The Escape Hotel in Fort
Lauderdale...then and now
Built as a tropical-style resort
hotel, The Escape Hotel in Fort Lauderdale was the first in its class. It was
popular for tourists when it was opened in the late 1940s, also being the first
to have a swimming pool that was open all year round. Together with the genius
marketing plans headed by the owner George “Bob” Gill Jr., it is a very famous
establishment in Fort Lauderdale.
The Escape Hotel was also one of
the first hotels to be opened in South Florida’s Fort Lauderdale after World
War II. Gill’s family was well known in the industry of construction after the
war, which they formed as Gill Construction. It was designed by Theodore Meyer and
Lester Avery, with 50 rooms that have three phases. When the portion of the
hotel was already ready to use, it already welcomed guests even when other
hotels were closed after the winter season.
As mentioned, it was one of the first
hotels to have a swimming pool facility. With its unique services that attracted
many guests, it was even featured in a postcard showing guests enjoying the
pool on a sunny day. The popularity of its poolside also became a venue for
beauty pageants and fashion shows. Speaking of firsts, it was also the pioneer
in providing cabaret-style entertainment in the area. In its last construction
phase, it opened The Bonanza Room where it offered nightclub entertainment.
Aside from these, the hotel had a tennis court that attracted a number of famous
Gill developed more properties in
the area, including the largest ones and those with unique structures,
facilities, and services. Also a marketing genius, he was able to promote
college Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale Beach. He did it by bringing the New
York Yankees’ Spring Training Camp in the area, which later on gave the
high-end image on the beach area.
As popular as it was in the 1960s,
the hype of the hotel slowly went down until the 80s. It was sold to the owner
of the famous hotel chain Marriott Corporation in 1984, turning it into an
assisted living facility named “Tiffany House”. Unfortunately, the murder of
Bess Kleinman in May 2001 in the same facility played a role in its decline. It
was finally closed in 2010 and put up for sale but remained vacant. The
building was full of graffiti and left the property unkept.
During the early 2010s, the area
surrounding the historic hotel has been a hotspot of renovation, driven mostly
by Swedish developer Par Sanda. The investment firm purchased hundreds of
buildings and lots in the area and spent more than $80 million transforming
them into the European-style North Beach town. Due to this, the rise of
properties offering beachside living and vacations became a trend again.
The Escape Hotel is now known as
the Gale Boutique Hotel & Residences. The hotel has 97 rooms in its 2 story
building in the North Beach Village, offering multiple pools and multi-purpose
terraces. The location is also a perfect place to live, having a great location
where shops and dining options are easily accessible.