IIf there’s anything more fabulous than eating a fresh lobster roll outside while listening to the crashing ocean waves in January, I’d love to know. To start 2022 off with a bang, I headed to Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa, where seafood, sand, and even a 5-star spa were all available during a long weekend getaway. Palm Beach, a barrier island on the Atlantic Ocean, stretches sixteen miles long and has white sand beaches and water as turquoise as the Caribbean island… without any Covid test needed for to return to his place.
So pack your sunglasses and your Lilly Pulitzer outfits (she started the brand in Palm Beach in 1953) and dive into…
WHERE TO STAY
Palm Water Beach
The shops and nightclubs of Palm Beach and West Palm dazzle, but I was looking for serenity, so I chose the iconic Eau Palm Beach, a resort with Atlantic Ocean views and lush tropical gardens with a vibe Capri Meets Santorini. (For anyone — like me — who isn’t sure what that means, that translates to lavish spaces decked out in colors like silver, aqua, and sunny yellow and a bit of a preppy feeling. If you have Jackie-O sunglasses or a man wearing pink pants, this is the place to show them both.)
Water (as initiates like me call it) is about twenty minutes from downtown. The drive is nice and my shoulders relaxed as I drove away from the crowds, past Mar-a-Lago and its security teams and its luxurious real estate along Ocean Boulevard. To peek behind the manicured hedges, check out the coffee table book Palm Beach People.
The resort is located on a seven-acre secluded private beach. I loved my room, newly renovated by Jonathan Adler and featuring a private balcony with a hanging chair to enjoy ocean views and evenings reading and breathing in the salty air. All the interior design touches gave the resort a hip feel: coffee mugs with men’s and women’s lips; water trays and cups in the bathroom; a wild luster so even staying in my bedroom in my pajamas is festive.
My Water Room came with a brightly colored beach bag. I stashed sunscreen, mask, hand sanitizer and books for my time at the pools and beach. I loved the new novel The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki. Marjorie Post (of the Post cereal family) was a fascinating Palm Beach enthusiast; the novel follows her as she builds Mar-a-Lago and swans in the city. I also devoured the non-fiction book Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago and the Rise of Xanadu in America by The Standifords and the eccentric topo Palm Beach, the essential guide by Rick Rose.
ADVENTURES IN THE SUN
At the water
2021 wore me out, so when I got to the Water (after a direct flight to Miami) I didn’t feel like leaving for a while. I explored every inch of the Florida Shangri-La, including three tennis courts, an adults-only Tranquility Pool with cold-pressed juices, imaginative cocktails and an all-day menu, and a family pool with a kiddy pool, tiny sun shades for the dogs (with tiny water bowls and a full-size water bottle), and an ice cream shop.
The Kid’s Club is so amazing that I almost wish I had taken my kids with me on my ‘mom vacation’. (Not quite…but almost.) From the craft and cooking areas to the Lite Zilla interactive wall, the club’s virtual playground also includes an interactive “BEAM” laser overhead projector and a “sketch aquarium,” where kids can feed turtles and digital fish. which are uploaded into a life-size aquarium. I knew my daughter would love the resort’s collaboration with the nearby Loggerhead Marinelife Center, a renowned hospital for sea turtles. And the arcade and video game area for teens, with deluxe seating and giant screens for any inappropriate games they play, was so amazing that I texted my 14-year-old son a picture, who replied, “LESSSSGOOO!” (That means he liked it.)
The resort’s social spaces are designed by Palm Beach County-based interior design firm Bilkey Llinas, and landscaping by EDSA includes lush palm trees, seagrass, palm trees, and tropical flowers.
In the city
Concierge Eau helped me plan a trip to Palm Beach. I rented a bike from the Palm Beach Bicycle Trail store, located at the entrance to the lovely “Lake Trail,” which winds along the Intracoastal Waterway and back along Ocean Boulevard for a three-mile ride past the historic Everglades Club, Kennedy Compound, Royal Poinciana Plaza, and more.
Worth Avenue in Palm Beach is home to art galleries, Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and, of course, flagship store Lily Pulitzer. But since I don’t have a champagne budget, I was delighted when the Eau concierge recommended the church mouse resale store. Nestled between the most upscale boutiques on the planet, the Church Mouse is a treasure trove of lightly used haute couture and homeware. For the stingy with taste, the Church Mouse is nirvana. I also enjoyed the PB Boys’ Club surf shop which has been locally owned for 27 years.
I indulged an entire day at the Forbes Five-Star, 42,000 square foot Eau Spa. Seriously: they told me I could enter the spa at 9am for my 1pm massage and was in a spa robe snacking on a mini cupcake at 9:05am.
In an impressive bronze rotunda, I lit a candle to place it in the “Wishing Well”. I’ve eaten a million peanut M&M’s and reclined in various hanging chairs, soaking pools, cabins, bathhouses, saunas, steam rooms, and oversized hot tubs. I discovered a heated spa chair next to a rainwater feature above a hot tub and if I could live in it I would.
My signature massage, which included hot stones and a paraffin foot wrap, was heaven. I was greeted with a taste of local honey and asked to choose my mood: Pause, Perfect or Play. I chose “Perfect”, which included Icelandic Moonflower Oil and a magenta lighting situation. I was informed on my way out that I could mix my own body scrub (which I did) and order a Peloton bike to my room for a workout (which I didn’t).
EAT AND DRINK
Polpo palm beach is the newly opened outpost of a beloved Greenwich, CT restaurant. The menu features fresh local seafood and Italian dishes. I dined outside overlooking the ocean, savoring Burrata Caprese with fresh homemade mozzarella and Risotto Agli Langoustines with giant prawns in a creamy basil-rose cognac sauce.
Ocean Breeze Kitchen is festooned with lemon-and-white striped umbrellas and is lively at lunchtime and happy hour. I thought there couldn’t be anything more amazing than my seafood cobb salad with lobster, shrimp, avocado, pineapple and a citrus vinaigrette, but I came back and I ordered the lobster roll on a buttery bun with crispy fries.
Overall, my January escape was restorative and left me pampered and ready for whatever 2022 has in store. As I was driving to Miami on the way back, I decided to rent a convertible on my way back and lower the top to feel the Florida heat on my shoulders.