LauderBlog

Oct 27: Sunny Spooks

Posted on October 27, 2014 10:31AM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

Happy HalloweenAre you a Halloween kind of person? I'm most definitely a Halloween kind of guy. All my life, it's been among my favorite holidays, these days joined only by New Year's Eve as my two personal picks. To me, they're each playful holidays, a chance to have fun in a way that's wackier than you can at any other time. There are Christmas kinds of folks, and Hanukkah people. There are those in this country who prefer Thanksgiving or Easter or Passover or the 4th of July. But nope, not me. Give me Halloween. So I'm excited this week, savoring gorgeous late October weather in Greater Fort Lauderdale as I prepare for a day of fake-but-fun ghouls and goblins and spirits and spooks. And we all hope, continued sunshine.

Which brings me to things we might consider doing on Halloween here in town. This day is always a hoot around the Fort Lauderdale area. If you have kids, one thing you might consider is the big Halloween event at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. I'll be part of this open house party again and it's always a delightful time for the family. Lots of candy, lots of entertaining stuff for children, even some helpful information. All in a safe place - and it's free. To learn more, check out this link: http://www.jdch.com/html/homerun-kids/events/2014/10/jdch-halloween-open-house.html.

The Museum of Discovery & Science has a bash happening from 6 - 9 pm on Halloween, with a costume contest and jelly bean tasting and even some edible bugs, plus their own mad scientist and more. Details at this click: http://www.sunny.org/includes/calendar-of-events/Trick-or-Treating-at-MODS/18795/. Of course, you may not have kids. Or you may want something to do after you drop the kids off with their grandparents or whatever. Your more adult options this year include the Hoodoo Voodoo Halloween Blues Ball at the Downtowner Saloon in Fort Lauderdale. I've loved the Downtowner for many years, a funky relaxed spot to meet friends and enjoy live music. In 2014, they have a big lineup of bands, with costumes encouraged. Find out more here: http://www.sunny.org/includes/calendar-of-events/Hoodoo-Voodoo-Halloween-Blues-Ball/19054/. Or just hang out in downtown Fort Lauderdale, maybe on Las Olas or along the Riverwalk somewhere. You're bound to bump into some spooky things in the night, for sure. As it happens the world's largest boat show also coincides with Halloween. I'll tell you more later this week about the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, which spreads out through several locations near the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean from October 30 - November 3. Some thoroughly awesome vessels will be tied up for you to drool over, with plenty of salespeople on hand to help you make a purchase. Come to think of it, the boat show might be the scariest option of all on Halloween. Just bring your checkbook and ask the price of one of those thoroughly awesome vessels. If the answer doesn't give you goosebumps, I don't know what will.

Oct 23: Tips for Planning a Party, Event or Wedding in Greater Fort Lauderdale

Posted on October 23, 2014 6:24AM

Posted by Guest Blogger

Get ready residents of Fort Lauderdale and South Florida: Party, Event and Wedding Season is almost upon us! Yes, the last six months may have been on the hot side, but we all know that the next six months is going to be absolutely perfect. Residents of Fort Lauderdale and Broward County look forward to this time of year all summer. Of course, so does the rest of the planet!

While people in the north are battling cold winters they seek relief by visiting South Florida. Fort Lauderdale is known as the "Venice of America" due to the numerous canals and waterways that intersect the city, but it has so much more to offer. From stunning beaches (accessible from some of the world's finest hotels) to amazing dining on Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale is a major destination for brides, grooms, corporate retreats, participants in expos, conventions and trade shows AND anyone else looking to throw a party or event.

As the owner of EviRental.com it is my job to make sure that guests to this great city find exactly what they need to make for the best trip, vacation or visit possible. If you're planning on making Fort Lauderdale a destination for a wedding, party or event in your future, please consider the following tips:

Tip #1: Choose Where to Stay

Fort Lauderdale is home to some of the most beautiful and amazing hotels in the world. Once you've chosen Fort Lauderdale, take the time to make sure that your stay will be incredible. If you're planning an event like a wedding, our hotels may be the perfect venue for you. It is also important to remember that whether you're a visitor or a guest, your guests will need a place to stay! You can start looking for the perfect hotel by visiting the hotel pages on www.sunny.org.

Tip #2: Talk to an Expert

Unless you're a professional wedding or event planner, the chances are that you haven't planned too many events or parties beyond some birthday parties! That is always good practice, but a larger event, like a wedding or a corporate retreat, takes a lot more to put together. I strongly recommend that you talk to a local wedding or event planner who can help you. Yes, they are professionals and they cost money, but it has been my experience that they end up saving people both time and money in the long run.

Tip #3: Use Local Vendors

This may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised! Fort Lauderdale is home to the best party and event companies in South Florida. Whether you need flowers, lighting, or caterers Fort Lauderdale companies will make sure you get the best available in South Florida.

Tip #4: Consider the Weather


The weather in Fort Lauderdale is absolutely beautiful year round. Of course, some seasons have a bit more risk than others. If you are planning a wedding or event during the rainy season (May-October), make sure you have a backup plan. You may have always dreamed of getting married on the beach, but I'm sure that you don't want to get married in rain storm! At the very least make sure that you rent a tent to protect your guests from the potential bad weather (or the bright sun)! You can find multiple quotes from tent and event rental companies using my service www.evirental.com to save you time and money.

Tip #5: Make Fun Suggestions for Your Guests

If you have guests coming in from out of state or out of town, take the time to suggest great activities for them. Many people like to come to Fort Lauderdale early or to stay late. Fort Lauderdale has a number of fun activities and things to do. You can scuba dive, attend boat shows, go to the beach, relax in a spa, go fishing, play golf, try water sports, attend lectures, visit museums, and dance the night away. If you have an event or wedding website, link to www.sunny.org, but make some suggestions for your guests. Prepare a welcome basket with some maps of the area, lists of things to do and some great products from local businesses! Trust me, you're guest will be delighted!

Tip #6: Enjoy Your Stay

Obvious right? I just wanted to make sure you didn't forget to have fun!

-Michael Riordan, Co-Founder, EviRental

Oct 22: The Conventioneers

Posted on October 22, 2014 9:44AM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

You'll see them often around town - and they're all here on a mission. They are the conventioneers. I'm talking about the many thousands of folks who arrive in Fort Lauderdale annually to take part in large conventions, whether for work or play - learning something new for their jobs or learning something new for their personal passion. Or in some cases, learning how to live more effectively. The largest conventions usually take place at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, a lovely facility directly beside Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. I happen to like our convention center, especially the impressive sailfish sculpture that seems to leap from the fountain outside. I've been to the center many times over the years for events and galas and, yep, conventions. And I can see why this convention center attracts organizations from all over each year.

But it's the convention attendees who fascinate me. I typically spot them in one of two areas: either on Fort Lauderdale's SE 17th Street Causeway, near the convention center, or around the Fort Lauderdale beach. They're not hard to identify, that's for sure.

Sometimes I'm sitting at Starbucks on 17th Street when I notice a gaggle of folks all talking and laughing as they walk by. And they're each wearing a security pass that dangles from a cord around their necks. That's an obvious giveaway, the combination of the passes and their excitement. But if I listen carefully to what they're saying, I also may pick up some idea about which specific convention brings them to town. Sometimes it's mostly medical chat about an imaging technique or maybe they're comparing notes about cruises or cosmetics or whatever else. On occasion, I have realized that one of the big self-help gurus is holding a seminar at the convention center. To me, that particular group of convention people seems pleasant but very earnest, often spending top dollar in an effort to discover a better way to live. I hope they find it when they come to South Florida. On other days, I may be walking along A1A near the top hotels on the Fort Lauderdale beach when I bump into some of our conventioneers. They probably aren't wearing their dangly passes but it doesn't matter. They greet each other on the street in a different way. Not like family or friends but as happy colleagues who've briefly escaped their convention. I can almost feel their relief. And I can sense their enthusiasm for Fort Lauderdale as they chatter about convention business, then turn their eyes and perhaps their cameras toward the sea. The conventioneers are among the tides of visitors who sweep in and out of Greater Fort Lauderdale every month. I always enjoy seeing them. They add a unique element to the vibe of our community, another kind of enthusiasm I guess. And a special joy whenever they get the chance to break free from work for a while.

Oct 20: Harvest Time

Posted on October 20, 2014 10:50AM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

Palm trees in Fort LauderdaleYes, it's coconut harvest season again in South Florida. Have you heard about this? Each autumn, skilled coconut workers come to our region from all over the Caribbean, with some harvesters imported from as far away as Thailand and Vietnam and other major coconut countries. Then when the weather begins to turn drier and cooler, the frenzied three-week coconut harvest begins. It's something to see. Oh yeah. I blogged about this a few years back, when coconut harvest technology was still in its more primitive stage. At that time, "coconut harvest technology" basically meant "two hands." The harvesters shinnied up the tall trunks of the coconut palms, using traditional methods learned as young children in their homelands.

One coconut at a time, they plucked and dropped the coconuts to the soft earth below, where other workers collected them into large piles for still other workers to husk and ship away to coconut shredding factories. As you can imagine, this was dangerous labor, especially for the coconut-collectors on the ground who wore specially made hard hats against the possibility of an accidental bonk from above.

How things have changed in just three or four years. Now you can expect to see the new "coconut thrashers" popping up all around Greater Fort Lauderdale over the coming weeks. The weather is perfect for the harvest and the thrasher technology speeds the gathering immensely. Basically, these cutting-edge thrashers are Transformer-like machines that reach up with great claws, grab the palm tree trunk like hands and shake the tree vigorously ... until every ripened coconut has fallen off. No more tree-shinnying for the coconut workers, though they still wear their special hard hats when collecting coconuts from the ground - you know, in case. Can't be too careful around a palm tree full of coconuts. And the most amazing thing about all of it is that, well, this story might even be true. Uh ... but it's not - haha! Nope, it's only another product of my fevered imagination on a lovely South Florida Monday, offered up for a couple of reasons. First, to give you a smile, I hope. Second, because late October is officially more than halfway to April Fool's Day and we always post a funny April Fool blog each year. Consider this an early start, created not to make anyone feel foolish but rather for something a little different and fun to begin your week. It also goes to show just how amazingly wacky South Florida life truly is. I mean, there might really be an annual coconut harvest, right? Hey, I could believe it. In the midst of our major autumn events such as the Dine Out Lauderdale promotion http://www.sunny.org/dineout/ and the upcoming Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show http://www.showmanagement.com/, why not a big harvest season to go with it? We sure do have lots of coconuts, with many of them turning up in our food and cocktails and décor and everywhere else. The coconut is an important part of South Florida's tropical culture. And if this blog inspires you to harvest one or two of your own, please feel free. There are plenty to go around. Only, remember this important tip: Make sure you wear a hard hat. That part is no joke.

Oct 15: The Big Boats

Posted on October 15, 2014 9:00AM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

They are coming. Call them mega or super. Or just plain big. Whatever their name, these massive yachts soon will return in force to Fort Lauderdale. Not that they ever really go away, of course. But during the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show they come in huge numbers, like a flotilla of extravagance. We are invaded by the Ultraluxe Armada. The 55th edition of the world's largest boat show opens on October 30 and runs through November 3. This time around, that display of all things nautical is expected to feature some $3 billion in super-yachts alone. Notice, that's billion with a "b." Luckily, you do not need to qualify as a 1 Percenter to attend the show and ogle the yachts.

Believe me when I tell you that I don't approach the 1% category of wealth myself - nor, probably, the 61% category for that matter. But I've done my share of boat show ogling over the years. It's a hoot. And, well, kind of jaw-dropping too. "You mean, human beings really can afford to buy those things?" That's how the boat show feels to me.

Yes, they can afford to buy those things. Quite a lot of human beings can afford to do this, as it turns out. Some of them are humans of fame, including the director Steven Spielberg. His super-yacht called "Seven Seas" was in town for many weeks only last year. I've seen that yacht up close and, wow. It's nice to know all the money I've spent on flicks like Indiana Jones or E.T. went for a good cause. Spielberg's boat is not a boat. It's more like a mini-cruise ship, tying up at Fort Lauderdale's Pier 66 marina in 2013. I noticed that this same marina is going through a major renovation, by the way, work that should be complete just before the boat show starts. The Pier 66 resort will be an official part of the boat show again this year, now with room for 10 more super yachts. That means 16 of them can dock at Pier 66 and hold a 1 Percenter Party, if they like. I would welcome an invitation to that party, though I won't hold my breath. Still, it's nice to know that these folks will have even more room for their luxurious brand of fun in 2014. Those of us not in their economic category can have our own brand of fun during the boat show. Go to this link for more details about the event: http://www.showmanagement.com. As for me, I can plan on buying my boat show tickets and maybe snagging a beer and burger while there. As I saunter past the super-yachts I may wave a beer cup in their general direction to say hello. If they're in the proper mood, perhaps they'll wave their champagne glasses back at me.

Oct 14: Out & About

Posted on October 7, 2014 7:12AM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

Oh yeah. It's that time again. Fine dining at prices you'd normally pay at more modest restaurants. Dine Out Lauderdale is back. From now through November 6, you can score three-course meals at some of Greater Fort Lauderdale's best eateries for a fairly amazing $35 per person. Plus tax and tip, of course. Compare that to the cost of a meal at those top spots any other time. Not only that. These are specially created meals, put together exclusively for the Dine Out menus all around town. This year, more than 35 restaurants are taking part too. It's one of those, "So many choices, so little time" things. But if you start now, hey, you could sample each of the restaurants at a one-a-day clip ... with just enough days left to return to your personal faves. Well, it's a thought anyway.

But whether you check out all 35-plus places or only one in the next few weeks, your dining experience should be memorable. Because just look at some of the options. There's 3030 Ocean at the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa as well as Via Luna at The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale. And Steak 954 at the W Fort Lauderdale. For openers ...

The list goes on. Including such well-known restaurants as The Capital Grille, Johnny V, the Melting Pot, Morton's The Steakhouse, Le Bistro, Café Maxx. And the venerable 15th Street Fisheries, which was among the spots I enjoyed during last year's Dine Out promo. Gwen and I settled in to eat at a perfect waterside table, where we could see a lovely sweeping section of the Intracoastal Waterway. Our dinner portions were very generous and the food perfectly prepared - fish for her, steak for me. Luscious desserts for us both. We had a terrific meal ... and took home leftovers. Not sure yet where we'll end up this time around. Like I said, so many choices. Such as Rivals at The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa or Nanking Asian Grill at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina. Or Eduardo de San Angel or Sunfish Grill or Sky Thai Sushi or ... You get the idea. Look over the full list by clicking here: http://www.sunny.org/dineout/. The complete line-up is there, each linked to its own page that includes location, contact info and their own special Dine Out menu. That should make those choices a little easier anyway. Dine Out Lauderdale is one of South Florida's best bargains of the year. Some great restaurants, some low prices, all happening just as our weather typically starts to cool down a bit. Yep, it's that time again. Oh yeah.

Oct 6: Beautiful Day

Posted on October 6, 2014 9:40AM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

What can you say about the first fresh breath of autumn? Even in South Florida, it's something we all anticipate. It happened this past weekend, on a delightful Sunday. And it was worth the wait. I began the day at my girlfriend's place, where Gwen made us fresh fruit smoothies and espresso. She opened up the sliding glass door and called out to me, "It is cooler!" I walked outside on her patio, looked up at the sky and smelled the air. "Wow, this is great," I said. We sat on the patio to sip our drinks before I toddled off in my Mini Cooper, sunroof open and windows down. I found myself actually singing some old songs out loud in my car as I motored south on A1A, where I noticed an unusually perky collection of walkers and runners. It felt to me as if everyone wanted to be outside.

 

I stopped in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea for my first pumpkin doughnut of the season, along with a small coffee and cream. Not only did the air feel cooler and far less humid than any time since April, the sky also was a shade more blue. That's what happens when the haze of summer lifts in South Florida. The sky literally turns bluer.

 

My next stop was at a beach in north Fort Lauderdale. I climbed out to simply stand and gaze at the sea and the people and the boats and at that lovely sky. The Atlantic Ocean was gorgeous. Gentle white foam breakers rolled in over clear water that appeared light brown from the sand underneath. Then the light brown changed to brown-green as the sea deepened a bit, then shifted again into a broad band of vivid jade. Farther out, the water became teal and farther still a rich dark sapphire. I didn't want to leave. But at last I drove on home, immediately pulled open my own sliding glass door and felt the seabreeze blowing pleasantly through my patio. "I'm opening up," I said to myself. They are magic words in this part of the world. Those three words mean the A.C. is switched off and all the windows are raised or cranked or slid or propped open to the wind. It's the Florida equivalent of that springtime feeling northerners savor after a hard winter, our tropical version of relief from cabin fever. Start to last, Sunday was indeed a beautiful day. My windows are open as I write this blog on Monday morning, though realistically I know the weather won't stay. Not yet. We'll be back into the heat and humidity for a while longer. But not too much longer, if things go as usual with our climate. That's ok, I can wait. This delicious first taste of our autumn season was enough for now.

 

Sept 30: Heads Up

Posted on September 30, 2014 12:28PM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

Sometimes good things are right under our nose. Or over our head. In this case, actually, the good things are on top of our head. I'm talking about sunhats, by which I mean any of the hats we wear outside on South Florida's warm sunny days. Excellent protection against the rays for sure. But they're a funny thing in some ways. And I think they say a lot about the people who are under those hats. All you have to do is look around to see for yourself. You'll spot big hats and small hats, elaborate hats and simple hats. Hats with broad brims and hats that are basically all brim with no hat at all. Elegant or ugly, plain or covered in logos.

Some people, some women especially, prefer those wide floppy sunhats. You know, the kind of hats made of cloth or straw with a brim so broad it bounces when they move. These hats can be fairly expensive or very inexpensive - but either way, they sure do keep out the sun. Still, I have to admit they make me chuckle to myself a bit. They are hats for those who take their sun protection seriously and also want to express something of their own style. Perhaps worn by the more flamboyant folks among us.

Then there are golf-type hats, just a band with a big brim but no cap at all to cover the head. These naturally air-conditioned hats are for women and men who fancy themselves quite sporty, thank you. When they walk down the street, they feel cut from the same cloth as Michelle Wie or Phil Mickelson. Their golf handicaps may be a lot higher than Michelle or Phil, but they look like they're ready to play with the pros in the next open. At the opposite end of the spectrum are the caps worn by sports fans, mostly the observers of sport rather than the real or wannabe players. They may be guys, they may be women. They have one thing in common, though: they love their special team. I put myself in this category, wearing a baseball cap for the practical purpose of blocking the sun as well as to show my support for the Detroit Tigers. Born in Detroit, I'm a lifelong Tigers fan. I harbor no delusions about looking stylish in my hat, believe me, and I suspect most people in sports caps would say the same. Our hats deflect the sun and maybe hide a bad hair day as they announce to the world our sports loyalties. Nothing else. Many other varieties of sunhats can be found under the sunshine in Greater Fort Lauderdale, of course. Some people enjoy donning a fedora or an Indiana Jones hat or a hat made for tropical expeditions, constructed of sun-resistant material with a chin strap. As I said, look around sometime and you'll discover all sorts of sunhats worn by all sorts of human beings. Hats are a statement about how we see ourselves. My statement is, "Yeah, I probably look silly in this hat, but I don't especially care. As long as the Detroit Tigers are winning ball games, I'm happy." If you're a baseball fan, you will understand.

Sept 24: Relaxation Row

Posted on September 24, 2014 9:21AM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

You can find many ways to relax in South Florida. But one special part of Greater Fort Lauderdale offers more options than most - and at a very good price just now. I'm talking about the Fort Lauderdale beachfront, where several top spas are lined up awaiting your arrival. The other day I was walking along the ocean when I looked up and noticed a sign: "Heavenly Spa by Westin." The name alone felt relaxing somehow. Who wouldn't like to pay a visit to a heavenly spa? Sure sounds good to me. Anyway, the sign on the front of the Westin Beach Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale got me thinking. Thinking about the Spa Chic promo that continues through the end of September: Half-off savings on full spa treatments that include an aromatherapy massage, facial, loofah scrub and reflexology. All for $99. Not bad, huh?

But the Heavenly Spa sign also made me realize how many luxe spas are located within a few short blocks on the Fort Lauderdale beach. At least five of them, that's how many. This seems an impressive number to me.

A quick tally shows the spas at The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale and the W Fort Lauderdale, as well as those at The Atlantic Hotel & Spa and the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort & Spa, along with the Westin of course. Count ‘em, five major spas all in walking distance of each other. Many other top spas are spread around Greater Fort Lauderdale and they're part of Spa Chic too. You can check out the full list at this link: http://www.sunny.org/spachic. But the heaviest concentration of luxury relaxation is in that one place, a veritable row of stress relief planted on the west side of A1A on Fort Lauderdale's famous beach. Imagine the possibilities. You could do the spa thing some afternoon with four of your best friends, each of you visiting a different spa so you could lunch together later to compare notes. Or you could stay at one of the hotels and try their spa on Day One, then do the other four spas on Days Two - Five. Or you could plan a serious spa test by going to all five spas on the same day, back to back. Uhm, or not. I suppose even spa treatments could feel like too much of a good thing. But you get my point. With so many spots to chill out, and with prices so low this month, a trip to the Fort Lauderdale beach seems even more appealing than usual. And hey, if you don't go for a spa session you at least can walk up and down A1A to dream about it. Just being so close to so much relaxation couldn't hurt.

Sept 22: Turtle Talk

Posted on September 22, 2014 11:04AM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

If you see pink plastic tape on Greater Fort Lauderdale's clean beaches, don't worry. It's only nature at work, not some strange litterbug who bought plastic tape in bulk from Home Depot or something. The tape can come in other colors, by the way, but this year I've noticed mostly pink for some reason. In any case, it's there to serve a worthwhile cause: safe sea turtle nesting. In Florida, our nesting season runs from March through October and it's an important time for sea life in general and these giant turtles in particular. That's because almost 90% of all nesting by sea turtles in the United States happens right here in the Sunshine State. It turns out that even turtles know a good place to visit when they see one.

So during this eight month period every year, you'll spot lots of plastic tape held by wooden stakes surrounding these nests. The goal is to prevent people from accidentally disturbing a nest, which could end up destroying the many eggs waiting below the sand to hatch.

Sea turtles are remarkable creatures. Mama turtles crawl on shore to scout out possible nesting places, then drop about 100 eggs in a hole on the beach. Before heading back to sea, these mothers cover their eggs with sand and even try to hide the exact location of the babies by spreading sand around a wider area. Then they disappear, never seeing their offspring. When the hatchlings emerge about 45-55 days later, they rely on the moon to guide them to the water. This means artificial lighting near our beaches is built to avoid casting unnecessary light. Take a look at the streetlamps beside the Fort Lauderdale beach east of A1A, for example - you ‘ll see what I'm talking about. I'm always impressed with how seriously we take this whole sea turtle thing in South Florida. How many places do you know that have a special phone number "to report a turtle emergency," huh? You'll find a sign with just such a number on the Fort Lauderdale beach. You also can schedule an evening early in the summertime at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park or the Museum of Discovery and Science to learn about the sea turtles. Something to consider for next year, maybe ... For now, just be glad that lots of folks care about the health and welfare of our sea turtles: green turtles, loggerheads and leatherbacks. We each can help by keeping beaches clean, avoiding the use of flashlights and other artificial lights on beaches at night and making sure not to disturb those nests. The pink tape and wooden stakes may look a little out of place on our lovely seaside sands, but they're not. Just the opposite, really - they're a sign that a precious part of the subtropics is still alive and doing very well.