The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau has rolled out an iPhone app, iVisitLauderdale. Users can search for dining venues, activities, arts and entertainment, weather reports and more. The "Explore" section has a GPS locator, maps and driving directions, while the iGuide feature provides a range of shopping, special deals and events happening in the area. To download the app, go to sunny.org/visitors/ivisitlauderdale.
Don't have an iPhone? News and events can be found on the bureau's Facebook page as well, at facebook.com/visitlauderdale,
or follow the CVB on Twitter at twitter.com/
Local Update: The 433-room Westin Beach Resort, Fort Lauderdale, debuted in December 2009. The posh hotel is the result of a complete rebuild of the former Sheraton Yankee Trader. The property offers a 30,000-square-foot conference center, including two ballrooms spanning 10,192 square feet and 8,376 square feet, respectively, and the 5,500-square-foot Sunrise Terrace. Also on-site: a rooftop infinity pool, a Heavenly Spa by Westin, Shula's steak house and Starbucks.
The Village at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, a few miles south of Fort Lauderdale, has added a number of new shops, including Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn and The Container Store. New dining options are Ill Forks and Texas de Brazil steak houses; Cantina Laredo, a Mexican restaurant; and the Brio Tuscan Grille.
The 119-room Cambria Suites Fort Lauderdale/Dania Beach opened in January with more than 1,200 square feet of meeting space, a lobby coffee bar, a fitness center, a heated pool and Jacuzzi, and a bistro-style restaurant and lounge.
The 150-room Crowne Plaza Fort Lauderdale Airport/Cruise Port opened in February, about a mile from the Broward County Convention Center and approximately two miles from both Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and the Amtrak Tri Rail Station. Amenities at the hotel include complimentary high-speed wired and wireless Internet, the Candlewood Cupboard store and the Gazebo Grill.
Two new Hyatts recently opened: the 149-room Hyatt Place Lauderdale Airport-South debuted in January, and the 143-room Hyatt Summerfield Suites Fort Lauderdale Airport-South opened in March.
A new cruise terminal debuted at Port Everglades last November, a week before the arrival of Royal Caribbean International's impressive new 2,700-stateroom Oasis of the Seas. The 240,000-square-foot Cruise Terminal 18 allows passengers to board and disembark ships in record time, thanks to two 102,000-square-foot levels created for simultaneous in/out traffic. Boarding assistance comes in the form of flat-panel TVs and no fewer than 90 check-in counters. The terminal seats about 3,000 people.
The Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel, formerly known as the Sheraton Yankee Clipper, has been upgraded with $30 million in improvements. The property's 485 guest rooms, 7,000 square feet of meeting space, public areas, restaurant and bar all underwent a thorough revamp, and the Sheraton Core Fitness Center was added. The hotel also offers about 5,600 square feet of outdoor meeting space.
Meeting Hotels: Major properties include the 650-room Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa; 589-room Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina; 517-room W Fort Lauderdale; 485-room Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel; 433-room Westin Beach Resort, Fort Lauderdale; 358-room Embassy Suites Fort Lauderdale, and 293-room Westin Fort Lauderdale.
The city of Hollywood offers the 1,000-room Westin Diplomat, 500-room Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino-Hollywood and 311-room Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach Resort.
Convention Center: Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center; exhibit space, 200,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 39; (954) 765-5900; ftlauderdalecc.com
Airport Transit: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, about six miles south of Fort Lauderdale. Transfer cost by taxi to Port Everglades and the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, $10-$15; to Fort Lauderdale Beach, $18-$22; by shuttle to Port Everglades, $7-$10; to Fort Lauderdale Beach, $11-$18
Taxes: Fort Lauderdale/Broward County: room tax, 6%; sales tax, 5%; total tax on hotel rooms, 11%
Group Venue: Go back in time for a taste of Old Florida with a tour of the historic Stranahan House, which dates from 1913 and whose previous incarnations include trading post, post office, town hall and bank. The building, which sits along downtown's River Walk, a colorful arts and entertainment district, is furnished with ornate Victorian-era pieces. A reception or sit-down meal for 70 to 75 people can be booked for the venue's outdoor space. Guided tours of the house can be arranged. (954) 524-4736; stranahanhouse.org
CVB Services: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, (954) 765-4466; sunny.org/meetingplanners