By Jackie Yin
I’ve always been wondering how poetic it would be if there exists a place where seasons stopped changing and in front of my eyes, the vibrant sea finally melted into the veil of the sky. Time is lost; beauty is eternal. When I was strolling down the beach in a quiet afternoon in Fort Lauderdale, I knew my dream had come true.
Situated on the Atlantic coast just twenty-three miles from Miami, Fort Lauderdale is known as the “Venice of America”. Here, you can find everything you crave from Florida’s sunshine and fun water activities, to delicacies and high quality wines. But unlike Miami where crowds buzz, Fort Lauderdale is quiet and peaceful enough for meditation and slowly taking in all that nature has to offer.
I settled down in an oceanfront room at Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, a beautiful property just minutes away from the cultural center of Las Olas Boulevard and enjoyed a private quarter-mile-long beach. Stepping onto the balcony overlooking the Atlantic, I was greeted with a gentle breeze carrying the salty and humid smell of ocean; I was ready.
My four-day trip was filled with surprises and satisfaction. Walking on the sun-heated sand in the late morning and jumping into the cool and clear turquoise sea couldn’t be more refreshing. Lying lazily on the beach, taking in all the energy of the sun and feeling the tan forming on my back. Could it be more “Floridian”?
If weather permits, a water taxi ride is ideal for a quick sightseeing tour of the expansive and intricate canal system of Fort Lauderdale. Once off shore, I started to feel like Alice exploring Wonderland. Unfolding in front of my eyes were streets made of water and boats as cars. It’s a totally different world! The taxi dropped me off at the ninth stop at Las Olas, which means “The Waves” in Spanish. The one-mile commercial stretch of the boulevard features many upscale restaurants as well as shops, art galleries, boutiques and bridal stores. At night, the entire street starts rocking with nightclubs and live music. As for my personal recommendation, I enjoyed dining at Tundra and Yolo, both of which provide great service and cuisine. Wine tasting at Las Olas Winecafe was also unforgettable. Try their rich collection of wine from around the globe accompanied with a dish of cheese and salami with crackers. You’ll forget
all your worries!
Being a food lover for as long as I can remember, Fort Lauderdale’s dishes didn’t let me down. One of the best meals I had was at 3030 Ocean Restaurant, which is located conveniently next to the lobby area of the hotel. Opened by Chef Dean James Max, one of the best seafood chefs in the area, 3030 Ocean serves modern American seafood and special meats with passion and genius. I kicked off my dinner with Ahi Tuna Coconut Ceviche – marinated Tuna served in a half coconut shell. Its delicately balanced spicy taste of cilantro, Serrano chili, green onion and coconut sauce released the tenderness of the fish, leaving my taste buds completely excited by this unique experience. My entrée was full of imagination as well. As simple as it might sound, my Seafood Pasta was anything but ordinary. It was a joyful dance of clams, wild shrimp and local fish in between the broad flat ribbons of pappardelle in a warm basil broth. Every taste was just enough to bring out the freshness of the plate while keeping you wanting more. In the dim candlelight and soothing jazz, I took a sip of my mild and fruity light Pinot Noir and gave out a satisfactory sigh.
And how can I forget about a spa treatment? Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa offers almost thirty different types of body care services. After a hot shower, I gave my body a complete relaxation with a 50-minute Swedish massage. With a slight hint of Lavender, I felt the light pressure opening up my muscles and soothing my nerves from head to toe.
But if you think that life at Harbor Beach is only as calm as a lake, you couldn’t be more wrong. Because remember, we are at sea! And what do we do? Water activities! Curious about the trendy sport called Stand Up Paddle Surfing that has taken over Florida and the globe, I crawled onto my first paddleboard. What’s special about this activity is that you get to “stand” on the sea. Simply by paddling both ways, you balance yourself on the floating board and be wowed by the unconventional viewpoint of the sea right under your feet!
Longing for more adventure? Follow me! Just about a half-an-hour drive, I found myself searching for gators and listening to exotic birds on an airboat tour of the Everglades, a natural region of subtropical wetlands in the southern portion of Florida. Pick a seat in the flat-bottomed vessel powered by an aircraft engine, and hold your breath for Captain Rick’s thrilling story of why he would never come back to the water after sunset!
Now that I’m back in the busy city life, every moment in Fort Lauderdale and Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa seems like a remote yet beautiful fairytale. And who knows, if I have the chance, I’ll go back and get lost again in the endless sea and sky.
Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
3030 Holiday Drive,
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33316