Going back as far as in the mid 50’s, Canadians have enjoyed the facilities of the Bahia Mar Resort and Yachting Center in the heart of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The resort which includes a Hilton Hotel with restaurants, shops, swimming pool, tennis is directly across from a beautiful sandy beach on the Atlantic Ocean.
The Bahia Mar Resort and Marina started life as an army fort in 1839 and in the mid-1800s, it served as a House of Refuge for shipwrecked sailors. During Prohibition, the Coast Guard moved in and Fort Lauderdale’s own version of Elliot Ness resulted in an individual being killed during one midnight run smuggling liquor and the smuggler responsible for the death was hanged in a seaplane hangar at the Bahia Mar.
After a series of owners and legal battles, the city of Fort Lauderdale took over the property. In 1949, it created an island where the New River meets the Intracoastal Waterway and ringed it with 400 dock slips.
There are now 250 slips capable of handling vessels up to 300 feet along a 3,000-foot dock and 5000 feet of floating docks.
In the mid 50’s, the marina was also the favorite fishing place for former Canadian Prime Minister, Louis S. St. Laurent, who is portrayed in the picture taken of him and his son Jean-Paul St. Laurent, a former member of the Canadian House of Commons. For many Canadians, their Florida fishing trip originate at the Bahia Mar marina as depicted in the picture of the St. Laurent family landing a large sailfish.
Today it is also the home the world renowned Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. It is only 1.5 miles from Port Everglades and 2 miles from the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center.
The investor group with a lease on Bahia Mar plans to thoroughly renovate the Bahia Mar hotel and to build a parking garage that annually would convert to exhibition space for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat show. They have proposed a 39 story condo tower project but the city would have to change the zoning to allow a building taller than 24 stories. The expansion plans for Bahia Mar are still waiting approval by the City of Fort Lauderdale City Commission.