NOTE: As of May 31, 2014, the B Ocean Hotel is now the Sonesta Fort Lauderdale. I haven’t been there since they changed brands, but I’m looking forward to trying it out!
You may have read about my valet fiasco at the B Ocean. I’ll keep that incident separate from this post, but there’s no way it didn’t color my impression of the hotel.
We checked into the B Ocean ready to celebrate my birthday after a week of work meetings at a (honestly? pretty lousy) Ft. Lauderdale beach hotel. Seemingly nothing had gone right all week & I was tired & just ready to go home. The B Ocean was South Florida’s last chance to get it right. They came really, really close.
Up until Hurricane Wilma took its roof in 2005, the B Ocean was a Holiday Inn for nearly 25 years. B Ocean Resorts bought the storm damaged property, gutted it & rebuilt a modern hotel on the north end of Ft Lauderdale beach. Decorated to look much with the W Hotel brand, the lobby & rooms are crisp & clean, white, & modern.
Our room, a Jr Suite, sat on the corner of the hotel, with large windows looking out over the beach – & the neighborhood’s dingy rooftops & tattoo parlors. It’s a bit of a stretch to call the room a suite – it’s not much bigger than most standard hotel rooms, just has a small seating area with an extremely hard foam-filled sofa. The bathroom was tiny, but functional, with a high end rain shower head. The closet space was minimal, but considering you’re on the beach, it’s probably enough for most people. If I were to stay here again, I’d definitely stay in a Corner King rather than a Junior Suite. You get the same view &, as an added bonus, get to enjoy it out of floor-to-ceiling windows.
Behind the lobby is small, heated pool, with a pool deck packed to the brim with lounge chairs & three cabanas. We were lucky enough to snag a cabana (they’re first come, first served) & have lunch by the pool on Saturday afternoon. Lunch – a burger & half chicken – was good, but horribly overpriced & extremely slow to come out, even much later than lunch hour. The hotel also has two other restaurants: an excellent sushi place (SAIA) & a small bistro/coffee shop which serves a large breakfast buffet & limited lunch & dinner (Tyler was nice enough to throw in complimentary breakfast for us both mornings we were there – it was great!).
The beach is right across from the hotel; however, there aren’t any on-beach amenities for guests like there are at many of the other A1A resorts. Chairs & an umbrella can be rented on the beach for the day from the city for $20. Be sure & grab towels from the pool on your way out.
What keeps the B Ocean from going from good hotel to great hotel is attention to detail. I had such high hopes: Tyler Hunter, the Director of Revenue Management (who you’ll get your email confirmation from), & I had been emailing back & forth for about a month & he was eager to welcome us to the property. Let me clarify: I didn’t expect special treatment, but he provided such a high level of service via email, the same level I’d guess he gives all guests, that I had hoped it would extend beyond him. Putting the valet incident aside, examples abounded throughout our stay of little details missed which, when added together, take the shine off the property:
– the front desk called our room looking for another room TWICE during the first night, including once at 2:15am
– both the luggage storage & valet station were always chaos & poorly run. Give yourself a lot of extra time if you’re using these services.
– the bathrobe (an optional item you can request through housekeeping) came without a sash to tie it closed & was removed by housekeeping after the first day & never replaced
– there are no throw pillows on the (previously mentioned rock hard) sofa, making it extremely difficult to comfortably relax on
Taking everything into account, would I stay here again? I’m honestly not sure. For the price we paid (which was at a premium, given that we were there over spring break), we could have stayed at another one of the nice hotels on the beach. I’d like to give them a second chance – maybe the attention to detail will be better next time around.
If you go…
– they have a lot of rate codes online. Play around to get a good deal.
– go with the Corner King room
– the hotel is north from the main part of the beach & restaurants. This results in a much quieter, less crowded beach, but be prepared for about a 20 minute walk if you want to go anywhere. I think it’s worth it to have a peaceful beach experience!
– there isn’t an in-room coffee maker (quickly growing to be one of my top hotel pet peeves!), but they offer complimentary coffee in the morning at the bistro
– the sushi restaurant, SAIA, is really, really good. If you’re there on Friday or Saturday night, try the special lobster roll
– there’s no mini-fridge in the room, something always nice to have in a beach hotel. There is, however, a small mini-bar, with all snacks costing $5.
– the wifi is free & decent. I had a problem with it kicking me off the network on my iPad, but not on my iPhone or laptop.