Lifestyle: Travel & Dining

Pure Luxury at The Breakers

The Flagler Club Is An Elite Sanctuary At The Top Of The Breakers
By Debra Scott - November 26, 2018

There is no more iconic Palm Beach resort than The Breakers, a hotel that has been around since the Gilded Age in 1896. And there is no other word to describe it but “magnificent” – from the moment you are driven down the Royal Palm-lined avenue to the lobby with its artisan-painted fresco ceiling. I have to keep pinching myself as a reminder that I’m in Florida, not a grand palazzo in Florence. Did I mention that it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places?

Upon arrival, I am picked up at the airport by a chauffeur driving a Tesla then whisked upstairs to the Flagler Club, an elite sanctuary on the top two floors of a wing of the hotel. With only 25 rooms (compared to 513 in the rest of the establishment) it is tantamount to being a hotel within a hotel. There’s a rooftop terrace and chic Adam Tihany-designed lounge where scrumptious nibbles including elegant confections from the pastry chef are available all day and evening.

Rooms are as luxurious as expected with marble shower, Frette linens and adjustable bed. The numerous staff are at a continuous beck and call and seem to be trained in how to shamelessly spoil guests. (The hotel employs 2,000 in total.) In short, it is the lap of luxury.

The HMF restaurant, named for hotel founder Henry Morrison Flagler, is a gorgeous room – think elaborate coffered ceiling and low lit chandeliers. For a large room spaces feel intimate. My companion declares it “the most beautiful room in America,” and I don’t disagree. Only the casual menu specializing in small plates with items derived from food trucks reminds you that you’re in the current century. While we are there early in the week, we are told that on Fridays it has the most happening bar scene in town.

Lately I am going through a dumpling phase and order Shiitake Mushroom Pot Stickers and Hong Kong Dumplings: superb. The chopped salad with a cherry vinaigrette was out of this world and what the heck is in the jewel-green sauce served with the grilled artichoke? We could drink it by the gallon. We also sample the Salmon Yakitori that has been seared beautifully in a Japanese robata grill that uses bichotan charcoal to reach extremely high heat and seal in juices.

Breakfast is at The Circle, a stunning circular room surrounded by immense Palladian windows and a buffet with everything you might desire including an omelet station, carving board and array of fruit. We try the dragon fruit, new to us with its red exterior and white seeded interior somewhat like kiwi.

Not only does the newly renovated Seafood Bar overlook the sea, it also boasts an aquarium bar and serves up such delectable treats as conch fritters and crab nachos.

The 140-acre property boasts 11 boutiques, nine restaurants, eight bars, four oceanfront pools, two 18-hole championship golf courses, fitness center, spa and poolside bungalows. Children have their own camp and there are plenty of adult activities including tennis on ten courts, sunrise yoga on a seaside lawn and scuba diving on a coral reef.

Still in the hands of its original family, the property reinvests at least $30 million a year to keep things as fresh as they were when the hotel was visited by the likes of the Astors, Vanderbilts, J. P. Morgan and J. C. Penney. The AAA Five Diamond property has always had its admirers including novelist Henry James who called it “vast and cool and fair, friendly, breezy, shiny, swabbed and burnished like a royal yacht, really immaculate and delightful.”

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