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Staying at the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach resort

Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach pool
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the free weekend night certificates that come along annually with the Hilton Honors Aspire credit card from American Express, and I’m always looking for ways to stretch them as far as they’ll go. So when I decided to head to Fort Lauderdale just a few days before Christmas—a.k.a., peak vacation time—I went straight to Hilton’s website to see what I could do. The result? A stay at the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach resort, a beautiful all-suites, beachfront property that opened in late 2017. Read on for a full review of my stay (and details on how I scored two nights for free)!

STAYING AT THE CONRAD FORT LAUDERDALE BEACH RESORT

CONRAD FORT LAUDERDALE BEACH LOCATION

If you’re coming into Fort Lauderdale to stay for vacation—as opposed to transiting through, or staying briefly before hopping on a cruise—I definitely recommend staying on Fort Lauderdale Beach. While the city is home to some real gems in the way of cool coffee shops, markets and street art (read more about them in my full city guide!), it’s likely you’ll want to spend the majority of your days at the beach—or at least near it, where you can enjoy the views. 

At the Conrad, you’ll also be within good proximity to a number of high-end restaurants that really know how to maximize said views. You’ll have so many dining options—from seafood to Mexican—within walking distance (including the hotel’s own Terra Mare—more on that below!).

CONRAD FORT LAUDERDALE BEACH ROOMS

As I mentioned, all the rooms at the Conrad are suites, which is great for families or those who just want a little extra space. I had a king-sized bed to share with my mother, and my grandmother had the entire living space where the employees turned down one of the largest pullout coaches I’ve ever seen. A desk separated the sleeping area where the bed was from the living area where the sectional-turned-pullout was, and it made for a good layout that gave everyone their own space. 

Speaking of space, we also had a balcony big enough for two, which patio furniture set out so we could enjoy the ocean views. In addition, a hallway across from the bathroom housed the minibar, a refrigerator and other kitchen items, which we definitely put to use with Mexican food leftovers from Lona.

As I’m coming to believe is common with Conrads, our bathroom was also gigantic. It had a large shower and bathtub, with plenty of room in between⁠—once again, pretty useful when you’re stashing toiletries for three people on one vanity.

CONRAD FORT LAUDERDALE BEACH PROPERTY

The property was a beautiful one, and it definitely had the sleek aesthetic that the Conrad brand is known for. The lobby and communal indoor areas⁠—which included a library area of sorts and other little enclaves with couches for lounging—featured lots of white and wood, which gave the hotel a clean, breezy feeling. Given that we went before Christmas, the hotel was also seasonally decorated in a classy way that fit the space.

As the hotel is in a warm-weather location, it’s not surprising that its outdoor spaces are what steal the show. The pool area is beautiful, with a large oval pool and a smaller hot tub on an uncovered deck that overlooks the beach and ocean. The hotel also has a nice beachfront area where it holds 8 a.m. sunrise beach yoga classes daily, free of charge.

CONRAD FORT LAUDERDALE BEACH DINING

BREAKFAST

For breakfast, the Conrad uses a system I love: Give guests whose rooms include breakfast a set number of dollars to spend how and where they choose. The reason I love it? You can use it whether or not you enjoy eating breakfast, which I personally don’t. 

The Conrad gave us $20 per person for up to two people per night, and we had plenty of options for putting it to good use: A more traditional breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant, Terra Mare; the Cornucopia Market, a grab-and-go that sold everything from coffee to snacks to champagne; and even the Atlas Bar in the lobby. While some people may consider that move a cop-out, since $20 won’t buy you the all-you-can-eat breakfast you can find at other hotels, I love the flexibility and really appreciate how it caters to those who are picky, busy or just don’t eat breakfast. 

HAPPY HOUR

The Conrad also had another feature I loved: It put out wine and snacks every day in the late afternoon at Cornucopia Market, and they were free for Diamond members. It was a bit too cold during our stay to sit out at the pool and have drinks, so the happy hour was a perfect way to hang out and get some down time. Each day, the hotel had two types of wine⁠—a red and a white⁠—along with cheese, charcuterie, dried fruit, olives and more.

Since our stay, the hotel has opened the Spinnaker Pool Grill, which is another great option for poolside food and drinks. I’d definitely have hit that up had it been open and the weather been nicer! 

DINNER

Terra Mare technically doesn’t belong in the “dinner” category since it’s also open for breakfast (7 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on weekends), brunch (7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays) and lunch (11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays), but we went there for dinner. It’s a nice restaurant with a focus on the local, which makes it a great spot for seafood lovers. In terms of atmosphere, it’s definitely upscale, but not at all stuffy. It was a hit in our book (plus, any time you can get 14 points per dollar with the Aspire card on dinner at a good restaurant, it’s a win!).

BOOKING THE CONRAD FORT LAUDERDALE BEACH RESORT

Considering that we were staying just before Christmas, cash rates at the Conrad really weren’t all that bad at $278.43 (or $351.04, after taxes and a $35 resort fee). But as part of the same trip, we also stayed in New York City, which didn’t spare us with its prices. For that reason, we figured we’d go the “free stay” route in Florida—at least, as free as we could manage!

The hotel wanted 95,000 Hilton Honors points per night, which is enough to book an overwater villa in the Maldives that goes for more than $1,000 per night, so that definitely seemed like an excessive amount to pay in points. But when you don’t want to pay cash OR points, what do you do?

Enter free weekend night certificates. My dad and I, both Aspire cardholders, each had one we were willing to put toward the cause, so we booked two nights that way and booked the third night in cash. Could we have better maximized those by using them elsewhere? Yes, we could have, if we’d had a need. But because they only last a year, sometimes it makes more sense to just go ahead and cash them in then to sit on them, only to realize you don’t have a plan for them when they’re about to expire.

For more on earning and using points and miles to travel for free, visit the 52 Cities free resource library or jump on a points and miles masterclass! And for more on Fort Lauderdale, check out the recap of my latest trip and my full city guide.

WHAT I’D CHANGE

The only downer during this stay was that the hot tub wasn’t hot the entire time we were there, and nobody knew when someone could come fix it. Considering it was in the 60’s and extremely windy—in other words, too cold to swim in the pool or the ocean, and too uncomfortable to sit outside for more than 15 minutes—the lack of a working hot tub was a major bummer.

But what the Conrad lacked in repair efficiency, it easily made up for with the friendliness of its staff. Everyone who worked at the pool was so good-natured that it was hard to be negative about the hot tub situation, and I’m pretty sure my 90-year-old grandmother befriended every last employee who worked in the pool area.

Hope you enjoyed this review of the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach resort! Have you been to Fort Lauderdale? Where did you stay? Let me know in the comments! >>

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