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On June 12 about 60 people gathered in the lobby of the Renaissance Fort Lauderdale Hotel to witness the hotel's grand opening. Among the visitors were civic and business leaders such as Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle and Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau.
By 11:30 a.m., the ceremony had ended, and the energy it brought gave way to the more relaxed atmosphere of the hotel's exterior Mediterranean architecture, and the island-colonial motif within.
Sitting on a couch across from the front desk, where he could watch guests check in, GM Christopher Pollock remembered the Fort Lauderdale hospitality market when he began working in 1973.
"When I first started my career, you were either a tourist or a local," Pollock said.
But now things have changed, he said. Fort Lauderdale, which was known as a destination for young spring breakers looking for a good time, has changed its image to an attractive destination for business travelers and conventioneers.
"That has been the effort of this destination for the past 10 years, for us to make the change in image, and we have …