The Grand Resort and Spa, Ft. Lauderdale
by Joseph Schmitt
Five years after graduating from Transylvania
University (yes, there is such a place!) in Lexington,
KY, with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management,
and after my first partner and I broke up, I decided
to visit an old friend from Lexington who was in Ft.
Lauderdale, says Peter Mehas. I had never
been here before, and soon after returning from that
vacation I found myself packing up all I could fit into
my Honda Civic hatchback and heading south on I-75.
This is all back when George Michaels sexuality
was still a Careless Whisper and Madonna was still Like
During his tenure in the hospitality
field, Peter has worked at some of South Floridas
finest hotels, including Hotel InterContinental Miami,
the famous Doral Golf Resort and Spa, and The Hotel
Sofitel Miami. Needing a respite from the pressures
of large hotels, I decided to take a few years off from
the hotel industry in 1998, Peter explains. But
then in October of 2004, The Grand Resort and Spa
offered me a return to the industry that is my passion,
and that I had missed for six years, to work as the
Guest Services Manager.
Please tell our readers about The
Grand Resort and Spa.
The Grand Resort was born in 1999, which means
we are celebrating ten years this year! In 2001 an enterprising
gentleman by the name of Casey Koslowski bought the
resort. Caseys vision was to create a gay resort
with all the personal touches of an intimate B&B
[and] the panache and services of a fine resort. Today,
we are the largest gay resort in Ft. Lauderdale, and
the only one offering a full-service Day Spa open seven
days a week.
What should the gay traveler know
about Ft. Lauderdale before visiting?
Visitors should keep in mind that Ft. Lauderdale
is very spread out, and you absolutely will need a car
to get around, although some of our great neighborhoods
are very walkable once you get to them. The Wilton Manors
neighborhood is the hub of the gay community, and offers
a good concentration of bars, restaurants, and boutiques.
The Las Olas area, our version of Rodeo Drive, is host
to upscale boutiques, galleries, and some of the finest
restaurants in South Florida. Ft. Lauderdale Beach is
newly coming alive with the recent opening of the Westin
Hotel and the W Hotel, joining the Atlantic Hotel and
Ritz-Carlton. With these new additions have also come
new restaurants and shops.
While Ft. Lauderdale is best known to
gay travelers for our beach lifestyle, we also have
a terrific arts scene, bolstered largely by the gay
community. The Broward Center for the Performing
Arts (201 SW Fifth Avenue. Ft. Lauderdale. Tel:
features diverse performances in theatre, dance, and
music. The collection of more than six thousand works
at The Museum of Art Ft. Lauderdale (One East
Las Olas Blvd. Ft. Lauderdale. Tel: 954-525-5500. www.moaflnsu.org)
is international in scope, while strongly reflecting
the creative expression of the cultures of South Florida
and the Caribbean. I think the best thing about Ft.
Lauderdale is how the gay community has become an integral
component of all aspects of life here, from civic and
government roles, to business, tourism, and naturally,
What are some hot picks for cool
Here on Ft. Lauderdale Beach that honor goes to
Whiskey Blue (401 N. Ft. Lauderdale Beach Blvd.
Tel: 954-414-8300. www.gerberbars.com)
at the new W Hotel. This is a popular upscale after-work
cocktail scene in a memorable setting. The bar, both
indoors and out, is an extension of the ocean, with
ocean views and fire pits; you can even look up at the
clear underside of the swimming pool! Or just gaze out
at the beautiful colors of the Atlantic Ocean. In Wilton
Manors, the bartenders at Georgies Alibi
make mean martinis, which are 2-for-1 Monday through
Friday, from 11 A.M. until 9 P.M.
Where do you send guests for a romantic
Ft. Lauderdale has dozens and dozens of great restaurants.
I know I will offend several of my restaurateur friends
by not mentioning them, but there simply isnt
room for everyone in one article. The Hi-Life Café
(3000 N. Federal Hwy, Ft. Lauderdale. Tel: 954-563-1395.
is one of my favorite restaurants, especially given
its history of being Ft. Lauderdales longest running
gay owned/operated restaurant. Fans of Bravos
Top Chef may remember Chef Carlos Fernandez from season
two. Co-owner Chuck Smith handles the front of the house.
They both make sure their patrons know just how special
each and every one is to them. The dining rooms are
intimate, low key, and evoke a very romantic ambiance.
The menu offers comforting American cuisine, but always
with a twist and always served in a most gracious manner.
Thai Kitchen & Sushi Bar (2389 Wilton Dr., Wilton
Manors. Tel: 954-565-7577. www.galangarestaurant.com)
in Wilton Manors, is owned and run by another gentleman
that really understands hospitality, Eddi Mulyanto,
and it offers fantastic Thai fusion cuisine and sushi.
While the restaurant is large, it is broken up into
tiny alcoves, both inside and outside, that provide
patrons privacy and intimacy along with great food and
One last tiny gem tucked away off Las
Olas Boulevard in downtown Ft. Lauderdale is Las
Olas Café (922 E. Las Olas Blvd. Tel: 954-524-4300.
Basically, just a small courtyard, this establishment
allows one to imagine being in Provence, both from the
menu and the décor. Exposed aged brick walls
and floors transport one to the hilltops of southern
France. Service is elegant, yet comfortably relaxed.
The food, well, all one needs to do upon walking into
the restaurant is look at the faces of the patrons and
see the looks of satisfaction.
What are your suggestions for travelers
who like to keep fit?
Guests at The Grand Resort and Spa can take advantage
of our fitness center, which is equipped with free weights
and cardio equipment. Visitors looking for larger fitness
clubs have several nearby options, including Golds
Gym, Bally Total Fitness Centers, and LA Fitness.
A well-equipped neighborhood gym with great day and
weekly rates is Downtown Gym and Fitness Center (713
E. Broward Blvd. Ft. Lauderdale. Tel: 954-462-7669.
Running on the beach, biking the many miles of bike
routes, and swimming, all round out a good menu of fitness
options while on holiday.