Words by Amisha Desai
The Palm Beaches is for adults what Disney World is for children: a relaxing retreat resort filled with endless possibilities to be enthralled and entertained. Sitting pretty on the eastern tip of Florida, the jewel in the crown of Palm Beach County, is Palm Beach – an 18-mile-long barrier island snuggled between Lake Worth Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean.
Having earned a reputation as an elegant playground for the rich and famous, days are spent dining in celebrity hot-spots, perusing designer boutiques and being pampered in ocean-side spas surrounded by rows of gently swaying palms, elegant pastel coloured mansions, sleek superyachts and shimmering waterways. Here’s our luxurious guide on where to eat, stay and play in this sophisticated corner of the sunshine state.
Where to stay
The Breakers Palm Beach
The saying goes: ‘There is luxury, then there’s The Breakers.’ The moment you set eyes on this iconic Italian renaissance style ocean-front property you will see why.
Standing majestically at the end of a sweeping driveway lined with palm trees wrapped in fairy lights, unapologetic opulence seeps out of every pore of this 140 acre pleasure palace. It was originally built in 1896 by magnate Henry Flager for well heeled snowbirds to escape the cold winters, earning Palm Beach the prestigious title of America’s first resort destination. Nowadays, it still attracts the jet set with its stand-out attention to detail and service (rumour has it, there are four members of staff to every guest).
The connection to the sea is omnipresent – expect grand hallways giving way to ocean vistas and a bar top made from a mesmerising aquarium. If the nine restaurants, four pools, two championship golf courses, 10 tennis courts, designer shopping arcade and a Forbes five-star spa weren’t extravagant enough, there is an intimate ultra-luxe boutique hotel, The Flagler Club, nestled on the top two floors. Here, you’ll find sumptuous ocean-view suites filled with heavenly PranaSleep adjustable beds, a chauffeured Tesla house car service and a sunset cocktail hour serving up bespoke tipples on the private terrace.
The Colony Hotel
If a boutique abode is more your style, then sashay over to another iconic residence, The Colony Hotel. Described as The Breakers ‘quirky, fun aunt,’ its candy floss facade nestled in the heart of Palm Beach will instantly make you smile. Inside, the hotel boasts a unique bold luxe interior, mixing vibrant tropical prints with flashes of coral, perfect for taking envy-inducing Insta snaps. The distinctive rooms, suites and villas trimmed in The Palm Beaches custom accents of green and pink, echo the hotel’s sense of fun and whimsy with dinky jars of jelly babies and delectable in-room dining ordered via customised iPads.
If you can tear yourself away from the private sun terraces and sea views, the pool scene is where fashionable Palm Beachers come to see and be seen with legendary cocktails and DJ sets. It’s this playful atmosphere mixed with a home-from-home feel which has been attracting the glitterati since opening in 1947, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor who wintered here in the fifties. However, you don’t need to be royalty to receive star treatment – a quick word with the front desk and a charming member of staff will whisk you off in a pink golf buggy to wherever your heart desires. Popular spots include designer shopping street, Worth Avenue, and infamous beach road – Ocean Drive – or, as the locals call it, Billionaire’s Row, thanks to its line of breathtaking mansions.
Where to eat
With 238 sunny days per year, al fresco dining is de rigueur in The Palm Beaches. If you like your meals served with a side of waterfront views, then head over to new launch 1000 North, which is part-owned by superstar basketball player Michael Jordan. Enjoy inventive seasonal dishes (fish and seafood are the star of the show) while sat on the sun-soaked terrace with views over Jupiter inlet and the ruby-red Jupiter lighthouse. A discreet elevator will whisk you up to the member’s club with a speakeasy style bar and a large balcony floating above the water – perfect for an intimate soiree.
If you love a spot of people watching with your lunch then make your way over to Elisabetta’s Ristorante. This smart Italian eatery has a shaded leafy terrace elevated above the buzzy high street running through hipster district Delray Beach. Dig into delicious plates of authentic homemade pastas, pizzas and salads while watching the world go by like a bird perched in the treetops.
Sourbon Bar and Kitchen
This modern restaurant brings the outside in with a beautiful botanical garden-come-dining-room. Tuck into contemporary American fare under a canopy of dangling flowers and golden lanterns inspired by delicate leaves. The sleek bar is also a big draw – grab a bar stool and enjoy artfully crafted botanical cocktails before dancing the night away on Clematis Street, the nightlife hot spot of downtown West Palm Beach.
What to do
Jupiter Outdoor Centre
There are few things more relaxing than immersing yourself in nature, and The Palm Beaches is blessed with tranquil green spaces and abundant wildlife. To discover the beautiful flora and fauna, head to Jupiter Outdoor Centre, where you can cycle along shaded woodland trails weaving around shimmering ponds or wiggle into a kayak and paddle down the winding Loxahatchee river as herons swoop up above. If you’re lucky, you might even spot an alligator or two.
The Royal Poinciana Plaza
Even the shopping spots here are inspired by the area’s natural beauty bringing a whole new twist to the term ‘retail therapy.’ Luxurious shopping destination, The Royal Poinciana Plaza, features a pretty courtyard garden fringed with palm trees and inviting boutique shop fronts framed with flowers. Peruse the 50 hand-selected designer brands including Goop, Hermes and Oscar de la Renta. If you’re need of a pick-me-up, swing by Celis Produce for a refreshing, organic juice made with locally sourced ingredients.
Cornell Art Museum
As you’ll see from the well-dressed folk here, the relationship between fashion and art is deeply entwined. The signature look is inspired by celebrated local designer, Lily Pulitzer, whose vibrant tropical print shift dresses look like a moving painting when worn. No surprise then that The Palm Beaches is known as the cultural capital of Florida. With a host of arts events, festivals and exhibitions to capture your imagination, be sure to visit one of the area’s most exciting spaces, the Cornell Art Museum featuring thoughtfully curated exhibitions showcasing the work of contemporary artists and designers.
The Spa at The Breakers
Round off the trip by indulging in an afternoon of pampering at The Spa at The Breakers. A destination in its own right, the tranquil indoor-outdoor oasis will melt away any stresses and strains with cotton-wool soft bathrobes, sparkling Champagne and a menu of bespoke treatments. The Sunshine State of Mind experience will awaken your senses as the sweet, zesty scent of orange blossom, Florida’s state flower, is used during three-hours of blissful massage, facial, manicure and pedicure. It’ll be sure to leave you feeling as sunny as this fairy-tale land for adults.
For more information on Discover The Palm Beaches, visit thepalmbeaches.com.
Rooms at The Breakers start from £530/night from January to April 2020 and £277/night from May to September 2020 (rates are based on availability).
Rooms at The Colony Hotel Palm Beach start from £307/night until April 2020.
Norwegian operates flights between London Gatwick and Miami International Airport, with return fares starting from £250.