Fort Lauderdale: Just Add Water Taxis

With over 300 miles of navigable waterways, Fort Lauderdale has to be one of the most fun cities for meeting attendees to move around in. Because the winding waters extend almost throughout the entire city and stellar beachfront, traveling by water taxi is as easy and convenient as catching a cab.The Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB recently introduced their new “Lauderdale Convention Collection,” grouping together six upscale hotels with a total of 2,700 rooms within 1.5 miles of the Broward County Convention Center. We checked into a few of those and some others to reconnect with this city by the sea. All that water goes a long way refreshing groups before and after meetings.

All waterways lead to Las Olas Boulevard, where groups can find dockside shopping and dining experiences customized to each group’s personal interests. Cynthia Malin, for example, with ME Productions suggests a girls’ day out, where you can sip bubbly while watching models strut their stuff down a runway at Zola Keller or other high-end boutiques. She also encourages groups to take advantage of the cool dining venues like Tundra—the strip’s newest ice restaurant.

“Las Olas has such a wide variety of shopping,” says Malin. “It’s great to go find a gown for that evening function you have or just a trendy outfit for an event you’ve got coming up. One option is going to Carroll’s Jewelers and having a gemologist there give the group a little bit of history and class on gems.”

For evening events, the waterways provide exceptional opportunities for cocktail receptions and dreamy dinners.

It is a warm, breezy night as we step onto Charter One Yacht Charters’ Floridian Princess for an evening of dining and dancing. We swoon over the mansions on Millionaire’s Row. The full moon is shining bright, complemented by hundreds of stars overhead as we float through the city. The 4-level, 18,000-sf yacht hosts events up to 400 pax.

“We’re the newest boat in South Florida,” says owner, Lauren Talchik. “On top of that, we’re one of the largest.”

From their bubbling brie bites to fresh made sushi and pecan-crusted chicken, Talchik and her team prepare a delicious dinner. The menu features a lightly drizzled caprese salad, roasted ribeye and mahi mahi with mango salsa.

We dock at the 384-room Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six. One of only two marina hotels in the city, it was originally purchased by Phillips Petroleum with the idea of building a fueling station for watercrafts. The 384-room Hyatt has since evolved into what it is today, featuring a 127-slip deepwater marina

As we walk back to the hotel we pass dozens of million-dollar yachts, being cleaned and shined for the upcoming Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

I find the Hyatt’s dining scene rather impressive, as they prepare a lavish breakfast for us in their famed Pier Top venue. Here are a few fun facts about this sphere, offering 360 degree city views floating over Fort Lauderdale’s skyline. The 3,000-sf venue takes 66 minutes to make a full rotation, its windows are angled at 66 degrees and the elevator takes 33 seconds to go up and another 33 seconds to descend.

The hotel’s central location is fantastic, allowing for easy access to both water and land taxis, just across the bridge from the Convention Center.

“It really is a meeting planner’s paradise because they can conduct their serious business and then get out and enjoy everything around us,” says Sarah Summy, director of sales/marketing. “Our proximity to the airport is a plus, along with the fact that this is one of the stops for the water taxi, and since you can take it almost anywhere, you don’t really need a car.”

Total meeting space is 25,000 sf.