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Fort Lauderdale Attracts Some Of The Wealthier Tourists In The Country, And They Could Be Fueling Our Development Boom

More than $1 billion is being invested into Broward County hotel and condo development, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau announced last week.

That includes over $704 million in new hotel development currently underway, and another $222 million in renovations at more than 10 hotels. And it's primarily being fueled by an influx of affluent tourists, the GFLCVB said.

“What we are seeing is the next wave of transformation happening everywhere across Broward County with an increase of affluent visitors stimulating significant luxury investment here,” GFLCVB President Nicki Grossman said in a press release.

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Domestic travelers to Fort Lauderdale are almost 25 percent wealthier than the average national traveler, earning an average of $112,563, according to a recent analysis of the domestic travel market in the U.S. The GFLCVB commissioned this study by research firm D.K. Shifflet & Associates Ltd.

Where are they coming from? Most travelers who earn more than $100,000 annually are from New York (26 percent), followed by Washington, D.C. (7.7 percent); Dallas-Fort Worth (6.9 percent); and Boston (6.9 percent). 

These tourists spend an average of $1,531 per stay, according to the study. They are spending their money on Fort Lauderdale's beaches (64 percent), dining at local restaurants (42 percent), experiencing nightlife and gaming (34 percent), and shopping at malls and outlet stores (33 percent).

In fact, 2014 saw the highest number of tourists—14.3 million—and highest economic impact—$11.4 billion—to Greater Fort Lauderdale on record. 

“Month after month and year after year, we are experiencing tremendous growth in our visitor numbers. There are many factors contributing to this success, including our increasingly popular lifestyle appeal," Grossman said.

At the same time, the Greater Fort Lauderdale landscape is transforming, with new condos and hotels planned to pop up along the horizon. On Fort Lauderdale Beach alone, condo-hotel projects include the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort and its Ocean Resort Residences set to open early next year, Auberge Beach Residences & Spa opening in 2017, and Four Seasons Hotel & Private Residences opening in 2018. GFLCVB estimates more than 1,000 hotel rooms will be entering the market over the next two years. 

According to Andreas Ioannou, CEO of Orchestra Hotels & Resorts, which is developing The Ocean Resort Residences at Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort, this is not a case of "If you build it, they will come."

"[T]he weather, the beach and the entertainment available throughout Fort Lauderdale are as enticing to developers as they are to tourists and residents," he said. "Developers on both the hotel and real estate side are quickly picking up on Fort Lauderdale’s growth and lifestyle, and they are now looking to meet the demand for luxury beachfront properties at [an] affordable price."

Jimmy Tate of Tate Capital, the real estate firm hoping to transform the Bahia Mar Resort property into an expansive Intracoastal promenade, said it's a simple matter of supply and demand, calling Fort Lauderdale the next luxury frontier beyond Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

"One thing I've always said to people is the beach along the Atlantic Ocean is the same Atlantic Ocean anywhere you go," he said. "Fort Lauderdale is the last frontier of undeveloped land. Of all three counties, it has some of the last remaining natural beachfront."

Tate listed strong educational and cultural arts institutions, the expansion of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport as a global hub, and a growing cruise ship port and marine industry as important reasons for the city's increasing prosperity.

With higher quality places to eat, shop and explore being introduced to Fort Lauderdale, a different tier of tourists come to visit, Tate explained.

"It could only be kept a great secret for so long, and now what's happening is that the secret is out," he said.

Here's a list of recently completed and ongoing development projects in Broward County:

  • Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, which opened in September
  • Meliá Costa Hollywood Condo Resort, set to open in 2016
  • Beachwalk Resort in Hallandale Beach, which opened earlier this year
  • Hyde Resort & Residences in Hallandale Beach, opening in phases from 2016 to 2018
  • Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort and its Ocean Resort Residences, whose opening was pushed to early 2016
  • Auberge Beach Residences & Spa, opening 2017
  • Gale Boutique Hotel & Residences Fort Lauderdale Beach, opening 2017
  • Four Seasons Hotel & Private Residences, opening 2018
  • Metropica mega-development in Sunrise, whose first tower is breaking ground next week
  • The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale renovations
  • Broward County Convention Center Hotel and facility expansion

(Photo courtesy GFLCVB and Len Kaufman)


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