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Personal Safety in Fort Lauderdale

dreamin

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My sister, daughter and I are considering a week vacation in the Fort Lauderdale area in mid-Feb. Great airfare available but not sure yet about timeshare availability. I have only been to FLL once and that was to connect with a cruise. My main concern is whether this is a safe destination for us (my sister and I are in our mid-50's and my daughter is 22). I know there are good and bad areas in any large city and the usual travel precautions would be advised. Would you recommend FLL as a vacation destination? Cheap flights are also available to Fort Myers, so this is also a possibility. The airfare sale is one day only, so we need to make a decision today. Any helpful comments would be appreciated.
 

suenmike32

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Older, middle age and young people flock to Florida every year...with few if any incidents at all. I see Lauderdale as no exception. Just use your head and try not to expose yourself to obvious pitfalls. You'll know the places you need to stay out of when you get there. Walking around late at night is a no-brainer..."don't do it"!. Just use common sense....and enjoy the beaches/weather.
By the way, Ft. Myers is a long way from Lauderdale. I'd be more afraid of the drive down to Lauderdale than the stay itself.
I don't know what it is about Florida highways....some people (from many different states), just seem to get very aggressive. Maybe its the 70mph...
I don't know....I know that after driving the full length to get to Palm Beach....I'm ready to stay off the roads a while, "my knuckles hurt"!
Mike
 
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hajjah

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We just returned on Saturday from Vacation Village at Weston, the airport being FLL. I believe this area to be very safe for the 3 resorts, Weston, Bonaventure and the newest, Mizner. We did the Mizner tour. Resort security and the local Sheriff dept were on patrol at all times. I even walked to/from the Publix on Thanksgiving Day (3 miles) and always saw security. We did the midnight craze of Black Friday at the Sawgrass Mills Outlets, which the news reported there being at least 30,000 people. Security was everywhere. I don't know about the other parts of FLL. We took the Miami tour via the resort and enjoyed the day immensely. I always see units available at these 3 resorts on RCI.
 

theo

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One observation re: car rental...

Cheap flights are also available to Fort Myers, so this is also a possibility. Any helpful comments would be appreciated.
I would encourage you to look at and consider car rental rates at Fort Myers as part of your equation, if cost matters. The "high season" car rental rates at RSW (Fort Myers Airport) are just astronomical, bordering on larceny (...regardless of the particular car rental company). Whether it's the lock they have on the baseball spring training crowd or what, I have no idea, but the only description that fits is PRICE GOUGING.

I recently made February travel arrangements for my folks. Flying into RSW (Fort Myers) meant an $800+ weekly rate for a full size car. Flying into nearby Punta Gorda instead meant a weekly car rental rate of under $300 for the same car --- and I'd bet that the FLL car rental rates are comparable to that latter figure. Decision was easy, since airfares were just about the same (although, as far as I know, only Direct Air flys into Punta Gorda, but that worked for my folks). One click of the keyboard saved over $500 in car rental cost for one week.

I don't know a thing about Fort Lauderdale and I certainly am not lobbying for one location over the other. The likelihood of finding timeshare availability in or around Fort Myers in February at this late date is probably just about zero anyhow. My intended message is simply to recommend that you check the car rental rates at RSW (Fort Myers) if any part of your decision matrix in considering flying into RSW involves cost. The savings of cheap airfare into RSW will disappear quite quickly as soon as you get to the car rental counter...
 
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Neesie

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I've been going to Ft. Lauderdale almost every winter for over twenty years. No problems whatsoever.

Now I don't mean to offend you, BUT, it seems to me that people that take cruises don't have as good of an impression as people that staying oceanfront or nice condo areas. On another travel board that I am on all the time people as about the cheapest place to rent in Fort Lauderdale for one or two days pre or post cruise. I've also known people that I work with that take cruises and how their perspective of Ft. Lauderdale and other cities are different than mine.

Simply stated, stay in a nice area.:doh:
 

suzanne

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Since I live in Pompano Beach, just north of Fort Lauderdale, I can say that given a choice between the two, I would go to Fort Meyers. The beach scene at Fort Lauderdale has changed a great deal over the last ten years that I have lived here. Its not anywhere near as clean & nice as it used to be. The beach front restaurants are not as good and the shops all seem to have the same stuff in them thats been there forever. If your after shopping instead of the beach area, the Bonaventure is a nice place as is the Wyndham Palm Aire in Pompano Beach. Both are about 20 minute drive to the beach and are much closer to shopping malls.

I like the Fort Meyers area. Its more of a small town instead of big city vibe. Lots of good restaurants and shops. The beaches are a bit different from Fort Luaderdale due to being on the Gulf instead of the Ocean. They are mostly wide sandy stretches. No offshore reefs for snorkeling.

As for safety, the above posters are right, use the same precautions you would anywhere else. Use your in room safe, leave your fancy jewelry at home and never leave anything in your vehicle or on the beach, it will not be there when you go back. At the shopping malls, you can always ask for a security person to walk you to your vehicle. This has become the norm down here for ladies on their own.

Be sure you keep your car windows closed and your doors locked and never open them to a stranger at any intersection. Florida is all self serve gas so when you get out to put gas in your car, lock you door behind you and do not leave your purse on the seat in sight of anyone. There have been several thefts from cars at gas stations thoughout SE Florida.

Have a great trip whichever area you decide to visit.

Suzanne
 

BevL

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FOrt Myers would be my choice because I love the Gulf Coast. But you will be hard pressed to find a timeshare exchange for mid February on that side.

JMHO
 

swift

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We went as a family to Fort Lauderdale for about a week before heading up to Disney World last year at Christmas time. Our whole family really enjoyed ourselves there. I would go back in a heart beat.
 

vacationhopeful

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I travel many times a year to either Ft Lauderdale or Pompano Beach areas. Ft Lauderdale has many, many things to do ... Water Bus, Jungle Queen, snorkling, drift fishing, shopping til you drop, every form of dining, and heated salt water pools.

As a female, just follow your big city travel rules. Taxis are pretty cheap and if you are staying beachfront in Ft Lauderdale - you might use them instead of renting a car. Rent a car if you are staying in Pompano Beach.
 

dreamin

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Thank you for all the valuable information. The seat sale ended at midnight so I had to make a decision. We are going to Fort Lauderdale. Ticket price was $372 return, all taxes included. This is half the price it normally is. My girlfriend decided to join us as well (safety in numbers). We are planning to rent a car so that we won't be limited to timeshares in the Fort Lauderdale area. I'm hoping that I'll find something through Last Call or Extra Vacations. If that's not realistic, I might have to lower my standards and stay at a hotel! Suzanne, I paid attention to your safety advice and was disappointed to hear that the Lauderdale area is deteriorating. Three years ago we stayed on Sanibel Island and loved it but I know that is a hard area to get. We just got lucky when a cancellation came in! Neesie, I agree with you about forming an opinion on a city when you are only there for one night. That is why I would like to return and spend some time exploring all that the city has to offer. I'll keep you posted on where we end up staying.
 

pranas

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Hey Suzanne, I am going to send the Broward Tourism patrol after you. :)
I have not heard of any new major safety problems in the beach area and I live on the barrier island. One just has to exercise the same caution as they do anywhere. Ft. Lauderdale, Lauderdale by the Sea, and Pompano do take care of their beach areas - safey and cleanliness wise. In LBTS, you can walk the streets during any hour that you like. The beaches are cleaned every morning.

Ft. Lauderdale has been redeveloping its beach area for twenty years now and just about all of the old hotels are gone. With a few exceptions, it has become a rather high end destination. From the outside, it looks like the timeshares have spruced up also. Sorry, but I do not believe that this area has deteriorated in the past ten years. As for shopping, the Galleria, one block west of the Intercoastal, is a very nice place to shop The shops in the Galt Mile area and on Commercial Ave. are interesting places to shop, lots of restaurants, art galleries,etc. You can ride a free trolley from the beach to the main area on Las Olas. No tacky tee shirt shops here; just high end specialty stores, and lots of restaurants, and art galleries. Great place to people watch in the evening.

LBTS has street concerts every other Friday and some Saturday evenings. They are free and you can dance in the street if you like. People of all ages show up and have a good time. Very Old Florida like and that is what LBTS prides itself on - small town surrounded by water and the big city.
 

Neesie

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pranas, it's nice to be validated by someone who actually lives there! My hubby and I adore Lauderdale by the Sea specifically for it's small town charm. We used to take our kids there when they were little because we always felt safe walking the neighborhoods looking for shops and places to eat. We are staying in Pompano Beach second week of January and then driving down to Key West for a few days after that. Then we'll wind up the trip by going to Ft. Myers which is also a safe destination in my opinion. :hi:
 

pgnewarkboy

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I appreciate anyone being concerned about personal safety. The fact of the matter is that everyone must use common sense and live their lives without fear. A life circumscribed by fear is a life that is ultimately short-changed. I grew up in one of the toughest cities in the nation. The vast majoriy of people would be afraid to stop there much less live there. I had to be aware of my circumstances at all times. I was not, however, afraid. Nor was anyone else that I knew. Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Meyers, or Buenos Aires - just be careful and have a great time!
 

Jennie

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We own six weeks of timeshare in Ft. Lauderdale and have been vacationing there from late January to early March for dozens of years. Whether I am out and about alone, or with female relatives or friends, I have never felt fearful, nor have I ever encountered any dangerous or criminal event. (Our age range is 50-92).

I personally feel that Ft. Lauderdale has improved greatly over the past 10 years. Tourism is their main industry and the police presence and enforcement of quality of life crimes is excellent. I no longer see homeless people wandering around--not that they really caused much harm when they were more visible years ago.

Like any large city, there are neighborhoods where poverty and criminal activity are problematic. But these are small and self-contained pockets, far removed from the tourist area.

I'm sure you will find much to love and enjoy in Ft. Lauderdale. I hope, however, that you are not expecting to find timeshare availability during Week 7 which is President's week.

We own at the Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort and find the location and amenities to be excellent. If you love the beach, this is the place to be. You could make do without a car. Just take the $10. per person shuttle from the airport and then use the extensive public bus and water taxi system to go far and wide. The upscale Galleria Mall, plus tons of restaurants (all price ranges) are within walking distance or a short bus ride away.

This is in no way an "ad" since we use our units every year. But it is an 18 story building with hundreds of units and is the one you would most likely find as an exchange through RCI or I.I. if any are available.

The three huge Vacation Village timeshare properties (Weston, Bonaventure, and Mizner) are very nice and can have good exchange availability. But they are far out on the western end of Ft. Lauderdale, about 25 miles inland from the beach and theatre and cultural center of Ft. Lauderdale. I think it would be far more difficult to mange without a car out there. And car rental rates are very high in February unless you book 9-12 months in advance, which is what we always do.

Enjoy your vacation. And don't worry about crime or safety issues.
 

dreamin

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Update on Florida plans

For all of you tuggers who offered your advice and suggestions, I thought I would let you know how I planned our trip. We will be arriving in FLL and staying 2 days there. Got a great deal on the Sheraton Suites in Plantation for $79 a night through Hotwire (that includes all taxes). Great way to book hotel rooms for those who have never used Hotwire. I rented a minivan through Dollar for $199/week, as we'll be driving to Marco Island on the West Coast. I was very lucky and got a week at the Charter Club (HGVC resort), 2 bedroom right on the beach. Patience paid off as I got this as an Instant Exchange for 7500 points! I'm happy! We then go to Orlando for 2 days because my daughter wanted to go to Disney. Again through Hotwire I was able to book a 2 bedroom unit at Polynesian Isles, a Diamond Resorts property, for $110 (taxes incl.) We then return to FLL to fly home. I know we are covering a lot of territory in a short time frame, but this itinerary will give us a taste of what Florida has to offer. Since we live in central Canada and the nearest city is 400 miles away, we're used to long-distance driving! Although I know the Turnpike is going to be a bit crazier than I'm used to. We're having a terribly long, cold winter (most days -35 with the windchill factor), so we're very excited about our upcoming trip. :whoopie:
 

Sea Six

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There are lots of bad guys in Ft Lauderdale. Just trust your instincts, and if you don't feel comfortable, just move on.
 

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Have a nice trip

Although I know the Turnpike is going to be a bit crazier than I'm used to. We're having a terribly long, cold winter (most days -35 with the windchill factor), so we're very excited about our upcoming trip. :whoopie:
I agree with everyone else. You will be fine in Fort Lauderdale, :D It's just as safe as Marco Island and Orlando...

As far as the turnpike, you shouldn't have any problem. The turnpike is pretty civilized. Just stay to the right and allow faster traffic to pass and you should find it a nice easy drive. :D Alligator Alley (I-75 W) is ok too and you won't have any problem heading over to Marco either. Generally, the only road you have to be extra careful of in SoFla is I-95...a crazy ride of 45 mph tourists lost in the left lane, tractor trailers on their butt and a million crazies zooming around everyone else lol. :cheer:
 

Sea Six

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pranas

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Not as safe as Marco Island because Marco Island is a tiny place but just as safe as Orlando. Plantation is not quite Ft. Lauderdale but you should be fine.

Have no idea why Sea Six is laughing so hard. Ft. Lauderdale is a safe area, exspecially the beach area.
 

Sea Six

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Just a personal thing, since my cousin was murdered in Ft Lauderdale. He lived in the Davie / Plantation area.
 
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Sea Six

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Here's some trivia for you -
Several years ago, most of the rental cars in Florida were white, had a license beginning with the letter E, and had bumper stickers and other decals on them advertising the rental car company. Can you guess why all these things are not done anymore?
 
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