I moved to Miami last year from the Dominican Republic. Living in an island has its perks, you are surrounded by water, palm trees and beautiful people. I was used to going to the beach almost every weekend, we were lucky enough to have a house on the beach. If you ever have the chance to visit please let me know people tend to only go to Punta Cana, and don’t get me wrong it’s one of the most beautiful beaches but there are a lot of hidden gems in the DR.
I started following local businesses and bloggers to see where they would take me. I decided to start hunting for unique hotels close or on the beach, those where the staff knows your name kind of place.
We decided to take a staycation in Fort Lauderdale. If you haven’t been to Fort Lauderdale Beach I strongly suggest to drive north and discover new places. It is a less crowded version of Miami Beach, with a relaxed vibe, beach front hotels, restaurants, bars and locals.
Florida has small boutique hotels that are not part of a big chain, like The Pillars Hotel. This hotel is located on the Intracoastal Waterway, they are part of the Small Luxury Hotels with 18 tastefully decorated rooms. Back in the day it used to be a house, then a motel and now it’s a small hidden gem. It is one block away from the beach where you will find miles of white sand beaches.
When we arrived at the premises, after checking in, we received a 3 minute tour of the entire hotel that ended in our room. It was not what I expected, since it is an old house you would think that the room would have the same feeling but that was not the case.
The Room – We had a King Deluxe Poolside Room, as you can see below everything about this room is perfect. The bed was impeccable, the bathroom had all the essentials and even the hand towels were carefully folded.
The Bar – Upon your arrival you receive a complimentary drink. You can choose either wine, beer or champagne. Something else that you should know is that you can take your own bottle of wine or liquor, the hotel does not charge extra for that (mind blown).
The Pool View – Once you go out the doors you have the pool overlooking the Intracoastal. The water’s temperature is set at 86 degrees and it's open 24 hours. You can take a swim whenever you want as long as you respect the present guests.
The Secret Garden - This is the restaurant on site, their tables are on the deck next to the water. It is extremely romantic and peaceful. We even got a visit from a Manatee which according to our waiter Jeff has occurred 3 times over the past 4 years. Lucky us! The only way you can access the restaurant is if you are a guest or part of the exclusive club.
Chef Youssef Hammi creates a daily menu, which makes this place extra unique. We had dinner on our first day, our waiter Jeff recommended the Venison Chop and the Bronzino stuffed with crab meat. We literally wanted to try everything on the menu, because it all sounded delicious.
Appetizer – Gorgonzola cheese stuffed dates served with arugula, apple wood smoked bacon and a maple vinaigrette
Grilled Venison Chop served over a bed of Brussel sprouts, a spread of sweet potato puree with a red wine sauce drizzle
Bronzino stuffed with crab meat accompanied with scallops, pepporanata, capers, olives and parsley pesto drizzle
Dessert – Flourless Chocolate Torte served with fresh raspberries, blackberries
We want to congratulate the Chef and staff, 5 stars to the flawless presentation, the wonderful service and most importantly the excellent food from The Secret Garden. I can’t wait to come back and enjoy another culinary experience. It will be hard to find another place with the same level of quality.