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Florida Hotels

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Alexander's Guesthouse
1118 Fleming Street
Key West , Florida
33040
Tel: 800 654 9919 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 294 9919
info@alexanderskeywest.com
www.alexanderskeywest.com

This gay-oriented 17-room B&B is the most stylish on the island and is perfect for those allergic to antiques. The rooms are spread over three buildings; most have king-size beds and are decorated with black armchairs and white linens, an effect that comes off as modern but not stark. The complex has a pool and a hot tub plus clothing-optional sunbathing on two private decks (the hotel is strictly 21-plus). Guests usually include as many lesbians as gay men, a rarity in Key West, which gives the place a more inclusive vibe: Mingling is mandatory at the poolside happy hour every afternoon. Try the made-to-order frozen piña coladas.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Angelina Guesthouse
302 Angela Street
Key West , Florida
33040
Tel: 888 303 4480 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 294 4480
theangelina@aol.com
www.angelinaguesthouse.com

As Key West slowly goes upscale, it becomes increasingly challenging to find reasonably priced accommodations. Thank goodness for Angelina Guesthouse. Located in Bahama Village, the property has 13 rooms done in pastel greens, yellows, and blues, which give it a cool, Caribbean feel. The four least expensive rooms share a bath, though the rest have private facilities. Rooms 8 and 9 are a bargain for families, since each has two full-size beds and will sleep four, albeit cozily (note that room 12 is the only one with a TV, but there is free Wi-Fi property-wide). The smallish pool is the place to congregate each morning as the owners dole out hot homemade cinnamon rolls. Not surprisingly, this place fills up quickly, even off-season in July or August, so book ahead.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Angler's Boutique Resort
660 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach , Florida
33139
Tel: 866 729 8800 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 534 9600
reservations@theanglersresort.com
www.theanglersresort.com

If this 47-room newcomer on the edge of SoFi (south of Fifth Street) is self-conscious about its conspicuous lack of glitz and flash, it doesn't show. The low-key property includes the two original 1930s Angler's Hotel wings plus two brand-new structures. The petite pool area feels like a secret—and with only a handful of plush loungers, this is an unlikely locale for any raucous parties. The slim rooms have all the necessary boutique accessories: a massive flat-screen TV, cheeky minibar offerings (eye mask, condoms, Apple headphones), a contemporary palette of taupe and tan, plus some unexpected perks, like clever inset shelving flanking the beds and a balcony off most suites. The ever-helpful staff take care of everything from providing MapQuest instructions to troubleshooting computer misfires. On the ground floor, Maison d'Azur, already a favorite of homesick Europeans desperate for elegant brasserie fare, is perfect for cozying up over cocktails and steak tartare, while prime outdoor tables are buzzy late into the night.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Anna Maria Beach Cottages
112 Oak Avenue
Anna Maria Island , Florida
Tel: 941 778 1503
Tel: 800 778 2030
info@annamariabeachcottages.com
www.annamariabeachcottages.com

On the northern side of Anna Maria Island—secluded from condos and high-rises—this pretty, family-friendly complex of 11 cottages and apartments is steps from the beach. The accommodations (brightly whitewashed with blue couches and comforters) range from cozy studios to two three-bedroom, two-bathroom houses. There are on-site laundry facilities as well as a heated pool and complimentary beach equipment and bikes.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Atlantic
601 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
33304
Tel: 954 567 8020
Fax: 954 567 8040
www.atlantichotelfl.com

The first of the major new chain hotels set to pop up along the waterfront, the Atlantic is a quirky four-star hotel. The odd-shaped building looks like a lemon-yellow wedding cake, its floors stepped back to provide the maximum number of oceanview balconies and prevent casting a shadow on the beach—sadly, it doesn't help the hotel's own pool, which is sunless from 2 pm or so every day. All 115 rooms in tropical decor here are large and fully equipped: kitchenettes have granite countertops, two-burner stoves, and small fridges; there are marble floors as well as glassed-in showers in every bathroom. Trina, the high-end Mediterranean restaurant is worth a visit.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
The Beacon
720 Ocean Drive
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
33139
Tel: 877 674 8200 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 674 8200
Fax: 305 674 8976
www.mybeaconhotel.com

This authentic Art Deco hotel is proof positive that peaceful, affordable lodging actually exists along the raucous party stretch that is lower Ocean Drive. You can get a room at the Beacon for under $200, almost unheard of at Miami oceanfront hotels (weekend prices do skyrocket—to $379 and up—in the high-season months of December through March). And you get more than what you pay for. Built in 1937 and renovated in 2006, the 75 rooms are spacious and classic, with white beds, simple Deco artwork, and flat-screen TVs. Cool marble floors and neatly tiled (if small) bathrooms with rain showers make for a refreshing escape from the sticky beach scene. The best views come from the oceanfront rooms on the fifth floor. Interior rooms are about $50 cheaper than oceanfront rooms (and significantly quieter). For such a cheap hotel, it's amazing that there's a small gym and a business center on-site (though unfortunately no pool). And the Beacon has the requisite hang-out terrace and restaurant fronting Ocean Drive, plus a tiny indoor bar for superstrong mojitos. And while it's a nice perk that a basic breakfast is included in room rates, it's a pity that it has to be taken next door in the chain surroundings of Johnny Rocket's instead of on the hotel's infinitely more appealing terrace.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Betsy
1440 Ocean Drive
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
33139
Tel: 866 792 3879 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 531 6100
info@thebetsyhotel.com
thebetsyhotel.com

Situated on the quieter northern end of South Beach's raucous Ocean Drive, the Betsy Hotel is, in many ways, a fish out of water—picture a Southern belle surrounded by Art Deco divas. Preppy patrons with cardigans slung just so around their shoulders (often with a cigar in hand) conjure the era from which the hotel hails; formerly the Betsy Ross Hotel, the Georgian-style property dates from 1942 and was renovated and reopened as the Betsy in 2009. The hotel's 63 rooms are on the cozy side, but what they lack in space they make up for in style: Dark wood floors, plantation shutters, four-poster beds, and bookshelves lined with interesting tomes hark back to a kinder, gentler era; modern marble bathrooms with TVs built into the mirror are a fun design contrast with the crown molding. Rooms fronting Ocean Drive have iconic Miami Beach views, but the poolside rooms (overlooking a disappointingly small drink of water) are generally quieter. You'll also want to request a room as far from the dinging elevators as possible. The Betsy's demure facade makes it all the more fun to discover the B-Bar, an edgy nightclub in the hotel's basement with reflective ceilings and internationally acclaimed DJs on the turntables. And chef Laurent Tourondel's French-inspired carnivore temple, BLT Steak, is located on the ground floor, in prime people-watching territory. In every way, old meets new in true South Beach form at this pretty hotel—but it's the Betsy's air of the debonair that sets her apart.—Terry Ward

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Bokeelia Tarpon Inn
8241 Main Street
Pine Island , Florida
Tel: 239 283 8961
Tel: 866 827 7662
www.tarponinn.com

After staying at this upscale five-bedroom B&B that caters to fishing enthusiasts, you'll hopefully get to tell a tale about the big fish you caught instead of the one that got away. On the northern tip of a barrier island, this 1914-built home has a covered porch, a Knot Room filled with old fishing gear and charts, a private pier, and the feeling of living within an old-style Florida fishing village. There's deepwater fishing for grouper, tarpon, or shark just off-shore, and you can catch redfish, snook, ladyfish, trout, snapper, and more right from the pier. Breakfast is the only meal served here, but you can take a golf cart to lunch or dinner.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Brazilian Court
301 Australian Avenue
Palm Beach , Florida
33480
Tel: 561 655 7740
info@braziliancourt.com
www.thebraziliancourt.com

Set around two large courtyards filled with lush greenery and leafy palm trees, this hotel is where heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post crashed while prepping her manse Mar-a-Lago for the season. The hotel was designed in 1926 by Rosario Candela (the architect behind some of Manhattan's swankest Fifth Avenue apartment buildings) and got a face-lift in late 2007 that redesigned the still very British-colonial rooms with mahogany and Hauteville Doré limestone. The Brazilian Court continues to attract society types who prefer the privacy of the 80-room inn versus the Breakers, which is almost seven times the size. (The Brazilian Court also skips the Breakers's beachfront location, family-friendly fun, tennis courts, and golf course.) What the hotel lacks in activities it makes up for in big-name amenities: The salon is Frédéric Fekkai and the restaurant is Café Boulud, which provides room service until 11 pm.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Breakers
1 South County Road
Palm Beach , Florida
33480
Tel: 561 655 6611
Tel: 888 273 2537
Fax: 561 659 8403
www.thebreakers.com

Aah, the Breakers—one of the most famous, most exclusive, and yes, priciest places to stay in America (it's even snagged a spot on the National Register of Historic Places). Since its opening in 1896, the 550-room Breakers has played host to generations of great families—and those willing to pay big bucks to mix with the great families—during the social season. This 140-acre oceanfront Italian Renaissance–style property has extraordinary views, exceptional service, and amenities galore: Book in here for two 18-hole championship golf courses, three fitness centers, a beach club with fancy cabanas and water sports, five swimming pools, ten tennis courts, a 20,000-square-foot spa, and eight restaurants, most notably gourmet French spot L'Escalier. Lifelong visitors might remember the Breakers' rooms during the less-than-glorious 1990s, when they were, frankly, a little dingy and careworn. The owners have spent $250 million since then, updating the rooms and ensuring guests have access to high-speed Internet while they lounge on the gilt-and-floral furniture.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Casa Marina Resort & Beach Club
1500 Reynolds Street
Key West , Florida
33040
Tel: 866 397 6342 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 296 3535
Fax: 305 296 4633
www.casamarinaresort.com

Originally built in 1920 by railway magnate Henry Flagler, Casa Marina reopened in December 2007 after a $43 million makeover and is now part of Hilton's Waldorf-Astoria Collection. The renovation was a stunning feat, restoring the place to its Golden Era glamour. (Sadly, the coffered wooden ceiling in the lobby is a reproduction: Ferocious termites chomped through the original.) The 311 rooms are now airy and loftlike, with dark woods, crisp white sheets, and ceramic tile floors. Rooms in the original building are the best, for their idiosyncratic layout and 15 rooms with large balconies. The nickel-and-diming on the small print (in addition to a $20 resort fee tacked on each day, Internet access costs $12) is irritating, but there are also unexpected free flourishes, like in-room Nespresso makers, hallway tables piled with copies of The New York Times, and pool attendants doling out gratis ice pops.

The Reach is Casa Marina's sister hotel, though it's on an entirely separate lot five minutes' walk away along the backstreets (1435 Simonton St.; 305-296-5000; www.reachresort.com). There's little difference between them in amenities or price: The Casa complex is a little more grand, though the 150 rooms at the Reach are more colorful, with bright accents like throw pillows in red and yellow. The clientele at both is Key West's most jet-set (expect to hear Italian, French, and German), though the pools at Casa Marina make it more popular with families.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Casa Tua
1700 James Avenue, South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
Tel: 305 673 0973
www.casatualifestyle.com

This place is more famous for its beautiful—and overrated—restaurant. The five suites in the Mediterranean villa, on the other hand, are less widely known but altogether a better bet—provided you can snag one. Casa Tua now operates as a private club (Boris Becker and Elle Macpherson are among the founding set), and members get first dibs, so you must reserve as far in advance as possible. It's worth it. The owners, Michele and Leticia Grendene, have lavished extraordinary attention on the rooms, creating deluxe cocoons with overstuffed white sofas, four-poster beds, and lovely, unexpected details—Loro Piana cashmere throws, 200-year-old Chinese chests, '50s Italian chairs. Before you arrive, you fill out a personal amenity list so that your choice of Santa Maria de Novella toiletries is waiting in your glistening, white bathroom (you can buy them and plenty of other things around the house). You also choose grade of sheet, type of flower, scent of candle…it is, after all, "your house."

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Casa Ybel Resort
2255 West Gulf Drive
Sanibel Island , Florida
Tel: 239 472 3145
Tel: 800 276 4753
casa@casaybelresort.com
www.casaybelresort.com

This charming island getaway sits on a white sand beach blanketed with thousands of seashells. Each of the 114 one- and two-bedroom suites includes a living room, full kitchen, and ocean views from a private terrace or balcony. When you don't want to cook, you can get burgers, sandwiches (try the grouper), steamed shrimp, and salads at Coconuts Poolside Café & Bar or choose from a full menu at the Thistle Lodge, a copy of an 1890s Victorian home once on the property. The resort is just five miles away from J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge (70 percent of Sanibel Island is taken up by nature preserves), where you can hike with a naturalist, kayak through the mangrove swamps, and watch for wildlife.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Catalina
1732 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach , Florida
33139
Tel: 877 762 3477 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 674 1160
reservations@southbeachgroup.com
www.catalinahotel.com

The Catalina is a rock 'n' roll mod fantasy: There's red shag carpeting everywhere, curvy white furniture, and thumping music in the lobbies and out by the pool. The all-white rooms are large and well equipped, with enveloping beds, stereos, gleaming bathrooms, and a chaise; for a few extra square feet—at a slightly higher price—book a room in the hotel's second building (the onetime Maxine Hotel). Best bonus at this hotel? Private nooks in the common areas, where you can steal away with a cocktail or a book. There are art books to browse in the main lobby's mezzanine, and a semi-private garden with squishy chairs and sofas. The only downside is the service, which is enthusiastic but a bit amateurish.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Celebration Hotel
700 Bloom Street
Celebration , Florida
34747
Tel: 888 499 3800
Tel: 407 566 6000
info@celebrationhotel.com
www.celebrationhotel.com

This waterfront charmer with just 115 rooms—practically a B&B by Orlando's bloated standards—is a successful evocation of the Old Florida vibe, down to the verandahs furnished with leather couches and gently swatting ceiling fans. In the rooms, wooden four-poster beds and faux barn wood bathroom ceilings evoke an antique sensation, even if the property opened only in 1999. Service is a priority, and check-in is conducted, in the old style, at private desks. One could wish for slightly larger rooms, deeper bathtubs, or better parking facilities, but there's no faulting the tranquil lakeside location, a respite from the usual din of Orlando hotels. The in-house restaurant might encourage an insular stay despite the fact that Disney's campus is just two miles west, but just outside, guests can ply the Disney-built lakeside quay, which is lined with cafés, boutiques, and wooden rocking chairs.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Chesterfield
363 Cocoanut Row
Palm Beach , Florida
33480
Tel: 561 659 5800
bookchpb@rchmail.com
www.chesterfieldpb.com

This is a British expat favorite—note the Union Jack fluttering above the entrance—with 52 rooms decorated to make these guests feel right at home. Flouncy bedspreads, heavy drapes, and antique-style desks seem borrowed directly from a chintzy English country house, though the huge TVs are flat-screens. There's a smallish pool with striped awnings and metal furniture that give a whiff of vintage Agatha Christie (the beach is three blocks away). The after-hours spots are worth stopping in even if you aren't staying at the hotel: The cigar menu at the Churchill Room is intense (pair a $25 Savinelli with a $175 shot of Louis XIII Remy Martin) and the Leopard Lounge is one of the few buzzy spots for an evening drink on the Island. That, and the hotel's quirky/quaint details—dishes of jelly beans everywhere, satisfyingly hefty old-fashioned room keys instead of electronic cards—lend the Chesterfield a sense of whimsy sorely missing from other Palm Beach hotels.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Colony
155 Hammon Avenue
Palm Beach , Florida
33480
Tel: 800 521 5525
reservations@thecolonypalmbeach.com
www.thecolonypalmbeach.com

This 90-room hotel is a youngster by Palm Beach terms—it was only built in 1947—but it echoes its neighbors' hushed, moneyed elegance (the Florida-shaped swimming pool's a waggish touch). Like most of the hotels on the Island, the Colony is only a couple blocks from the beach and just a block from Worth Avenue. A five-year, $13 million makeover upgraded the admittedly still pocket-size rooms with breezy yellow decor inspired by the British West Indies. But if you are staying at the Colony, you are here for the legendary suites. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor crashed in the penthouse during their itinerant post-abdication exile, and last year the hotel finally honored the renegade royals by renaming the 1,900-square-foot, two-bedroom penthouse in their honor. (Look for the framed check His Royal Highness used to pay the $1,000 bill back in 1961—now, rates start at $2,000 a night.) Across the road from the main building is the Colony's most exclusive enclave. The circa-1928 Casa Manana has been turned into seven stand-alone villas, available in season for monthly rentals from $20,000 to $30,000. That monthly charge is a hint at the clientele here: largely longtime regulars who hole up in Palm Beach for a chunk of the chilly northern winter. Their dominance helps give the hotel a pleasant, homey vibe. Nightlife here also fits with the laid-back atmosphere, with a steak house that doubles as a piano bar and the Royal Room Cabaret.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Courtyard at Lake Lucerne
211 N. Lucerne Circle
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 648 5188
info@orlandohistoricinn.com
www.orlandohistoricinn.com

This is as close as Orlando gets to boutique. An unexpected oasis of authenticity in a plastic landscape, these four neighboring historic buildings (the Norment-Parry, Orlando's oldest surviving house, dates to 1883) operate together as a 30-unit B&B. Owner Sam Meiner has decorated everything from his personal collection of antiques (blue velvet sofas, Persian rugs, walnut four-poster beds). The Art Deco Wellborn Suites, in a former apartment block, have kitchenettes, their own complement of mid-century furnishings, and the most space, but the I.W. Phillips House's brick courtyard, Tiffany window, and marbled bathrooms do the most to evoke the romantic gentility of Orlando's days as an Old South backwater. Tucked away on a quiet pond in the midst of downtown's skyscrapers, the compound is popular with honeymooners.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Delano
1685 Collins Avenue, South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
33139
Tel: 800 555 5001 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 672 2000
Fax: 305 532 0099
www.delano-hotel.com

This onetime icon of Miami Beach, with its Aztec headdress of a roofline designed by Robert Swartzburg, was redone by Philippe Starck with his standard postmodern wit in 1995. The 194-room Delano got a bit soft when the swanky Shore Club opened nearby six years later, but after a lull—and the 2005 departure of founder Ian Schrager—it's now back and fiercer than ever. The sexy crowd is returning, thanks to an 2006 upgrade of the all-white rooms, which brought in everything from plasma TVs to new bedding. A state-of-the-art fitness center also opened in 2007. One other major improvement: Now that it's strictly Schrager-free, the legendarily beautiful but snooty staffers have retained their model-good looks but lost most of the attitude. Just remember to pack something skimpy but fabulous for the scene at the infinity-edge pool.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
2901 Osceola Parkway
Lake Buena Vista , Florida
Tel: 407 939 6244
disneyworld.disney.go.com

By far the most interesting Disney-run hotel—and the best choice for guests who aren't enamored of the company's mythology—the 1,307-room property, several miles from the western frontier of the Disney campus, overlooks savannahs stocked with real African game. Giraffes, zebras, ostrich, and other animals roam carefree, and most rooms have a furnished balcony peering over the cud-chewing action (a fraction face the parking lot or animal-free gardens). The buzzy lobby mimics a luxury safari lodge and hosts regular wildlife talks and movie screenings beneath its 100-foot vaulted atrium. Away from the animals, in a secluded grove by the property's three restaurants (one counter-service, two by reservation), there's a pool with a water slide. Rooms are accented with carved woods and mock-Afro fabrics, but are standard in every other way. And if you actually want to do anything—from having dinner (with a reservation) to storing luggage—be prepared to wait in line.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
4401 Grand Floridian Way
Lake Buena Vista , Florida
Tel: 407 934 7639
Tel: 407 824 3000
Fax: 407 824 3186
disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/resorts/resortLanding?id=GrandFloridianResortLandingPage

The ne plus ultra of Walt Disney World hotels, the lakeside Grand Floridian cribs directly from the palatial Victorian look of San Diego's Hotel del Coronado, down to the faux-cage elevator in the five-story lobby. You can't pick a more dreamily convenient Disney hotel—it's a single monorail stop away from the Magic Kingdom, and four from Epcot. There are tennis courts, boat rentals, seven places to eat (two at the gourmet end), two pools, a spa, and a well-used wedding pavilion. The service is less than solicitous, but the sense of elitism is as well stage-managed as you'd expect (cue the small orchestra in the lobby). Rooms are fairly standard and have the usual dark and tiny Disney bathrooms, but are somewhat embellished by flat-screen TVs and iPod-playing clock-radios. Since they're spread around six buildings, you'll likely have to walk outside to reach yours. Only the few "Lagoon View" rooms stand a chance of having a view of the Magic Kingdom (availability is first-come, first-serve upon check-in), but the park's nightly fireworks are visible to all from the resort's ferry dock.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Eõ Inn & Spa
277 North Eola Drive
Orlando , Florida
32801
Tel: 407 481 8485
Fax: 407 481 8495
info@eoinn.com
eoinn.com

The antithesis of a theme park hotel, the Eõ Inn & Spa in downtown Orlando is low on frills. The former hostel was reborn as a hotel in 1999, but the only hints of the dorm days are the individual AC units in each room. The 17 rooms are simply decorated in a gray-and–sage green color scheme accented by black-and-white photographs of Central Florida scenes by Orlando photographer Ben Van Hook. King rooms on the corners of the chocolate-brown building have large bathrooms with sunken tubs and desk space fronting windows that overlook Lake Eola, while rooms on the south side share a wide balcony with curtains as privacy dividers. (The hotel draws mainly business travelers, not theme park–bound families, so only one room has two beds.) The "spa" in the name refers to four treatment rooms for massages and facials. Other perks include a large hot tub on the rooftop terrace and free WiFi and off-street parking. Not that you will need your car that much—the boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants in the stylish Thornton Park neighborhood are right out the door.—Terry Ward

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Fontainebleau
4441 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach , Florida
33140
Tel: 800 548 8886 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 538 2000
Fax: 305 532 8145
fontainebleau.com

"When you create the stage setting and it is grand, everyone who enters will play their part," wrote Morris Lapidus, the original architect of this iconic Miami Beach resort. And Mr. Lapidus's words ring true more than half a century later. After it opened in 1954, everyone from Lucille Ball to Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley checked in. Since emerging from a three-year, $1 billion (yes, billion) makeover in late 2008, Fontainebleau remains an It spot in a town that absolutely loves to be looked at. Two new towers were added during the renovations (bringing the room count to 1,504), and Lapidus's original Art Deco details were restored, including the bow tie tiles in the lobby floor and the legendary "Staircase to Nowhere." Rooms are outfitted in varying shades of off-white, from the ivory leather headboards to the white marble bathrooms to the cream wingback chairs with arc lamps above. Be sure to stay on the ocean side of the resort, where you'll feel as if you're at sea on a yacht, thanks to sweeping Atlantic views from your curved balcony. During the renovation, the stunning Lapis spa was added, with cool gray marble everywhere, 30 treatment rooms, and a 35-foot-long rain tunnel. You'll find the spa near the expansive pool, seen on the big screen in Goldfinger and Scarface; the pool area is surrounded by countless daybeds and leads down to the beach. Nightlife is copious at Fontainebleau, of course. Start your evening fashionably late with a blueberry mojito in the lobby's Blue Bar, where the floor tiles cast an azure glow, then book a table at Scarpetta or Gotham to break bread with Miami's glitziest. LIV nightclub, off the lobby, goes all night most nights. Need we add that you must dress to impress? —Terry Ward

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Four Seasons Hotel Miami
1435 Brickell Avenue
Miami , Florida
Tel: 305 358 3535
Tel: 800 819 5053
www.fourseasons.com/miami

You have to keep faith while entering the sterile lobby of this 70-story office-and-residential tower, but once you get upstairs to the real hotel entrance, you find an art lover's nirvana, particularly if you like the voluptuous statues of Fernando Botero. This addition to the international chain, which opened in 2003, is positioned near the Brickell Avenue business district for the convenience of its largely expense-account clientele. There are perks for leisure guests, too: The Sports Club/LA is a 40,000-square-foot facility, the sixth-floor outdoor swimming pool is atmospheric (as long as you don't look down at the parking lots below), and the Splash Spa offers everything from a Turkish steam room to mojito massages (a lime-and-sugar scrub followed by a rub down). The 221 rooms and suites are decorated in the group's handsome, if generic, international style. A good choice is the 750-square-foot Executive Bay Suite, with its gorgeous view of Biscayne Bay. Expect to run into local executives at the popular 14 Thirty Five martini bar and the poolside Bahia lounge.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach
2800 South Ocean Boulevard
Palm Beach , Florida
Tel: 561 582 2800
res.palmbeach@fourseasons.com
www.fourseasonshotel.com/palmbeach/

Tucked away amid the hedgerow-hidden mansions a little ways out of town, this 210-room property provides all the pampering you'd expect from a luxury resort, from the warm smile of the valet to the ever-present pool attendants who bring chilled facecloths to your side while you sunbathe. Nearly every room has a generous ocean view, and there are lush gardens and AAA Five Diamond dining. The Spa offers extensive traditional and contemporary services, either in-room or on-site. Championship golf at nearby courses, three tennis courts, fishing and water sports, and a heated freshwater pool with cabanas are among the activities at your beck and call. Good news for families: Children under 18 can share the room for no extra charge. The supervised Kids for All Seasons activity program is available for children under 13, and teens have their own game room. Not as old-school grand or as conveniently located as the Breakers, but a good choice for the chintz-phobic, and the concierge service is exceptional.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Gansevoort South
2377 Collins Avenue
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
33139
Tel: 866 932 6694 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 604 1000
contact@gansevoortsouth.com
www.gansevoortsouth.com

Much like South Beach's penchant for the beautiful people, this Miami outpost of NYC's landmark Meatpacking District hotel feels more focused on style than substance. Even the scant few fish in the massive aquarium in the hotel's chic lobby appear bored and self-absorbed. The service is friendly if not overly knowledgeable—even basic questions flustered the front-desk staff and managers frequently had to be called in. But everyone is very easy on the eyes. The 334 rooms, too, can feel full of vapid space, maybe because they are among Miami's largest at about 600 square feet: If you like to spread out, this is the place for you. The luxury amenities are all there—400-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets covering ridiculously comfortable beds, iPod docks, flat-screen TVs, and bathrooms with both soaking tubs and showers. The room decor isn't for everyone: hot-pink headboards and couches, slightly risqué black-and-white photos on the wall. The hotel has 195 rooms in the ocean-view category (the higher the floor, the better). Deluxe rooms have "city views," which means you can check out the valet queue and some blah buildings. Where the Gansevoort South irrefutably shines is at the 18th-floor rooftop pool, which looks like a liquid catwalk and lures a style-savvy crowd (there's also a ground-level main pool if you just want to catch rays). The highly touted David Barton Gym attached to the hotel is a Moroccan-themed workout world, which unfortunately even guests have to pay extra to use.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
The Gardens Hotel
526 Angela Street
Key West , Florida
33040
Tel: 800 526 2664 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 294 2661
reservations@gardenshotel.com
www.gardenshotel.com

The former estate of Peggy Mills, a local garden lover, is now a romantic retreat situated in a lush botanical setting intertwined with walkways and dotted with fountains. The 17 rooms are dispersed among the Peggy Mills Mansion (listed on the National Register), two additional Bahamian-style structures built in 1993, and a freestanding cottage. Each room is done up with polished oak floors, crown moldings, mahogany furnishings, original Key West art, flat-screen TVs, and oversize verandas. Most rooms in the original are smaller (and less expensive), than those in the newer buildings, but the master suite has cathedral ceilings, a private balcony, Jacuzzi, and sauna. The free-form pool and outdoor bar are ideal for an after-hours swim and mojito, and the complimentary breakfast buffet stars Key lime beignets and extra-large muffins.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Grand Bohemian Hotel
325 S. Orange Avenue
Orlando , Florida
32801
Tel: 866 663 0024
Tel: 407 313 9000
info@grandbohemian.com
www.grandbohemianhotel.com

At this 250-room property, urban sophistication and high art come to a city better known for animal mascots and scampering children. The decor is moody and classic while giving a nod to the city's sugary personality: red velvets, gold leaf, regal purple curtains, and some of the softest beds on offer in the region. Its owner and decorator, entrepreneur Richard Kessler, is courageous enough to adorn the walls with priceless paintings from his personal collection, including authentic Klimts, but he's also affixed his own image in a few too many public spaces. The hotel's Bösendorfer Lounge, named for its $250,000 imperial grand piano, is a popular spot for cocktails, and the hotel's weekly jazz brunch enlivens the property on Sunday mornings. The theme park zone is about 10 miles southwest of the hotel, so this is a good choice for those who prefer to stay well away from the circus.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Green Island Inn
3300 N.E. 27 Street
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
33308
Tel: 954 566 8951
info@greenislandinn.com
www.greenislandinn.com

This small 25-room hotel feels more like a Key West refuge than the 1950s-era Fort Lauderdale motel it is. That's partly thanks to its out-of-the-way location—in a sleepy residential area further north up A1A than most motels. But it's also due to the lush tropical tree-crammed courtyard that has a pool and a gazebo, equipped with a BYOB bar and BBQ area. Every room—whether studio or suite—is named after different islands in the Caribbean, has a kitchenette, and is individually painted and done up in bright poppy colors. And most have French doors opening onto a private verandah.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hilton Bentley South Beach Hotel
101 Ocean Drive
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
33139
Tel: 866 236 8539 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 938 4600
info@thebentleyhotels.com
www1.hilton.com/en_US/hi/hotel/MIABMHF-Hilton-Bentley-Miami-South-Beach-Florida/index.do

This high-rise condo/hotel (in the Hilton stable since September 2007) is in the slightly quieter SoFi (South of Fifth) district at the tip of South Beach, opposite Prime One Twelve. The 109 kitchenette-equipped suites are huge and chintzy, with heavy drapes, quilted headboards, and brocaded bolsters. Some have equally spacious balconies—you'll pay more for ocean views—and generously sized bathrooms. Order breakfast on the outdoor terrace between the two towers; there's a hot tub there, too, if you'd like an early morning soak. An Asian-accented spa opened in 2008 on the fourth floor terrace, where you can have treatments outdoors. And at Gaia Ristorante (opened in February 2009), diners can either order specialties such as rigatoni arrabbiata and veal scaloppine off the Italian menu, or have chef Gaetano Ascione prepare a customized dish.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Hotel Beaux Arts Miami
255 Biscayne Boulevard Way
Miami , Florida
33131
Tel: 888 717 8858 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 421 8700
Fax: 305 421 8601
www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/miabx-hotel-beaux-arts-miami

"What time would you like your ice delivered?" That's the question you might find yourself pondering upon check-in here, where seemingly minute decisions take on a heightened sense of gravity. That's because all your other concerns have been worked out in advance via e-mail by the diligent staff. Ensconced on the top three floors of the JW Marriott Marquis in downtown Miami, this 44-room hotel-within-a-hotel couldn't differ more from its larger, business-minded sibling. For starters, there's a private check-in desk on the 39th floor and an intimate guests-only lounge. Swathed in dark brown and white hues, rooms have impressive city vistas from floor-to-ceiling windows, and are smartly equipped with Bang & Olufsen electronics, Illy espresso makers, and iPads. Huge marble tubs and sinks have touch-controlled faucets that illuminate based on water temperature. Venturing to the bustling JW Marriott will provide plenty of other diversions, including a Jim McLean Golf School, a basketball court, and a virtual bowling alley, as well as chef Daniel Boulud's excellent seafood-centric DB Bistro Moderne.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
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Hotel Biba
320 Belvedere Road
West Palm Beach , Florida
33405
Tel: 561 832 0094
reservations@hotelbiba.com
www.hotelbiba.com

Those looking for a hip, modern alternative to British colonial and Italian Renaissance will feel more at home at this former motor lodge in West Palm Beach, just over the bridge from the Island. British designer Barbara Hulanicki breathed new life into it when she took it over in 2001. The Swinging Sixties London icon, famed for her Biba label, filled the 46 rooms with mod furniture and her trademark citrus colors: orange walls, lots of plexiglass, and crisp white sheets. All of the usual hotel amenities are there as well. Bathrooms are stocked with Aveda products and the tech is up to date (flat-screen TVs, high-speed Wi-Fi). A breakfast of sticky Cuban pastries is served in the Biba Bar every morning and the bar's Asian-style garden is the perfect place for a nightcap. The location in the El Cid district also puts it right near the shops, restaurants, and bars on Clematis Street.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Hotel Victor
1144 Ocean Drive, South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
Tel: 305 428 1234
www.hotelvictorsouthbeach.com

The Hyatt Corporation made a big gamble when it opened the Victor in 2004 as an outpost of hip on sightseer- and weekend cruiser–besieged Ocean Drive, South Beach's original main street. The company manages the property but decided to remain anonymous, so as not to pierce the aura of cool designed by Parisian style icon Jacques Garcia, the man behind the Hôtel Costes in Paris. Garcia has certainly lived up to his end of the bargain: The 89 rooms are plush and lush with red satin headboards; lacquered ebony furniture; and light fixtures that look like crystal jellyfish (continuing a theme from the lobby, where a tank is filled with them). The pool area, with its views right over the beach, is compact but energetic. And while Ocean Drive is becoming slightly more tolerable—the reopening of the Tides up the block helped—as soon as you open your window or step outside, the perpetual spring-break scene interrupts the hotel's contrived cool. Speaking of contrived, the concierge goes by the title of Vibe Manager. But if you want to stay on Ocean—and be just steps from the busiest slice of the beach—this is a good place to do it.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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Hyatt Regency Pier 66
2301 S.E. 17th Street
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
33316
Tel: 954 525 6666
www.pier66.com

Tucked away at the southern end of town, Pier 66 is a great respite for families and those wanting to steer clear of the brash boardwalk crowds. A $25 million renovation, completed in October 2007, upgraded the pool area with cabanas, man-made waterfalls, and a 40-person hydrotherapy pool. There is no beach access, but the hotel runs a free shuttle to the closest sand (five minutes away). The renovation also spruced up the hotel's iconic spike-topped tower and angular, pastel-painted balconies. But the money obviously didn't go into jazzing up the decor in the 384 rooms, which got a face-lift and all the necessary amenities (coffeemaker, large bathroom, lots of closet space) but remain uninspiringly beige, beige, and more beige. The remedy? Request a room high in the 17-story tower with a view of the Intracoastal Waterway. Looking out from your balcony at the yachts, cruise ships, and blue water adds a necessary splash of color.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Inn on Fifth
699 Fifth Avenue South
Naples , Florida
Tel: 239 403 8777
fifth@naplesinn.com
www.innonfifth.com

You can't get any closer to the action than this boutique hotel in the heart of the historic district, near Naples's swanky shopping, bistros, sidewalk cafés, and art galleries. Next door, the Sugden Community Theatre hosts dramas, comedies, and musicals (701 Fifth Ave. South; 239-263-7990; www.naplesplayers.org); the beach is just six blocks away. The inn has Spanish-style arches, fountains, and balconies or private terraces off the 87 rooms and suites—10 of the downstairs rooms open onto a courtyard swimming pool. For live entertainment and Irish comfort food, dine in-house or on the patio at the inn's own McCabe's Irish Pub & Grill; the building's newest addition is a seafood restaurant, Truluck's, accessible only from the street.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Ivey House Bed & Breakfast
107 Camellia Street
Everglades City , Florida
34139
Tel: 239 695 3299
info@iveyhouse.com
www.iveyhouse.com

This eco-conscious little B&B in the fishing town of Everglades City makes a great base camp for exploring Everglades National Park, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, or Big Cypress National Preserve, all less than 15 minutes' drive away. The property includes a 2-bedroom cottage and an 11-room boarding house, both built in the 1920s, and a more modern adjacent inn (2001) with larger rooms, air-conditioning, and full baths with tubs. You'll want to opt for the cottage or inn, as rooms in the boarding house have only shared bathrooms. The decor leaves much to be desired—think '70s-style tropical prints and the occasional flourish of wood paneling—but you're really here to experience the great outdoors. Owner Dave Harraden, an accomplished naturalist, makes an ideal guide. He can arrange kayak and canoe trips down Turner River or take you through the backcountry muck in search of the mythic ghost orchids. Ivey House also walks the walk, with energy conservation and recycling programs that have earned it the state's "Green Lodge" environmental designation. Guests get free Wi-Fi, breakfast, and a 20 percent discount on canoe and kayak rentals and guided day trips.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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JW Marriott Grande Lakes Orlando
4040 Central Florida Parkway
Orlando , Florida
32837
Tel: 800 682 9956
Tel: 407 206 2300
www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mcojw-jw-marriott-orlando-grande-lakes/?ptnr=thayer_mcojw_banner

The seeming isolation of the location of this 1,064-room luxury tower, about two miles east of SeaWorld alongside swampland that will never be developed, lends the property an enviable natural tranquility that nearly all other Orlando mega-hotels lack. That might be enough to lure guests who crave respite from the city's usual hyperactive resorts, however even here, there's a full slate of kids' programs for weary parents. Bathrooms are enormous, with separate tub and shower, and king-size beds feel royally large, even if furnishings are a generic brand of hotel-room luxury. More enchanting still are the grounds: 500 empty acres including a Greg Norman golf course and a rambling, jungly pool area, with a lazy river that rivals the ones at the water-slide parks. The flagship restaurant, Primo, has an ever-changing menu, which emphasizes seasonal ingredients. On the downside, nearly every fragment of service carries a separate charge, including inner tubes for the pool area. Try to book one of the tower's west-facing rooms, which offer stunning sunset views. Next door, the local Ritz-Carlton outpost is a quieter, country club for high-end conventioneers. Marriott guests can use the 40,000-square-foot Ritz spa and its excellent restaurant, Norman's, as well as the pools at both hotels.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
JW Marriott Marquis Miami
255 Biscayne Boulevard Way
Miami , Florida
33131
Tel: 305 421 8600
email@nws.edu
www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/miamj-jw-marriott-marquis-miami/

It's hard to list the merits of the JW Marriott Marquis Miami without sounding a bit Vegas-esque. There's no casino in this 41-floor downtown property, but the over-the-top amenities include a 10,000-square-foot NBA-approved basketball court (where visiting opponents of the Miami Heat often practice); a golf school with simulators, personal training, and indoor putting greens; a virtual bowling alley; and DB Bistro Moderne, the first Miami outpost of celebrity chef Daniel Boulud. The 313 guest rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows with sweeping views of downtown, Biscayne Bay, Fisher Island, and yachts bobbing in the Miami River. The interiors feature lacquered walnut closets and headboards and original works by Miami and Latin American artists. Flat-screen plasma TVs, Illy espresso makers, and separate tubs and showers in the Italian marble bathrooms round out the comfort quotient. Public areas include a rooftop pool and hot tub, media room with cozy leather chairs for movie-watching, and a full-service Rik Rak salon and spa. You'll be spoiled for choice here, and possibly a bit overwhelmed, too.—Terry Ward

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Key Lime Inn
725 Truman Avenue
Key West , Florida
33040
Tel: 800 549 4430 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 294 5229
keylime@historickeywestinns.com
www.historickeywestinns.com/properties/keylime/key_lime_inn.htm

This cluster of cottages a short stroll from Duval is the best of the seven hotels in the local association of Key West Historic Inns. The rooms are decorated in the style best described as Key West tropical: wicker furniture, Carmen Miranda–colorful bedspreads, choppy ceiling fans. The 37 rooms are spread out across various buildings and vary enormously: The smaller, less expensive ones are in the 1854 main house, which encircles the heated outdoor pool where breakfast is served. The suites in the bungalows are larger and more secluded and have a veranda well worth the extra cost. If you're driving down from Miami, the biggest plus is the free and ample on-site parking, a rare amenity in Old Town.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Lago Mar
1700 S. Ocean Lane
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
33316
Tel: 800 524 6627 (toll-free)
Tel: 954 523 6511
reservations@lagomar.com
www.lagomar.com

Lago Mar's location is unbeatable: a private oceanfront property with its own 500-foot beach. Owned for generations by one family, it's a luxe throwback combining a family-friendly resort with a country club for well-heeled snowbirds. The 206-room, bougainvillea-draped complex has two oceanside tennis courts, a mini-golf course and a swimming lagoon with an Olympic-sized pool. The common areas were overhauled by society decorator Carlton Varney in a vaguely Venetian theme to reflect Fort Lauderdale's obsession with watery, old-world glamour, while most of the rooms are suites with king-size beds and Key West–inspired tropical interiors. Many look out on water—either ocean or pool—but when booking, note that the hundreds of palm trees on the beach can block views from some suites; make sure to ask for one with an unobstructed sea view.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort
9891 Gulf Shore Drive
Naples , Florida
Tel: 239 597 3123
Tel: 800 237 6883
www.laplayaresort.com

If you'd rather dress down than up, you'll feel at home here amid a combo of Old World style (crystal chandeliers, French doors) and tropical flair (botanical prints, plush rattan furniture). Add in the amenities, and this unstuffy 189-room luxury hotel north of town is the best of all worlds: It has a white sand beach, a Balinese-inspired spa, four gorgeous swimming pools, a nearby 18-hole Robert Cupp–designed golf course with its swing-enhancing David Leadbetter Golf Academy, and one of the area's best seafood restaurants. Both romantic and playful, Baleen has a candlelit terrace as well as a formal dining room done in whimsical monkey-motif fabrics.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Little Palm Island Resort & Spa
28500 Overseas Highway
Little Torch Key , Florida
Tel: 305 872 2524
Tel: 800 343 8567
Fax: 305 872 4843
www.littlepalmisland.com

"Romantic and secluded," this resort consists of "individual bungalows on a well-manicured tropical island." There are no phones, TVs, or clocks in the rooms, but they do have four-poster beds and neutral color palettes. The Dining Room serves a blend of European and Latin dishes such as coriander-crusted elk or papas bravas. "Well-trained staff are "there when you need them but don't hover."

(30 rooms)

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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The Lodge & Club
607 Ponte Vedra Boulevard
Ponte Vedra Beach , Florida
Tel: 904 273 9500
www.pontevedra.com/lodge-and-club/index.aspx

The "food and service were tops" at this resort on "the best beach in the area." Twenty miles south of St. Augustine, the Spanish Mission resort has a terra-cotta tiled roof, stone fountains, stucco walls, and wrought iron lampposts, while rooms have four-poster beds and imported fabrics from Europe. Some also come with marble-faced fireplaces and balconies. Dine oceanfront on American plates like Cajun seared mahimahi at the Innlet Dining Room; Oasis's salads, sandwiches, and seafood are taken under a canopy of colorful umbrellas.

(66 rooms)

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Mandarin Oriental, Miami
500 Brickell Key Drive
Miami , Florida
33131
Tel: 305-913-8383
Tel: 866 888 6780
momia-reservations@mohg.com
http://www.mandarinoriental.com/miami/&kw=general&htl=momia&eng=concierge&src=cpm

Worlds (well, 20 minutes) away from the mania of South Beach, this serene, stylish property on a private island near the Brickell business district has stunning views over Biscayne Bay and Miami's glittering skyline, a man-made beach with Balinese daybeds, a 15,000-square-foot spa, and prime restaurants and bars. The hotel's tenth anniversary in 2010 coincided with an overhaul of the 295 guest rooms, and the updated look stays subtly sophisticated and Asian, with headboards covered in sage green linen, bamboo wall coverings, and a mix of light and dark woods to complement the earthy green-and-white color scheme. Tech touches have been updated, too, complete with flat-screen TVs, Bose sound systems with iPod docks, and DVD players. Happily, the luxurious bathrooms with pale-yellow Spanish tile remain. The most indulgent suites come with balconies overlooking the bay, and the Oriental and the Mandarin suites boast, respectively, a private media room and a spa suite. Service—from the hotel's celebrated Azul restaurant to the spa—is consistently top-notch.—Updated by Terry Ward

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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Marco Beach Ocean Resort
480 S. Collier Boulevard
Marco Island , Florida
Tel: 239 393 1400
Tel: 800 715 8517
mborreservations@gulfbay.com
www.marcoresort.com

Can't afford the Ritz-Carlton? Consider this elegant all-suite boutique hotel on a white crescent of sand 30 minutes from Naples. Often called "the baby Ritz," it's done with marble floors, hand-painted murals, and antiques. The 83 one-bedroom and 15 two-bedroom accommodations have kitchens, great views, and either a balcony or terrace. Many overlook the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to poolside dining and a beachfront grill, the hotel's Sale e Pepe serves upscale Italian cuisine. Plus, Marco Beach has terrific activity programs such as guided tours of the Everglades and Corkscrew Swamp, tee times at the Golf Club at Fiddler's Creek—exclusive to resort guests and club members—and charter fishing trips.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort
400 S. Collier Boulevard
Marco Island , Florida
Tel: 239 394 2511
Tel: 800 438 4373
www.marcoislandmarriott.com

Even adults can go back to summer camp at this 732-room monster resort that's a destination in itself. It sits on a three-and-a-half-mile white sand beach, and while its decor isn't anything to write home about, it does have six restaurants, including beachfront Quinn's, casual Tropiks, and sophisticated steak and seafood dinner spot Kurrents. There are guided WaveRunner excursions to the Ten Thousand Islands mangrove estuary, half-day Everglades adventures, manatee-watching charters, shelling cruises on a six-passenger catamaran, kayaking, and Saturday night movies at the swimming pool. A $187-million face-lift in 2007 added a 24,000-square-foot spa, poolside cabanas, and a new clubhouse for the hotel's golf course, the Rookery at Marco (which is seven miles away on the mainland).

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Marquesa Hotel
600 Fleming Street
Key West , Florida
33040
Tel: 800 869 4631 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 292 1919
marquesahotel@bellsouth.net
www.marquesa.com

A small historic hotel with big resort amenities, the Marquesa is steps from raucous Duval Street. Four classic Conch-style houses with tin roofs, wraparound porches, and gingerbread railings surround a quiet palm- and bougainvillea-filled garden with two swimming pools. The 27 rooms and villa-like suites, some with covered porches, are filled with antique and reproduction Indonesian sleigh beds, armoires, and writing tables. The huge bathrooms are done in Italian green marble. It's the most polished inn in Key West, and probably the most luxurious. One of Key West's finest restaurants, Café Marquesa, is on the premises.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Mondrian South Beach
1100 West Avenue
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
33139
Tel: 800 697 1791 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 514 1500
Fax: 305 514 1800
www.mondrian-miami.com

With a fairy tale–inspired design by Dutch superstar Marcel Wanders, the Mondrian is a sexy outpost of manufactured South Beach hipness. But scratching beneath the still-shiny surface (the hotel opened in December 2008) reveals some serious flaws. Guest rooms—there are 335, total—are large and comfortable, with even the smallest taking up over 500 square feet. All have kitchenettes and whimsical Wanders touches, such as Delft-style tiles painted with modern Miami scenes, boldly patterned rugs and wallpaper, and a chandelier that doubles as a showerhead in the mosaic shower. Unfortunately, that wallpaper was installed with a sloppy hand; doors bang into each other; the room's only full-length mirror is located in the shower; and spartan furnishings (a sofa but no coffee table, for example) limit the suites' entertaining potential. Public spaces fare a bit better. There is much to admire in the lobby, including gleaming white columns shaped like chess pieces and a floating staircase of filigreed black steel. Beyond lie a large bar and lounge, an Asia de Cuba restaurant, and the pool area—by far the most successful design element. The deck's subtle arc faces west, guaranteeing good sight lines and plenty of afternoon sun (on the beach, high-rise buildings often block the rays); its curtained-off seating areas, set up like outdoor living rooms with large floor pillows and red rococo chairs, are terrific for socializing. The scene at night, particularly on Fridays, is enjoyably boisterous…despite the abysmal service. Even by South Beach's diminished standards, the staff is slow, clueless, and minimally helpful (friendly, yes, and good-looking, of course—but that gorgeous smile isn't going to help you get a drink any faster). So, should you stay here? It is a great-looking hotel, and the bayside location (unlike its oceanfront brethren the Shore Club and the Delano) makes it a good place to avoid the madness of Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive. Anyone sensitive to lapses in service and design or concerned about value should look elsewhere (rates start at $495 in high season, and extra charges, like $37 a day for parking, are brazen). —Peter J. Frank

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Nickelodeon Family Suites by Holiday Inn
14500 Continental Gateway
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 866 462 6425
Tel: 407 387 5437
www.ichotelsgroup.com/h/d/fs/1/en/home

Universal's onslaught against the Disney monolith took another step forward in the summer of 2005, when a once-middling Holiday Inn completed a $20 million makeover in the image of Nickelodeon, and reopened as a mega-resort for kids. At this 777-unit all-suite hotel a mile east of Disney's gates, two lagoons gush with towering water slides and water cannons, and a central mall includes a food court and a studio where families can get green-slimed during live game shows. The two- and three-bedroom suites, which are kitted out with microwaves, mini-fridges, and free Internet, treat youngsters to their own bunk-bed areas splashed with giant murals of Nick characters such as Jimmy Neutron and SpongeBob, plus a TV with video games. Mom and Dad get their own grownup bedroom—and a door that closes. Of the two courtyard pools, the Oasis is less noisy.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Old Town Manor
511 Eaton Street
Key West , Florida
33040
Tel: 305 292 2170
info@oldtownmanor.com
www.oldtownmanor.com

Internet entrepreneur Runi Goyal snapped up this rather careworn guesthouse and gave it a sensitive makeover in 2006, replacing the grubby and kitschy Key West interior with top-notch Victoriana. She also gained a Green Hotel certification for her simple but effective setup (paper billing is only provided on request, everything is strictly recycled, bathroom products are in pump dispensers instead of wasteful mini-bottles). The 13 rooms are basic but bright with floral bedspreads and wooden furniture. Some, like the Jacaranda and Tamarind, share a private deck as well. Not surprisingly, the tech is state of the art (flat-screen TVs with built-in DVD players, free in-room Wi-Fi). Old Town Manor does not have a pool, but the shady garden is a pleasant place to take breakfast, which includes gooey guava bread and fresh-baked banana-nut bread—all organic, of course.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Omphoy Ocean Resort
2842 S. Ocean Boulevard
Palm Beach , Florida
33480
Tel: 888 344 4321 (toll-free)
Tel: 561 540 6440
sepps@omphoy.com
omphoy.com

Palm Beach is known for many things—personal net worth that's through the stratosphere and Worth Avenue (Florida's answer to Rodeo Drive), for starters—but it has never been known for luring the younger, hip set. So, the summer 2009 introduction of the Omphoy Ocean Resort, six miles south of Worth Avenue, is noteworthy as much for what it is as where it is. Its successful reincarnation from a lackluster Hilton property to a bastion of beachy Zen attracts hipsters from New York and Europe. Leslie Schlesinger, of Palm Beach's Brazilian Court Hotel, is behind the impeccable Asia-meets–South Florida design sense here. In the guest rooms, flooring of cool metallic-hued porcelain tiles and sunny orange and blue accents complement the dark wood furnishings. Most of the 133 rooms have ocean views and balconies; connecting doors in some rooms (left over from the Hilton days) turn one-room suites into two-bedroom condo-style accommodations that are ideal for vacationing families. Bathrooms, while not overly spacious, make good use of the boxy original footprint, too, with glass and tile showers and separate toilets. The hotel is revered in Palm Beach foodie circles for famed Miami chef Michelle Bernstein's eponymous outpost, her first outside of that city. The restaurant's floor-to-ceiling windows pair dramatic ocean views with dishes such as crispy whole branzino and cioppino packed with stone crab and scallops. The only drawback to the hotel's pretty pool is that it's located on the street side of the hotel, but there's a perk for beach lovers: The hotel's stretch of sand is wider than what you find at other properties a few miles south.—Terry Ward

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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One Bal Harbour Resort & Spa
10295 Collins Avenue
Bal Harbour , Florida
33154
Tel: 305 455 5400
www.oneluxuryhotels.com

The One Bal Harbour (formerly the Regent) feels a universe away from the over-the-top nightclub-in-the-lobby atmosphere of its competitors in Miami Beach—and that's exactly how the well-heeled patrons want it. The lobby is hushed and refined, and staff are impeccably professional. Guest rooms are discreet and elegant, with dark polished wood floors, ample workstations, stand alone egg-shaped tubs, and floor-to-ceiling windows (all rooms have a view of either the ocean or the channel leading into the bay). The food stands out throughout the property, from the poolside restaurant (try the chili-crusted fish sandwich with avocado and mango salsa for lunch) to One Bleu, where the lobster with saffron linguini and the crab-crusted grouper are among the highlights. The on-site Guerlain spa is a soothing centerpiece. Beach lovers may prefer the wider expanse of other parts of Miami Beach, and the pool area is rather cramped. Joggers will like the well-lit, clearly marked running path, and shoppers the easy access to one of the best malls in the United States.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Parrot Key Hotel & Resort
2801 N. Roosevelt Boulevard
Key West , Florida
33040
Tel: 888 665 6368 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 809 2200
info@parrotkeyresort.com
www.parrotkeyresort.com

If you don't mind being a short drive from Duval Street and the Old Town action, this quiet resort is made up of typical Conch-style bungalows set among lush tropical foliage and perfectly manicured walkways that wind through sculpture gardens and courtyard pools. Despite its location along strip mall–heavy Roosevelt Boulevard, the 118-room property has an isolated, escapist feel once you enter its inner sanctum. The colorful rooms have white linens and drapes accented with pops of turquoise, coral, and lime plus lots of local artwork. Some of the bungalows have a sandy area fronting the water, but you can't quite call them a beach, as there's no access for swimming—this is a prime boating area. For longer stays, consider upgrading to a two- or three-bedroom cottage. The largest of them rise to three stories and offer pretty water views. The downside is the lack of a proper restaurant (there's just a poolside café), so you'll be driving into town for dinner every night.—Terry Ward

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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Pelican Hotel
826 Ocean Drive
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
33139
Tel: 800 773 5422 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 673 3373
Fax: 305 673 3255
www.pelicanhotel.com

Finding a room in Miami under $150 a night can be quite a feat even in the off-season, especially if you want to be anywhere near the water. But you can find one—at least off-season—at the Pelican, a stylish 1940s Ocean Drive hideaway that was revamped by Italian clothing company Diesel in the '90s. (Rooms in high season start at $300, still a great deal.) Each of the hotel's 30 rooms is done with a different theme, using garage sale trash-turned-treasure and recycled bits like shower-curtain rods made from the building's original pipe work. Just be aware that each room is vastly different, and you could find yourself ensconced in a bastion of Southwest kitsch as easily as a calming Scandinavian oasis. The Best Whorehouse glows predictably rouge, and psychedelic '60s throwback Love, Peace, and Leafforest has tree-patterned wallpaper for a bed backboard, fuzzy chairs, and plastic butterflies on the walls. While the vintage furnishings never change, there have been upgrades to the amenities (plasma TVs, Geneva Lab sound systems, iPod docks). The original designer, Magnus Ehrland, is also called in to modernize the themes and keep them from looking stale. The hotel attracts European families, fashion types, and even Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia, who is said to be partial to Penthouse One. Called the James Bond suite, it has three bedrooms, an oceanfront terrace with a hot tub for eight, and a master bedroom with views of the ocean filtered through a giant aquarium. The hotel has a very good Mediterranean restaurant in the absinthe-green lobby, and outside the staff will set up complimentary beach chairs and umbrellas, which might make up for the lack of a pool.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Pillars
111 N. Birch Road
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
33304
Tel: 954 467 9639
guestservices@pillarshotel.com
www.pillarshotel.com

What makes this B&B such a hidden gem is its affable, unflappable staff: They help make the place feel more like a private home than a hotel. There's harp music in the main room, a complimentary glass of wine or champagne on arrival, and a 500-strong library of books and DVDs that guests can rifle through during their stay. All 22 of the British colonial–style rooms here have planter's chairs, mahogany headboards, floral bedspreads, and antique etchings as well as clever touches like blackout drapes for a sound night's sleep; the deluxe category ups the ante with wet bars, microwaves, and fridges. Make sure to spend some time at the hotel's charming free-form pool, which overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway—by day, there's free iced tea on tap and you can book an alfresco massage at the spa. An added convenience is that the water taxi stops just yards away.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Pink Shell Beach Resort & Spa
275 Estero Boulevard
Fort Myers , Florida
Tel: 239 463 6181
Tel: 888 222 7465
www.pinkshell.com

Families and couples happily coexist at this resort on the white-sand northern tip of Estero Island (Fort Myers Beach). There's nothing fancy about Pink Shell, but the 180 rooms (including studios and one- and two-bedroom villas) have homey comforts such as kitchenettes or full kitchens and are a great value for the money. In 2007, 43 new luxury villas will be completed. For the kids, the lagoon-style Octopool is an underwater fantasy of sea grasses, coral reefs, seahorses, and colorful fish. Dining is casual at Bongo's, a poolside bar and grill and the seafood-centric JoJo's at the Beach.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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Ponte Vedra Inn & Club
200 Ponte Vedra Boulevard
Ponte Vedra Beach , Florida
Tel: 800 234 7842
Tel: 904-273-9500
Fax: 904 285 2111
reservations@pvresorts.com
www.pvresorts.com/PVR-FrameSets/InnFrameSets/f-PVICProfile.html

This 1928 Spanish colonial has "a prime location on a beautiful beach." Amenities include a "well-maintained golf course" and "first-class spa." Rooms are decorated in ocean tones of blues, greens, and sand, and have ash furnishings and crown moldings. The "pricey Seahorse Grille has a huge aquarium" and serves seafood and steaks. The beachfront bar High Tides specializes in frozen drinks. "Service is outstanding."

(250 rooms)

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Portofino Bay Hotel
5601 Universal Boulevard
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 503 1000
www.loewshotels.com/hotels/orlando_portofino_bay/

Re-creating the legendary Italian fishing village amid a buffer of lush vegetation a short stroll from Universal Studios, the luxe Portofino, which is run by Loews Hotels, hugs a private man-made harbor populated with anchored fishing boats, strolling musicians, and shops. Within the grounds, the reverie is embellished by trompe l'oeil murals, eight restaurants (including Bice, a successful Italian chain), three pools, a spa, and 460-square-foot rooms (on the large side for the city) accented with soft green bedding and pale inlaid woods. Universal boasts the property is its most sumptuous, and while it's truly comfortable, it's still at heart a very busy property catering to theme park vacationers. The tariff includes a free ferry to CityWalk, and best of all, the right to join the super-short "Universal Express" queues at most of the attractions at both Universal parks, a bonus that can easily shave hours of waiting time off a day's visit.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Prime Hotel
100 Ocean Drive
Miami Beach , Florida
United States 33139
Tel: 305 532 0553
info@primehotelmiami.com
www.primehotelmiami.com

Few perches are better for Miami celebrity-spotting than one of the Prime Hotel's balconies overlooking Prime One Twelve and Prime Italian, South Beach's of-the-moment restaurants. A block from the beach, the SoFi hotel is the first foray into lodging by Myles Chefetz, Miami's James Beard–lauded restaurateur (Nemo, Big Pink). Open since August 2010, the hotel mixes a subtle rocker aesthetic with cool Miami minimalism. The 14 guest rooms have white-leather headboards, plush king-size beds, glass end tables, white cube lamps that sit directly on the dark wood floors, and a table and chairs on the balcony for alfresco dining. In the bathrooms, there's an integrated sound system that pipes in music, wall-mounted flat-screen TVs, and a fun Floridian reference: dark tiling that resembles alligator skin. The rooftop lounge's diminutive pool, surrounded by yacht-style wooden floorboards and daybed cabanas, is closer to a hot tub but is prime for a plunge nonetheless.—Terry Ward

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Raleigh
1775 Collins Avenue
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
33139
Tel: 305 534 6300
info@raleighhotel.com
www.raleighhotel.com

One of the most significant buildings in the South Beach Art Deco district, the Raleigh is centered around the area's most beautiful and famous swimming pool—a scallop-edged jewel that was a setting for Esther Williams' aquatic film scenes in the forties and is now the scene of Sunday pool parties. Built in 1940, the 108-room hotel had lost its luster before hotelier André Balazs took over in 2002 and restored the Deco style and élan. Balazs moved on in 2009, but not before instilling the hotel with a cool, laid-back feeling that is rare in glitzy South Beach. With its Old Havana theme—bold colors, rattan and cane furniture, brown-and-ocher terrazzo floors, fluted pillars, and lots of plants and palm trees—it pulls patrons from other hotels down the street. The stylishly eccentric rooms vary enormously; some are frankly on the small side. Why not splash around instead in the tub of the 980-square-foot Esther Williams Suite?

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
4750 Amelia Island Parkway
Amelia Island , Florida
Tel: 904 277 1100
Fax: 904 261 9064
www.ritzcarlton.com/resorts/amelia_island/

This U-shaped barrier-island resort on the Atlantic "is like a castle on the beach." Activities "should definitely include relaxing in an Adirondack chair overlooking the dunes." Traditional rooms all have ocean-facing balconies and gold, green, and coral color schemes. At the end of dinner at Salt, where the menu plumbs local seasonal ingredients, "we were given a bag of our three favorite salts." One massage at the spa uses a hammock for spine elongation.

(444 rooms)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale
1 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
33304
Tel: 866 622 1579
www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/FortLauderdale/Destination/Default.htm

Editor's note: This property is now the Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale.

Melding the brand's urbanity with the town's identity as a top yacht market and cruise port, the 187-room St. Regis resembles a glossy Art Deco ocean liner, from its curvilinear marble lobby, filigreed banisters, and velvet taupe banquettes sprinkled through the lobby, to the seventh-floor pool deck that gives guests a sight line over any potential beach-boulevard riffraff and straight into the ocean. Room decor is simple, with beige upholstery and dark wood, and floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the Atlantic or the Intracoastal Waterway. A can-do attitude, rare in South Florida, makes up for any service missteps: When one guest lost her valet ticket and the hotel's inability to locate her car threatened to make her late for an appointment, a chauffeur drove her in the house Bentley. Oceanfront Cero is a romantic dinner spot but shockingly overpriced for breakfast. And the hotel would do well to provide free chairs and towels on the beach, instead of leaving guests to be accosted by umbrella vendors. But quibbles aside, and taking into account the upcoming Trump and W hotels flanking this one, you'll want to be the first on your block to catch the wave of new Fort Lauderdale.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne
455 Grand Bay Drive
Key Biscayne , Florida
33149
Tel: 800 241 3333 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 365 4500
Fax: 305 365 4505
www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/KeyBiscayne/Default.htm

Key Biscayne is barely Miami at all—at least in atmosphere. The island—a bridge span from downtown—is a quiet, moneyed hideout, where starched uniform–sporting nannies wheel their charges along manicured sidewalks. No wonder, then, that the Ritz-Carlton here is equally lush and family-friendly. Set back from the main road, and part of a larger condo development, its 400-plus rooms, many overlooking the ocean, are huge and filled with overstuffed, classic Ritz furniture. There's a roomy spa and several first-class restaurants on the premises, from the rustic Tuscan Cioppino to a Havana-style rum bar overseen by a rum sommelier to a burger lounge on the sand. Of the two pools, the large southern one is for families, and the smaller northern one serves cocktails and loans iPods. The on-site tennis center is a nod to Key Biscayne's obsession with the sport. Given Florida's iffy weather, staying at a Ritz is comforting in hurricane season: If a storm bears down, the hotel will transport all guests (without charge) to another hotel somewhere in Florida to finish out their vacation.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Ritz-Carlton, Naples
280 Vanderbilt Beach Road
Naples , Florida
Tel: 239 598 3300
www.ritzcarlton.com/resorts/naples/

This hotel makes it onto all the world's best-hotel lists for a few reasons: It's divine, with imported marble floors, antiques, Waterford crystal chandeliers, Oriental rugs, 19th-century European oil paintings, Frette linens, and polished service to match. Located 15 miles north of downtown Naples, the 14-story tower has 450 guest rooms with Gulf views, including 25 suites with balconies. The beachside hotel staff hands out chairs, towels, and ice water; you can rent cabanas, Hobie Cats, kayaks, paddleboats, and catamarans. There are also surfside pursuits, tennis, sports clinics, and eco-walks with the Ritz's own Ranger Randy. Golfers have to head three miles inland to Naples's second Ritz, the newer, less fussy Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, where there's a 36-hole Greg Norman–designed course (2600 Tiburón Dr.; 239-593-2000). But when it comes to spa-going, the tables are turned and it's the golf resort's guests who come here for an impressive regimen of treatments in the 50,000-square-foot spa. (The spa is open only to guests of the two Ritz-Carltons in Naples). Guests can travel between the two resorts by shuttle.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach
100 South Ocean Boulevard
Manalapan , Florida
33462
Tel: 561 533 6000
Fax: 561 588 4202
www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/PalmBeach/Default.htm

It's a stretch to put "Palm Beach" in the name of this Ritz-Carlton, since the beachfront resort sits a ten-mile drive down the coast from Worth Avenue. But it's designed to be a destination in itself. The beach is the main attraction: Though the seven-acre strand is not private like the one at the Breakers, the out-of-the way location keeps it from getting as crowded as the public beaches in Palm Beach proper. The Ritz reopened in March 2007 after an eight-month shutdown for renovation of the 310 rooms, to which were added now-expected details like Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs. A lot of work went into the suites' bathrooms, which now have huge tubs carved from single slabs of stone and angled to have ocean views. The three restaurants were also updated: Breeze Beach Bar; the casual Temple Orange (modern Italian); and Angle, a dark, candlelit spot with an extensive seafood menu. The hotel also added oceanfront cabanas that have stocked fridges, flat-screen TVs, and iPod docking stations for a sybaritic day on the beach. An extensive kids' program takes advantage of the ocean and nature sites around the hotel. One caveat: Construction at the new Eau Spa (due to open winter 2008–09 with a 42,000-square-foot spa) can make it noisy on weekdays.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Ritz-Carlton, South Beach
1 Lincoln Road
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
33139
Tel: 800 241 3333 (toll-free)
Tel: 786 276 4000
www.ritzcarlton.com/resorts/south_beach/

The Ritz-Carlton company spent $200 million to transform the former DiLido Hotel, an Art Moderne landmark built in 1953 at the foot of Lincoln Road, into a showstopper resort that's a bold step away from the Federal-style-and-Oriental-rug look of its sister properties. Doormen in loose shirts and Panama hats welcome visitors into a lobby decorated in mango, cobalt, and chartreuse tones; an enormous wall of backlit convex mirrors is a great effect. The 375 rooms have a vaguely ocean-liner feel, with bold stripes and dark woods. Best are the six Oceanfront Lanai Suites, just a few grains of sand away from the beach. And proof that this Ritz has a sense of humor, there's a poolside "tanning butler" who applies the appropriate lotions to your basking skin. (We just wish the pool area was a bit larger: There's a daily scramble for lounges.)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples
2600 Tiburon Drive
Naples , Florida
Tel: 239 593 2000
Fax: 239 254 3300
www.ritzcarlton.com/resorts/naples_golf_resort/

As the name implies, this Mediterranean-style resort is located next to a golf course, in this case the Tiburon Golf Club. Along with goose-down comforters and marble baths, rooms in greens, golds, and reds have "lovely private balconies." The Bella Vista Lounge overlooks the eighteenth hole, has a fire pit, and serves sushi on weekends. Kids learn about the universe during the recently introduced Eye Wonders program.

(333 rooms)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
4012 Central Florida Parkway
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 206 2400
Fax: 407 206 2401
www.ritzcarlton.com/resorts/orlando_grande_lakes/

The lakes and nature preserve surrounding the sprawling Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes makes the resort feel far removed from the theme parks. The truth is, you can be knocking on Disney's door in 15 minutes. With 580 rooms, this is one of Ritz-Carlton's largest properties. The amenities are oversize as well. There's an 18-hole Greg Norman golf course, and the spa is a two-story, 40,000-square-foot affair with a private outdoor pool, steam room, and a lush garden rooftop for alfresco treatments in hammocks. The guest rooms, most with golf course and lake views, are done in icy blues and metallic tones with light wood furnishings, flat-screen TVs, and white marble bathrooms. If you stay on the Club Level, you'll be privy to five gourmet meals and hors d'oeuvre services throughout the day (including a continental breakfast and nightly wine reception). There's a pretty outdoor pool fronting the lake, and guests can also use the jungle pool and lazy river at the JW Marriott right next door.—Terry Ward

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Riverside Hotel
620 E. Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
33301
Tel: 800 325 3280 (toll-free)
Tel: 954 467 0671
moreinfo@riversidehotel.com
www.riversidehotel.com

Originally built in 1936, the Riverside is the oldest hotel in Fort Lauderdale. It's conveniently located in the heart of downtown. In fact, you can stay here without a rental car—take a cab, free tourist bus, or even walk to the beach along the newly revived Las Olas Boulevard. The vibe of the common areas is pioneer South Florida—ceiling fans, rattan furniture, and coral-rock accents, plus black-and-white pictures from the hotel's heyday (Ronald Reagan slept here). There are two very different accommodation types among the 213 rooms here—larger, blander Executive Tower Suites in the 12-story tower that was added in 1992, and so-called classic rooms in the original low-slung building. The latter are more appealing: Not only do these spaces have more character, but they were also more recently renovated (in 2002) in a tropical Tommy Bahama–inspired scheme with maple wood and terra-cotta tiles that was finished earlier this year.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Sanctuary South Beach
1745 James Avenue, South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
Tel: 305 673 5455
www.sanctuarysobe.com

Nurturing and intimate with just 30 suites, this boutique hotel a few blocks away from the crowds and the beach intends to live up to its name. You enter through a Japanese garden and courtyard filled with bamboo. For further relaxation, there's a full-service spa and a rooftop pool with private cabanas. If you need a personal trainer or a private session of yoga—hell, if you need a Gulfstream jet—the concierge will arrange it. The one-bedroom suites are contemporary and sophisticated, each with a terrace and kitchenette, plus all the toys anyone could desire: espresso machine, 42-inch plasma TV, and deep soaking tub in first-floor rooms. Breakfast is included in the room rate. A soothing alternative to the glamazon hotels lining Collins Avenue.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa
17260 Harbour Point Drive
Fort Myers , Florida
Tel: 239 466 4000
Tel: 800 767 7777
www.sanibel-resort.com

We'd venture to say that this is the only resort in the world that shows outdoor movies to guests who munch on popcorn while floating on inner tubes in the pool. There's no shortage of fun at this luxury resort, which overlooks Sanibel Island from the spot where the Caloosahatchee River meets the Gulf of Mexico. Not only is there a wide choice of accommodation (240 rooms and suites, 107 VIP residences, plus 38 two-bedroom, 1,400-square-foot waterfront condos with full kitchens, living rooms, and screened lanais overlooking the bay) but there are so many restaurants that you can dine in a different one almost every day for a week. There are six options, including the Palm Court Bakery for on-the-run muffins, pastries, coffee, and gelato; Tarpon House, a seafood restaurant that's family-friendly; Courtside Steakhouse; and the Banyan Room, a formal restaurant with plantation-style-library ambience.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Seagate Hotel and Spa
1000 E. Atlantic Avenue
Delray Beach , Florida
33483
Tel: 877 577 3242
info@theseagatehotel.com
theseagatehotel.com

Those who will consider only a hotel smack on the sand are likely to temper their convictions after a stay at the Seagate, set two blocks west of the ocean on bustling Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach. True, you'll have to walk five minutes (or hop on the complimentary trolley) before you can stick a toe in the surf, but that's assuming you'll want to leave the hotel. For what little the Seagate lacks in proximity to the beach, it more than makes up for in comfort and service. A marine decor dominates the public areas, with three massive aquariums filled with jellyfish and exotic eels on the ground floor, and sculptural light fixtures inspired by seashells and corals. The 162 rooms don't win points for originality; their dark-wood-and-neutrals palette recalls a furnished executive studio. But they're comfortable and uncommonly large, with sitting areas, wet bars, breezy balconies, and bathrooms with tubs built for two. The staff is eager to please and the hotel's beach club is the perfect spot for lunch between laps in the pool. Apart from the beach and a welcoming spa, daytime diversions can be found in the many shops along Atlantic Avenue, which heats up at night.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Setai
2001 Collins Avenue
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
33139
Tel: 305 520 6000
setai@ghmamericas.com
www.setai.com

In a place as devoted to Mammon as Miami, it was bound to happen: an Amanresort. Well, not exactly, but this combination of hotel and residential tower from Adrian Zecha is as gorgeously appointed, as serenely Asian, as quintessentially luxurious as his chain of sumptuous resorts. And as expensive: Rates move well into the four-figure range in high season. Hence the burning question since its opening in 2004: Is it worth it? Perhaps. The place is stunning: While the exterior is Miami Deco (formerly the Dempsey Vanderbilt Hotel, built in the late '30s), inside, it's Shanghai Deco, decorated in brick, bronze, jade, and teak, along with Asian art and artifacts and arrangements of roses as precise as topiaries. The 75 guest rooms and 50 suites carry the Asian stamp as well, with large granite baths, teak floors, and silk coverings—and maybe a few too many pieces of furniture (you can't, for example, tuck the desk chair all the way in). The spa is an oasis with a variety of Asian treatments, and there's an Asian grill restaurant with an open kitchen. The pool area may be the best feature: Three of them, held to varying degrees of temperature, are surrounded by hedged-in seating areas that provide just enough privacy. That's the essential difference here: It's a hotel for grownups, people who aren't interested in parading around the pool or having a party in the lobby. (Here, the socializing is done in a serene courtyard with reflecting pools.) And the service, while not exactly meticulous, may be the best on Miami Beach. So if you're short on patience and long on cash, it's worth coughing it up.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Shore Club
1901 Collins Avenue
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
Tel: 305 695 3100
Tel: 800 697 1791
www.shoreclub.com

Hotel pools in South Beach can feel like a lifestyle rebuke: You, dear guest, are ten years too old, several million dollars too poor, and countless crunches short of a six-pack. One look around the Shore Club's huge outdoor area—which includes two pools, a hot tub, and enormous lounging beds—will make you wonder: Who are these people drinking Champagne poolside on a Tuesday afternoon, anyway? While the Delano created the mold for what a too-cool Miami hotel should be, the Shore Club, run by the same management group (now sans founder Ian Schrager), charged into the vacuum in 2002 when its cousin's hype wore thin. It's not so new anymore, either, but the Shore Club attracts a sexier, younger (and arguably less sophisticated) crowd, and it's mostly for this reason that you'd choose to stay here: This is your VIP pass inside a music video. Abetting that cause are the outposts of Nobu and Skybar, the alfresco DJ-driven tunes at night, and all those dusky nooks in the garden area. The service is surprisingly sharp and friendly (for Miami Beach); the rooms themselves, 324 in all, are exercises in Miami's cold, hard lines and modern materials. They look good, but they're hardly spacious, and suffer at times from style over substance. For instance, the shower areas are enclosed in floor-to-ceiling glass but invariably drain incorrectly and make the floor sopping wet. All the more troublesome after all that Champagne.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Siam Garden Resort
512 Spring Avenue
Anna Maria Island , Florida
Tel: 941 778 2000
Tel: 800 778 9599
info@siamgardenresort.com
www.siamgardenresort.com

At this Thai-inspired hotel on Anna Maria Island, coconut palms surround a heated pool, and the private garden bursts with exotic plants, like butterfly ginger, orchids, and ylang-ylang. The grounds are adorned with Asian artifacts, including a life-size baby elephant sculpture, bronze statues of Siamese mythical figures, and a six-foot-tall hand-carved replica of a Thai temple. Rooms are immaculate and homey, with fully equipped kitchens. When guests (reluctantly) depart, they receive thank-you notes from the owners, a considerate husband-and-wife team.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Soho Beach House
4385 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach , Florida
33140
Tel: 786 507 7900
membership@sohobeachhouse.com
www.sohobeachhouse.com

This addition to the portfolio of British private club Soho House has given Miami the whiff of exclusivity it's been missing of late—and it has every conceivable amenity required for a decadent seaside weekend, right down to a hair-straightening iron in guest rooms. A rework of the Art Deco Sovereign Hotel with a new 16-story tower, the 50-room hotel is in what's been dubbed "Mid-Beach," and attracts Miami's media and music heavy hitters, plus a considerable Brit contingent. Interiors mix retro Latino with the eclectic Anglo look for which the group is known: Rooms have Cuban-style tiled floors, leather armchairs, raw concrete beams, Mad Men-esque wet bars (complete with a lemon and a lime), and family-size showers stocked with products from the hotel's spa. Blue-and-white towels cover wide loungers on the strip of private beach (complete with red iceboxes and watering cans to rinse feet) and daybeds by the large downstairs pool, and cabanas flank the eighth-floor plunge pool and cocktail bar. There are two more bars—a Latin-themed lounge serving punchy caipirinhas and a tiki bar abutting the beach—and the lively Cecconi's restaurant does pricey but pitch-perfect steaks and pizzas. The labyrinthine Cowshed Spa takes its name to heart with rough-hewn wooden walls. There's even a small screening room should the weather turn inclement.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Southernmost on the Beach
508 South Street
Key West , Florida
33040
Tel: 800 354 4455 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 296 6577
Fax: 305 294 2108
www.southernmostresorts.com/southernmost_beach.html

Right on the oceanfront of the island's south side, Southernmost on the Beach opened in 2008 where the legendary clothing-optional Atlantic Shores Resort once stood. Things are more tame these days, with the surrounds skewing family-friendly. But the vibe keeps with Key West's good-time feel, and the property is a very popular spot for weddings (yes, you'll hear the music from your room). The 123 guest rooms are contemporary (no tropical bedspreads), with dark mahogany furniture and muted colors. Second-floor rooms, particularly the full oceanfront spaces, offer more privacy. The hotel is one of the few in Key West with true beach access: South Beach is right here, and hotel guests can make use of complimentary lounge chairs. You can also hang out on the grassy lawn, which is outfitted with Adirondack chairs and hammocks. The quieter end of Duval Street is less than a block away, and you're just a short walk from the historic Old Town highlights.—Terry Ward

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
South Seas Island Resort
5400 Plantation Road
Captiva Island , Florida
33924
Tel: 866 565 5089 (toll-free)
Tel: 239 472 5111
www.southseas.com

Set on an old Key lime plantation on the northern tip of Captiva Island, this exclusive, lushly landscaped resort is far removed from the mainland strip-mall hurly-burly. A $140-million renovation in 2008 brought the 330-acre property all the way back (and then some) from the widespread damage inflicted by 2004's Hurricane Charley. The resort has 105 water-view hotel rooms (second-floor corner units 1850 and 1852 overlook the manatees and dolphins swimming through Pine Island Sound and North Point Marina) and rooms on the beach; larger, kitchen-equipped condo units and trophy homes are also available for rent. This is a one-stop-shop kind of resort, with two miles of fine, white sand beaches, two busy marinas, 19 tennis courts, a gulf-side nine-hole golf course, and a pair of cabana-rimmed lagoonlike swimming pools overlooking the sound. An arcade, water park, and children/teen activity program boost the family-friendliness quotient (more than half the guests are repeaters), while on-site cafés and stores like Starbucks and Lilly Pulitzer eliminate the retail commute. And everyone will enjoy "Don't Stop the Carnival'' on Saturday nights, a festival featuring live music, fire eaters, and local artisans. A drive-market family destination in the summer, during the winter the resort fills with snowbirds from the Northeast, Midwest, and Europe, especially Britain and Germany.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Standard Miami Beach
40 Island Avenue
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
33139
Tel: 305 673 1717
www.standardhotel.com

Owner André Balazs needed to offer some enticement to compensate for his hotel's location, on the bay side of South Beach (15 minutes from the sand). Hence, the on-site, all-access spa that occupies the entire third floor with treatment rooms and a unisex hammam (there's a gym on the second floor). The hammam and sauna provide sybaritic pleasure, even if swimsuits dampen the vibe somewhat: Ask the attendant to run a bath for you in one of the steel soaking tubs in the main room. Around the infinity pool is also a lush place to lounge, but only the brave should dip in the waterfall-fed hot tub then dunk straight into the icy plunge pool. As for the 105 smallish, motel-style rooms, the pale wood and white decor are very Zen; there's even an embroidered cover to tuck over the TV if you want to ignore mod cons. If you forget to mute your cell phone in the lobby, the ubiquitous signs requesting guests to keep voices and beeping gizmos hushed will remind you.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Sundy House
106 S Swinton Avenue
Delray Beach , Florida
33444
Tel: 877 439 9601 (toll-free)
Tel: 561 272 5678
info@sundyhouse.com
www.sundyhouse.com

Constructed in 1902 for John Sundy, Delray Beach's first mayor, the bright-yellow Victorian house is two blocks south of the boutiques, antiques shops, galleries, and restaurants on Atlantic Avenue. Of the two buildings, the Stable Building has equestrian-themed rooms, while the Townhouse Building has suites that overlook the gardens. The only restaurant serves fare like dill-poached salmon or tortellini with morel mushrooms to tables indoors or alfresco. Swim with fish in the landscaped outdoor pool.

(11 rooms)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Sunset Key Guest Cottages
245 Front Street
Key West , Florida
33040
Tel: 800 937 8461 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 292 5300
Fax: 305 292 5395
westinsunsetkeycottages.com

It's no wonder Oprah had her birthday bash at Sunset Key. The exclusive Westin resort is located on its own private island a ten-minute boat ride offshore—a nice retreat when the scene in Key West proper gets too hectic. The one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom tin-roofed cottages have full kitchens, living rooms decked out in lively Old Florida decor (white furniture with vibrant yellow and blue accents), and wraparound verandas with Adirondack chairs. Another major bonus: The island's private beach has sand shipped in from the Bahamas, instead of from the rocky shores of the Keys.

Back on the Key West mainland, Westin also took over the onetime Hilton on the waterfront, reflagging it as the Westin Key West Resort & Marina in 2006. It's a more conventional hotel than the Sunset Key cottages, with rooms and suites in a large, low-slung big building that hugs the waterfront. Though it doesn't have Sunset Key's air of exclusivity and celebrity, it can be a better option since you won't have to wait for the boat to and from the island, there's ample on-site parking, and the view from your balcony of the sun setting over the ocean is magically romantic. Well, as long as the cruise ships that dock nearby and block the view have departed on time.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Tempo Miami
1100 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami , Florida
33132
Tel: 877 857 7625
email@nws.edu
www.tempomiami.rockresorts.com

The Tempo occupies the first 14 floors of the 67-story Marquis residence in downtown Miami; it's one of a growing number of high-end hotels opening in luxury condo towers. The 56 guest rooms, which range from 430 to 1,300 square feet, have floor-to-ceiling windows, and all but seven have balconies with views of Biscayne Bay and South Beach. Decadent materials (Italian mink marble and porcelain soaking tubs in the bathrooms, bamboo wood flooring) plus high-style touches (including Herman Miller desk lamps) set the hotel apart from design pretenders. This escape from the South Beach crowd has a rooftop pool with two hot tubs, as well as another outdoor pool with sweeping city views. Amuse restaurant serves small plates and strong cocktails and is a popular after-work spot. There's an 8,000-square-foot spa on site, as well. If can stir yourself to leave the property, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, American Airlines Arena (where the Miami Heat play) and a range of upmarket restaurants are all within walking distance.—Terry Ward

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Tides South Beach
1220 Ocean Drive
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
33139
Tel: 800 439 4095 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 604 5070
reservations@tidessouthbeach.com
www.tidessouthbeach.com

When the Viceroy Hotel Group decided to renovate the Tides, its iconic Art Deco hotel (and now the flagship for a new resort brand), in 2007, it entrusted celeb designer Kelly Wearstler, known for ultra-glam hotels like the Viceroy Palm Springs. It seemed like the perfect formula for yet another gilt-and-mirrors SoBe party spot. Instead, Wearstler created a spalike oasis, trading her signature Hollywood Regency glitz for a more mellow, marine-inspired look. Inside is all modern elegance: White driftwood sculptures sit atop mirrored Deco credenzas and faux-zebra rugs cover pale travertine floors. All 45 rooms have oceanfront views. The service is also configured for ultimate relaxation: Personal assistants are available 24/7, leaving you handwritten welcome notes, setting up spa appointments, and sending up popcorn and movies if rain spoils your beach time. And although the hotel occupies prime real estate in South Beach party land, the lack of on-site clubs keeps more unsavory nightlife elements a just-far-enough stumbling distance from the front door.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Townhouse Hotel
150 20th Street
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
Tel: 305 534 3800
info@townhousehotel.com
www.townhousehotel.com

Tucked in the shadow of the better-known Shore Club, the tiny, five-story Townhouse Hotel is a stylish budget gem: The 67 minimalist rooms may be small, but they've been impeccably designed by India Mahdavi with comfy white beds and chocolate-colored sofas. She's also added some fanciful and useful touches, such as a red beach ball tossed on the bed and exercise machines stashed at the end of the hallways. Best of all, the staff is both helpful and affable (a rarity in Miami’s budget boutique hotels). The free Continental breakfast in the lobby is a plus, too—fresh croissants, muffins, and strong coffee—and though there's no pool (just overstuffed red waterbeds on the roof, plus a garden), the beach is just a two-minute walk away.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Turtle Beach Resort
9049 Midnight Pass Road
Siesta Key , Florida
Tel: 941 349 4554
info@turtlebeachresort.com
www.turtlebeachresort.com

This Siesta Key resort's pet-friendly policy draws animal lovers to its sublimely peaceful 20-suite complex overlooking the bay and the gulf. Freestanding cottages have private hot tubs and great views, and some include grills on their gated patios—perfect for preparing snook, red fish, small tarpon, or sea trout caught from the resort's private docks. Canoes, kayaks, bicycles, a paddleboat, and a heated pool keep guests busy.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Viceroy Miami
485 Brickell Avenue
Miami , Florida
33131
Tel: 866 781 9923 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 503 4400
reservations@viceroymiami.com
www.viceroymiami.com

While the Viceroy's Brickell Avenue address in downtown Miami won't appeal to beach-bound visitors, the hotel's Kelly Wearstler design, 300-foot infinity pool (Florida's longest), and extravagant spa create a resort vibe that helps counteract all the boring high-rises. Wearstler's design in the 162 rooms recalls 1920s Saigon with lacquered lattice screens, jade accents, and streamlined four-poster beds. Kitchenettes in each room and plenty of space (the smallest room is 440 square feet) help justify the $500 price tag in high season—and put the Viceroy squarely in competition with the nearby Mandarin Oriental and Four Seasons. The nouvelle orientalist look continues in the Eos Restaurant, although the cuisine is Mediterranean-inspired, while the spa (which, like the pool, is shared with the Icon Brickell complex's condo residents) exhibits Philippe Starck's trademarks. In addition to treatment rooms, there is a screening room outfitted with oversize Louis XIV–style sofas and a stunning coed water lounge filled with reflecting pools and Lucite armchairs. So, if you're heading to Miami solely to rock your neon thong on Ocean Drive, the Viceroy won't interest you—but it's perfect for a spa weekend in the sun, away from the posturing of South Beach.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
The Villa by Barton G.
1116 Ocean Drive
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
33139
Tel: 305 576 8003
info@thevillabybartong.com
www.thevillabybartong.com

It's one thing to walk down Ocean Drive and ogle South Beach's most storied address, the former Versace mansion; it's quite another to slip past the iron gate of this 1930s villa and spend the night. Post-Versace, the property operated as a private club as well as a hotel before one of Miami's most flamboyant impresarios, Barton G. Weiss, took charge in December 2009. The restaurateur and self-proclaimed "experience designer" spent three months shining up the villa's embellishments and amenities, and what a singular batch of luxuries they are. The compound resembles a Moroccan riad, with ten suites surrounding an interior courtyard, a rooftop terrace where you can look down your nose at the South Beach throngs, an observatory, and a pool inlaid with 24K gold tiles. Each suite is bedecked with Versace fabrics and Frette linens and equipped with a personal British-schooled butler to deliver Champagne, press your clothing, and secure you a table at the hottest Design District restaurants. The Villa Suite, once Gianni's private quarters, has two balconies, seven closets, the designer's original 24K-gold shower fixtures, and a custom nine-foot-wide double king bed (the "party bed," quips Weiss). Weiss's creative ambitions also shine on the restaurant's menu, where chef Jeff O'Neill (an alum of New York City's Daniel and Le Bernardin) prepares dishes such as salad with a nitrogenized Caesar dressing and rack of lamb with Greek yogurt jelly cubes—served on Versace china, of course.—Terry Ward

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
The Waldorf Astoria Orlando
14200 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane
Orlando , Florida
32821
Tel: 888 353 2009 (toll-free)
Tel: 407 597 5500
www.waldorfastoriaorlando.com

Much as at the nearby theme parks, once you arrive at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando (opened in 2009), the experience is all-consuming. The towering structure rises from a flat expanse of Florida scrubland that has been converted into a Rees Jones–designed golf course, so even though the resort is surrounded on three sides by Walt Disney World and Epcot (the interstate highway skirts the other; Epcot is right across the street), it feels like it's in the middle of nowhere. There are some similarities to the original Waldorf Astoria in New York City: There's a replica of the bespoke clock that crowns the Manhattan hotel's lobby, and versions of Peacock Alley and the Bull & Bear Steakhouse are also present. But the overall feel is lighter and brighter than the Manhattan property, with gleaming marble floors, domed ceilings, and citrusy and sky blue accents throughout. The 498 guest rooms are formal and modern, with dark woods, plush Egyptian linens, and Italian marble bathrooms. Golf course views are everywhere, so it's no surprise that the resort is popular with golfers on family vacations as well as conventioneers and business types. The enormous Spa by Guerlain's treatment rooms have private baths and their own changing rooms, and South Beach–style cabanas fringe one of the hotel's two sprawling pools. The theme parks, predictably, are a complimentary shuttle ride away. —Terry Ward

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
WaterColor Inn and Resort
34 Goldenrod Circle
Santa Rosa Beach , Florida
32459
Tel: 866 426 2656 (toll-free)
Tel: 850 534 5000
Fax: 850 534 5001
www.watercolorinn.com

Designed by David Rockwell, this contemporary beach resort has "the luxury of a grand hotel." Part of the building's unique design is "a quiet pool for adults, lit by candles at night." Fish Out of Water has floor-to-ceiling windows with Gulf views and a menu with regional seafood dishes such as Florida hopper shrimp and crispy Apalachicola Bay oysters with fennel.

(60 rooms)

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Westin Diplomat
3555 S. Ocean Drive
Hollywood , Florida
Tel: 800 627 9057 (toll-free)
Tel: 954 602 6000
www.diplomatresort.com

The once-glitzy party town of Hollywood, a 30-minute drive from downtown Fort Lauderdale, has languished for years, but now it's finally being revitalized by several new tourist-luring hot spots. The anchor of the new Hollywood is this 39-story, twin-towered megaplex, opened on the site of a now demolished namesake 1950s motel. It cost $600 million to build, and it shows: though the H-shaped, sorta Deco design may be unimpressive, the facilities are outstanding. At the hotel's adjacent Country Club, there's a tennis center with ten clay courts, eight acres of man-made lakes, and an 18-hole Joe Lee–designed golf course. The real luxe touch, though, is its stunning pool with waterfalls and see-through glass bottom. As for the rooms, there's little variation—all have water views and the standard Westin Heavenly Beds. An added plus for party types is the nightlife complex that includes a vaguely Asian eatery, Aizia (that becomes a nightclub and lounge at 11 pm), Hollywood Prime (an upscale steakhouse), and Rivals (a waterfront sports bar).

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
W Fort Lauderdale
401 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
33304
Tel: 954 414 8200
Fax: 954 414 8250
www.starwoodhotels.com/whotels/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=1522

There's no surer sign that Fort Lauderdale has transitioned from the tacky Spring Break bastion of decades past into a viable alternative to Miami Beach than the W Fort Lauderdale's opening in 2009. W's first Florida outpost (another W has since opened in South Beach), the sophisticated, high-design hotel has big-city glamour with just a touch of debauchery. In the lobby lounge, called the Living Room, you can watch other guests swimming in the architectural wonder of a rooftop pool, overhead. The hotel's two adjoining oceanfront towers house 517 guest rooms, including condo-style accommodations. The bright rooms are dominated by whites and creams that put the focus on the views; plush linens and minimalist furnishings round out the contemporary look. A qualm: There are no bathroom doors (all the better for the open flow of the rooms, so they say), so you better be comfortable with your roommate. The higher floors, naturally, have the more spectacular views. Most have private balconies with lounge chairs that add movie-star quality to peering over Fort Lauderdale's oceanfront. The highlight of dinner at the hotel's Steak 954 is a two-way tie: the delicious Kobe steaks or watching scores of moon jellyfish pulse around a glowing aquarium that seems to hover within the dimly lit dining space. Fort Lauderdale has never felt edgier.—Terry Ward

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Wicker Inn Beach Resort
5581 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Longboat Key , Florida
Tel: 941 387 8344
Tel: 800 285 3481
www.wickerinn.com

Bougainvillea, hibiscus, and oleander drip over the picket fences and porches of these clapboard villas—decorated in wicker and rattan, with tropical prints—in Longboat Key. Several are located directly on the private beach dotted with chaise longues, umbrellas, and tables (there's also a heated pool). Staying in? Cook up a feast in the fully equipped kitchens.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
W South Beach
2201 Collins Avenue
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
33139
Tel: 305 938 3000
reservations.wsobe@whotels.com
www.starwoodhotels.com/whotels/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=1599

Miami's first W hotel is one of the chain's most ambitious properties in recent years. The 20-story glass tower sits at the northern end of South Beach with a generous stretch of beachfront to itself, and is in perpetual party mode—high heels are de rigueur at all hours, and men wear as much designer bling as their arm candy girlfriends. The entire property has been decorated with a combination of exuberance and restraint. The lobby has double-height ceilings propped up by columns decorated with bronzy metalwork and a tribal art–meets–SoHo gallery aesthetic: zebra print rugs and textured objets d'art against Basquiat paintings and Damian Hirst pieces. Despite the scene—oh and it's a scene—the service is excellent, and the spaces are as comfortable as they are glossy. Each of the huge guest rooms—the smallest is a 600 square feet—comes with a balcony, and the hotel has its own basketball and tennis courts should you tire of lolling around the two swimming pools. Jet-setting locals come for haute Asian food at Mr. Chow, which is patrolled by white-tuxedoed waiters, but Soleá, the more low-key Spanish restaurant, is the better bet. Cocktails are always best by the pool. It's a dream world where flashy cars and speedboats are at your disposal, and lounge chairs call for rhinestone bikinis—in a word, it's Miami.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.