Palm Beaches pampering at three hotels

The bathhouse at boca Raton's Boca Resort & Club.
The bathhouse at boca Raton's Boca Resort & Club.

"There's a cool, scented towel for your eyes, some passionfruit sorbet and a sugar scrub for you to exfoliate. Lay back and relax for as long as you want," said the attendant at the ritual bathhouse at Boca Resort & Club in Boca Raton, Fla.

I obeyed. I slipped into the tub, closed my eyes and let the sound of the popping, jasmine-scented bubbles fill my senses. "No problem," I thought.

After the soaking tub, the attendant guided me through the hydrotherapy circuit, which included a deluge waterfall for sore back muscles, circulation-boosting shower and a 15-minute soak in a canopied communal jet tub. Plates of chilled citrus and cold water keep visitors hydrated -- some in the buff, some donning swimsuits (clothing is optional).

The 50-minute ritual bath at the 50,000-square-foot spa should kick off any treatment at Florida's east coast Pink Lady, the 1926 hotel by famed architect Addison Mizner. Flanked by turrets and crowned with white, sculptured merlons, the Boca Resort & Club was originally a 100-room inn, but after almost a decade of expansion and renovation, the resort clocks in at more than 1,000 rooms. This includes the private beach club, situated on a half-mile strand of private beach with crystalline waters.

Originally modeled after a Spanish castle, the vast spa and bathhouses are crusted with Castilian tile, clay-colored sculpture and warm-colored stucco, which casts a glow over the outdoor adults-only pool and waterfall hot tubs.

Palm Beach County, known as "The Palm Beaches," stretches over a 1,900-square-mile area from Jupiter to the north (known for famous residents like Celine Dion and Burt Reynolds) to Boca Raton to the south. The famously riche areas are prime ports for treating oneself unabashedly well, including gourmet dining, sensual spa experiences and haute couture shopping.

In fact, the 80-room Brazilian Court Hotel, whose rooms and suites are outfitted in rich mahogany and marble, is just three blocks from boutique-lined Worth Avenue, home of Dior and Vuitton. The hotel, originally a Mediterranean-style villa built in the mid-1920s, is also home to Cafe Boulud, where the legendary French chef comes to escape the cold and dish up French-American fusion dishes like grouper with lardons and littleneck clams. A Frederic Fekkai salon and bleach-white, palm-lined pool completes a pleasurable pampering circuit.

I watched as a couple outfitted head-to-toe in Tommy Bahama hopped in the hotel's courtesy, chauffeured Mercedes-Benz black sedan to be whisked away -- beach bag stocked with reading material, sunscreen and towels in tow -- to the hotel's private beach club, cold Evian in hand. A short two-block ride later, attendants have set up a beach umbrella and chairs for a day soaking up just enough sun alongside waters known for top-notch snorkeling and scuba diving.

Just a short ride down A1A, the Eau Palm Beach, formerly the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach, has been transformed from its once Old World glamour to a nouveau luxe retreat, thanks to the employ of designer Jonathan Adler. His signature geometric designs, bright, beachy colors and juxtaposition of classic styling with unexpected touches have given the AAA Five-Diamond hotel new life since its purchase in 2013.

The Eau Spa at the Eau Palm Beach.
The Eau Spa at the Eau Palm Beach.

My plan was to spend the day at the 42,000-square-foot Eau Spa, which turned out to be one of the easiest ways to pass six sweet hours. After downing a complimentary glass of Champagne, I sent my "wish candle" off into the reflection pond and made my way to the quiet room to await my facial.

On the way to the relaxation room, there's a custom scrub bar where the spa's themes are presented: pause, play and perfect. The senses are piqued at every turn at Eau Spa, from the unlimited mini-cupcakes from a local bakery to the choice of lighting during your treatment to reflect one of the themes: sunset hues for "pause," sunrise colors for "play" and the entire spectrum for "perfect."

Heated tile loungers and a communal rain spa are the centerpieces for the hydrotherapy area, surrounded by a cooling shower, sauna and steam room. Subdued spa visitors pad around in slippers from one relaxation area to the next. Outside, girls on a bachelorette weekend getaway gently sway in cage swings, dangling their feet in the cooling 6-inch pond, watching a couple play a game of giant chess in the courtyard and others nap on oversize daybeds.  

When stomachs start to rumble -- after all, one can't live on Champagne and cupcakes alone -- make your way down to the oceanside Breeze cafe for fish tacos, or stay indoors at Temple Orange Mediterranean Bistro. Might I suggest the seared-tuna salade nicoise?


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