Dadtography Family Travel: A Comprehensive Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort Review With Photo Galleries
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Family travel is an important part of our summer plans. Summer means we finally have time to take a break, relax and enjoy each other's company and hopefully some new sights, sounds, smells and tastes along the way as well.
The summer stayed pretty busy for us, so we decided to do a somewhat local vacation to Ft. Lauderdale Beach, just a few hours drive south from our "home base" in Orlando. In the past, I've driven through Ft. Lauderdale a few times but never really stopped and stayed for any amount of time. We decided to hit the beach for a few days and see what the area was all about.
Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort
505 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd,
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
The Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort Location
The location around the Hilton resort is awesome. I was used to the Ft. Lauderdale that I had experienced driving south on I-95, which isn't very exiting nor a pleasant view. Ft. Lauderdale Beach is miles apart from the experience I had in the past!
On our drive down, we decided to exit the interstate a few miles early and drive over to A1A and follow the coast down. I highly recommend doing this. Not only can you find a lot of awesome restaurants and places to see, but the view is just so much better. It's worth moving just a bit slower in my opinion. We exited I-95 at approximately the Deerfield Beach, FL area and drove south on A1A the rest of the way down.
Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort Introduction
Okay, I feel the need to set this post up just a bit before I get into the details of our stay. We chose this resort because we received a "Be Our Guest" voucher from Hilton in September of 2015. This was because of a poor experience I had at the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans, LA.
I was very appreciative of Hilton's quick response at the time and was looking forward to my next Hilton experience. Sadly, this experience would come to disappointment as well. I'll get into the details of that below.
The Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort Rooms
Let's start out with the rooms at the Hilton Ft. Lauderdale. Here's how the official Hilton website describes the hotel:
An all-suite hotel, you'll always get more space to relax at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort. Our suites, the largest on the beach, all feature stunning views of the ocean, balconies, Italian marble bathrooms with whirlpool baths, and a kitchen or kitchenette – all you need for a memorable vacation.
Overall, my first impression of our room was pretty positive. The rooms are on the larger side compared to some hotels I've stayed at in the past. I'm not clear what Hilton defines as an "all-suite hotel", though. Typically that means each hotel room consists of two separate living areas plus a bathroom. For example, a room would have a living room area with a couch, chair(s), TV, etc as well as a bedroom and separate bathroom. As you can see from the photos, I wouldn't say our room quite had distinct rooms aside from the bathroom.
That said, when we first entered our room, it was relatively well cleaned, we had a decent view (see below), the bathroom was very nice and the room was to our satisfaction.
I'm not sure I'd call our room a suite, but it did provide a good first impression.
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The Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort Service & Facilities
The service at the Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Beach was very good, for the most part. The staff at the hotel was very friendly and attentive. I was especially impressed with the staff in the ground floor cafe. They were always cheerful, helpful and accommodating, even when the cafe would get busy from hotel guests and customers coming in from the beach area.
We visited the beach just across the street twice during our stay. The beach has chairs, towels and umbrellas. Towels are acquired at the hotel before you cross the street to the beach. You can reserve a chair by visiting the hotel's attendant on the beach. It appeared they were also selling beverages, but we didn't purchase any on the beach. I wasn't clear how you reserved or received an umbrella as we decided to walk the beach instead of stay put in front of the hotel.
Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Beach Pool
The 6th floor pool at the Hilton resort really was the highlight of the facility for us. The pool is a decent size and provides a great view from a few floors up. There's an outdoor bar seating area toward the north end of the pool. This is a great place to enjoy a bite and a beverage.
There's also an adults-only lounge area they call "BalQony". This is a circular area of lounge-style seating reserved for those presumably 18 and older. The area looked nice, but I didn't see anyone there during my stay. It could be that it's only occupied in the evenings because there was nothing covering the area from the hot Florida sun.
Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Beach Cafe & Restaurants
The extent of our time and experience with dining options at the Hilton Ft. Lauderdale are limited to the cafe downstairs that faces the beach. The cafe is excellent and features Starbucks coffee products along with a nice selection of breakfast and lunch foods. You can grab a pastry or a sandwich at the cafe and the prices are reasonable.
The cafe is directly accessible from the street, so it can get busy at times from foot traffic coming in for a reprieve from the beach.
Hilton Ft. Lauderdale - Known For Its... Fees?
As mentioned above, the cost of my room was comped because of a previous issue at another Hilton hotel in another state. That said, I was responsible during this stay to cover any incidentals and fees incurred. I know certain areas and hotels are known for their add-on fees and the Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Beach should be one of them. For each night you stay, you will be charged two very significant fees: $34.95 per night valet parking fee and $25 per night resort fee. To be clear, that's an additional $60 per day on top of the base room charge and resort taxes. Here's what my bill looked like for a single night's stay will all the taxes and fees:
- Base Room Rate - $339.00
- In-Room Dining - $19.40 (we ordered two chocolate chip cookies & milk)
- Florida Sales Tax - $2.10
- RM Florida Sales Tax - $20.34
- Room Occupancy Tax - $16.95
- Valet Parking - $34.95
- Resort Fee - $25.00
Total for 1 night - $457.74
When asked, I was told the resort fee covers items like use of towels at the pool and beach and also includes complimentary beverages and an appetizer. Sipping margaritas by the pool was pretty awesome, but I'm not sure that it's right to essentially force that on guests as a fee.
We never used the WiFi at the resort, so I can't comment as to the quality of the service provided.
The Story of How Our Stay Was Ruined: A Cockroach Nightmare in Room 1112
Let me first say that if you've spent any amount of time in Florida you know bugs are inevitable. I've lived in Florida since 1995 and know this to be true. However, how many and what kind of bugs does vary depending on a few things like cleanliness, pest control and pest prevention efforts being made.
We experienced what I would consider to be a cockroach infestation in our room. I believe that the letter I wrote to Hilton Global Customer Service best sums up our issue. The core of the issue wasn't so much the bugs, but was more the way hotel management responded. See below for my full letter to Hilton.
My Letter to Hilton Customer Service
To Whom It May Concern:
I am taking the time to write you today because of a recent experience I had at your Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort property. I am very disappointed with my stay and wanted to reach out regarding that experience. I am a photo / travel blogger and hold the Hilton brand in high regard. What's perhaps most frustrating about our stay at the property in Ft. Lauderdale was that we were there because of a "Be Our Guest" voucher that I was provided due to a prior poor experience at the Hilton Riverfront in New Orleans, LA in September of 2015 as part of travel for my work. I was quick to get on Twitter that day and express my frustrations around long lines at both check-in and check out (1+ hour each) and was glad when customer service actively reached out and attempted to fix the issue. I feel like my experience this past weekend was not addressed nearly as effectively. I'm positive my recent experiences aren't the norm for Hilton and I'd sincerely like to help make sure it not only never happens again to me, but also doesn't happen to other guests as well.
My teenage son and I checked in on Saturday, July 16th at 3:20pm. Upon arrival, our room was not ready, so we were provided with a voucher to go grab a coffee. Our wait was brief, and we were provided our room keys around 30 minutes later. In general, most staff were very friendly and attentive - even when the hotel was clearly busy due to check-in and check-out. We were especially impressed by the staff in the cafe in the front of the hotel, as their service and attitude were both absolutely superb and should be commended.
My primary concern regarding this stay stems from an in-room experience we had the night of July 16th. My son and I both saw multiple cockroaches in our room (1112). I saw no fewer than 5 live cockroaches and 2 dead roaches in the kitchenette and in the living area near the TV between around 10:45pm and when we finally left the room around 12:45am. I live in Florida and know that bugs are almost an inevitability. My primary issue is not that the room had bugs, but management's response to my issue.
When we first observed the roaches, I phoned the customer service line and was told a manager would call me. A few moments later, the same customer service agent called me back and said they were sending up a cleaning worker with a rag and some bleach. While it may remove the dead bugs from view, I knew that this would not solve the issue. The cleaning worker cleaned for about 5 minutes and left, but only after I called back a 2nd time after seeing more (live) cockroaches, did a manager actually speak to me. The manager informed me the hotel was at 100% occupancy and there was no way for me to relocate. She had no solution other than to send a cleaning worker up again. After observing this many bugs, it would have been very difficult to sleep in the room that night. I even considered leaving and driving the 3 hours back home that night. I began to get upset at this point, as I knew simply wiping the surfaces with bleach and water would have to effect, but the manager insisted the hotel was full and there was "nothing she could do."
After about 10 minutes or so, the same manager and a security guard came up to the room - this was after midnight. I showed them where I saw the bugs and then showed them the photos I had taken. It was only then that the manager began to discuss about relocating us. She said she could "move things around in the system" and move us to another room. I am fairly certain she assumed that I was trying to run a scam somehow, which was clearly not the case given the time and that we were only booked for a single night anyway. A "free upgrade" was not my goal. The manager seemed to re-iterate we were being moved to a junior suite, as though it was somehow a "perk" for us at this point. It was not. Our previous room had 2 queen beds. We were relocated to a junior suite with 1 king and a pull-out bed with no sheets. We made due since it was so late and I knew getting sheets for the pull-out bed would take at least 10 - 20 minutes more. We didn't get to sleep until well after 1:30am. This ruined our plans of waking up to see the sunrise on the beach and see if we could observe any sea turtles hatching and making their way into the ocean. We were tired the whole next day and decided to cut our trip shorter than expected and just drove home after checking out around 11:30am.
The last time my son and I traveled together like this, he was 9 years old. We rarely get an opportunity to take trips like this and I'm mostly disappointed that we quickly went from being excited and happy the afternoon before to disappointed and tired. We may not have an opportunity to travel together solo for years and that makes me very sad.
Lastly, on top of the issues with the room, we also experienced billing-related issues as well. I left the hotel with a final statement saying I owed $28.70. It's not clear to me what these charges were for, as the desk agent indicated he would comp the "resort fee" as a courtesy. I also had a charge for $19.40 for in-room dining and $34.95 for the mandatory valet parking fee. After I had left the hotel, I received a text indicating I was improperly double-billed. I responded and requested the final charged amount and received no reply, so I'm still not clear how much the stay cost me.
As mentioned, my goal with this letter is to find a way to resolve my experience, but also in the hopes that this experience isn't repeated. Two poor experiences in a row isn't the norm, but it's what I've had. I love the Hilton brand and have had positive experiences in the past. I intend to write a piece on my experience at this hotel and would like nothing more than to be able to say that Hilton made right on the issues and that the situation couldn't have been handled better. At this point, I just can't say that.
Please find a few of the images that I took with my cell phone of the roaches observed near the TV on the desk in the living area of room 1112. There is also a screen shot of the text message discussion where I'm told there was a billing issue.
The Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Beach is a wonderful property! Here is another image I posted earlier Saturday afternoon of the wonderful experience and view I had from your property as well: https://www.instagram.com/p/BH8HOcSjR2f/?taken-by=danielruyter.
Thank you for your time,
Hilton later provided the following response:
Dear Mr. Ruyter,
Thank you for staying at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort. We are sorry for the inconveniences you encountered during your stay. We appreciate your feedback and allowing us the opportunity to make it right.
We are extremely concerned about the impression you have of our resort, and in an effort to restore your good faith, we
are reissuing you a “Be My Guest Certificate” that you can use at any Hilton Hotel Worldwide. You will be receiving it in 7 to 10 business days.
Please feel free to reach out to me directly if you would like to return to our Resort or if I can be of assistance to you in the future.
MADY COHEN I Executive Administrative Assistant & Guest Experience Leader
HILTON FORT LAUDERDALE BEACH RESORT
In addition to the above email response, I also received a telephone call from Christian Dammert, the director of operations at the hotel. His call was greatly appreciated, but ultimately left me feeling like the response from hotel management was neither explained nor justified.
Ultimately, I still have a lot of respect for Hilton, as a brand. This is despite two less-than-stellar experiences in a row at their properties. I'm contemplating where to use my "Be My Guest Certificate" I received, and am hopeful the next hotel I choose will provide for a better experience.
Photos of Cockroaches in Room 1112 Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort
Below are a few photos I took with my mobile phone inside our room. The first bug we observed was inside the vent fan of the microwave. The bugs moved very quickly and were camera shy. Click any photo to view a larger version. These are unedited and not enhanced.
What do you think of our Hilton Ft. Lauderdale hotel review? Have you stayed at this hotel before?