The latter opened in Florida in 1896, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, by railroad-oil-real estate tycoon Henry Morrison Flagler. If you’ve ever been to Italy, memories will come rushing back, thanks to its Renaissance Revival architecture and stunning interiors inspired by Rome’s Villa Medici. Graceful arches, large-scale murals and a sense of grandeur throughout give the property a European elegance you can feel the moment you step in the front door.
Its magnificence wowed Floridians and visitors to the state. It was unlike anything in the region and no expense was spared to make it a grand showpiece, including bringing 75 artisans from Italy to work on the building. All that craftsmanship helped earn The Breakers a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
Through the years, it has attracted a wide range of A-listers with last names like Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Aster. Movie stars and U.S. presidents upped the glamour of The Breakers. They came to play golf, swim in the oceanside pools and take moonlit walks along the beach.
Things have stayed the same in that regard. Families, couples and vacationers still come to stay and play – all the while pampered by the attentive type of service that has made The Breakers Palm Beach an acclaimed landmark and a holiday favorite. Up on the Club floor, the Flagler Club offers more of what guests have come to expect and less of what they don’t want.
With just 25 rooms, this intimate area is much more private and quiet than the rest of the property. It has a dedicated staff that is quick to respond to any requests – whether it’s setting up spa appointments, or chasing down someone who can quickly fix a broken heel on a cherished pair of Jimmy Choos.
The included perks are plentiful while staying at the Flagler Club. The lounge was my personal favorite since it offered breakfast, lunch, cocktails, sushi and beautifully prepared snacks (even homemade granola bars) throughout the day. From 5 pm to 7 pm, a dedicated bartender is on hand to expertly whip up a perfect mojito, an old fashioned, or perhaps a glass of wine. Sit out on the deck to catch views of Palm Beach and soak in the tranquility.
Should you wish to visit Worth Avenue, one of America’s most posh shopping streets, just book transportation through the concierge. Guests of the Flagler Club can take advantage of its own Tesla, which comes with a driver who can take you to attractions, boutiques and restaurants in the area.
Guests flying in are met at the airport, driven to The Breakers and escorted to the private floor of the Flagler Club for check-in. It’s all part of the seamless service that elevates stays there to new heights.
The rooms differ from those on the other floors of The Breakers. Those in this part of the hotel are the epitome of understated luxury. The palette is calming – grey, cream, black and chocolate brown. The look is sleek and contemporary with a touch of 1920s Hollywood. They are a bit on the small side, ranging from 300 to 400 square feet and 550 square feet for suites, yet very comfortable. I had fun playing with the adjustable beds, raising my head or legs with the remote control.
I have to admit that I’m a hoarder of hotel toiletries, but a very selective one after amassing multiple bins of products from various hotel stays around the world. I leave most behind these days, deeming them not worth the space in my luggage. At the Flagler Club, I felt compelled to take all the toiletries I could manage because they were from Jo Malone, the London perfumer who makes some of my favorite fragrances. Luckily, the housekeeping staff was generous with soap and bottles of wonderful smelling things.
As wonderful as my room and the lounge were, I was coaxed away from them by the other amenities the property has. There are four pools and a lovely spa that are worth putting on your to-do list. The spa was a delight, thanks to restful sitting areas inside and out, plus goodies like frozen gelato available before or after your treatment.
Palm Beach has many great places to eat, but I didn’t visit any of them during my two-night stay. The Breakers has plenty of great choices right on property. I loved HMF, a cocktail bar that is a popular hangout for locals, tourists and guests. It has a great vibe with friendly servers, funky music that’s not too loud and plenty of interesting choices of things to eat and sip. Wine lovers are in their happy place with an ample menu that’s 40 pages long. Cocktails are equally strong with classics and inventive modern creations, like The Redhead (lemon vodka, blood orange liqueur, cranberry juice and lime foam).
The selection of small plates didn’t disappoint. I nibbled my way through the food truck inspired offerings, including wagyu beef sliders, then moved on to a warm brussels sprouts Caesar and finally HMF’s baked Alaska, set aflame at the table. It was a show stopping finish.
I also booked a table at the Flagler Steakhouse, just a short walk across the street, with panoramic views of The Breakers’ golf course. It was impossible to resist eating steak here. Its menu feature USDA prime cuts, much of it sourced from farms in the Midwest. There are plenty of seafood options, but it’s the high quality, expertly cooked beef that is the star. Again, the wine list is extensive so unless you are inclined to read through it, put your trust in the knowledgeable servers to pick one.
With one more meal to fit in before check out, I had the buffet breakfast in the dining room next to HMF. It’s worth the price of admission with a gorgeous glass ceiling and an opulence that made everything taste even better. As you might expect with a luxury property, a stay here isn’t cheap, but throughout the resort, you get value in terms of quality and service that makes The Breakers and Flagler Club so memorable.
Michele stayed as a guest of The Breakers/Flagler Club, but as always, her thoughts and opinions are her own. Photos courtesy of Michele Sponagle and The Breakers.