As an avid traveler, this past year has been full of disappointment that the trips I was looking forward to were cancelled. Of course this pales in comparison to the crushing events so many have endured and I am keenly aware that not going on vacation is a great problem to have. I wrote a few pieces for my blog using memories of great places I visited in the past. But I am very happy today to actually write about a place I just traveled to.
Open the Map and find the state of Florida on the southeastern coast of the United States. Two thirds of the way down the Atlantic side of the state is Palm Beach. Palm Beach conjures visions of palm trees, sand and surf, and the well–heeled and beautiful homes of industry titans and celebrities. These visions would be accurate to anyone who has actually been fortunate enough to visit Palm Beach.
I was lucky enough to travel to Palm Beach for Spring Break in March, 2021. The covid pandemic has really been tough on the tourism industry, as well as the tourists like me who love to travel. But Florida opened up and welcomed those wanting some semblance of normalcy, so it was a treat to board a plane and touch down in glamorous Palm Beach.
A fifteen minute ride from the airport is one of the most beautiful destination hotels in the world: The Breakers. It started as a wooden structure, built in 1883 by Standard Oil tycoon Henry Flagler as a stop for his East Coast Railway clients and was named the Palm Beach Inn. A fire destroyed it and was rebuilt in 1925 as the beautiful structure we see today. It was modeled after Villa Medici in Italy and is an elaborate and elegant Renaissance Revival building renamed The Breakers. This beautiful five star hotel transports you to Europe with its marble columns, painted ceilings and elaborately carved wood. The craftsmanship and detail in every main room is now a lost art. Everywhere you look you see the best materials, intricate details and simply grandness. The service is impeccable and the staff are welcoming and eager to make your stay special. Florida is open, but masks and protocols are still adhered to, especially at The Breakers.
The Breakers covers 140 acres and boasts many pools, two golf courses, a spa, gym, ample beachfront and six upscale restaurants. Three are off site but a convenient shuttle picks up guests every few minutes in front of the hotel to transport them for a great dining experience. I especially enjoyed the Flagler Steakhouse and Echo where I ate some of the best Asian food I have ever tasted. An especially elegant place to see and be seen is the HMF Bar. It is a mix of old world glamor and sleek modern. There is an extensive cocktail and cigar list. Old standards have been jazzed up and played at just right the volume by a nightly DJ. The bar menu is plentiful and would substitute well for an official restaurant dinner. Since I am still underage, I joined my parents for a delicious dessert while they had nightcaps. At 10 pm all those under 21 must say goodnight in the HMF Bar.
A quick Uber trip away is the upscale shopping street of Worth Avenue. Whether you want to engage in some high end shopping, admire the numerous Bentleys and other exotic cars, or dine al fresco in a bougainvillea alcove and enjoy the sun and crisp air, Worth Ave is a must see for anyone visiting Palm Beach. It was built up in 1918 and the shops with their tile roofs, balconies, arches and columned walkways twisting with flowering vines is reminiscent of Capri. The Royal is another upscale and beautiful shopping district Palm Beach can boast, but as a lover of history I think Worth Ave is the ideal location.
The Flagler Museum is a block away from the hotel and provides tours of the oil tycoon’s home during the gilded age. Built in 1902, it is a well preserved example of the Beaux Arts style of design. It opened as a museum in 1959 and has rotating art collections on display and also hosts many galas throughout the year.
But if you never left the Breakers property, you could enjoy a week of peace, pampering, great food and the ultimate beach experience. Even the numerous shops in the hotel rival some of the best boutiques in most people’s hometowns. Summer in south Florida is quite steamy so the best time go is fall and early spring. Palm Beach itself is a tiny town, with only 8,800 permanent residents. But it is big on character and experiences.
As the Covid vaccine continues to be administered and we see light at the end of the tunnel, we can start satisfying our wanderlust by patronizing the beautiful landmarks right here in the USA. The Breakers is one such ideal location that gives the feeling of Europe without leaving the country. So Open the Map! Find Palm Beach on the southeast coast of Florida and plan to be transported back to a time where elegance, service and luxury were only available to a few, but can now be enjoyed by many.