Hollywood has produced many unique, campy, and fun beach movies during the past century of celluloid, but no beach movie matches Hollywood Beach – not the tinsel town Hollywood, but Hollywood, Florida.

Stress free transportation.

Many beach towns have hacked and sliced and paralleled their beautiful beaches with ribbons of concrete and tarmac.  There is no bigger beach buzz killer than crossing a busy street to get to the beach.  Examples are the OC Highway beach barrier to Newport Beach and Huntington Beach in California.  Even the famous beaches of Miami and Ft. Lauderdale have hazard hindering beach access.

Not so at Hollywood Beach in Hollywood, Florida..

Birdseye view of Hollywood Beach Broadwalk;
No motorized vehicles except for lifeguards.

What is really unique about Hollywood Beach is the Broadwalk.  The locals call it a Broadwalk because it is not constructed of wood like a boardwalk.  The Broadwalk is quite broad, too, and it is an evenly laid out 2-1/2 mile path consisting of rose and concrete colored bricked pedestrian freedom that separates the Hollywood Beach shops, stores, bars and accommodations from the magnificent Hollywood Beach – no cars or motorized vehicles are allowed whatsoever, except for the ATVs used by the lifeguards.

The Broadwalk also has a designated section nearer the beach for bicyclers, joggers, rollerbladers, skateboarders, and little girls on razor scooters. What a relief from traffic, but watch out, some of those bikers who race at a staggering clip like Lance Armstrong wannabes.

At anytime day or night you will find pedestrians and the sports minded enjoying their beach and Broadwalk. At night the Victorian-like lamp lights come on to illuminate the Broadwalk.

Hollywood beach is one of the nicest beaches in Florida and the city of Hollywood owns and maintains its cleanliness with beach rakes pulled by tractors.  I even noticed some Europeans catching a tan. Kids flew kites. The beach cabanas are an extra charge.  Beach bikes can be rented around the corner from the hotel, but according to Denise Gaines, Hollywood Beach Marriott Director of Marketing, the hotel is planning its own bike service.

The real Hollywood beach is found at
the Hollywood Beach Marriott resort.

Not a local?

You soon will be one and feel like one if you stay at the oceanfront Hollywood Beach Marriott, the only major resort in Hollywood Beach right on the ocean on a site that stretches from the Intercoastal Waterway to the Broadwalk and almost onto the beach itself.

Even though the Marriott is the only AAA 4-Diamond resort on the beach, or in Hollywood, locals frequent the al fresco Latitudes Tiki bar and informal dining area (great mahi-mahi sandwiches) with aplomb.  I think there were as many locals enjoying the cuisine as resort guests.  But after a day or so you can’t tell the difference between tourist and townsfolk. What is cool about the Tiki Bar is that you can dine extremely informal, including tank tops, shorts, and swimsuits, either at the tables around the bar or side alcove.

Cool cocktails at the Tiki bar; no alcohol
on the beach, says this hip bike cop.

The gentle Atlantic Ocean breezes blows a certain calming Zen across the patio diners but when it blows a little too hard the wind screens come down and the Tiki bar becomes cozier, with entertainment from a one man guitarist or saxophonist during happy hour. The bar staff knows how to crank out cool delicious cocktails, too, or root beers for the kids!

I really felt safe during the day or night at the Hollywood Beach Marriott, especially so when I met one of the local police officers enjoying the sun on his mountain bike.  He stopped to chat and allow his photo to be snapped and then he cart wheeled his two wheeled steed into a bike rodeo routine filled with wheelie tricks.  Even the cops are super hip here.

I always enjoy discovering a unique hotel while traveling and I made a special note of this Marriott because of the fun loving and quick serving and smiling staff.  It was Halloween in Hollywood and each division of the hotel was competing with their own specially carved pumpkins that were displayed for all to see in the lobby. Probably pumpkin pie is on the menu tomorrow.

Nick's at night, or by day.

Later that evening I walked a few blocks to Nick’s Beach Bar for the Halloween festivities and to meet the locals. Every beach I have been on has a unique bar that everyone gravitates to, and in Hollywood it is Nick’s.  The bar was packed with goblins, ghosts, ghouls, gypsies, and gawkers, like me.  The bar prices are reasonable and they even had Guinness on tap, but don’t tell your Irish friends, I want to keep this place a secret.  I even met local fishermen at Nick’s that wanted to take me out on the Gulfstream for some night pelagic fishing.

Recently the Hollywood Beach Marriott finished a three year, $30 million overhaul that included gutting the entire facility to bring the hotel into the 21st century with high speed internet, plush carpets, hardwood lined lobby furniture and exquisite South America red mahogany doors and paneling in the seven conference areas.

Newly furnished guest rooms.

The hotel has about 230 guestrooms and junior suites with balconies.  The rooms have flat screen TV with a good range of movie channels and on-demand entertainment.  A complimentary USA Today arrived on weekdays and the Miami Herald came on Sunday. No need for that blow dryer in the bath, leave the heavy drapes open and dry the hair au naturale.  Bring the kids, they will have a great time and the hotel will supply cribs on request.

In the mornings I certainly appreciated the coffee bar akimbo to the front desk.  The young Ukrainian coffee steward was chirpy when serving $2 cups of the strong Verona that snaps me into the day.  If you drive to the resort they have a five story parking garage.  If on business and certainly for pleasure, the knowledgeable concierge can hook up sailing or scuba lessons, beach bikes, tours and other fun activities.

The sunny pool deck.
Pedicures and manicures at the spa.

The hotel pool is oceanfront and has a Jacuzzi and deck chairs and it is almost as popular as the beach itself. If you want to work out at the resort they have a plethora of gym and cardiovascular equipment and free weights.

One of the best pleasures you can treat yourself to at the resort is an Aromatherapy Massage at the 2,500 square foot spa that is certain to change your attitude along with your latitude. The staff will body scrub and wrap those stresses into oblivion.  The spa has a special room just for pedicures and manicures with an especially designed chair for paraffin food and hand treatments.

I wonder how much business gets done ON the beach.  Clown around and soak up the sun and as the stressful business world glides away with the parasailers; I am certain many business problems would be solved or wouldn’t occur at all at the Marriott.

Back at the resort the meeting facilities are superb for large or small groups.  The expertise of the kitchen staff can design a customized menu or the bar staff will hook you up with a cocktail party. For meeting requests call 954/924-2202.

Latitudes Tiki bar alcove.

There are seven meeting rooms with 6,634 square feet of space; the largest room is the Grand Ballroom with maximum meeting space of 4,674 sq ft and maximum seating capacity of 350.  There are four breakout meeting rooms and two boardrooms – The Sunset Key and the Wentworth. Don’t bring a thing; they have everything, from A/V equipment to microphones, security guards, and stationary supplies.  Well, you may have to bring your own swimsuit for those board meetings on the beach.

If you don’t bring your laptop for the free wifi at the hotel they have a small computer kiosk that is free to guests and a complete business center. During my stay the hotel was extremely busy with conferences, but I think many attendees sneak away to the wonderful beach.

Latitudes for food with great attitudes.

The resort has several ongoing packages, and they can also design a package pre- or post-cruise when departing Port Canaveral at Ft. Lauderdale, just a short cab hop away.  To check on a package call 1-866/306-5453.

What boosts a hotel’s star rating a notch or two is the cuisine and that is certainly the case with the Hollywood Beach Marriott.  Visit the hotel just for the wonderful Floridian, Atlantic, and Carib influenced seafood, served either at the Tiki bar or the more formal but residential indoor Latitudes restaurant between the Tiki and the Lobby. The hotel also has a rooftop concierge lounge. I noticed numerous families enjoying Sunday morning breakfast buffets, and in fact the resort is popular with families because of its superb beach location.

Chef Ron makes the palate pleasers.

I had the pleasure of dining with Denise Gaines, the newly installed Marketing Director.  Formerly from New Orleans, delightful Denise certainly knew her seafood, spices, and sauces that chef Ron created along with his superb staff.

Born and raised on the island of Haiti, Chef Ron began his culinary career at16. At 17 he won the National U.S. Skill Olympic Gold Medal in the Vocation Industrial Clubs of America competition. Educated at France's most prestigious culinary school, Ecole de la Recolte, and the United States' longstanding premier culinary institution, The CIA (Culinary Institute of America), Chef Ron Duprat has a multitude of skills and techniques at his fingertips, that included  masterpieces like that wonderful Goat Cheese Pizza.

Plate-sized Goat Cheese Pizza.

After completing his training at the CIA, he traveled to the Boujolais in France, one of the most exclusive five-star hotels in the world, where he apprenticed with Pierre Doussan. Chef Ron is a Certified Executive Chef with the American Culinary Federation in 2004 and received his sanitation certifications from the American Sanitation Institute.

Chef Ron’s spicy Carib and Creole dishes were distinctive and distinguishable because of his heritage and his professional membership with the Caribbean Culinary Association and as an advisor to the Caribbean Hotel Training Program.

And you thought you were going on just another beach vacation!

Executive Sous Chef Choo.

Chef Ron's culinary proficiency and creations run the gamut from fun and exciting to classic and refined.  To date, he has opened 46 different restaurants, a veritable world map of ethnic and exotic cuisine, ranging from Japanese to Russian, German to Pacific Rim, Arabic to Italian, and back to his trademark French Asian Fusion with a spice of his native Haitian Creole. His endeavors into new and exciting flavors and foods are constantly evolving as Chef Ron works diligently to expand his palette along with his patron's palate.

I think Chef Ron just likes to experiment with new fusions and mixes and of course I would be his dedicated guinea pig any time.  I didn’t meet Chef Ron, I think he must be signing and dancing in the kitchen, but I did meet his Executive Sous Chef, Su-Yen Choo, who was actually from Barbados by way of Guyana.

The beaming and pleasantly demure Choo explained each dish and its ingredients that seem to propel out of the kitchen as fast and furious as Chef Ron would sing and dance.

Albacore tuna with fresh fruits.

Denise and I giggled with glee over the Yellowtail that was so fresh the vibrant colors popped off the plate; I appreciated the fact that they served long line caught albacore tuna that was so delicate you could cut it with a pixie straw.  The crab cakes were seasoned to a Creole volcanic perfection.  The expressive shrimps were so exquisite that I wish I could frame them like a stuffed marlin and showcase them on my mantle. There were so many wonderful tastes and treats I became as bug-eyed as a Big Eyed Tuna.  What was marvelous was the way Chef Ron could add vegetable shavings and clippings to the seafood in a textured way that enhanced both the fish and the vegetables that would make any kid want to eat his veggies.

Paddleball courts on Garfield Street.

After that meal I was ready for the Garfield Street Paddleball courts just down the street to paddle off the pounds.

Hollywood Beach Attractions and Activities
Broadwalk Friday Fest
Hollywood Beach
Every Second and Fourth Friday of the Month, 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Free Admission
Listen to live Latin music, jazz, calypso, and more. Classic car show every second Friday featuring a display of pre-1974 vehicles. 954/924-2980.

Antique and Collectibles Market
2000 Block of Harrison Street (Street Closure)
Once a month 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Free Admission

Comfort Zone Studio & Spa
954/921-3016 ext. 19
3rd Saturday of every month, 7-10 p.m.
Free Admission
Join us for an evening in Downtown Hollywood promenading through galleries & shops while enjoying art, hors d’oeuvres and wine. Strolling musicians will serenade you and fellow art lovers during this exciting evening.

Antique & Classic Cars On The Ocean
Hollywood Beach Broadwalk and New York St.
2nd Friday of every month, 7-10pm
Free Admission / car registration $15 (day of show)
Open car show, antiques, classics, street rods, muscle cars, antique bicycle collection, live music & dinner specials at restaurants along the Broadwalk.

City of Hollywood beach activities shack.

Design & Wine
Now Art Café & Blue Martini Bar
3rd Thursday of every month, 6-8 pm
Admission: $15 for custom-made wine glass and receive complimentary sampling of wine.

Sample fine wine while shopping at Hollywood's hottest fashion, home furnishings and gift stores. Sponsored by the Downtown CRA and Nation Distribution Company..

Maroone Moonlight Movies - Downtown Hollywood International Series
Anniversary Park
2nd Thursday of every month, November- April, 7:00
Free Admission
Produced by the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. Film starts at 7 p.m. Bring a chair and blanket and make yourself comfortable.
For more information please go to www.fliff.com


- Feature by Kriss Hammond, Editor, Jetsetters Magazine; photos by the author and courtesy of Hollywood Beach Marriott.