This Seaside Florida Resort is a Luxe Alternative to South Beach
Escape from the crowds at this updated Rat Pack-era beach retreat.
If you’re planning a trip to the Miami area anytime soon you might not be looking as far as Hollywood, Florida. But a mere 30 minutes will get you to The Diplomat, a reborn Rat Pack-era retreat that has many of the same attractions with a lot less hassle.
The stylish escape on 10 oceanfront acres has 1,000 feet of semi-private beachfront with virtually zero tourists on it, which no resort in Miami can claim. Hence it is also much calmer and quieter, even during spring break when South Beach is literally a riot.
Heading to Hollywood is also a better deal; The Diplomat is more affordable than practically any other AAA Four-Diamond ranked beachfront resort in Miami, while the well-designed rooms are larger than the typical Miami Beach shoebox.
Not long before COVID struck, the resort unveiled a $100 million renovation, then had to shutter for 15 months, and reopened in 2021. Originally built in 1958, the hotel was later rebuilt but retains its old-school glamour, when the likes of Bobby Kennedy, Sammy Davis Jr. were regulars. Every U.S. President since it originally opened has visited. The Diplomat is the tallest beachfront resort in the greater Fort Lauderdale area, which gives way to the best sunrise and sunset views in all of south Florida, with panoramic windows to take advantage of them.
The reimagined hotel’s lobby is designed to be a social hub, with “endless ways to connect, recharge, and create”—whether this means grabbing a drink at the indoor-outdoor bar, doing some work in one of the comfortable lounge areas, or ducking into the coffee shop. Doors open onto two enormous sun-drenched pools, one an infinity pool at lobby level, and a lagoon pool spread out at beach level below, with a cascading waterfall feature.
Across the street from the main building you’ll find The Diplomat’s private marina, meaning you can choose to arrive in anything from a classic motorboat to a 150-foot superyacht. And the hotel just reopened its 15,000-sq.-ft. spa as well, adding to its attractions.
Not al of those arriving by yacht are checking into the hotel; Diplomat Prime, the property’s signature restaurant, is the highest-rated AAA four-diamond steakhouse in South Florida, due to its location, excellent food and impressive wine collection. It offers a curated menu of in-house dry-aged steaks along with local, seasonal seafood dishes and resort classics.
The private dining room is enclosed by a wall of wine, while the cocktail program is a big draw as well. On our visit we chose to dine at the bar to take advantage everything they had to offer. The restaurant’s interior has a clubby feel that suits the high-end steakhouse vibe to a tee.
We started with a jumbo lump crab cake that was crisped to perfection, served with chili garlic aioli, pickled fennel, and shaved apple. Alongside we ordered a classic Old Fashioned, made with Woodford Reserve bourbon. Then we moved on to a Japanese certified A5 Kobe New York strip steak, accompanied by truffled whipped potatoes, charred broccolini, and a glass of Austin Hope cabernet sauvignon from Paso Robles, Calif.
Rooms and suites have been updated with a chic beachy vibe and neutral palettes with ocean-blue accents. All rooms have either ocean or Intracoastal views that stretch for miles on the upper floors, and many have expansive terraces also. Even the glass-enclosed showers and soaking tubs offer windows overlooking the scenic vistas. And the top-class Penthouse and Presidential suites are subtly but seriously luxurious for the yacht set.
Another key feature of the property is its collection of poolside cabanas, providing private spaces with luxe amenities for those who want to enjoy the lagoon pool and the beach, but also have a refuge and place to work and / or chill. Poolside concierges see to your every need when you book one of the boltholes, which feature a custom interiors by fashion designer Trina Turk.
There’s no better way to end a long day of relaxing in seaside splendor than with a fireside drink at the Hotel Bar, which opens onto the top-level infinity pool. The fire pits are lit as the sun goes down, and you can select from one of The Diplomat’s signature cocktails, such as a Rum Sazerac made with Zacapa 23, Peychaud’s bitters, brown sugar syrup, and an absinthe spray.
As The Diplomat tells it, “we honor the beach resorts of a bygone era and proudly cherish our legacy as a forever-keeper of ‘the good life’,” with an original and exuberant twist that keeps the spirit of the Rat Pack days alive—yet manages to be utterly contemporary.