Palm Beach | where to stay by the beach

walking on Palm Beach in late afternoon
I spent two days in Palm Beach last weekend. One of the most upscale beach destinations in Florida, Palm Beach is located on the Atlantic Ocean at the point closest to the Gulf Stream. As a consequence, it enjoys some of the warmest weather (and ocean water) on the east coast.

Where to stay? There are three Virtuoso beach resorts in Palm Beach — Four Seasons Palm Beach, Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach, and The Breakers — three very luxurious resorts with very different styles. Which one should you choose?

Four Seasons Palm Beach shares the attributes of many Four Seasons properties. It is a smaller resort, just 210 rooms. Upon walking into the lobby, I was struck with the casual contemporary elegance of the property — cool colors, simple but classical design. The property has three dining establishments, and I had a chance to eat at each — lunch at the outside beachside restaurant, breakfast at Graze, and dinner at The Restaurant. The food and service were excellent. Families with young children will appreciate the complimentary Kids for All Seasons children's program.

I was the guest of the resort for a two night stay and very much enjoyed our upgrade into a Premier Ocean View Room. These rooms are in the main building of the hotel, facing over the resort pool with a direct view of the ocean; see the view from my room here. These are large guest rooms (546 sq. ft.) with a large sitting area featuring a sofa (that converts into a queen-size sofa bed), an easy chair, and a desk with two desk chairs. Bathrooms have step-in showers, soaking tubs, a single vanity, and a second vanity (with no sink) with a large mirror that would work for putting on makeup.

The hotel's other guest rooms (Limited View, Garden View, Partial Ocean View, and Ocean View) are somewhat smaller at 393 square feet. Found in the North and South wings of the hotel, they are angled towards the ocean in a layout reminiscent of FS Maui. There are a limited number of large one and two bedroom suites at the end of each wing which offer direct views of the beach and ocean beyond.

Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach is a larger resort, 310 rooms, with a more formal atmosphere. The lobby has the ambiance of a Palm Beach "living room" with a very traditional but updated feel. Ritz Carlton Palm Beach features the 42,000 square foot Eau Spa. Whimsical and unique, Eau Spa markets itself as "the official adult playground of Palm Beach." In addition to 19 treatment rooms and unique treatments (the Sensory Dry Float Bed looked incredible), spa guests can linger all day at the "Self-Centered Garden" where you are invited to "lose yourself and abandon the rules of adulthood." Add to that the hotel's business center, called The Golden Parachute, and you get a sense of the creative whimsy of this Ritz-Carlton.

Guest rooms are a comfortable 418 square feet, and bathrooms all have step-in showers, soaking tubs, and dual vanities. I was especially impressed with the Lanai Terrace rooms, each of which steps out onto its own cabana with ocean view. If you book one of these rooms, you have direct access to a landscaped lawn and one of the resort pools.

The Breakers has been a Palm Beach institution since 1896. The resort is quite large, set on 140 acres with 540 guest rooms, 36 holes of golf, 5 pools, 9 restaurants, 5 bars, 10 tennis courts, and 1,800 employees. The lobby is formal and elegant, perhaps the classic expression of what Palm Beach is all about! The Breakers has undergone extensive renovation over the years, but I did not get a chance to see The Breakers during this visit to Palm Beach. A previous visit left the impression that rooms in the original hotel are somewhat dated, but rooms in the new ocean-facing wing are quite impressive. The Breakers is a great choice for golfers, and the resort offers tempting golf packages during the summer months.

Is there a Palm Beach vacation in your future? Contact your Virtuoso travel consultant to receive exclusive amenities with your stay — including complimentary daily breakfast for two, room upgrades, and other valuable perks that help you make the most of your vacation dollars.

Palm Beach (search here on Google)

copyright (c) 2013 by David Ourisman LLC. All rights reserved. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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