The nation’s first full-service gay resort opened its doors April 11 in Fort Lauderdale, and so far, bookings are better than expected at the Royal Palms Resort & Spa, thanks to Facebook offers, said hotelier Richard Gray.
Occupancy this past weekend ran about 80 percent at the 62-room resort, the first in the United States catering to gays with a cafe, bar, gym, spa, iPads and other full-service amenities. Interest was fueled partly by introductory offers on Facebook starting at $119 a night, although room rates average higher, the gay travel specialist said.
Bookings should be brisk this week too, as Fort Lauderdale hosts the annual convention for the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association for the first time in a decade, with about 400 people expected to attend, organizers said.
The new gay and also hetero-friendly resort, at 717 Breakers Ave. a block off Fort Lauderdale beach, joins together three smaller inns. Developers laid down tumbled gray marble pavers to unite the trio and enhanced their mid-century modern architecture with remodeled rooms decorated in chic white, with pops of green or orange pillows.
Bathrooms feature pebble floors and rain showers now popular in boutique hotels, as well as the signature fresh orchids that Gray first used in the lushly landscaped, 12-room Royal Palms guest house he founded and now serves as the resort’s annex at nearby 2901 Terramar Street.
The new resort is the second tourism project opened by the investor group led by Sweden’s Par Sanda which has purchased more than a dozen properties off Fort Lauderdale beach over the past year or so.
The group also debuted the 18-room Ocean Gate, the former Blue Dolphin inn, located one block behind Royal Palms at 725 North Birch Road and not specializing on the gay market.
Sanda’s group has plans to develop a destination neighborhood off the beach including many of his remodeled hotels and also featuring pedestrian-friendly areas with art galleries, cafes, restaurants, shops, ice cream parlors and other family-oriented offerings. The neighborhood is to be branded as North Beach Village, with Royal Palms as “the first jewel in the crown,” said hotelier Gray, who is helping develop the plan.