“How was your trip to Florida?” everyone asks.
It was AMAZING. Oh my gosh. I didn’t want to leave. I’m ready to go back already. And this is so true. I enjoyed Boca Raton and Miami Beach so much that I’m thinking about moving down there. They’re so beautiful and inviting. You feel like you’re in luxury everywhere you go. And who wouldn’t like that, right?
For anyone who didn’t already know, I recently went on a business trip with my company to Florida for a Board of Directors meeting. Being the administrative assistant, I am in charge of much of the logistical work – scheduling meetings, ordering supplies, and being the main point of contact to connect people. I assisted in creating the meeting agenda, keeping track of flights, arranging transportation, and setting up the room for the board meeting.
My boss wanted me to arrive Thursday morning before any of the board members, so I had to take an early flight. My flight left at 9:00am. So I had to wake up at 5:30am to get ready, take the train to the airport, and make it in time for boarding. I woke up at 5:30, left my apartment around 6:45, got to the train station at 7:10, arrived at the airport at 8:00, and made it to the gate 10 minutes before boarding began. Luckily everything went very smoothly. I arrived in Fort Lauderdale at 11:05am.
TIP: Take an early flight if possible. You may have to wake up earlier, but it’s worth it for the extra time you get. Don’t worry about being tired. You’ll make time for all the things you want to do – trust me.
TIP: Save money by bringing a smaller carry-on suitcase and a large bag as a personal item instead of one large suitcase.
Once I got to the Fort Lauderdale airport, there was a gentleman waiting for me in a fancy grey vest as I exited the arrivals area. He escorted me and my luggage to a black Lincoln sedan and drove me 25 minutes to the Boca Raton Resort & Club where I stayed for 2 nights. The drive from the airport to the Boca Raton Resort & Club was beautiful. Dozens of palm trees lined the streets and the buildings were pink with Spanish inspired design. The architecture was beautiful, and the town gave off a luxury beach-town vibe.
Boca Raton Resort
Upon arrival at the Boca Resort, we pulled up to the lobby where there were gentlemen opening the car door for me, holding the entrance door open, and warmly welcoming me to the resort. Everybody at the resort was so friendly and warm. The valet gentlemen welcomed me back every time I came back, the concierge addressed me as Ms. Riggs, and the bell boys were always available and willing to help. My boss and I actually made acquaintances with one of the bell boys Preslav. Preslav was the best. He had our boxes in the meeting room waiting for us, helped us set up the projector screen, offered to take pictures for me, and helped us pack up. Anything we needed, he was there to help. After meeting up with my boss in the lobby, we dropped off my luggage at my room before starting our work for the day.
When I opened the door and saw my room, I was shocked! I was expecting a typical bed, desk, and fridge style room – not a large extended area with a couch and table too. AND with a gorgeous view of the water. There were two large TVs with Netflix, Hulu, DirecTV, Pandora, and more. Everything in the room was so nice. A leather notepad, a contemporary alarm clock, and plenty of space to spread out and relax. There was even a curtain to separate the bed area from the lounge area. I was so amazed by the room that I just wanted to stay and chill there for a while. But I had to send emails, set up the meeting room, and make sure all the board members arrived with no issues.
I was able to sneak in a quick room tour video in between meeting up with board members and my boss. There were bottled waters, a cocktail bar, a fully stocked fridge, and a cabinet of snacks. To say that they were expensive is an understatement. A single 1L bottle of water cost $9, a granola bar cost $8, a 12oz can of beer cost $9, a glass bottle of Coke cost $5, and small bottles of wine ranged from $38-200.
TIP: Buy drinks and snacks from a local grocery store and keep them in your room. You will save a lot of money!
The bathroom was very spacious with double vanities, a deep tub, and separate walk-in shower. It also had comfy bath robes and slippers to wear after taking a shower. The slippers were so simple but SO comfortable. I wore them around the room all evening and took them home with me when I left. The complimentary coco & sandalwood body lotion was very pleasant smelling – sort of a floral and musk mix. I took that with me too 😛 The room had pretty much anything you could think of. They even had a tin full of cotton balls, Q-tips, and makeup remover wipes!
TIP: Be careful what you take. If you take certain items you will be charged. Toiletries are free of charge, but DO NOT take the robe. It will cost you $50. (Don’t worry, I didn’t take it. Just saw it on the price list)
The view from the room was so beautiful. You could sit out on the patio to watch the sunrise or sunset and enjoy the sounds of birds singing and the boats out on the water. The view of the sunrise from the room was spectacular. And to be able to do work from the patio in that kind of setting was magical. I completely understand how/why people work from home if their home is somewhere like that!
If you’re staying multiple nights, the housekeeping is super thorough when re-making your room. So much so that it actually frustrated me a bit! I had moved the location of the trash cans, unfolded the hand towel, moved the bathroom mat to one side of the vanity, and set out my toothbrush and toothpaste to use the next night. When I came back, the trash cans were put back in their original spots, the towel was folded again, the mat was centered, and all my items were laid out on a washcloth on the counter. There’s a reason I’ve put things where they are – leave them there!
Exploring the Resort
Thursday was the chill day. We had lunch at the Palm Court restaurant and lounge, which was probably my favorite area of the resort. I ordered a margherita pizza for $19 and a strawberry spritzer for $9. The pizza was probably a good 12” or so. It was bigger than expected, and very delicious! Later in the evening we joined back up for casual conversation and drinks. I had a glass of Moscato D’Asti wine which was probably the best wine I’ve had in a LONG time. It was so good.
Friday was the first day I really had to explore and do my own thing. I met the team for breakfast at the meeting room at 8am and then had the morning to get ready and plan out the rest of my day. I met the team again for lunch at 12 then went to explore around the resort. The Boca Resort is such a beautiful place I couldn’t stop taking pictures (see below). There were so many gorgeous spots to sit and relax, grab a bite to eat, or capture pictures. A stunning tile bench, a serene landscape, and water-front views. There was even a mini bocce ball court with large bamboo lounge chairs nearby. And there was a dock that you could walk along and see various boats and yachts that were being held there.
Once I was done exploring the resort grounds, I changed into my swimsuit and headed to the resort pool. The pool itself was a bit small, but there was a pool-side restaurant and a wave rider where you can surf and ride the waves. I stayed at the pool for about 15 minutes and then headed over to the Boca Raton Beach Club.
TIP: If you’re staying at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, you have full access to the Beach Resort. If you want quality pool and/or beach time, take the shuttle over to the Beach Club instead of the Resort pool.
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Boca Beach Club
In order to get to the Beach Club you must take a shuttle from the main resort. It’s a quick 7 minute ride over there and you get to see other properties along the way. When you first walk into the Beach Club, there’s a large water feature in the middle of the floor, right by the in-house restaurant. There is a swimsuit shop near the pool entrance, selling designer only swimsuits. A single swim top (without the bottoms) is $92. If you want an inexpensive swimsuit, hit up the mall down the road from the resort. The bathrooms at the Boca Beach Club were very clean and impressive. They had pretty much anything you could think of – pads, cotton balls, razors, lotion, towels, and even mouthwash.
Outside there are three different pools, a mini bar stand, and direct access to the beach. I walked around the pool area and ended up grabbing a seat by the center pool. I didn’t have much time to sit and relax because I was on a tight time schedule. So I quickly and discreetly set up my tripod on the chair next to me and snapped a few photos, and then packed up and headed down to the beach.
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I walked the beach for about 10 minutes, enjoying the soft light grey sand and moderate temperature water. As I was walking back up to the Beach Club, a gentleman started up a conversation with me. He told me he was from Canada and asked what my plans were for the day. I told him I had plans the rest of the day and had to get going, but we exchanged social media and went on our ways. I took the shuttle back to the Boca Resort, got changed, and then went out to the Mizner Park shopping center.
The Shops – Mizner Park
Mizner Park was a very pretty outdoor shopping area with a variety of different stores. There’s a big candy store (It’Sugar), Le Macaron, Kendra Scott, Francesca’s, Lord & Taylor, and more. It’Sugar has a large selection of gummy candies, Jack Daniel’s chocolates, novelty treats (like gummy bouquets), Pusheen plushes, and a “Beary Buzzed” plastic shaker that you can fill with candy for $9.99. I was in that store for probably at least 30 minutes and spent $25 on candy and a Pusheen keyfob. I also purchased a mini Kendra Scott candle, a box of macarons, and a $5 clearance top from Francesca’s before I had to head back to the resort to get ready for dinner with the company.
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TIP: Make sure you are prepared to pay for Uber rides, or rent a car for the day
A large Mercedes van picked everyone up at the resort and escorted us to the boss’ house for dinner. From the outside the vehicle appeared to be a large passenger van, but on the inside was a limo complete with overhead lights and a bar station. Dinner and dessert were prepared and made by the boss’ wife, a former restaurant owner. This dinner was a wonderful time to meet and socialize with everyone I had not had a chance to meet yet. After dinner I had a cocktail at the Resort bar and learned a hard lesson that gin is NOT rum. XD Somehow I read gin and in my head was thinking rum – big mistake. The drink tasted like I was drinking a cardboard box. I took the drink up to my room and got ready for bed to prepare for the busy day ahead on Saturday.
Saturday was the longest and most eventful, exciting day. Once again I woke up at 7am and met the board members at the meeting room for breakfast at 8am. It had been decided Friday night that a group of us younger work colleagues were going to go to the exclusive nightclub at the Fontainebleu Miami hotel Saturday night. In Miami, you go sexy, or you go home (not literally). I didn’t exactly pack anything sexy for a business trip though. So after breakfast I finished getting ready and headed over to the Town Center Mall to look for an outfit. By the time I left the resort, I had only about an hour’s time to look for an outfit before I had to head back. And to be clear, I made sure to ask the Vice President of the company how professional we were trying to keep it in terms of sexy outfits, and he simply said “Jackie, just don’t ask questions.” Haha!!
I ended up finding a nude lace bodysuit at Forever 21 but didn’t have time to look for a skirt or bralette to go with it. I rushed back to the Boca Resort, bodysuit in my bag, to help clean and pack up the meeting room. I had also spoke with the VP’s wife Friday night about getting a day pass for the pool at the Fontainebleu Miami Beach hotel (aka my DREAM hotel!!!) Saturday and said I’d be getting there around 2:00. I was rushing to get the room cleaned up so I could pack my bags and head to Miami to make it there by 2.
I left the Boca Resort around 1:40, headed for Miami beach. It’s typically about a 45 minute ride from Boca Raton to Miami, but there was construction causing lane closures which made it over an hour and a half. Needless to say, that was an expensive Uber ride ($78.12 to be exact). I definitely didn’t make it by 2:00. I arrived at my hotel shortly before 3:30.
I stayed at the Best Western Plus Atlantic Beach Resort to save money on a hotel, as I figured the famous, fancy hotel I was visiting would be about $500 a night. Lesson learned… Make sure to check the price of the hotel and compare it to others nearby. I found out that I could’ve stayed at the fancy hotel for about $50 more per night. The Best Western Plus was $183, and Fontainebleu was about $225. I was highly upset, but it ended up working out fine. Fontainebleu was only a 5 minute walk, or 2 minute drive from the BW, and there was a ice view of the beach from my window.
TIP: Check hotel rates on the day you’re looking to stay – both in advance, and the day of your stay. Hotel rooms may go cheap on the day-of.
I quickly dropped off my luggage at the Best Western, packed my pool bag, and walked over to the Fontainebleu hotel. I was so excited to go to my dream hotel that I was almost anxious. I had seen the Fontainebleu on a random HGTV show months ago and decided THAT was where I wanted to go someday. That was my dream hotel to visit. And as God had planned, that would happen much sooner than I originally anticipated.
Rewind back to being at the office in Atlanta. We were discussing details for the board meeting in Boca Raton and my boss mentioned the Fontainebleu in conversation. I chimed in saying that was my dream hotel to visit. And he said it’s not that far from Boca. He would make sure I made it there!
Forward back to my arrival at the Fontainebleu Miami Beach hotel. When you walk into the lobby you immediately get a sense of opulence. Huge chandeliers, bow-tie shaped floor tiles, and a classy bar off to the side. I checked in with the concierge to pick up my day pass (like a hotel room key) and headed to the place I’ve been dreaming of going – the pools! As soon as you step out to the pool area, you’re welcomed with a DJ’s jammin’ music, and the scene of people having a good time. You could tell that it was a non-stop party at the Fontainebleu pools, and that what I liked. Ironically though, the biggest party was at the La Cote pool-side restaurant.
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La Cote Restaurant
La Cote is located at the back of the Fontainebleu pool area, right next to the beach access. There is a DJ playing at the bar and it is a constant party at La Cote. I was sitting at my table fist bumping to the music and dancing in my seat. It was a littlelonely being alone with nobody to talk to, but with the DJ and his music I still had a wonderful time. And of course, being in Miami, they’re obligated to play Pitbull, which I wasn’t opposed to. If you’re not a fan of loud music, you may not do well with La Cote. But if you love a fun, party vibe, this is the place for you! You can enjoy the party feeling while enjoying a meal at the same time.
The food and drink options at La Cote were great, but the prices were high, as to be expected from a high-end famous hotel. Drinks were $18-22 each, and appetizers and entrees ranged from about $15 to $30. The items themselves are not ridiculously expensive alone. What makes it so expensive is the gratuity. On your receipt there is a “service charge” added onto your bill, and a line for “additional gratuity”. The service charge was not explained, so I was unsure if the tip was included in that charge, or if I was supposed to add the tip myself. Well I added the tip and asked my server. She said the check has an automatic 18% tip added as part of the service charge. Soooo… my server got an 18% tip plus an extra 15-18%. I ordered a blueberry mojito, and a turkey panini with fries. After the added unnecessary tip, the total for a sandwich, fries, and drink was $58.
TIP: Your order includes a “service charge” which includes the tip. Gratuity is automatically added. You can add ADDITIONAL gratuity if you would like.
Fontainebleu Pools + Beach
When I finished eating what I could of my food, I packed it up and went out to explore the pool area and find a chair. There are people at nearly every entry point to the pool checking passes before letting anyone in. I walked around all three pools and there were basically NO seats. I ended up going all the way to the back in a section of grass. I was looking around trying to plan out where to put my tripod to attempt taking my photos. As I was pulling my tripod out, a gentleman came up to me and asked what I was doing with the tripod. I explained I was trying to get pictures, but I couldn’t do it alone. He offered to take pictures for me and listened as I coached him where to stand and how to take them. After we got a bunch of photos, I met two of his friends and then one of the guys chatted with me at the pool.
About 30 minutes later I went down to the beach to meet up with one of my work colleagues and his friend. The beach was just like any other beach I’ve been to – it didn’t look any different from what I’d seen before. Regardless, it was still nice to be at the beach in November. As we walked toward the water, we found a couple jellyfish in the water and decided we’d just stick our feet in. We talked for awhile as the sun set and then went back to the hotel. At this point it was about 6:30 or 7:00 and I still hadn’t gotten the rest of my outfit for the night. So I ordered an Uber to the nearby Forever 21 on Lincoln Rd.
The Shops – Lincoln Road
Let me tell you… The shops on Lincoln Road in Miami beach are AH-mazing. There is nearly a whole mile long stretch of road full of shops and restaurants with nearly any store you could think of. But it wasn’t like a typical street where there’d be a main road running straight through the middle. It was two sides of a walkway, and the streets went perpendicular through at different places. The selection at the stores was great, and they had so much to look at. I ended up finding a shiny black leather bra from Forever 21 and a matching shiny black leather skirt from H&M to complete my sexy Miami outfit for the night.
The H&M was multi-level and was so fancy looking! And there were so many different restaurants along the road too. I walked around for a bit to see what was there. Then about 9:00 I headed back to my hotel to get some rest to survive the long night (or morning) ahead. Sadly I didn’t get any sleep at all because the air conditioning was loud, and people were honking outside like it was NYC. But I laid down for 2 hours before I got back up to get ready to go out.
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My colleagues and I met at the Fontainebleu lobby at 12:00 midnight before entering the exclusive LIV nightclub. This club is so exclusive that if you haven’t paid for a reserved table or don’t have status with them they’re nearly rude to you. We got up to the security guards for the ID check and I realized I had left my ID in my beach bag back at my hotel. UGH! Even though it was a 5 minute walk to the hotel, I had to take an Uber because I’m not about to walk the streets of Miami in a sexy outfit at night. The Uber was $7 just to go about a block, and it took 20 minutes because the line to the hotel was so backed up. By the time I got to my hotel, grabbed my ID, and got back to Fontainebleu, it had been 45 minutes. I finally made it back and the VP’s wife had to come out to meet me so security would let me in. I tried telling them I was with her and they weren’t having it. But she pulled me through and all was good.
Inside the club there was a descending staircase to the main level, two bars on the outer sides, smaller tables closer to the middle, and the big tables/booths in the middle of the club surrounding the dance floor. The large tables in the middle had platform areas behind them where you could stand to get a better view of the club. Security inside the club was very strict. If you weren’t with a group at a table, they wouldn’t even let you be in that area. At our table we had a bottle of tequila, vodka, champagne, and juices to mix with them.
In Miami, the party doesn’t even start until 12 or 1 in the morning. The resident DJ Mednas was playing until 1:30, when ZEDD came on. I GOT TO SEE ZEDD!!!! The club was SO hype the entire night. I was fist-pumping, dancing, and singing the entire night. The entire ceiling light display moved, and lights were flashing and moving all around. There were air jets that shot out cool blasts of fog, and confetti blasts from the ceiling. It was an entire experience! (see video below)
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There were expensive, extravagant drink displays with lights, dancers, and sparklers. The bigger the display for the bottle, the more expensive it was. There’d be a whole group to bring out the drink, including about 3 specially dressed ladies to carry out the lit up signs. Every drink had a different shaped light up display or theme. It was super cool to see the different displays come out throughout the night.
When I say “in Miami you go sexy or go home” the dancers are the perfect example. The professional dancers at LIV were wearng only X shaped tape over their chest, and bottoms that only covered half of their butt. Essentially, if you showed up in a bra and booty shorts you’d probably be fine. My lace bodysuit and black leather ensenble was the perfect outfit for the scene.
The music and performance was so great that you couldn’t help but dance and jump around. At one point I got up on the platform to dance but was being told by security to get down because I wasn’t part of the group at that table. Later on, the people of the table invited me up and there was no issue. The VP and his wife kept encouraging everyone to drink and told me to get up on the platform! And when I couldn’t stand up there, they told me to stand on our own booth. This picture is the perfect representation of everything at LIV. My outfit, the drinks, confetti everywhere, the party vibe, and how excited and happy I was being there.
LIV was such a wonderful experience for me. To be able to let loose and have fun around my work colleagues and not worry about if I’m dressed too sexy or dancing with my hips too much was such a freeing feeling. Having drinks, dancing around everyone, and talking about personal-life stuff made me feel so much closer to everybody. And I felt like I became best friends with the VP’s wife after the trip. She’s so sweet and absolutely gorgeous. This is definitely something I could do regularly.
We stayed at the club until 4am, which would’ve been 5 without Daylight Savings Time! I was the last person left with the VP and his wife at the end of the night/morning. They walked me to the rideshare pickup spot and insisted that I call them when I made it back to the hotel safely. I ended up getting to sleep shortly after 4:30 and had to wake up at 8am to make my flight in time.
My return flight left at 12:05 Sunday afternoon, so I had to leave the hotel by 9:30 to make the 45 minute ride to the airport to make it in time for boarding. The morning was a bit rough. I was fine until I got to the airport. I had only about three drinks at the club, but after taking a few bites of an asiago bagel from Starbucks, I started feeling nauseous and sweaty. I managed to survive the feeling and made the flight back with no further issues. I took the train back to my car at work and drove home. I got home around 2:30. That night I went to sleep at 9:30 and got 9 ½ hours of sleep.
TIP: You can bring a clear empty water bottle and unopened small snacks through airport security.
I did not want to go back to Atlanta. Sure I had to get used to the humid weather in Miami that I had just gotten away from in Atlanta. But it was so nice down there that I did not want to leave. I would be ready to go back right now if I could!
I felt like I fit right in to the luxury feel of south Florida, and I’m ready to go back.