By Kara Franker
Where did Lady Gaga stay when she visited Fort Lauderdale for her ARTPOP Tour? Why, the W, of course.
A hidden playground of the stars, the W Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, sits on a seductive stretch of sand in the heart of all the action on North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard. Visible from land or sea, the structure of the hotel resembles the billowing sails of a sailboat.
A luxurious beach escape, the 517-room hotel features panoramic water views of either the Atlantic Ocean or Intracoastal Waterway. Inside each room, peek-a-boo bath tubs or see-through showers open up to comfy, signature W beds, complete with pillowtop mattresses, crisp 350-thread-count sheets and goose-down comforters. And did I mention the views from the W Hotel Fort Lauderdale?
The expansive pool deck is the place to see and be seen -- literally. Climb up the stairs from the lower level below and take a peek through the glass walls of the pool, where you can spy on swimmers without getting wet.
Take a dip in the pool and check out the portholes on the bottom with views to the Living Room. Relax in the outdoor hot tub, lounge by the romantic fire pit or rent a chic cabana for the day.
When you get hungry, head to Steak 954 for a one-of-a-kind foodie experience that will make your mouth water. The centerpiece of the restaurant is a 15-foot long reef aquarium, home to mesmerizing jellyfish.
From the creator of Buddakan in New York, famed restaurateur Stephen Starr debuts his world-famous culinary creations for breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch. I could easily eat every meal at Steak 954 with the delicious homemade pop tarts for breakfast and ending with an amazing seafood platter for dinner.
Indulge in year-round Florida sunshine and take your workout outside. The hotel offers free beach boot camp and yoga classes for guests. Each class is led by a certified instructor on the sand and features amazing views of the surf. To join in on the fitness fun, simply hit the beach in front of hotel, 15 minutes prior to a class (schedules vary by season; check with the front desk).
Sometimes after a workout, all you want to do is indulge in a little R&R. Reward yourself and book a massage, facial, mani and pedi at Bliss Spa. Then get your hair and make-up done at the fabulous Ted Gibson Salon. If you're lucky, you'll run into Jason Backe, one of the most sought-after hair colorists on the East Coast. He co-owns the salon with partner Ted Gibson, hair stylist for the stars and resident hair guru on TLC’s “What Not To Wear." The 2,000-square-foot salon boasts 10 stations and offers haircuts and styles, hair color, Keratin treatments, extensions, make-up application and bridal packages. Call (954) 414-8343 to make your appointment. Thanks to the talented Ted Gibson stylist Chell Love for my Game of Thrones-inspired hair and make-up.
Ready for the hottest nightlife scene on the beach? Jaunt a few steps from your hotel room to Gerber Group's Whiskey Blue and Living Room, located inside the W Hotel Fort Lauderdale. Listen to live beats and sip creative, handcrafted cocktails by master mixologists, like the Trouble Maker or Purple Haze.
I recently competed in a little cocktail competition with some friends and I have to admit that I may have sipped more than I mixed. While I didn't win the competition, I thoroughly enjoyed the tasting.
Insider Tip: Need something? Anything at all? Try the W Fort Lauderdale's signature Whatever/Whenever service.
When You Go: The W Hotel in Fort Lauderdale is located at 401 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. For reservations call (954) 414-8200 or visit wfortlauderdalehotel.com.