The year was 1949, and resorts in Fort Lauderdale such as The Riverside closed for the summer. So when Chicago contractor George Gill Jr. built The Escape two blocks off the beach and opened it year-round, it was historic.
Seventy-two years later, The Escape has been given a new lease on life. While many of its contemporaries have been bulldozed for more modern, taller luxury hotels, The Escape reopened in April as a boutique called the Kimpton Goodland Fort Lauderdale Beach.
I stayed as an overnight guest at the Kimpton Goodland in June, tucked into one of the fashionably renovated rooms near the pool. The Goodland is reminiscent of a more innocent time in Florida, when a college swim meet was still evolving into Fort Lauderdale spring break and President Harry Truman was still playing poker at the Little White House in Key West.
The Kimpton Goodland Fort Lauderdale Beach, built in 1949, features windows butted together at the corners for good light. Photo Credit: Kimpton Goodland
While Miami Beach gained fame for its art deco and streamline moderne style buildings, Fort Lauderdale developed later and has a smaller collection of midcentury modern hotels, with the 96-room Goodland among the vanguard.
What's so noticeable and enjoyable about the style is the indoor-outdoor open-air quality. The resort's three two-story buildings are all connected by breezeways, and, on the second story, by covered bridges to shelter guests from sun and rain.
The clean lines, minimalist décor and smooth terrazzo floors have a Japanese simplicity that is underscored in one of the hotel's courtyards, where a half-dozen canary-yellow butterfly chairs accent a bamboo-lined Zen Garden.
The oval-shaped lobby is lined with floor-to-ceiling glass and hung with space-age light fixtures. Each room has a lozenge-shaped wall lamp beside the door with the room number painted in teal numerals.
Inside the mostly white rooms, the lines are just as clean. Abutted windows in room corners set the tone and admit good light. A turquoise '50s-style mini-fridge typifies the back-to-the-future décor, reminding guests of the hotel's heritage while still feeling up-to-the minute. A Marshall bluetooth speaker provides a throwback radio look with contemporary high-fidelity. A footstool is shaped like a giant champagne cork.
The three buildings at the Kimpton Goodland Fort Lauderdale Beach are connected by breezeways. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst
"The Goodland is primed to deliver something fresh to the Fort Lauderdale vacation experience," said Nils Bergmann, the Goodland's general manager. "Our property offers a laid-back boutique ambience that blends the destination's past and present."
Hard to believe, but swimming pools were a new amenity for Fort Lauderdale travelers when The Escape's pool made its debut. The Goodland's pool deck is nicely landscaped and is serviced by the blue and white-striped Good Bar.
Another pool on the eighth floor of the next-door Tiffany House apartment hotel is available to Goodland guests and provides a truly spectacular view of the beach and the shimmering Intracoastal Waterway.
One proposal for the 12-story, 128-unit Tiffany House would have demolished The Escape, but Fort Lauderdale had designated it historic, so to build the tower its developers had to restore the hotel. The result is a sheer wall that both shelters and overwhelms the smaller, two-story Goodland and may throw some serious shade on the ground-floor pool during the winter months.
Food and drink options at the Goodland, besides the Good Bar, include the Botanic, a restaurant/bar with farm-to-table menus and some mean craft cocktails. During my stay I got to straw-sample a half-dozen libations, including "The Painkiller," which mixes rum, pineapple, orange and coconut in a pineapple-shaped glass.
A Zen Garden fills one of the courtyards at the Kimpton Goodland Fort Lauderdale Beach. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst
Yellowtail snapper ceviche, seared tuna sliders and a simple-but-satisfying roasted chicken are all items I can recommend from the Botanic dinner menu.
Debuting later this year will be a rooftop Spanish tapas outlet at the Tiffany House pool, as well as a coffee bar.
Guests driving to the Goodland should be aware that parking is valet-only and costs $44 per night. A resort fee of $38 per night includes daily yoga classes, wi-fi throughout the property, bottled water, kids beach toys and two lounge chairs on the beach, which is two blocks away.
The Goodland is the only hotel in Fort Lauderdale affiliated with Kimpton. The chain opened the 96-room Kimpton Hotel Palomar South Beach in 2020.