the standard one luggage rack. If a hotel ever puts two of those in a room, that would be a quick 100 bonus Cool Points. We still don’t understand why hotels don’t get that.
As we move to the remainder of the property, this Hilton is sitting pretty with just under 2,000 Cool Points in their pocket.
We booked a Bed & Breakfast rate, and must say the breakfast was excellent. Far from your standard buffet, there were breakfast tacos on some days, a bagel station with lox and chives, an omelet chef, smoothies made to order, espresso drinks on request, and more. Easily worth the higher rate, and about 500 Cool Points. Mother Nature earned some Cool Points of her own with beautiful mornings to enjoy breakfast on the pool deck.
Nearby, the fitness facilities were great, and the pool area was fantastic, but some outdoor areas could use some upkeep. No cool points lost, but none earned, either. Friday afternoons on the Balqony (a patio area adjacent to the pool) feature a DJ and drink specials (+100) but there were all of five guests and zero activities. Invitations went out, but nobody planned the party (-200).
We checked into the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort for ocean access and views, and it delivered on both. The most Cool Points were earned by the fantastic view, and the stellar staff. While there are many hotels in Fort Lauderdale with similar views, the staff is the reason we’d be happy coming back the next time we’re in town.
Total Cool Points: +750, plus that 1.5k bonus for the view. That earns this Hilton our coveted “We like you!” status. Despite their Resort Fee.
Disclaimers & Details: Our visit to the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort was neither compensated nor solicited. All views are our own. TripAdvisor links are our own, and we are compensated for any reservations made using our link.
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