Hollywood, the humble beach town cradled between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, was given a breath of fresh air in 2015 with the unveiling of the $175 million Margaritaville Beach Resort. With this year’s debut of a trendy lifestyle resort and a grande dame’s renovation and dining overhaul, there are more reasons than ever to give Hollywood Beach a try for your next nearby escape.
Hyde Resort & Residences
Sbe, the hospitality group behind SLS Hotels, has expanded its nightlife-oriented Hyde Beach brand into a resort and residences concept with Hyde Resort & Residences Hollywood (4111 S. Ocean Dr., Hollywood Beach; 754-212-3083; starting rates currently from $212) the first of three properties slated to open in South Florida. In collaboration with developer Jorge Perez’s Related Group and managed by South Florida newcomer Sotherly Hotels, the result is a curious mashup of trendy, family-friendly, all-suite luxury with an eerily familiar hit of Miami style and energy.
This is mostly due to Related’s influence, which is no stranger to luxurious hotel-residence concepts. If you’ve set foot inside Related’s Icon Brickell condominiums attached to W Miami (formerly the Viceroy), visiting Hyde Hollywood will feel like deja-vu . All of the elements are there: slick, modern architecture, contemporary art, a bright accent color throughout (in this case, orange) and an elevated infinity pool deck with daybeds and a DJ-fueled, South American scene.
Coming from sbe’s nightlife-driven brand, which is typically aligned with high-concept restaurants and celebrity chefs like José Andrés, I was surprised that these elements are not represented at Hyde Hollywood. While the Sunday brunch pool scene was festive during my visit, it was absolutely family-friendly with little tikes in swimmies dominating the crowd and there is no nightclub. A single restaurant on property, Terrazzas, services both the pool crowd and those inside the stylish dining room. While it’s perfectly pleasant, there’s nothing outstanding about it to make it worthy of a destination restaurant beyond the resort.
Still, if you’re a young family drawn to a trendy, high-energy vibe with spacious suites and full kitchens where bringing your baby to the pool party isn’t frowned upon, Hyde Hollywood is the place for you.
The Diplomat Beach Resort
Formerly a Westin, The Diplomat Beach Resort (3555 S. Ocean Dr., Hollywood Beach; 954-602-6000; starting rates currently from $163) was recently acquired by Hilton as part of their one-off Curio collection and, this year, unveiled a $100-million transformation including a complete refresh of their culinary offerings.
The massive thousand-room resort with its own convention center has been a mainstay of Hollywood Beach for decades and is, perhaps, most fondly cherished for its mind-bending poolscape featuring an infinity pool with a central peek-a-boo window criss-crossing above waterfalls and the lagoon-style main pool. Today, that playful pool and inviting Atlantic Ocean are still major draws, but 10 new restaurants, including sophisticated options by celebrity chefs Geoffrey Zakarian and Michael Schulson are what’s really making waves.
Zakarian’s Point Royal serves as the hotel’s primary restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner with an impressive breakfast buffet inside the pleasant dining room fashioned in a mid-century, nautical motif with navy upholstered banquettes, rattan chairs and geometric light fixtures overhead. Come dinnertime, the coastal restaurant and raw bar features an exhaustive menu of generously portioned traditional fare with Zakarian’s twist, including ceviche, gumbo, po’ boys and entrees like the cornmeal-encrusted snapper and pomegranate-glazed short rib.
Everything’s tasty at Point Royal, but if you can only choose one new restaurant at The Diplomat to try, my pick is Schulson’s Monkitail, hands down. The sophisticated Japanese eatery is set inside a dimly lit, honey-hued boîte with sumptuous butterscotch leather banquettes, ornamental wall panels and lanterns hanging overhead with a hidden karaoke speakeasy, to boot.
The $65 10-course tasting menu (plus a trio of mini homemade soft serve cones for dessert) is an outrageous deal and the perfect way to sample the entire menu, which is divided amongst cold, small, sushi rolls, sashimi, crispy, meat, fish and robayataki grilled dishes. My highlights: spicy tuna rice crackers, hamachi jalapeño sushi roll, duck bao buns, creamy kumamoto oysters in yuzu, roasted hamachi collar, kobe beef and lobster tail robayataki. Did I mention, yum?
Another aspect of The Diplomat’s reimagined dining landscape is across South Ocean Drive, accessible by pedestrian bridge. Here, you’ll find Diplomat Landing where Bristol’s Burgers and Portico beer and wine garden abut the Intracoastal for a mellow afternoon noshing on juicy burgers or a sunset evening sipping fine wine al fresco.
Overall, the new Diplomat makes for a fun little foodie romp and a laid-back (yet, no less crowded) departure from the Miami Beach resort scene.