As the black night sky yielded to twilight over the calm Atlantic, I gasped in awe as the tippy-top of the sun’s sphere pierced the horizon.
Like the first brush stroke from a new color palette onto a watercolor painting, the whites and blues were met with bursts of warm glowing orange. Instantly, a myriad of new color combinations fused onto the sky, clouds, water, and sand. With each passing moment, the sun further revealed itself, and its light grew in intensity. It seemed to pulsate as it pushed up from the horizon, shooting beams across the entire composition.
I felt a pang of guilt. Such a riveting moment should have been earned via a pre-dawn, cold hike to this perfect viewing station. But I was in my pajamas, not even inconvenienced by the crisp morning air until I chose to open the sliding glass door to the furnished balcony that awaited me from my 32nd-floor hotel room.
While I may not be a diplomat, I certainly felt like a VIP enjoying the luxurious comforts from my private perch in the sky.
I was staying at the surprisingly accessible 1,000-room luxury Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, FL, a Hilton Curio Collection property. In this modern high-rise, styled with a vintage beachy vibe, half of the rooms have an epic sunrise, the other half get an equally astonishing sunset, and the corner suites are treated to a view of both dawn and dusk.
Luxury Easily Within Reach
My family of four recently planned a weekend escape to minimize travel and maximize quality time and vitamin D from the warm South Florida sun. With this goal in mind, the Diplomat was the ideal choice. Situated 20 minutes from the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, a hub big enough to offer many direct flights at competitive rates, and small enough to avoid the trappings of the largest airports.
The Diplomat offers everything one could possibly want for such a trip—a soft, white sand beach with Caribbean blue-green waters, an expansive pool area overlooking the ocean, great food, tons of activities for the kids, an indulgent spa, an exercise facility—all with a luxurious yet casual vibe.
As one of South Florida’s largest resorts, we felt the Diplomat’s grandness immediately as we pulled up the driveway. The kids oohed and ahhed as they saw the hotel’s street sign surrounded by water features and vegetation.
After a friendly greeting from the valet and bell staff, we were wowed by the expansive lobby, which combines warm furnishings, lush plant life, and a dramatic six-story glass ceiling and windows that flood the space with light and ocean views. The excitement boiled over for the kids who begged to explore the various nooks, shops, and restaurants as I went to the front desk to check-in.
Home Away From Home
We then settled into our room, which was decorated with contemporary furnishings and art that pays homage to the romance of the surf life.
There is that funny “reveal” every time you enter a hotel room for the first time. As the adage goes, “you get what you pay for,” and it’s rare that a hotel room completely under-or-overwhelms one’s expectations.
That’s not the case at the Diplomat. Despite its winning tons of awards and its four-diamond rating by AAA, when you compare it to the rates of other South Florida luxury beach hotels, you come to understand the Diplomat’s value.
Sixty percent of the hotel’s stays are for business conferences that help occupy its massive 1,000-room inventory. However, during weekends and holidays when the hotel is not hosting a huge conference, the supply-demand balance tips strongly in favor of the guest. That’s why vacationers can get both a lower rate and better amenities than the Diplomat’s peer set in nearby Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
The resorts in those neighboring areas charge a premium for location. While the Diplomat has a great bar and restaurant scene all centered around that priceless ocean view, certainly if you’re looking for the bustling nightlife and singles scene that South Florida is famed for, those cities are a better fit. Though if you want the best beach, pool, and luxury amenities at an affordable rate to enjoy with your spouse, family, or small group—the Diplomat is unrivaled.
The least expensive room at the Diplomat comes standard with a balcony and a bathroom that is like a multi-room suite in itself—featuring spaces separated by stained glass dividers for the shower and toilet, and a dedicated tub. The bathroom also features shutters that we opened to enjoy the water view as we brushed our teeth!
Fun in the Sun
The Diplomat’s main attraction is undoubtedly the pool and beach.
The facilities are vast, letting each family find space to relax and spread out. When you walk onto the back patio beyond the lobby bar, the first thing you notice is the view from every area of the pool to the sweeping ocean below. The upper-level patio features an infinity pool that has a glass-bottomed, see-through-to- the-lagoon pool that is directly underneath.
On the ground level are two waterfalls flowing from the above infinity pool, a hot tub, chaise lounges as far as one can see, cabanas, and music from the hip Playa restaurant.
Through the back gate of the patio, we walked onto the soft beach where the blue-green gentle waves of the ocean gently rolled onto the sand. Chaise lounges, umbrellas, and even full-shaded beds are looked after by attendants who offer towels and refreshments.
We would alternate our time between the pool and the sand until we’d had our fill and it was time to get ready for dinner.
For the Kids
It’s hard to find a resort that balances what parents are looking for while having enough kid-friendly activities. We found a variety of things for our kids to do.
First and foremost, there is the Diplomat kids club! Parents know how helpful having a dedicated kids club can be, as it lets them relax at the beach, pool, or spa and then be refreshed and present when the family is reunited later in the day
Located oceanfront on the beachside patio, the kids are supervised by kind counselors who guide them to the pool, beach, arts and crafts, dress-up, video games, and even cooking classes. You can drop the kids off for a full day, half day, or as needed. We left my son Mason in the capable hands of the director, Lana, for a full morning. He enjoyed working on art projects and other indoor activities that she guided him through.
In addition to the structured kids club, there is the Dip + Slide Kids Splash Zone which features various water features and a slide.
For those seeking more adventure, there is a water sports activity center on the beach that offers kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, jet skis, and banana boat rides.
Spa and Gym
To take the relaxation to the next level, we visited the spa where we enjoyed an organic facial, steam room, and saunas. While the gym has two floors of modern exercise equipment and an upbeat vibe, we decided that this trip was all about relaxing. Perhaps we’ll hit the gym next time, as we hope to return soon.
When You Go
Getting There: The preferred airport is the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, which is a 20-minute drive. Miami International is an hour away and offers even more direct flights, and another option is the Palm Beach International Airport, which is a much smaller, no-stress terminal approximately 90 minutes drive away.
For ground transportation, we found it easiest to order an Uber to the Diplomat, as our plan was to stay on the property the whole time. However, it’s very easy to valet or self-park your car, making its central location in South Florida ideal if you’re looking for a home base between Miami and Palm Beach.
Dining: The hotel offers everything from formal, to grab-and-go. Counterpoint is a counter-service fast option that we frequented multiple times per day which offers breakfast, lunch, coffee, juices, and pastries. All the bread and baked goods are made fresh daily on-site, and the donuts were our decadent favorite! Point Royal offers a more formal breakfast in a tropical dining room. Currently, they’re serving Thursday through Sunday, with plans to expand to more days soon.
Playa offers Nuevo Latino cuisine with table service next to the beach. They offer lunch and dinner, and their servers will also bring your order to your chaise lounge anywhere on the beach or pool. Diplomat Prime is a very popular upscale steak house that serves Tuesday through Sunday. Reservations are highly recommended and sought after. The Canteen is a high-end food and convenience store with every drink, snack, and dessert you could imagine!
Finally, the Hotel Bar is the festive focal point of both the inside of the lobby and the exterior of the patio. While the mixologists serve up all kinds of craft cocktails, my kids were able to join in the fun with frozen non-alcohol Piña Coladas and Daiquiris.
Room Reservations: Visit DiplomatResort.com to check on room types, rates, and availability.
The author was a guest of the Diplomat Beach Resort.