Westin Diplomat's long-delayed tower opens

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HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- After numerous delays that pushed back the full opening of the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa by more than two years, the property's 1,000 room main dual towers were scheduled to hold a soft opening Jan. 31.

The adjoining 209,000-square-foot convention center, which is now scheduled to make its debut Feb. 10, contains a 50,000-square-foot Great Hall, four ballrooms and 39 breakout rooms.

The center can accommodate 8,000 people and has its own parking garage.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for both facilities will take place in late February, according to Gary Sims, general manager of the property.

The latest in a series of glitches that have plagued the resort occurred last December, when a leak in a heating distribution pipe activated the sprinkler system in the meetings complex.

The Westin Diplomat in Hollywood's new convention center can accommodate 8,000 people and has its own parking garage. The center will welcome its first major convention group on Feb. 10. As reported, fabrics and finishes in the convention center sustained water damage, pushing back the soft opening from Jan. 10 to Jan. 31.

The main complex is flanked by the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean and features 900 rooms and 100 suites.

Opening room rates range from $289 to $379, and suites are priced from $475.

The building's five-story atrium lobby is canopied with palm trees and walls of cascading water, which act as dividers between escalators.

Beyond the lobby is a 240-foot, lagoon-style pool that is parallel to the Atlantic Ocean and is bridged by a clear-bottom pool.

The property also has poolside cabanas that feature Internet access and phone service.

Sims said the Diplomat, which pays travel agents 10% commission and is a member of Starwood's Luxury Collection, is primed to welcome its first major group on Feb. 10 -- the United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Pension Fund -- a union which also happens to be the property's owner.

The group has a block of 600 rooms for the show.

Hotel officials, who anticipate 70% group business and 30% leisure, expect many corporate travelers to bring along their families because of the hotel's amenities, including the following:

• The Executive Club Lounge. This lounge is on the 33rd floor, where the VIP concierge service operates.

There, guests are served continental breakfast and have access to a private pantry, a wet bar and two ad-joining meeting rooms for small groups.

The hotel also offers a business center, nonsmoking rooms, on-premise dining, access for travelers with disabilities, Westin Kids Club and Westin's Service Express, which offers business travelers direct access to service features such as laundry pickup and fitness center and meal reservations.

• Water taxi shuttle. This courtesy service transports guests along the Intracoastal Waterway to the Diplomat Country Club, which has been open since March 15, 2000.

The country club features 60 Italian-villa-style rooms; dining facilities; an 18-hole championship golf course with PGA golf instruction; 10-clay tennis courts, and a 30,000-square-foot European-style spa with 17 private treatment rooms, an outdoor pool and a fitness center.

For clients, a one-night Putt & Pamper package is offered at the country club.

Nightly rates through March 31 are from $444 per person, single, or $589, double.

Included are a guest room, breakfast and a choice of one round of golf or a Swedish massage.

• The Diplomat Landing. Set on the Intracoastal Waterway, this 50,000-square-foot retail complex offers upscale shops, restaurants and entertainment for hotel guests.

A pedestrian skywalk connects the main hotel to the Diplomat Landing, which also has a 30-slip yacht marina.

Other amenities geared to business travelers include some 1,100 data ports, an on-site technology staff, videoconferencing and display screens.

In-room business amenities include high-speed Internet access and dual data ports -- one for Internet usage and one for private networking.

In addition, televisions feature On-Command, a service that details daily hotel activities as well as information on corporate meetings; two dual-line speaker and cordless phones with voice mail, and five-digit dialing between the Westin Diplomat Resort and the country club.

The Diplomat is situated midway between the cities of Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

In addition to the Miami and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airports both being within a 30-minute drive of the resort, there are two executive airports in the area.

And the cruise ports of Port Everglades and Miami make the property convenient for pre- and post-cruise stays, according to a spokeswoman for the Diplomat.

For guests looking to get in some restful nights, the Diplomat offers the 10-layer Heavenly Bed with custom-made mattresses, down blankets and five pillows.

Other room amenities include refreshment centers, coffeemakers, hair dryers, movies and a radio/CD unit, and in-room safes that are capable of storing a laptop computer.

The Diplomat has several dining options from which to choose, starting with its signature restaurant, Hollywood Prime, which serves steaks and wines in a romantic setting.

Satine is a South Beach-inspired night spot that specializes in international cuisine and fine wines.

The eatery has a terrace that overlooks the ocean.

For more casual dining, the poolside Splash Bar & Grill serves up light fare.

The resort also features the Royal Palm dining room; the Links Grill, which affords views of the golf course; an afternoon bar called the Tack Room; the Cafe for breakfast, lunch and dinner; a lobby lounge serving cocktails, light meals and desserts; a coffee shop; 24-hour room service, and a kosher kitchen.

For more information, call the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa at (888) 627-9057 or (954) 602-6000.

The property's Web site is located at www.diplomatresort.com.

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