With a bottle of bubbly on ice beside my lounge chair and the calming sound of water falling from a fountain behind me, I closed my eyes and basked in Ft. Lauderdale’s glorious sunshine. It feels like I’m a million miles away from Atlanta, but just four short hours ago I was wrestling with my suitcase at the Midtown MARTA Station.
It was an odd scene. I was riding the escalator down toward the MARTA train when a strap on my bag got caught in the mechanics. Admittedly, I was still half asleep so the ordeal took me by surprise at the bottom. Sure it was incredibly early in the morning, but I got a fantastic deal on the first flight out on Spirit Airlines. For less than $200 I flew round trip to Ft. Lauderdale on a comfy Airbus A321. You can’t argue with that.
I had never flown with Spirit and I had some initial reservations (pun totally intended); however, the airline quickly schooled me in why they’re so popular. You can choose what to pay for and what you don’t want to pay for on your flight. Some people on the plane were grumbling about being nickle and dimed… but I rather enjoyed the a la carte approach.
If you’re familiar with taking discount airlines in Europe this experience is rather similar. However, there are some key differences that make Spirit better. Unlike discount airlines found elsewhere in the world, Spirit’s website is fairly straightforward with its pricing. Yes, you will have to pay for each checked bag (which is fairly standard now) and pay for soda and snacks on board. But you also have to pay to bring a carry-on bag as well. Want to pick your seat? That is an extra charge, too.
The flight takes about two hours to get to Ft. Lauderdale from Atlanta which makes this sunny hotspot an attractive weekend getaway. When you get to the airport round up your luggage, hail a taxi and head straight to the beautiful Grand Resort and Spa (539 North Birch Road, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33304). This gay owned and operated piece of paradise is one of my favorite hotels in South Florida. It was also named one of The Travel Channel’s “Best All-Inclusive Resorts” for 2014.
With lots of great gay guys from all over the country, a clothing optional Tropical Courtyard, a sparkling swimming pool and bubbling jacuzzi, the Grand Resort and Spa has everything you could ever want at a gay beach resort. What could possibly make this oasis of vacation perfection even better? The Grand Resort and Spa is also incredibly pet friendly! If your dog or cat is under 35 pounds you can bring him or her along for the fun. Not a dog fan? Don’t fret. Pets aren’t allowed in any of the common areas.
The resort also offers five different spa packages for guests. The “Beach Essential” package is absolutely perfect for a pampered beach weekend getaway. Each person receives a body scrub, Swedish massage and an exfoliating pedicure during their stay. Have you ever experienced a deep massage after spending the day at the beach? It’s the perfect way to transition from the beach to a fun night out in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami.
Looking for a fun gay place to grab a bite to eat and enjoy some drinks? Head to Wilton Manors and check out Georgie’s Alibi (2266 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors, FL 33305). Whether you’re going for Sunday brunch and Bloody Marys or a good ole’ cheeseburger after hours in the surf, there is always a great atmosphere and lots of gay guys hanging out.
The food at Georgie’s Alibi is delicious, but nothing in life that tastes that good is calorie free. So grab your dancing shoes and join the always hopping crowd at The Manor (2345 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors, FL 33305). This two-level nightclub isn’t very far from Georgie’s Alibi and regularly features international DJs and well-known singers on their large stage.
Whether you’re dancing the night away in Ft. Lauderdale or sitting poolside at the Grand Resort and Spa, this is a great weekend getaway from Atlanta. It won’t break the bank, and there is so much to do you’ll undoubtedly be planning your next trip on the flight home.