72 years after opening as The Escape Hotel, the landmark reopens, fully restored and updated as The Kimpton Goodland.
Text Jane Healy
When it opened in 1950, The Escape Hotel was the first in a collection of little (boutique by today’s standards) hotels built by George Gill Jr. Gill, along with his father and Gill Construction were the primary force in developing post WWII Fort Lauderdale. Gill hired architects Theodore Meyer and Lester Avery and built The Escape – allegedly naming it after his yacht. Before long, Gill had an empire of beautifully designed hotels like the Yankee Clipper and Jolly Roger and a collection of entertainers that helped him lure the New York Yankees to train in Lauderdale and brought guests like Joe DiMaggio, Marilyn Monroe, Mickey Mantle and Jack Paar to its shores. The catalyst for this empire was his success at The Escape.
Designated historic in 2004, The Escape spent much of the next decade in limbo, as the subject of various schemes and the chattel of various owners until Dev Motwani and his team bought it up and hired Garcia Stromberg to come up with plans to develop the property into The Gale, eventually restoring the 96 room hotel component. Finding just the right partner for that piece of the puzzle was, in the minds of Motwani and his business partners, absolutely key. It was also top-of-mind for Banyan Investment Group, who purchased the nearly ready to reopen hotel for $23 million in late 2020. Banyan, no doubt with a keen eye trained on what North Beach Village was wanting, chose Kimpton.
This section of the beach has undergone a complete transformation over the past 15 years. Not only is it now home to establishments like the Conrad, W, and the soon-to-open Four Seasons, it’s home to revamped mid-century beauties like Aqua, Tranquilo, Royal Palms. It’s these restored beauties that brought attention back to an area now known as North Beach Village.
Upon being selected, Kimpton seized upon this retro glamour, playing up the landmark property’s past while offering everything Kimpton guests have come to expect. The property boasts two pools and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Latin American and Caribbean-influenced dishes are due to be served up at The Botanic, an intimate venue that takes the place of The Escape’s original dining room. Augmenting this is Good Bar with its emphasis on drinks and smaller plates served poolside.
The Goodland has one foot rooted in the fabulous fifties, while the other is planted firmly in the 21st century. That, my friends, is exactly what makes this divine little section of Fort Lauderdale Beach so special.
The Kimpton Goodland plans a “soft opening” for the hotel, restaurant and bar on the 23rd of April and will be fully open for business as of May 1st.