If you’re thinking of planning a family resort vacation, let me tell you about our recent family vacation to the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida – an amazing family-focused resort for foodies!
The Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida
While most families opt for summer vacations, I have started to prioritize mid-winter vacations.
Where we live, we often experience 5 – sometimes 6 – months of dreary winter weather. (I’m currently writing this in April with patches of snow still sprinkled on my lawn.) It can really get to you and I find that at about the 4-month mark, my energy level drops and I have a much harder time motivating myself.
However, just a week of travel to someplace warm and sunny is all I need to get me through to the end of winter. I can’t explain it – maybe it’s the vitamin D, or the break from routine – or just being able to be outside and soak up the sun for hours on end, but I come home re-energized and ready to move mountains (or at least get the laundry done on the same day I start it).
This year, Ella and I wanted a low-key beach resort holiday.
We typically travel to either Disney or a big city and spend the entire time exploring and trying to fit as much into our days as possible, so this was a complete change of pace for us… and I have to say, I loved it.
It was so nice to just hang out with my girl on the beach, sit by the pool reading a book, and eat amazing food all week. We were able to just relax as a family and enjoy our time in the sun.
Below I’m going to get into all the nitty-gritty details about the Diplomat Beach Resort and why we will definitely be going back so if you don’t have time to read it now, pin it for later.
An Elegant History
The Diplomat opened in 1958 in Hollywood, FL as a hot spot for celebrities like the original Rat Pack. It just underwent a huge renovation and opened up several amazing new restaurants, including Monkitail which was named the Best Hotel Restaurant by USA Today.
After digging into the menus and reviews, I knew I had found my resort! Since it’s in Florida, the flights were convenient and it’s super close to Fort Lauderdale so I knew if we wanted a bit more adventure one day, we could easily pop over. (And it would be a great spot to stay for a couple days if you have a cruise leaving from the Fort Lauderdale Port Everglades.)
So many times throughout our stay, I was impressed with the details at the Diplomat (I’ll describe a few in this post) and the front lobby really sets the tone. Ultra glamorous in an upscale beach-vibe way, you immediately feel like you’ve arrived at an exclusive hot spot – as a VIP.
Our room wasn’t ready right away since we arrived early, but the concierge desk immediately showed us how we could access the beach and grab an ice cream cone and arranged for our bags to be brought to our room once it was ready.
A couple of times, I had to pop back into this lobby to send off some e-mails and I was surprised at how quiet it was – which is the genius of those little cabanas in this giant atrium. It’s glamorous yet intimate and inviting – much like the rest of the resort.
Despite the fact that we were there during Spring Break, it was family-friendly and calm. The resort has smartly positioned themselves as a conference resort (with a full-service conference centre adjacent) and a family resort, which results in great occupancy for them and low crowds at the pool for guests!
There was at least two giant conferences there during the week that we were there and the only impact it had on our stay was that the spa was almost completely booked! The pools were basically empty all week except for the weekends, and we had no problems making reservations for several of the on-site restaurants. (More about those below!)
We booked an Ocean Front room which had an amazing view and a deep soaker tub that looked into the bedroom via shutter windows (which could be closed for privacy but are awesome if you want to pack while the kids are having a bath).
Ella’s favorite parts of the room were the view from the balcony (which she soaked up for at least 20 minutes every morning) and the cozy loveseat where we ate breakfast every morning.
The suites come with separate dining areas if you’ll be eating in your room a lot, but we only ate breakfast in the room so that was an unnecessary upgrade for us.
Now, my fellow espresso drinkers, you will be please to know that the rooms each have a Nespresso machine.
I am a daily espresso drinker. I don’t go into withdrawal on vacation but the usual hotel coffee maker just doesn’t do it for me, so when I stay somewhere that I can have a real espresso first thing (without a room service charge), I am good to go!
I also appreciated that the resort doesn’t use the mini fridge as a mini bar (which can be such a nightmare with kids). While there was no ability to heat up leftovers, it was awesome to be able to store a few cold drinks in the fridge and it was perfect for foods that could be served cold or room temperature.
Amenities at the Diplomat
We are getting to the food… but let’s quickly go through the other amenities!
While the beach is technically not an amenity, it’s just as detail-oriented as the rest of the resort. I was super impressed with how clean and pristine they kept the beach, plus they provided free beach toys for all of the kids whose slacker parents didn’t think to pack anything. Ahem.
There were also loungers and umbrellas for rent – beach chairs are included with your stay (which I didn’t realize while I was there so I paid for loungers some days and sat on a towel the others – oops!)
Ella was really nervous to try the kids’ club, but I needed her to use it once during our vacation so I could get some work done. I rushed through my work because I felt like such a mean mom forcing her to go to kids’ club – and then when I arrived to pick her up, she didn’t want to leave.
They made some really sweet crafts and they had tons of stuff for every age group. At the time of this writing it’s about $60 for a half day and $100 for a full-day. Evening childcare is $80 for 5-9pm and includes supper for the kids. (This is comparable to most resort clubs and hotel babysitting services we’ve used.)
We also had a sweet mommy and me time at the spa getting matching mani-pedi’s (I got shellac and it lasted two full weeks).
The spa is gorgeous and they were really welcoming to both of us. If you’re booking for two people, you need to book during the day to get “same time” appointments – we booked in the evening and had to go one at at time, which was fine for us but some kids might get impatient waiting around for mom’s polish to dry.
The resort also boasts two sun-drenched pools, 26 poolside cabanas and a fitness centre. There was also a really fun looking slide/play equipment area but some kids told Ella the water was cold (despite them clearly loving it) so she wasn’t having any part of it.
We rented a cabana for one day which I thought was a great value and simply a must-do on a pool day if you have one child who still naps and one child who wants to be in the pool all day. It was about $300 for a private, indoor cabana with a fridge, TV and seating – plus it comes with food (the offerings change based on the package and time of year).
Cabanas are awesome if you have a child that needs to have some quiet time and don’t want to drag the rest of the family up to the room. The pool area was relaxing and quiet, so younger children can nap in the cabana while the big kids are still having fun. It’s also a private change room, when needed!
The Diplomat Beach Resort is Foodie Paradise
Okay, people – now let’s talk food.
The Diplomat may be a glamorous beach resort with tons of amenities and a pristine beach – but the real star here is all of that amazing food!
First, breakfast can be enjoyed café- or buffet-style, or my style – ordered to your room!
There was a good breakfast selection – fresh squeezed juices, smoothies, pastries, eggs dishes, and the usual pancakes, waffles, etc.
My favorite breakfast items were the below carrot coconut muffin, brown sugar cocoa coffee cake, and blueberry sour cream scone.
Ella loved the berry chia smoothie but my favorite was this phenomenal green smoothie. It was super refreshing, clean and packed with avocado, spinach and other delicious ingredients that helped balance out the rest of the week’s indulgences.
I had at least one of these a day during our visit – and I’m actually going to call the Counter Point café and see if I can get the recipe so I can enjoy it at home.
On pool days, you can have poolside service from Playa.
A lot of resorts only give poolside service to those who rent cabanas – which I understand, but it can be a hassle when you have kids in the pool that you need to keep an eye on. There’s no minimum spend – and you can just charge it to your room from the comfort of your lounge chair. (Another awesome Diplomat detail.)
We ordered the fish tacos and veggie wrap for lunch one day… and the chips with guacamole for lunch for three days! It was goooood.
And if you’re going to spend your days by the pool, you need a good cocktail! I really enjoyed the Frozen Pina Colada and authentic mojitos.
Across the street from the resort is Diplomat Landing – a hot spot for locals and home to two of the Diplomat’s eight restaurants – Portico and Bristol’s Burgers.
It’s a cute picture spot, too, with little cars the kids can climb in and out of and pose for pictures.
We had some delicious pub-style food at Bristol’s Burger’s – deep-fried mac n’ cheese tots, fish and chips, smoked buffalo wings, mozzarella sticks and their signature burger – “homemade cheddar cheese whiz, lettuce, pickles, Louis sauce.” Yum. Like a grown-up Big Mac. The wings and burger were my favorites, while Ella really liked the fish and chips.
They also had fishbowl cocktails meant for sharing but I stuck to coffee that night.
But Ella’s favorite part of this restaurant was the free arcade. There are about 6-7 games, including table hockey, and the kids can play them to their heart’s content! It was perfect for killing time as we waited for our food, but I wouldn’t let younger kids wander over unattended since it was out of eyesight and by the front door.
Ella fell asleep before our reservation to Monkitail, so we were unable to eat there on this vacation – but we still got to eat at the amazing Point Royal which is helmed by celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian, who actually holds the distinction of Iron Chef.
(The other restaurants on property that I haven’t mentioned are Diplomat Prime and Nokku, their private karaoke lounge.)
We actually ate at Point Royal twice during our visit – that’s how much we loved it.
Plus, they have daily oyster happy hours, which is the only thing Ella cares about when it comes to picking where we were going to eat each night.
I honestly don’t think I could pick a favorite dish. Every single item we ordered was amazing – but the shining star would have to be the seafood.
From the baked Maine lobster (top right), to the fresh lobster roll (centre) and that jaw-dropping raw platter (bottom left) – the seafood dishes were among the best I’ve ever had, and I can honestly say it was the best lobster roll I’ve ever had – and I order them whenever I see them on the menu!
(We’ve done our own twist on Point Royal’s delicious lobster roll – using their sauce recipe to make Lobster Roll Sliders.)
Ella loved the pasta dishes and she lifted her one year ban on potatoes to try those crispy potatoes – and loved them so much she ordered them again the next time we ate there!
For dessert, hands down Ella’s favorite place was Candy and Cones – the on-site ice cream parlour and candy shoppe.
She normally doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth but she devoured her ice cream every time we stopped in here (probably as many times as I stopped by Counter Point for a smoothie). She also put together some candy baskets to take back home to her cousins as a sweet souvenir.
Next time, I’m definitely going to drag Ella out of bed early enough to make the beach yoga classes and book our Monkitail reservation early enough in the evening to not risk it being thwarted by an early bedtime.
Overall, our visit to the Diplomat Beach Resort was incredibly revitalizing for me and a wonderful family vacation full of tons of great food and relaxation. I would highly recommend this resort to anyone who is looking for a US-based beach resort for a low-key yet elegant family vacation.
I also should mention that the Diplomat offers memberships, so if you’re local or travel often to the Florida area, that would be a great option to look into as it includes not just access to the facilities but also the kids’ club, special events, free kayak and paddle board rentals, etc.