VIP Boat Show

2015 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show Experience Recap

Victoria Barnett

By Victoria Barnett

November 10, 2015

DSC_2791-416304-editedWe headed down south to the land of salty seas and yachting, a.k.a. Fort Lauderdale, to experience the 2015 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show – the largest in-water boat show in the world.

To say it was amazing would be quite the understatement. It’s definitely something you have to attend at least once and preferably more than once because it seriously is an incredible event.

I spent a couple of days at the show, which allowed me to experience the yachts, a yacht ride, the water taxi, the Windward Club, smiling faces, boat manufacturers, the heat, the random rain showers and so much more. Here’s a glimpse into part of my trip!

A Walk Around the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show 

When you hear that the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is the largest in-water boat show in the world, it doesn’t really register until you get there and experience it firsthand. The show really is as massive as it’s made out to be. With seven different locations, you’re lucky if you can cover the whole show, especially in the short period of time you may be there.

From what I could tell, Bahia Mar seemed to be one of the main locations where people spent most of their time. I spent hours walking up and down the docks in Bahia Mar speaking with various manufacturers and embracing the opportunity to see these incredible yachts in person. They really are as magnificent as they seem in pictures, and many of them are even larger than I imagined.


After spending time in Bahia Mar, I hopped over to the Convention Center via water taxi (a fun story for another day). The water taxi is a great way to get from one location of the show to the next. I loved every second of getting to be on the water, especially with the phenomenal views of million dollar homes and elegant yachts. Look for more about my water taxi experience soon!

The Convention Center was as large as you’d think, but it was a great place to walk around and see everything from marine toys like paddle boards to large boats like the HydraSports Custom 53 Suenos.

Although I didn’t have a chance to cover the whole show, I tag-teamed with my coworker Tiffany and together we covered almost all of it. Each location offers a similar yet different experience, so I encourage you to try to hit each one in the future if you can.

Taking it Easy at the Windward Club

DSC_2568-569235-editedIf you’ve been to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, you fully understand 1) the traffic and
2) the crazy parking situation. Thankfully, we were able to cruise right on into the show and take advantage of the valet parking that comes in a package with VIP Boat Show Experiences. You’re already going to do plenty of walking around the show (I walked over 4 miles the first day), so the ease of dropping the car off right at the entrance and then walking directly into the show was definitely on my “What to Be Thankful For” list.

When you walk into the show from this entrance, you are met with fancy cars, beautiful yachts, the Bell Helicopter and, last but not least, the Windward Club.

The Windward Club, presented by National Jets, was the newest feature of this year’s Boat Show. Located right at the entrance to the Swimming Hall of Fame, this climate-controlled venue offered the perfect place to cool off, mingle, seal a business deal or simply relax during the show.

Going from chilly and rainy in Charlotte to 85 and sunny in Fort Lauderdale was definitely a shock, but I’m glad I could trade in my boots for sandals for a few days. From what the locals said, the weather in Fort Lauderdale was much warmer than usual for the time of year, but thankfully I had the opportunity to escape the heat and relax in the A/C in the Windward Club. There’s nothing like comfortable chairs, live entertainment and all-inclusive food and drinks during the show.  


Let’s take a moment to talk about the gourmet food that spanned multiple tables throughout the venue. I like to think of myself as a “selective” eater, but I can attest to the fact the food in the Windward Club was spectacular. I especially enjoyed the meat carving station and the vast array of side dishes. And let’s not forget the desserts! Needless to say, there was something for everyone to enjoy. Plus, how can we forget the open bar? Whether you wanted a cocktail at
10 am or 4 pm or simply needed a bottle of water, the bartenders were ready and available at all times.

I also really liked how the Windward Club had small touches that actually made a big impact, for example, the charging station. When you’re at the show all day and have an iPhone like I have, your phone is destined to die. I was constantly using mine to take pictures and post on social media, so by midday, I could see my battery plummeting. Thankfully, I could retreat back to the Windward Club to charge it for a bit.

The Windward Club also had an on-site concierge available to schedule private yacht tours. Guests had the opportunity to sit down with Susan Phipps to decide which yachts they were interested in; she then scheduled a tour for them with the respective boat manufacturer. The Look Book was a neat addition to this service – it featured several boat builders in all different categories of yachts (Megayacht, Center Console, etc.). The photos of the various vessels served as a great guide, especially for those newer to the boating industry.


Looking Ahead

All in all, I had a great trip to Fort Lauderdale and was so glad I could experience the Boat Show and the Windward Club. If you attended the Boat Show as a VIP this year, we probably had a very similar experience, and I’d love to hear all about it!

For those of you attending in the future, I highly recommend checking out the VIP Boat Show Experiences packages for the 2016 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. We will be expanding our offerings to include so much more at next year’s show, including hotel and transportation. Although the packages have yet to be released, you can be one of the first to know about them by signing up for our quick call back list.


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Be on the lookout for more about my experience including parties I attended, what Fort Lauderdale is like and how my demo yacht ride went! 

For now, check out our Facebook album to see pictures from the show!