We like Hollywood Beach. We like the smell of burning sausage and popcorn (or whatever the hell it is) on the Broadwalk. We like its chaotic, totally Florida feeling, the sense that everyone there is from somewhere else. Hell, we even like the Canadians. And when we escape for a weekend on the beach, we stay at the Diane. Why? Because the rooms are right on the Broadwalk and have great ocean views. They have kitchens. And, at $70 or less off-season (the price jumps to $95 or more during the winter months), they are incredibly cheap and pretty darn clean. Plus, when you get really bored, the place has Canadian cable TV. You can't beat that, eh?
We like Hollywood Beach. We like the smell of burning sausage and popcorn (or whatever the hell it is) on the Broadwalk. We like its chaotic, totally Florida feeling, the sense that everyone there is from somewhere else. Hell, we even like the Canadians. And when we escape for a weekend on the beach, we stay at the Diane. Why? Because the rooms are right on the Broadwalk and have great ocean views. They have kitchens. And, at $70 or less off-season (the price jumps to $95 or more during the winter months), they are incredibly cheap and pretty darn clean. Plus, when you get really bored, the place has Canadian cable TV. You can't beat that, eh?
Phillip Gesue and his partners had to chase out the South Dixie Highway hookers to start in on the renovation of the old Mount Vernon Motor Lodge. The 1940s Bahamas colonial-style building had seen better days; well after the El Cid district it neighbors had gone high-end funky chic in the '90s, the inn's room-by-the-hour clientele remained notably louche. The seedy West Palm landmark's reincarnation as Hotel Biba has been an international effort. Gesue, who has a master's in real estate from Columbia University, jointly developed the property with Nihan Gencer (from Istanbul, by way of the same Ivy League schooling) and H. Wisner Miller (Swedish-American, Swiss raised). The design is by Barbara Hulanicki, whose '60s London fashion label the hotel is named for and whose signature palette of melon, lilac, and celery colors the rooms. The hues would be overwhelming, but the minimalist furnishings, with their simple, organic elements, let them work -- modern, hip, fun. If restless, hotel guests can party in the Biba Bar. Already a local hotspot, it draws "an intelligent crowd," Gesue says. If the party's too much, sit and listen to the fountain in the Japanese garden outside. And though the hotel is upscale, it isn't off-the-charts: No room costs more than $200, and some go for less than $100.
Hotel Biba
Photo courtesy of Hotel Biba
Phillip Gesue and his partners had to chase out the South Dixie Highway hookers to start in on the renovation of the old Mount Vernon Motor Lodge. The 1940s Bahamas colonial-style building had seen better days; well after the El Cid district it neighbors had gone high-end funky chic in the '90s, the inn's room-by-the-hour clientele remained notably louche. The seedy West Palm landmark's reincarnation as Hotel Biba has been an international effort. Gesue, who has a master's in real estate from Columbia University, jointly developed the property with Nihan Gencer (from Istanbul, by way of the same Ivy League schooling) and H. Wisner Miller (Swedish-American, Swiss raised). The design is by Barbara Hulanicki, whose '60s London fashion label the hotel is named for and whose signature palette of melon, lilac, and celery colors the rooms. The hues would be overwhelming, but the minimalist furnishings, with their simple, organic elements, let them work -- modern, hip, fun. If restless, hotel guests can party in the Biba Bar. Already a local hotspot, it draws "an intelligent crowd," Gesue says. If the party's too much, sit and listen to the fountain in the Japanese garden outside. And though the hotel is upscale, it isn't off-the-charts: No room costs more than $200, and some go for less than $100.
For visitors (or even us locals, who should know better) looking for a place to hemorrhage money, the nearly two miles of corridors of the Sawgrass Mills Mall offer more than 400 opportunities to spend. Get an aqua-massage. Buy new shoes in one of the more than 35 shoe stores. Have your jewelry cleaned. Buy clothes from places like Last Call! The Clearance Center from Neiman Marcus, OFF 5th-Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet, Tommy Hilfiger Company Store, POLO Ralph Lauren Factory Store, and Gap Outlet. Restock your shelves or even buy new ones from Target. See a movie at Regal 23 Cinemas at the Oasis at Sawgrass Mills. Eat out at one of the six sit-down restaurants in the Oasis or at the Rainforest Café. If more suitcases are needed, at least nine stores sell them, including Samsonite. Alternately, stop in at the U.S. Post Office to send things home. The pedestrian word for all this excess is "shoppertainment"; 26 million people partake of it annually at the mall. Thank goodness 11,000 parking spaces surround the mall. Additionally, 6000 tour buses each year drop off visitors to spend a day spending, spending, and spending. The mall is a testament to American consumerism and excess. It's everything Osama bin Laden hates about America, and he's probably just jealous.
For visitors (or even us locals, who should know better) looking for a place to hemorrhage money, the nearly two miles of corridors of the Sawgrass Mills Mall offer more than 400 opportunities to spend. Get an aqua-massage. Buy new shoes in one of the more than 35 shoe stores. Have your jewelry cleaned. Buy clothes from places like Last Call! The Clearance Center from Neiman Marcus, OFF 5th-Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet, Tommy Hilfiger Company Store, POLO Ralph Lauren Factory Store, and Gap Outlet. Restock your shelves or even buy new ones from Target. See a movie at Regal 23 Cinemas at the Oasis at Sawgrass Mills. Eat out at one of the six sit-down restaurants in the Oasis or at the Rainforest Café. If more suitcases are needed, at least nine stores sell them, including Samsonite. Alternately, stop in at the U.S. Post Office to send things home. The pedestrian word for all this excess is "shoppertainment"; 26 million people partake of it annually at the mall. Thank goodness 11,000 parking spaces surround the mall. Additionally, 6000 tour buses each year drop off visitors to spend a day spending, spending, and spending. The mall is a testament to American consumerism and excess. It's everything Osama bin Laden hates about America, and he's probably just jealous.
What better place can there be for Joe Six-Pack and clan? You got little kids and a taste for a beer and a flick, you get to the Swap Shop. After all, there's first-run movies there -- that's right, first run. Second, it's a great bargain; you drive in for a mere four bucks, while kids nine and under get in free. (If little Joe Jr.'s a late bloomer, you can stretch it to 11 or 12). Third, you're allowed to bring a cooler full of beer and food. For the little things you forget, vending stations sell burgers and pizza, and guys run around in golf carts selling snacks. Bring some folding chairs and a couple of blankets too. And beer. Did we mention beer?
What better place can there be for Joe Six-Pack and clan? You got little kids and a taste for a beer and a flick, you get to the Swap Shop. After all, there's first-run movies there -- that's right, first run. Second, it's a great bargain; you drive in for a mere four bucks, while kids nine and under get in free. (If little Joe Jr.'s a late bloomer, you can stretch it to 11 or 12). Third, you're allowed to bring a cooler full of beer and food. For the little things you forget, vending stations sell burgers and pizza, and guys run around in golf carts selling snacks. Bring some folding chairs and a couple of blankets too. And beer. Did we mention beer?
Gentile's guilty plea to charges that he communicated over the Internet with a Fort Lauderdale detective who posed as a 14-year-old girl, transmitted explicit photographs, then arranged to meet this "girl" at a Circle K, is shocking. But it doesn't induce that extra frisson of outrage one usually gets from sexual misconduct by a teacher. The 22-year Broward Teachers Union president was always more of a union operator than an educator; it wasn't like he was constantly around kids. In the end, for all his power and influence, he was just another sad, twisted guy trolling the Web for gullible young victims -- a story that is made even more depressing by its familiarity.
Gentile's guilty plea to charges that he communicated over the Internet with a Fort Lauderdale detective who posed as a 14-year-old girl, transmitted explicit photographs, then arranged to meet this "girl" at a Circle K, is shocking. But it doesn't induce that extra frisson of outrage one usually gets from sexual misconduct by a teacher. The 22-year Broward Teachers Union president was always more of a union operator than an educator; it wasn't like he was constantly around kids. In the end, for all his power and influence, he was just another sad, twisted guy trolling the Web for gullible young victims -- a story that is made even more depressing by its familiarity.

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