by Terry Ward
Fronting a prime stretch of golden sand in the quieter northern reaches of Fort Lauderdale Beach, the Pelican Grand Beach Resort opened in 2004 and conjures the feel of old Florida with a setting that makes for a relaxing family vacation.
The 11-story building is painted a pale yellow with blue and white striped awnings that give it a certain Caribbean appeal. In the lobby, paddle fans swirl and pretty paintings of palm-lined Florida landscapes decorate the walls. As you’re checking into your room, your eyes will surely catch sight of the hotel’s piece de resistance — a wide veranda, lined with rocking chairs, that gives onto unimpeded views of the deep blue Atlantic Ocean. It’s a popular place to relax with a book or a cold drink anytime of the day. Whereas hotels south of here that dub themselves oceanfront actually require a short stroll across two-laned A1A to reach the beach, you’re smack dab on the sand at Pelican Grand, with no street to cross between the hotel lobby and the beach. The location is a bit more isolated than hotels to the south, however, and you’ll have to drive (or walk miles) to reach nearby restaurants at the Galleria Mall or along Las Olas Boulevard.
Rooms are spacious and all outfitted with mini-fridges and microwaves, so cooking simple meals in (or eating at the onsite restaurant) is always an option, too. If your family’s the type that requires little more than a great stretch of beach and a fine pool for passing a day’s fun, you’ll be more than satisfied here. The hotel’s pool has Fort Lauderdale’s only lazy river, and kids spend hours making laps around it with their tubes. The beach here is clean and beautiful, and far less crowded than those to the south. Spend your days splashing in the breakers and relaxing under an umbrella, before transitioning to a rocking chair to kick back at the end of the day. The simple pleasures are easy to access at Pelican Grand.
Our Editor Loves
- Oceanfront rooms with balconies
- Public veranda lined with rocking chairs
- Lazy river with tubes for floating
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The Pelican Grand's 156 guest rooms and suites are spread throughout the building's 11 floors. Some have been more recently updated than others, but all have a similar contemporary dÃ©cor with crisp white linens, carpeted bedrooms and bathrooms with dual vanities, shower-in-tub configurations and tile finishes.
The most spacious family-friendly accommodations are found on the second floor, where all of the rooms are suites with two queen beds or one king bed, and an additional sitting area separated by glass doors, with a pullout twin sleeper sofa to accommodate an extra person. Rooms either have direct ocean views or "city views" that overlook the surrounding streets and concrete sprawl. Second floor suites open to a wide shared balcony overlooking the ocean with Adirondack chairs, making it a nice place to enjoy a coffee (all rooms have in-room coffee makers) or read a book.
Standard rooms here have single king beds, some with private balconies. Coffee makers, mini-fridges and microwaves are standard in all rooms and suites. None of the rooms or suites can connect, but you can always request rooms next to each other or on the same floor when making your reservation. The 11th floor penthouse, with access to a sprawling but shared (open to the public) rooftop terrace overlooking the ocean, seems like it would be good for families, but is actually better suited for couples. The penthouse has a kitchen with a full-sized refrigerator, but no stove or oven. There are bar stools lining a counter top for eating in, a separate bedroom with a king bed and a bathroom with marble floors and an oversized jetted tub.
We had a great experience at this hotel, beautiful grounds, great location, wonderful staff especially Brian Brown who worked at the pool and went above and beyond everyday to make sure every hotel guest was happy and comfortable all with a smile on his face! Food and the restaurant was also wonderful for lunch and breakfast!
Lovely. Especially love the beach and our friendly cabana guy, Brian. He loves his job and meeting people is his specialty. You always get a big bright warm smile to start and finish the day in paradise. Thanks for everything, Brian!
Most families visiting the Pelican Grand are in search of sun and sand, and your resort fee includes towels, umbrellas and lounge chairs on the beach, so it's easy to get comfortable down on the sand or by the pool and settle in for the day. Beach attendants are on hand for drink orders or to deliver lunch to your gang where you've set up in the sand. As the day wears on, the hotel's shadow casts sunless areas on the beach, however, so you might find yourself moving around throughout the day to stay in the rays. The hotel's infinity-style oceanfront pool is a large free-form version, surrounded by lounge chairs that attract plenty of families who prefer fresh water to the salt and sand. And kids love whiling the hours away with tube rides along the hotel's lazy river, just next to the pool, where gentle currents propel them on continuous loops. Tubes are free to use and both the pool and lazy river are open from sunrise to sunset every day. Noodles and pool and beach toys are available free of charge, and you can also rent standup paddleboards onsite for $20 for one hour or $30 for two hours.
There's no kids camp or game room at the hotel, but you can register your kids at the concierge desk for a cool local offering called the Funky Fish Ocean Camp, a daily kid's camp that will pick your kids up at the hotel and take them on ocean adventures that might include snorkeling sessions, boogie board lessons or a day spent making surf-inspired jewelry or learning how to paddleboard. The camp is offered every day year-round (a minimum of three participating kids -- yours or others -- is required) and is open to kids ages 4 to 17. The schedule of activities changes every day of the week, so signing up for more than a few days works well. Board games like Monopoly and Scrabble are available in an alcove off the hotel lobby and can be loaned out free of charge.
Your onsite option for full service meals at the hotel is limited to the hotel's main restaurant, Ocean 2000, which serves meals in a pretty dining room, as well as a more laid-back lounge setting off the lobby. Breakfast is served here from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., and includes eggs, pancakes or French toast for the kiddos, all of which are served with bacon and sausage, as well as homefries and a small beverage ($6.95 each). Booster chairs are available.
Lunch and dinner items for kids, all priced at $8.95, include hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs, chicken fingers, pasta with marinara sauce and grilled cheese. The menu is more interesting for adult diners with things like ceviche, homemade chorizo, guava-barbecued ribs and a good range of sandwiches. Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and dinner between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. Room service is available from 7 am. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The Emporium, located just off the hotel lobby and next to Ocean 2000, is a particular draw for families. Lined with jars of candy and sporting a retro ice cream parlor feel, it's a wonderful place to bring the gang for ice cream by the scoop, a baked treat or a coffee drink for the java addicts among you.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Wireless Internet is included in your resort fee and no password is required. It works everywhere from the public areas (pool, lobby) to the rooms.
Valet parking is the only onsite option and costs $28 per night. There's metered parking on surrounding streets.
Your $15 per day resort fee includes Internet, pool towels and umbrellas and chairs at the beach.
There's an ATM machine at the hotel in case you run out of cash, though you can charge everything to your room card while you're here.
There's a business center off the lobby with free access to two computers and a printer.
Guests have access to laundry facilities on the third floor and washers and dryers cost $1 per cycle.
Stock up on food at a Publix supermarket on Sunrise Blvd., about five minutes by car from the hotel
The Emporium ice cream parlor, off the lobby, has a small gift shop with essentials like sunscreen.
Babysitting can be arranged through a local service with the hotel's concierge.
The nearest water taxi stop is about 20 to 30 minutes walking time from the hotel. It's a good way to explore the area and ogle the mansions and yachts lining the canals.
There's a small gym on the tenth floor, open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with cardio machines like treadmills, elliptical and weight machines, but no free weights.
There are vending machines with sodas and juices, as well as free ice machines on each floor.
The Art of Smart Timing
Fort Lauderdale is a year-round destination with extremely agreeable weather. And while the summer months do get hot, ocean breezes keep things quite comfortable when you're not cooling off in the water or afloat in the hotel's pool. Prices and crowds are at a premium during the busiest times -- Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year. But don't let Spring Break, another busy time (basically the entire month of March), scare you away. Fort Lauderdale still has a rowdy party scene, but this hotel attracts mostly families looking to relax, rather than party, and you won't likely find spring break revelry interfering with your relaxation on the property. The removed location, just north of Fort Lauderdale's main beach, also helps keep things calm here. Some of the most pleasant times of the year to visit are during the shoulder season months of late April into May, before school gets out for the summer, and also in October. Keep in mind that hurricane season runs from June through November in Florida. And during the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat show, held in late-October, the whole town is an absolute zoo.
Fort Lauderdale is located about 40 minutes north of Miami by car. There's an international airport in Fort Lauderdale (25 minutes from the hotel by taxi, about a $28 fare) that's serviced by most major airlines, as well as budget carrier Spirit Airlines, which has a hub in Fort Lauderdale. You can also consider flying into Miami or Palm Beach International Airport. All of the major car rental companies have outposts at the Fort Lauderdale airport, and it makes sense to rent a car during your stay if you want to see some of the greater area. If you're content to stay at the hotel, you'll be fine grabbing a taxi from the airport and using taxis to get around once you arrive at the hotel. Count on paying $28 for a taxi from the airport to the hotel, and about $10 to $15 from the hotel to Las Olas Boulevard.
For Mom and Dad
Fort Lauderdale is a fun town that buzzes nearly every night of the week, particularly along Las Olas Boulevard, the main shopping and restaurant drag that stretches west from where it intersects the beach along a pretty, palm-lined road. If you're visiting on a Sunday, make a fun lunch date out of a visit to the gourmet farmers market on Las Olas Boulevard, where fresh guacamole is pounded before your eyes and, during snowcrab season (from mid-October to mid-May), you can order cold delicious claws with sweet mustard sauce to snack on -- all right there.
Take advantage of the local babysitting service offered through the hotel's concierge and plan an evening out on the town with just the two of you. Start with a drink at the Elbo Room, a dive bar across from the beach that's a real Fort Lauderdale institution. There's usually live music, and classic beach bum people-watching is guaranteed. Alternatively, Bimini Boatyard is a fancier cocktail spot, where you can watch the yachts passing through the adjacent canal. Then move things upscale by heading to one of the many atmospheric restaurants along Las Olas Boulevard. Chima Brazilian Steak House is a stylish rodizio restaurant that churns out piled-high platters of churrascaria meats and sizzling seafood. And YOLO is a full-on entertainment complex that includes a swanky club and cool lounge, in addition to its excellent restaurant, which serves tasty seafood like Sichuan calamari, fresh wahoo and grouper.
There's no spa at Pelican Grand, but one of the best in all of Fort Lauderdale -- The Red Door Spa -- is a short taxi ride away. Located at the Galleria Mall, it offers everything from massages, wraps and scrubs, to pedicures, hair coloring and cuts, and waxing services.