801 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, Florida
My experience at this hotel was definitely unique as I was able to stay in BOTH types of rooms: a room in the Marina building and a room in the Tower building.
MARINA BUILDING GRADE
Overall Score: C
TOWER BUILDING GRADE
Overall Score: B
Overall Impression: If you’re staying in Bahia Mar’s Marina building (not the Tower), you’re getting an old, musty hotel room. The Marina building and rooms have been redecorated, but they need many improvements in electricity, plumbing, cooling, and soundproofing. Definitely try to get a Tower room, as you’ll get the kind of room and service that you expect from Hilton and DoubleTree, not to mention an appropriate room for the money you’ve spent.
– This review is based on my four night stay in July 2018. After one night in the Marina wing, we complained about our room. I don’t know if the hotel normally grants room changes such as these, but as there were a couple hundred teenage girls in our Marina building (on a mostly unsupervised trip), the noise and crowding level was exceptionally high. Fortunately, the staff was very accommodating and was able to move us to a room in the Tower. –
Located on the busy A1A highway along the city’s beaches, you’ll find the Bahia Mar Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. Branded as a DoubleTree by Hilton, this hotel is ranked 66 out of 132 hotels in Ft. Lauderdale on Trip Advisor with 3.5 out of 5 stars. Located on 40 acres, this hotel consists of a Tower building and an adjacent Marina wing/building.
Upon arriving, we were politely greeted by a valet who offered luggage service. Check in service began at 4 pm and we were able to check in early at 1 pm. Service in the lobby was prompt and polite. We received a warm chocolate chip cookie by the receptionist and headed over to our room in the Marina building.
My initial impression with the Bahia Mar Marina building and our room was not good. This second property on the grounds seems to be an old hotel that the Hilton company purchased and added to its property. The Marina building is a four level hotel with one elevator (at one end of the building) and is not the tall tower building that boasts the hotel’s name. Instantly, when walking down the hall, it felt like an old dingy hotel with low ceilings, a musty smell in the hall, and cold concrete walls.
Upon entering our Bahia Mar Marina room, it appeared dated, but with some new paint and decor, it had the guise of a nicer room. In the room was a cabinet that contained a small coffeemaker, small refrigerator, microwave, and flat screen TV. There was no dresser in the room; the only drawers in the room were in the nightstands. There was a desk in the room, but ours had no lamp on the desk.
The bed had a white vinyl/plastic headboard that was padded but had obvious stains and pen marks on it. Our bed was soft (too soft for me) and had four pillows. One USB port was found on the each of the 2 bedside table lamps. The one chair in our room appeared old, worn, and had a visible stain.
The room was cooled with a thermostat on the wall, but we only had a high wall vent that was old and ineffective in really cooling the room. The one closet in the room was behind the entry door, was rather small, and had an old sliding door. The closet contained the iron and ironing board, safe, and blowdryer. We did have a small balcony off of our room with two chairs and a small table. Note not every room in the Marina building has a balcony.
Our bathroom had a sink with a small amount of counter space around it. Also, the bathroom had a tub/shower combo with a shower curtain. There was no makeup mirror or additional shelving for toiletries. Shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion was provided.
Throwing paint on the walls and updating the decor of these rooms didn’t hide the fact that the infrastructure in the Marina building was old and dated. For example:
- LIGHTING: There was only one overhead light at the doorway. (The other forms of lighting included two bedside lamps and 2 overhead lights in the bathroom, although only one of our bathroom lights worked). So when you walk in your room at night, you only have the one overhead light tied to the switch. You have to physically turn on the bedside table lamps for more light. There was NO desk light.
- AIR CONDITIONING: The air conditioning was just ok in performance. There was a modern wall switch where you could control the temperature but it wasn’t super responsive. It took hours to cool the room down and there was only one vent.
- BATHROOM FAN: There was no bathroom fan (only a vent) and the bathroom fogged up very easily.
- PLUMBING: Water pressure wasn’t great in either the sink or the shower.
- CONSTRUCTION: Hinges found within the room were heavily painted and rusted.The walls of this hotel and its rooms were made with concrete. There are appeared to be NO SOUNDPROOFING whatsoever; not only could we easily hear people in the hallway, but our neighbors as well.
Our room was generally clean although it could have been cleaner. In addition, we had stained white curtains, a desk chair with a cigarette burn in the cushion, and other visible upholstery stains.
Unfortunately, a large portion of the problems encountered during our stay involved the 200 teen girls that were staying on our floor. There was late night shouting, running in the halls, and laughing heard through the concrete walls. This not only interrupted my sleep, but there was constant chatter during the day in the rooms as well. It was hard to get any silence while in this Marina building.
After speaking with the front desk staff, we were able to move our reservation to a double bed room in the Tower building and out of the Marina wing. Upon walking into the Tower hallways, I was much happier. The Tower was cool, not musty, and was very nicely decorated. It also appeared much newer than the Marina wing.
When we got to our Tower room, I was very satisfied with the room quality and what we were paying for it. The room was nice and cool, the decor was similar but construction seemed newer with less wear and tear. The room had high ceilings, much nicer artwork, and was cleaner! Not only was the air conditioning responsive, but it worked and worked quickly. Just as in the Marina room, there was a small refrigerator, microwave, coffeemaker, iron and ironing board, blowdryer, a safe in the room, as well as a small step-out balcony (2 feet by 6 feet). There was a set of drawers underneath the TV, while the microwave and refrigerator bookended the drawers on either side in cabinets. There was more light in the room, with a desk lamp and a lamp in the corner of the room. Fortunately, the beds in the Bahia Mar Tower room were much firmer and comfortable than the Marina rooms.
The bathroom was separated from the main area with a sliding door, and there was also another sliding door to separate the toilet and tub/shower from the sink. Also, there was more counter space around the bathroom sink, which was nice. The spacious area behind the sink and vanity was where the closet was. All the decor, lighting, and fixtures of the Bahia Mar Tower room were much nicer than the Marina room.
Obviously, I was much, much happier in the Bahia Mar Hotel’s Tower room. It may not seem obvious in the photos, but the Marina room showed much more age and definitely was not the room I was expecting for the price. The Marina rooms should be priced at $89 a night, not the $130 that the rooms sell for.
Wifi (for both rooms)
The wifi at Bahia Mar is free when you are a Hilton Honors member (which is free to join). However, the coverage is spotty, not fast, and the wifi drops quite often. My speed tests and opinion of the wifi is based on this free coverage from Hilton Honors. The photo of the speed test from above is the best result of multiple tests. As you can see, the wifi has a pretty good score. Other scores had the hotel downloading much slower at 0.64 and 1.36 Mbps, similar upload speeds, and ping scores as poor as 85.
Buildings: Two guest buildings (the Marina Wing and Tower) make up the property of the Bahia Mar Hotel. Also, there is an outdoor pool located on top of a separate structure behind the tower. Note that the Tower building, the Marina building, and the pool area are connected on the second level by an elevated walkway. Normally this second level walkway will also connect you to the beach (by walking over highway A1A), but due to damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017, this walkway to the beach is not open. You need to cross the highway on the ground level at the pedestrian crosswalk.
Pool and Fitness Center: The Bahia Mar pool area has ample lounge chairs, a few umbrellas, as well as cabanas for rent. There is a small cafe that serves food and drinks as well. The pool isn’t very big in size; during my stay the pool was inadequately small for how many people were in it. The pool depths are 3, 5, and 8 feet. There is no hot tub.
The fitness center, called Outback Fitness, is located right next to the pool, with a hard-to-find door to enter. Plus, room keys are a little particular to open the doors. Outback Fitness seems to be a partnered business with a local personal trainer, as he has his information on the Outback Fitness website, but nothing about the hotel.
This fitness center at the Bahia Mar is open 24 hours a day. Here you’ll find a few cardio machines (ellipticals, treadmills, and bikes), about 6 machines for strength training and a small open area. There were a couple of benches but no barbells or dumbbells. Also, there were no yoga mats or medicine balls, and handles were missing on the one cable cross machine. I overheard one employee talking about improvements coming to the fitness center. If so, post a sign or let your guests know. If someone decides to stay here knowing that there is a full gym, they may be disappointed.
Towels and machine wipes are available in the fitness center, as is a television with a remote. I only saw cold water available on one day during my three days here. For more information on Outback Fitness, click here.
Guest Laundry: According to the hotel’s map, guest laundry is located by the fitness center as well; however, I never saw any signs about guest laundry nor ever found it.
Rear of Property: In the back of the hotel’s property (behind the pool) are tennis courts, guest parking, a small garden area, and docks. You can also find charter fishing boats, boat rentals, touring boats, and the Jungle Queen Riverboat’s sight-seeing cruise just south of the hotel, less than a five minute walk away.
There is one main on-site restaurant at the Bahia Mar Hotel and it’s located within the Tower building. Breezes Restaurant is located just off the lobby and is open from 7 am – 10 pm. Breezes offers a breakfast buffet, and also serves lunch and dinner. There is comfortable outside seating at Breezes, as well as a full bar.
The Market is a small convenience store and cafe that’s connected to the Marina wing and faces A1A. The Market sells wine and beer, pastries, speciality coffee, snacks, premade sandwiches, gelato, and also has a small area where you can order premium sandwiches, pizzas, and breakfast items. The Market, which also sells sundries, is open 6:30 am-9:30 pm everyday.
Up on the pool deck, you can get food and drink at Waves Pool Bar and Grill, which is open from 11 am-7 pm. Note that there is no room service available in this hotel.
- Pets are allowed here (maximum weight is 20 lbs.) with a $65 non-refundable deposit
- The cost to self park is $32 a day, and valet parking is $37 per day
- Business center conveniences are provided, such as fax, photocopying, printing, etc.
- Cribs and children’s activities are listed as available
- There is a gift shop in the lobby (Bahia Mar resort store) and small convenience store on property (The Market)
- ATM on site
- Baggage storage, car rental desk, and concierge service provided
Conclusion and Recommendations
If you decide to stay at the Bahia Mar Hotel, I strongly recommend staying in the Tower. When making the reservation, call or be very careful when booking online. Note that the “Marina Building” rooms are the cheapest and pass as the “standard room.” Read the fine print and stay in the Tower rooms or choose another hotel.
I can hardly believe that the company can brand the Marina wing as a Hilton. The Bahia Mar Hotel Fort Lauderdale will never be up to par as other hotels on A1A until this Marina building is completely gutted and improvements are made to the infrastructure. Slapping a few coats of paint on old concrete walls (with no soundproofing) doesn’t make a hotel luxurious or comfortable.
So do yourself a favor and get a room in the Tower. Not only will it be a better room for the price you pay, but you’ll also feel more connected to the property, by staying in the main building.
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