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- The Avid Cruiser
During my recent visit to Fort Lauderdale, I had the opportunity to check out a new brand of boutique hotels: the vibrant and modern B Ocean Fort Lauderdale.
I’m going to be honest: until a few weeks ago, I’d never heard of the B Ocean Fort Lauderdale. Now, I’m embarrassed to say that because after having a lunch and a quick tour of the property last week, it seems like an excellent choice for cruisers looking to begin or end their voyage with a stay in the Fort Lauderdale area.
Neither on the low nor the high ends of the price scale, the B Ocean Fort Lauderdale fits snugly into a market that has largely been dominated by mainstream chain hotels. But when I travel, particularly on a cruise, I enjoy staying at cool hotels that give me some of the same wonderful experiences that I can get when at sea. These include good service, stimulating décor and above-average amenities.
When the doors of the B Ocean Fort Lauderdale whooshed open, I found myself standing in a modern, yet decidedly soothing lobby. Digital LED lighting cleverly hidden in the white, wave-like walls cycled through a variety of colors, creating a welcoming space with an ever-changing selection of moods. The hotel’s unique scent is gently spread throughout the lobby, stimulating the senses.
The B-themed branding is carried throughout the property, which I noticed as soon as I stepped into B’stro on the Beach, the B Ocean Fort Lauderdale’s casual on-site eatery. While the décor and ambiance may be minimalist Scandinavian in design, there’s no mistaking the great food that comes out of this kitchen; much like the property itself, the cuisine here is modern, trendy, and oh-so-satisfying!
But what I really liked was how the hotel applied its unique branding to the guest rooms and suites at this innovative property. 162 rooms are classified as “Chic”, “Captivating” and “Captivating Curve Rooms”, depending on their location in the hotel. There are also 54 “Stunning” and “Stunning Curve” rooms that boast floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows; 22 Junior Suites and two Master Suites that come complete with a living room, kitchen, and wet bar.
Better still, each and every room faces the Atlantic Ocean.
Complimentary “FreeB” Wi-Fi is available in guest rooms and throughout the hotel, and evidence of the hotel’s “B Humane” project can be found at the foot of every bed. A large stuffed animal based off of an animal native to the area (in this case, a sea turtle) is placed in every guest room to welcome travellers to the hotel. These astonishingly cute stuffed toys can be purchased directly from the hotel, with proceeds benefitting local conservation organizations.
While I didn’t have time to stay overnight here, I did something I seem to do a lot of lately: push my hand into the mattress to check its softness. And I can see why the B Ocean Fort Lauderdale offers its Blissful Bed package for sale; “blissful” is an excellent way to describe the beds! Couple that with Aveda bath products, 37″ or 42″ flat-panel televisions, and a whole snack box in which every item goes for just $5.
The hotel also takes a decidedly unique approach to its Spa services. Rather than selecting one treatment from a menu, guests are able to “rent” a fully-equipped spa treatment room from a list of pre-determined durations. Guests are then charged for the room rental, but are free to select as many treatments as they wish to have during that time. In many ways, this is a huge time-saver, particularly if you just want, say, 30 minutes of Deep Tissue massage versus the more-standard 60.
What else can you do here? Well, get married, for one thing! The hotel offers several different packages, from basic, do-it-yourself arrangements to a spectacular package where the hotel will take care of everything you need, all for under $1,000.
Despite the comfortable rooms, friendly staff and cool, crisp modern styling, I have to admit to being impressed by a digital display strapped to a support column: the Monsierge.
Developed by B Hotels to replicate the function of a dedicated Concierge, the Monsierge can be best thought of as a giant iPad, with a twist. This interactive digital display can check your flight information, print boarding passes, display the current or future weather forecast, or advise on places to eat, attractions to take in, and more.
What made this truly cool, though, was just how refined you can be with your searches. Say you’re looking to find some fantastic Sushi in the Fort Lauderdale beach area; with two or three taps of the screen, the Monsierge not only gave me a listing of restaurants, but also placed them on a large map and indicated their proximity to the hotel.
Sure, I could have hauled out my laptop, done a few Google searches and then mapped it, but the B Ocean Fort Lauderdale’s Monsierge takes the pain – not to mention hassle – out of all of that.
If this all sounds intriguing, there’s more good news for cruisers looking to linger a bit longer pre-or-post cruise: B Hotels & Resorts is opening three additional properties in the next year: b2 Miami Downtown this December; B South Beach in Miami’s popular South Beach area during the first half of 2013; and the B Resort Lake Buena Vista, located in the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida, just a quick hop over from Port Canaveral.
For cruisers headed to Florida for the coming Caribbean season, prepare to “B Impressed” by this up-and-coming hotel chain!
For more information onB Hotels & Resorts, be sure to pay a visit to their website, and watch this space for a full Hotel Profile right here on From the Deck Chair!
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