(Photo courtesy of Lago Mar Resort)
When I was in college, Ft. Lauderdale was a huge mecca for students. However, with all of the drinking binges, wild parties on the public beach, and endless hours laying in the sun, I didn’t understand why parents with young children made Ft. Lauderdale a destination over very family-friendly places like Hilton Head or Disney World.
Fast forward 20 years, a timeframe where I’ve traveled to the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area numerous times – all sans kids. It wasn’t until just recently that I ventured to FL with my family where I finally realized the promise of this South Florida area.
Upon booking our week-long Spring Break cruise last August, my husband and I knew that we wanted to extend our vacation on the front and backends. We searched for weeks for a hotel/resort that lived up to what we now jokingly call our “hotel snob” standards. We uncovered chain after chain of hotels, all which were very near to the bustling public beach, which we knew we’d have to share with college-age patrons.
Finally, we discovered the Lago Mar Resort, a well-established, non-chain resort. Although expensive, the resort provided all of the amenities we had hoped and is located just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the typical Spring Break crowd.
Upon arriving at Lago Mar – very late on a Friday night – we were pleased to discover we’d been upgraded to an oceanfront suite, which included a separate master bedroom, two bathrooms, dining room, and spacious balcony. As you can imagine, the huge suite was a hit with the kids….ok, it was a hit with all of us. But it was not just the room size that impressed us (we were equally impressed with our large standard room on the backend of our vacation), but many other amenities – from the subtle to the significant.
5 Things I Love About Lago Mar Resort
- Decor - Lago Mar’s decor, from the lobby to the grounds, to the room, reminds me of the quintessential Florida resort, much like the ambience that Disney’s Grand Floridian has tried to capture. And it’s more than just the palm trees….the ornate woodwork, gorgeous lobby, and detail room decorations – not to mention one of the most beautiful lobby bathrooms I’ve ever seen – left us feeling completely relaxed and in vacay mode.
- Rooms - Sure, we were completely spoiled by the grand suite, but the standard room was just as “grand” – from the size of the room to the family-size bathroom. Our room also came equip with beautiful bed linens, comfy bathrobes, high-end toiletries – plus a great balcony with a partial ocean view.
- Activities - Similar to the resorts of yesteryear, Lago Mar gives guests the chance to really bond as a family and for adults to act likes kids all week long. The two pools provided a refreshing retreat, especially the lagoon pool, with its winding curves. If you’re near the pool around 4pm, you will actually be serenaded by a one-man band/singer. We also loved the many pool and beach-side activity options, including a playground, shuffleboard, ping pong, a putting green, volleyball, and a life-size chess board with pieces that needed two hands to move. Plus, at specific times throughout the week, the resort hosts exercise classes and special activities for kids, such as pizza parties or Easter egg decorating/hunt.
- Beach - Lago Mar is sitting on an absolute gold mine of a beach. The beach was as huge as it was clean and beautiful, with just enough shells to make kids happy and enough chairs and drinks to keep adults happy.
- Location - The location of Lago Mar is one of its best assets. It is nestled between a canal and the ocean, tucked away from the main touristy area of FL. This hideaway location made it ideal – the noise level was never high, the traffic was minimal, and the lack of neighboring resorts kept the “neighbors” away.
Overall, this resort experience was one of the best I’ve had in the continental US. Yet, it would not be a fair review if I didn’t mention a few caveats. The restaurant service was just so-so, and the pool/beach bar servers were extremely understaffed, especially for Spring Break. It was also very difficult to get a cab from the Lago Mar (to anywhere) during the peak times of the day (morning, due to cruisers, and evening due to dinner crowd). But these drawbacks are minor when you consider our overall – and amazing – 3 nights at the resort.
Would I recommend this resort for families? Absolutely! And if you plan to arrive during Spring Break 2014, you may just run into yours truly.