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Saturday,  May 18, 2024 7:49 PM 

On Location: Six hotels in The Palm Beaches that left us feeling relaxed, recharged & ritzy!

On Location: Six hotels in The Palm Beaches that left us feeling relaxed, recharged & ritzy!
PAX joined Canadian travel advisors in touring some of The Palm Beaches' top hotels, including the historic Breakers Palm Beach (pictured here). (Pax Global Media)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Between every two palm trees is a doorway to a new world – or, if you’re in The Palm Beaches, a new hotel.

There are some 220 hotels in The Palm Beaches, a fascinating county of 39 unique cities in South Florida – from Jupiter in the north to Boca Raton in the south – located about a half hour north of Fort Lauderdale airport, and some two-and-half hours south of Orlando and Kissimmee.

The accommodations in this tony coastal community range from independent properties to well-known chains, as PAX learned during a recent visit to The Palm Beaches with VoX International (which represents the destination in Canada) and an esteemed group of Virtuoso-certified travel advisors from Ontario.

From left: Paul Larcher, Naomi Rogers, Carolyn Kremer, Catherine Davis, Leanne Toushan and Michael Pihach pose in front of a yacht, courtesy of Lots of Yachts/Lots of Spots, in West Palm Beach. (Supplied)

And, when you’re in “America’s first resort destination” – a title given to The Palm Beaches for its role in attracting the late American industrialist Henry Morrison Flagler, who built a railroad that brought vacationing Americans from the north down to Florida in the late 1800s, spawning hotels and golf courses – you can expect some genuine hospitality.

“There’s a level of service in this area that I don’t think you’ll find anywhere else in Florida,” as VoX’s Paul Larcher, account director for Discover The Palm Beaches, told PAX.

READ MORE: Golf, Gucci, deals & diversity: more Canadians are flocking to The Palm Beaches

Picton, ON-based travel advisor Catherine Davis of Zebrano Travel echoed that sentiment.

Palm trees and yachts in The Palm Beaches. (Pax Global Media)

“Here, service is huge,” Davis said. “We always think about the Caribbean, but we have it all right here in the USA. The Palm Beaches are a quick trip, it’s easy. And there’s iconic properties.”  

The hotel life is the good life, it’s been said, and when visiting the storied Palm Beaches, you don’t have to go very far to find a luxurious sanctuary.

Here are six hotels in the county that left us relaxed, recharged and, well, feeling rather ritzy!

Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa

Snuggled away in the town of Manalapan, on seven private acres of seaweed-free beach – and some 15 kilometres south along the coast from Palm Beach's swanky retail corridor, Worth Avenue – the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, part of Virtuoso, was previously a Ritz-Carlton. It re-branded as Eau in 2013.

Canadian travel advisors meet the team at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa. (Pax Global Media)

With turquoise-hues from the Atlantic Ocean in the background, this Forbes Five Star property with 309 guestrooms and suites was stylized by decorator Jonathan Adler, whose stylistic “Capri meets Santorini meets Palm Beach” approach shines through with relaxed, vintage touches.

“Capri meets Santorini meets Palm Beach

The Eau Palm Beach was a private members club for society's rich and famous in the early 1950s. (Pax Global Media)

Oceanside dining at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa. (Pax Global Media)

There are eight dining experiences, two oceanfront pools – one of which is for adults only – three tennis courts, and clubs for children and teens. There’s no resort fee, either.

READ MORE: “If these palms could talk”: Agents unpack history, culture (and glam) in The Palm Beaches

The five-star Eau Spa, a 42,000 square-foot crown jewel with outdoor gardens, where villas function as treatment rooms, is a destination in and of itself.

Inside the the five-star Eau Spa. (Pax Global Media)

Meanwhile, “Club Level” guests can access a private lounge lined with wallpaper depicting stylish monkeys in palm trees, holding martini glasses and shakers – a nod to the late architect Addison Mizner, who defined South Florida’s architectural legacy during the roaring twenties with his own take on Spanish revival.

(Eccentric Mizner had a pet spider monkey, named Johnnie Brown, who would often sit on his shoulder).

Laid-back living in the Club Level private lounge. (Pax Global Media)

During our visit, the lounge’s helpful concierge, Barbara, was as much an historian as she was a hospitality expert, sharing interesting tidbits about the Eau’s rich history.

Like how the hotel, from the 1950s, through to the ’70s, was a private club (called La Coquille) for the rich and famous, from the Fords to the Vanderbilts to the Rat Pack to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Eau, the golden age glamour of it all!

The wallpaper pays tribute to the late Addison Mizner's late pet monkey, Johnnie Brown. (Pax Global Media)

The Colony Palm Beach 

The Colony Palm Beach is considered “the pinkest luxury Palm Beach hotel,” and with widely used palm tree and flamingo-patterned wallpaper, it’s easy to see why.

This whimsical pet-friendly property, where boldfaced names tailgate, is bursting with boutique amenities and next-level Florida glam.

Travel advisors get hugged by pink luxury at The Colony Palm Beach. (Pax Global Media)

The hotel dates to 1947, when it debuted during Palm Beach’s post-war construction boom. Iconic names who visited in those early years ranged from Judy Garland to John Lennon to Frank Sinatra.

Even today, it still has a superstar guest roster that reads like a “Who’s Who in the World,” as the hotel says. 

The Colony Palm Beach is around the corner from Worth Avenue. (The Colony Palm Beach)

Designated a landmark in 2020, this colonial-style “pink paradise” is around the corner from chic Worth Avenue, near Everglades Golf Course and Seaview Park Tennis Centre, and steps to the beach (“Beach Butlers” are available to deliver gourmet bites).

The rooms at The Colony Palm Beach are full of whimsy. (Pax Global Media)

Inside, there are 62 regular rooms, 19 suites, a penthouse (with grand piano) and villas, all decorated in tones of pale green, ocean blue, sky blue and “Palm Beach pink,” bursting with whimsy and punchy colours. 

It’s like walking into an ultra-luxe Palm Beach doll house. It’s gushingly cute.

Inside the The Colony Palm Beach penthouse. (Pax Global Media)

And there’s those martini-sipping monkeys again, spotted on the lobby’s wild wallpaper – another nod to Johnnie Brown, Addison Mizner’s pet “human” monkey (who, fun fact, once ran for mayor of Palm Beach). The late monkey is the hotel’s mascot.

The Colony, part of Virtuoso, has a cool pool, while the on-site restaurant, Swifty’s, serves chic cocktails (try the “Pink Paradise”) and divine eats, like “designer” bacon-wrapped meatloaf.

Nods to Johnnie Brown at The Colony Palm Beach. (Pax Global Media)

The Boca Raton Hotel and Beach Club

Five luxury hotels, with five distinct vibes, make up The Boca Raton Hotel and Beach Club.

This Virtuoso-certified property, open since 1926, is considered South Florida’s grand dame – with a recent $200 million-dollar facelift, that is. (And yes, facelifts are common in these posh parts).

The Boca Raton Hotel and Beach Club is made up of five luxury hotels. (Pax Global Media)

Poolside at the Cloister building. (Pax Global Media)

Brought to life by Addison Mizner (the man left his mark), the 200-acre property, connected by water taxis, consists of the 27-storey, 224-room-and-suite (and renovated) Tower (with soaring views of Florida’s intracoastal, beside the Harbourside Pool Club, which has a lazy river, FlowRider simulator, three pools, and cabanas – some for kids); the chic adults-only waterfront 112-suite Yacht Club; the iconic 261 room-and-suite Cloister building (with original grand architecture and lush grounds); the 212 room-and-suite Beach Club (a Forbes Five Star, with oceanfront pools and a buttery beach) and 65 premium Bungalows for extended stays.

Soaking up the view from the Tower at The Boca Raton. (Pax Global Media)

Lobby vibes at The Boca Raton. (Pax Global Media)

The Boca Raton Yacht Club. (Boca Raton Hotel and Beach Club)

There are nearly 15 restaurants and bars spread across the compound – four of which are exclusively overseen by Celebrity Chef Mario Carbone.

From a private championship-level golf course to a Forbes Five Star spa, everything at The Boca Raton is laid out with ease. Here, guests don’t roam. They glide.

Oceanfront pools at the Beach Club. (Pax Global Media)

Meeting the team at Boca Raton Hotel and Beach Club. (Pax Global Media)

Our visit may have been brief – faster than you can say site inspection and lunch – but as each lavish amenity gently unpeeled, it became crystal clear. We didn’t want to leave.

Hilton West Palm Beach

“Come for a vacation, stay for the experience,” says the AAA 4-Diamond Hilton West Palm Beach, a downtown retreat where living like a local is made easy.

With 400 rooms and 43 suites, this modern hotel is all about location, location, location.

Travel advisors unlock expert hospitality at Hilton West Palm Beach. (Pax Global Media)

It’s under five kilometres from Palm Beach International Airport, across the street from The Square (a retail, dining, and art destination), steps from the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, near the nightlife of Clematis Street and within walking distance to the new Brightline high-speed train station.

It's also heaven for the MICE market – the hotel is connected to the Palm Beach County Convention Center, with 29,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor event space.

Crisp sheets at Hilton West Palm Beach. (Pax Global Media)

Pay attention to this sexy space as it completes renovations, debuting this fall, including refreshed suites and rooms, a fitness upgrade, a reimagined lobby with new bar, a beach club-inspired pool deck with cabanas, and culinary enhancements to restaurants.

The Breakers Palm Beach 

The Breakers Palm Beach has been in business for 127 years. Let that sink in.

Complementing his railway empire, Henry Flagler debuted the oceanfront hotel in 1896, then called the Palm Beach Inn, as a smaller extension of his bolder, lake-facing Royal Poinciana hotel (the world’s largest, at that time), which he built in 1894.

Loyal guests would frequently ask for rooms by the ocean, “down by the breakers,” and within a few years, the Palm Beach Inn took on a new name inspired by those requests. In 1901, the hotel became “The Breakers,” which it is still called today.

Exterior of The Breakers Palm Beach. (Courtesy of The Breakers Palm Beach)

The Italian Renaissance-style property, which is still owned by direct descendants of Henry Flagler, has reopened twice over the years after major fires in 1903 and 1925.

Given its role in shaping Palm Beach into a resort destination, The Breakers, sitting on 140 acres of oceanfront, is considered the region’s most iconic hotel. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, recognized as a AAA Five Diamond property, and part of Virtuoso. 

The Breakers Palm Beach is considered the most iconic hotel in The Palm Beaches. (Pax Global Media)

Every year, $25 million (USD) is reinvested to keep facilities current. One addition, slated to debut this November, will be the 21-room Flagler Club, a boutique hotel within the hotel, on two restricted floors, atop the property.

With architecture inspired by the Villa Medici in Rome, The Breakers has 534 guest rooms, including 72 suites (with two Imperial Suites and four Royal Poinciana Suites).

Poolside at The Breakers Palm Beach. (Pax Global Media)

Inside the Breakers' recently enhanced oceanview suites. (Pax Global Media)

Noteworthy amenities include ten restaurants, a beach club with four pools, six whirlpool spas, 25 bungalows and on-site watersports, two 18-hole golf courses, 10 Har-Tru tennis courts, an indoor/outdoor spa, an oceanfront fitness centre, and 13 boutiques.

Some of the recently-enhanced rooms we toured included the Premium Atlantic Suite – Oceanfront View which connects to an Atlantic Guest Room – Ocean View King. It's a great option for families.

Old-world lobby glam. ((Courtesy of The Breakers Palm Beach)

The team also took us on an exclusive “Breakers food tour,” where we sampled broccoli kale salad at Seafood Bar, juicy filet mignon and sea bass at Flagler Steakhouse and heavenly desserts at Henry's Palm Beach, a new bistro, located a few blocks away from the hotel, in an upscale alfresco plaza.

Though off property, the bistro is connected to the hotel, which means guests can still charge items to their rooms.

Here, you’ll find the famous 100-year-old Breakers Key Lime Pie.

Henry's Palm Beach. (Pax Global Media)

The Ben, Autograph Collection

The Ben is a 208-room boutique hotel, part of the Marriott Autograph Collection, situated on the West Palm Beach waterfront.

It, too, has a connection to the past – it’s inspired by late author Byrd Spilman Dewey’s “Ben Trovato” Estate, one of Palm Beach County’s original great homes.

Eccentric decor and earth tones at The Ben. (Pax Global Media)

The Ben is a 208-room boutique hotel. (Pax Global Media)

The hip spot, which opened in 2020, has injected new energy into the traditionally classic community.

Spruzzo, the hotel’s buzzing rooftop lounge, with stunning views of Palm Harbour Marina and The Breakers, has emerged as a popular gathering place for guests and locals alike (go at sunset hour).

Travel advisor Leanne Toushan enjoying the view on the rooftop of The Ben. (Pax Global Media)

The trendy rooftop – which served one of the best burgers I’ve ever had – also has access to a pool.

Inside in the hotel, there’s earth tones accented with lush greenery evocative of Florida, and the bling-bling golden dog sculptures placed throughout serve as a reminder that this is a dog-friendly place. 

Gold dog sculptures are scattered throughout The Ben. (Pax Global Media)

The rooms are eclectic, with sliding bookcases that reveal a window into the shower and mod collage portraiture.

The Ben, notably, has a Book Butler service where you can order from an in-room reading list and get books delivered straight to your door.

Luxury, well read.

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