A harrowing tale of a travel editor looking for love on the set of 'The Bachelor.'
The Bachelorette may be back and in full-swing on ABC, but hang on! Before we switch our attention to Becca Kufrin finding love on television, let me tell you a tale of how I tried to do the exact same thing (sans cameras/contestants/okay, maybe this isn’t the same thing) on the set of The Bachelor‘s 22nd season (starring actual villain Arie Luyendyk Jr.).
I was looking for love and headed to Fort Lauderdale, which is not a sentence anyone has ever actually said, and I was happy to be the first. When I was made known of a The Bachelor-themed trip, where’d you can visit actual locations from the show, I tripped over myself to get to Fort Lauderdale. This was it. This was my chance at love. After all, everyone was in love (with one guy) on my favorite show, The Bachelor, when they went to these places! Surely, that meant I was also destined to fall in love.
Was I going to Florida to be a contestant on The Bachelor? No. Was this in affiliation with the show or in any way a competition to find love, with that even being a possibility somewhat on the table? …No, and also no. Was I determined? You bet. From a sexy hotel by the beach to Segway rental shop, I scoured the city of Fort Lauderdale, hoping to find love, Bachelor-style.
Welcome to Fort Lauderdale
Driving through Fort Lauderdale, we passed many a chain restaurant and CVS. This certainly didn’t seem like the perfect place to find love, but what did I know? What city is the perfect place to find love? Is it all of them? If so, there was definitely a chance that I could find love here. As we got closer to the hotel, the scene changed: beautiful beach, blue skies, bright sun, and… another CVS, actually, but, hey, you need those around. THIS was more like it, baby! It’s Florida love time.
The W Fort Lauderdale, Part 1: Here for the Right Reasons
The W Fort Lauderdale was a host hotel of The Bachelor–the women, as well as titular bachelor Arie Luyendyk Jr, stayed at the hotel. An after-party was filmed in the hotel’s Living Room (bar), as well as on the WET deck (rooftop pool). To commemorate their participation in the show, the W launched a “Can Buy Me Love” package, featuring experiences from the episode which include a sunset cruise, Everglades tour, accommodations in one of the presidential suites, private dinners, and spa treatments.
INSIDER TIPThe “Can Buy Me Love package” starts from $4,400. However, you can book all of these experiences by themselves, too.
I got situated in my hotel room and went to meet the rest of the travelers (women) who were in for the Can Buy Me Love package, feeling just like a contestant on The Bachelor about to meet her competition. Except in this case, we weren’t competing for anything, because there was no actual Bachelor and it was just a regular tour group and this was all in my head. As I walked down to meet them, however, I kept repeating the same sentence to myself:
“I didn’t come here to make friends.”
We were given a tour of the gorgeous hotel, which was right smack dab on the beach and just underwent a $55 million renovation. In other words, this place was looking glamorous as heck. The W Fort Lauderdale is a stylish, sexy (sorry) hotel–and the clientele truly matched the scene. The manager took us up to the pool deck (WET deck), which is, “the place that everyone wants to be,” and you can see why: It’s very nice! Many places to lay down, an ocean view, a fancy pool.
But as neat as all of this was, it wasn’t getting me any closer to my goal of finding love. That is, until, we were shown a second deck on top of the hotel, where they often hold weddings (!!)–and where a rose ceremony on The Bachelor was actually held. Now we’re talkin’! I was determined to hold my own wedding up there by the end of this three-day trip, which was an obviously realistic and sane goal, and exactly the reason that I needed to get started immediately.
The W Fort Lauderdale, Part 2: Off to the Races
After the tour, all of the other girls went back up to their rooms to get ready for dinner, but me? No way. I knew what needed to be done. I was here for the right reasons. I went straight to the hotel bar. After about 20 minutes of trying to figure out where to sit, I settled on the deck–it was sunset and the deck was situated practically over the ocean, giving off definite romantic vibes. Plus, I was surrounded by groups of cool twenty-somethings dressed up for a night on the town. I had certainly set myself up for success, as far as my surroundings go.
And so I waited.
The group of partying young people promptly left (I overheard them saying they were going up to the WET deck, which obviously was the place to be, apparently), and suddenly I was just surrounded by…people clearly in business meetings. So, look, nothing happened. Yet. Which doesn’t matter–I was just warming up, and I knew there would be lots of opportunities to find love tomorrow.
W FORT LAUDERDALE LOVE SCORE: 7/10 (because there was still potential! I needed more time!)
Bonnet House, Part 1: Things Look Promising
The next morning, we made our way to the Bonnet House Museum, a historic home in Fort Lauderdale and (more importantly) a location where a Bachelor Rose Ceremony was filmed and “where multiple contestants got into fights with each other.”
Immediately upon arrival, we were greeted with, “Are you the group from The Bachelor?” by our guide, who clearly thought we were part of the actual show, and not just being shown places where it was filmed. Why yes, we ARE the group from The Bachelor. Sure. Let’s go with that.
NOTE: The tour guide was married. He announced that right away.
INSIDER TIPYou can book a number of different tours of the Bonnet House–most require booking in advance, but general admission tours require no reservation.
We explored the Bonnet House grounds, and it was absolutely gorgeous. We’re talking a plantation-style home with lush landscaping and–that’s right–a gazebo. This was definitely a location for love. I was pumped.
Bonnet House, Part 2: Things Are Beginning to Not Look Promising
Pointing to the balcony of the house, the tour guide informed us, “A [Bachelor] girl was up there talking about why she was upset.” He then presented a bench that was flanked by some bird statues, and informed us that Crystal, a contestant who liked to cause trouble “had a disagreement with the Bachelor near this bench by the birds.” Landmarks!
As we were shown around, it was further shoved in my face the places where The Bachelor was filmed, and that I was not there to be on the show but just see places from it. Which, like, yeah, I knew that, but, come on, you don’t have to keep saying it! Let me live the illusion, for god’s sake!
We were shown a door the contestants walked through, a fountain they walked by, and another door they walked through for a rose ceremony. All the major attractions. One thing was for sure: Anyone who was ready for love in this place better ALSO be ready to be surrounded by a large amount of bird memorabilia.
Bonnet House, Part 3: Things Are in No Way Promising
Additionally, we were shown a seat sat on by Bachelor Arie and a Woman Contestant while on a date, a private beach, and Hugh, a famous swan who was featured in the opening of the Bonnet House episode. We were then taken into a dining room where another fight happened. Perhaps I didn’t even want love after all–it seems like a lot of fighting was involved!
It became clear that love wasn’t waiting for me at the Bonnet House. This place was absolutely lovely to walk around, but there sure as heck weren’t any secret bachelors here for me to marry (or fight with, I guess). Lastly, we were shown the Bonnet House’s boathouse, which best represented my general morale, at this point. (It was flooded.) Hopefully I would have more luck at our next activity, whatever that might be.
BONNET HOUSE LOVE SCORE: 6/10. 100% no romance here for me, but it was pretty, so it gets a 6.
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The Swamp: I'm Going to Find Love at the Swamp
A swamp doesn’t seem like the perfect place to search for love, but I was going to see if maybe I could do it anyways.
Considering the lack of humans around, it was not promising, but it was time to set out on our Everglades adventure at Sawgrass Recreational Park, Southern Florida’s top destination for airboat rides and wildlife excursions—as well as an actual swamp where Bachelor Arie took one of the ladies on a televised date. It became very clear pretty early that our airboat ride that this was going to be tough. There was no romance in sight–just grass. Lots of grass.
INSIDER TIPIf “grass” doesn’t sound exciting to you, let me just tell you that this grass is very enjoyable. You’re surrounded by a vast marshland that appears to go on forever, with possibilities of alligator sightings lurking behind every (grassy) corner.
The Swamp: I'm Not Going to Find Love at the Swamp, Actually
Understanding that I wouldn’t find a boyfriend hiding in the grass, I decided to just try and enjoy the swamp experience as a whole rather than spend my time searching for love. And with that, I realized something about myself that I never knew and didn’t expect: I like swamps. We sped through the Everglades and I found myself searching for alligators rather than a boyfriend–far more enjoyable!
SWAMP LOVE SCORE: Honestly? 9/10, only because I kind of DID find love, in that I found out that I love swamps. How would I have known that? You’re never just like, “Oh, one of my interests is swamps” unless you actually GO to a swamp and have a nice time.
Gondola Ride: A Boat Full of Bachelors?
Up next, we had the ultimate romantic activity: a gondola ride, which I assumed was a long boat in which a man paddled, but was wrong. These gondolas seemed more like regular boats that use a motor. My mistake.
The gondolas host engagements and dates… neither of which I was on, so it was less of a romantic time and more of a regular time where we motored around in a boat looking at other boats. Since I wasn’t finding love on this ride, I sat back and enjoyed some wine and cheese while keeping my eyes peeled for a boat full of bachelors (none).
INSIDER TIPBring your own wine and food. They’ll give you plates and glasses (and free water).
To make matters worse, the tour guide played “Let’s Get it On.”
Are you trying to make me feel bad? Come on, man.
GONDOLA LOVE SCORE: 1/10. I am pure frustration at this point.
Segway Tour: I Have a Strong Love Drive
The next activity was a Segway tour. You know what? I’m done. This isn’t happening. I’m CLEARLY not finding love looking like this. Nobody has ever found love on a Segway, call it off, we’re calling the WHOLE THING OFF.
Anyways, feeling completely hopeless, I rode my Segway along Hollywood Beach. We went up and down the boardwalk, first slowly, and then, once we were more experienced Segway riders (drivers?), we went faster. The ocean was the clearest blue and our happy guide told us jokes, but the fact remained that I was on a Segway, and nothing was funny or beautiful to me anymore. I was a broken woman.
INSIDER TIPSegways take about 3 seconds to learn how to use.
SEGWAY LOVE SCORE: I’m going home.
Party (My Last Chance at Love)
Well, hold on a second! I had one last chance to find love in Florida at the W’s big reveal party. This lavish event (one of many they throw) was going to be cool as heck. Look at this! There’s a harp and a woman model surrounded by men who appear to be covered in fake blood! Now THIS was where I was going to find love. And guess what? I was wrong. Again.
I had searched Fort Lauderdale for love, and I had failed. It was then that I realized something life-changing: This had been an extremely bad plan.
PARTY LOVE SCORE: Love is a myth! Everything I know is a lie!
That said, not all love is romantic love, and as I made my way back to my room, I passed by one of the W’s recently renovated restaurants featuring a wall made entirely out of beer cans.
Now, this? This is my kind of love.
FINAL LOVE SCORE: Beer.