PALM BEACH HOTELS
The explosive growth of the county has been matched by the frenzied construction of accommodations, including installations by some upscale chains. Of course, the area is also home to a number of famous resorts, as well as some lesser-known but still historic properties.
BOCA RATON RESORT & CLUB
501 East Camino Real, Boca Raton; 888-491-2622, bocaresort.com. Rooms: $170-$750. Suites: $330-$8,000.
The 1,041 guest rooms include five styles of lodging located in the Cloister, Tower, Beach Club, Golf Villas and Yacht Club. As much like a little city as a resort, The Boca now occupies 356 acres, including a half-mile private beach, 50,000-square-foot spa and thirty-four-slip marina. Designed by Palm Beach architect and luminary Addison Mizner, the Cloister—an ornate conglomeration of Spanish-Mediterranean, Moorish and Gothic influences—was built in 1926 and is undeniably one of a kind. With a conference center, new accommodations and restaurants, though, The Boca is more than an old-style resort.
THE BREAKERS PALM BEACH
One South County Road, Palm Beach; 888-273-2537, thebreakers.com. Rooms: $435-$835. Suites: $745-$4,000.
More so than any other place, The Breakers exudes Palm Beach attitude. The prevailing feeling of the lobby, with its Italianate detailing and soaring ceiling, is more like that of a museum than of a hotel; indeed, the list of activities includes guided tours, and The Breakers is on the National Register of Historic Places. Contrary to what such a designation might connote, however, this is a bustling operation, with 560 guest rooms, fifty-seven suites, seven restaurants and a cosmopolitan crowd.
FOUR SEASONS RESORT PALM BEACH
2800 South Ocean Boulevard, Palm Beach; 800-432-2335, fourseasons.com. Rooms: $275-$725. Suites: $775-$3,000.
The first beachfront property built in the town in forty-plus years, this property is modest in relation to some of its older neighbors, and the decibel level is correspondingly low. But it is difficult to find a Four Seasons anywhere that is not top-notch, and this is no exception. The public spaces and the 210 guest rooms, including twelve suites, are luxurious without being ostentatious, the staff efficient without being stuffy. Plus: The "airline-to-go" menu, a reaction to ever-deteriorating in-flight food service, offers kids peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, adults osetra caviar and chocolate-dipped strawberries ($185), among other treats.
HILTON SINGER ISLAND OCEANFRONT RESORT
3700 North Ocean Drive, Singer Island; 800-445-8667, hilton.com. Rooms: $129-$229. Suites: $259-$369.
Named for sewing machine magnate Paris Singer, who built his own resort here in 1925, the island is at the northern end of Palm Beach County. The eight-story hotel has recently been renovated, and all of the 223 guest rooms sport Caribbean Colonial decor, balconies and views of the Atlantic. Like Hiltons in less-exotic locales, this one caters to the business traveler, and rooms also feature "productivity-enhanced desks with data ports and ergonomically calibrated chairs," in the event that productivity remains a concern.
PGA NATIONAL RESORT & SPA
400 Avenue of the Champions, Palm Beach Gardens; 800-858-1904, pga-resorts.com. Rooms: $209-$419. Cottages: $249-$479. Suites: $204-$1,500.
Having just renovated its 339 guest rooms, sixty club cottages and most of its public spaces, PGA National looks splendid. The immense spa, with its more than 120 therapists, is now undergoing yet another enlargement and enhancement. Thankfully, "Waters of the World," the spa's signature collection of mineral pools, will remain a standard element.
THE RITZ-CARLTON PALM BEACH
100 South Ocean Boulevard, Manalapan; 800-241-3333, ritz-carlton.com. Rooms: $175-$745. Suites: $425-$3,100.
Opened in 1990, the beachfront building's terra-cotta tile roofs, mission bell towers, sculpted cornices and bisque stucco cladding resemble the Mediterranean design vocabulary of the area's older architecture. Public spaces are adorned with attractive museum-quality art and antiques—a Ritz-Carlton trademark—but the ambience, like Palm Beach generally, is more relaxed than formal. All 270 rooms have private balconies with breakfast furnishings, and many of them overlook the sea.