Since its spring break heyday, the Fort Lauderdale beachfront has been a hub of activity for the young, swimsuit-attired set and the thirsty masses. Though it’s no longer Ground Zero for spring breakers, the strip remains crowded, vibrant, and, more often than not, loud.
None of this is a bad thing. But an even better thing is slipping into the cool confines of the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale, where acres of marble and undulating, ocean-liner-like balconies provide compelling reasons to escape the selfie and hashtag juggernaut.
Since the hotel underwent an $8 million renovation, its public spaces are even more inviting. The massive open lobby has been refitted with game tables and video screens, plus some chic, living-room-style seating. New shops have been added to the lobby level, including a hip incarnation of Palm Beach-based Island Company.
|The renovated lobby.
The reimagined spa is in itself a good reason to visit. On the seventh floor overlooking the ocean, this oasis of zen encompasses 11 treatment rooms, Jacuzzis at the spa’s private pool deck, and contemporary, glass-enclosed steam and sauna spaces. New on the menu are ESPA treatments such as the Cleansing Ceremony, with detox benefits equal to a three-day juice cleanse, and the Intuitive Ocean, which involves a salt scrub, marine mud body wrap, and massage.
|The new glass-enclosed steam room.
But the big story here is Burlock Coast, a new beachfront restaurant inspired by the legend of Bill McCoy, Florida’s most notorious rumrunner during the Prohibition days. Even the name alludes to the man who was always a step ahead of the law (McCoy’s cushioned, divided sack for transporting bootleg booze was called a burlock).
|Burdock Coast at the Ritz-Carlton is Fort Lauderdale’s new waterfront hot spot.
As might be expected, there is a huge emphasis on cocktails at this eatery, which spills onto the sidewalk to lure local hipsters as well as hotel guests. Rum is a key ingredient in progressive libations like the Monocot Yacht with Brugal Especial Extra Dry rum, Averna Amaro, lemon juice, miso-roasted yam honey, an egg white, and bitters. In the dining room, servers come by with a rum cart, offering to mix rum cocktails tableside. Also notable is Burlock Coast’s respectable selection of beers from local craft and nano breweries, including Palm Beach Gardens’ own Twisted Trunk Brewing Co.
As good as the beverage program is, the food is better. Chef Gavin Pera is all about local resources, so the menu is heavy on ingredients sourced from regional artisans. Case in point: the fresh loaves from Wynwood-based Zak the Baker, pretty much the best bread in South Florida. A must-try: the fish and chips basket, which comes with a mister (genius!) of beer vinegar by artisanal smokehouse Miami Smokers.
|Offerings include tuna tartare (left) and Donna Privateer (right).
Considering Burlock Coast is a magnet for young professionals, it’s not surprising that its disciples use a hashtag: #therealmccoy. This is Fort Lauderdale, after all. Sooner or later, one must bow to the altar of Instagram.