Louise Sunshine is blunt about what Four Seasons brings to Fort Lauderdale that hadn’t been here before.
“I think this sets a new standard for Fort Lauderdale,” says Sunshine, strategic advisor to Fort Partners, the project’s developer. “It’s a brand new standard … It elevates the whole market.”
Designed by Miami architect Kobi Karp, the distinctive curving lines of the 22-story building make a striking addition to the main A1A drag of Fort Lauderdale Beach. The hotel, which opened in early March, also includes one high-end restaurant and, Sunshine says, another one in the pipeline; a Four Seasons-level spa; and a condo community, Four Seasons Private Residences Fort Lauderdale, that is filling up and breaking records.
The private residences’ most expensive offering, Penthouse 2202, sold earlier this year for $15.4 million, just beating the $15m price tag on the development’s other penthouse, which sold last year. The sale made Penthouse 2202 the city’s most expensive condo, breaking the record made by its neighbor. Closings on the rest of the development began in February and at Fort Lauderdale Magazine’s deadline, only a handful remained available. Prices start at $4.6m. “Those are numbers and rates records that have never been seen before in Fort Lauderdale,” Sunshine says. “It’s a standard that is usually set by the Four Seasons brand.”
So, what made Fort Lauderdale right for the Four Seasons brand?
“We think Fort Lauderdale is a very happening place,” Sunshine says, citing some longtime benefits such as convenient international airport location halfway between Miami and Palm Beach, and yachting capital status. But, she says, that’s not all.
“We think Fort Lauderdale is a place for an incredible lifestyle with many diverse outlets,” she says. New restaurants are coming in all the time. The city, she says, was also easy to work with.
About those restaurants. The Four Seasons’ current gambit into that scene is called Evelyn’s, but there will be another restaurant on the premises, and Sunshine says it will gun for a Michelin star. “We just haven’t decided on the chefs yet,” she says.
Between that and the “first-class” spa, Sunshine says the place offers amenities that locals will appreciate too. In fact, she says, about 30 percent of the residences’ new or soon-to-be residents come from Fort Lauderdale – empty nesters and downsizers looking for less worry but plenty of luxury. Another 40 percent are from the Northeast, and they’re part of what Sunshine calls the new trend of people from there declaring their residency here.
“We have many purchasers at the Four Seasons whose primary residences are in Florida,” she says. “Those used to be secondary residences; they’re not snowbirds.”
At least 30 percent of new owners are part of another category – Four Seasons devotees who own multiple Four Seasons residences. “They don’t even go to the sales office; they buy on the phone,” Sunshine says. “That’s what happens when you have a Four Seasons brand.”