If there is something more fabulous than eating a fresh lobster roll outdoors while listening to crashing ocean waves in January, I’d like to know. To start off 2022 in style, I headed to the Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa, where seafood, sand, and even a 5-star spa were all available over the course of a long-weekend getaway. Palm Beach, a barrier island on the Atlantic Ocean, is sixteen miles long and boasts white beaches and water as turquoise as the Caribbean island…with no Covid tests needed to return home.
So pack your sunglasses and Lilly Pulitzer outfits (she started the brand on Palm Beach in 1953) and dive right in…
WHERE TO STAY
The shops and nightclubs of Palm Beach and West Palm dazzle, but I was seeking serenity, so I chose the iconic Eau Palm Beach, a resort with Atlantic Ocean views and lush tropical gardens with a “Capri Meets Santorini” vibe. (For anyone—like me—who isn’t sure what this means, it translates to sumptuous 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 who wears pink pants, this is the place to show off them both.)
The Eau (as insiders like me call it) is about twenty minutes from downtown. The drive is lovely, and my shoulders eased as I got farther from the crowds, passing Mar-a-Lago and its security teams and luxurious real estate along Ocean Boulevard. For a peek behind the manicured hedges, check out the coffee-table book Palm Beach People.
The resort is situated on a secluded private beach across seven acres. I loved my room, recently renovated by Jonathan Adler and featuring a private balcony with a hanging chair to enjoy ocean views and evenings reading and inhaling salty air. All the interior design touches made the storied resort feel hip: coffee mugs with men’s and women’s lips; aqua trays and cups in the bathroom; a wild chandelier to make even staying in my room in pajamas feel festive.
My room at the Eau came with a brightly-colored beach bag. I stashed sunscreen, a mask, hand sanitizer, and books for my sojourn to 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 devotee; the novel follows her as she builds Mar-a-Lago and swans about town. I also devoured the nonfiction book Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, and the Rise of America’s Xanadu by Les Standiford and the quirky guidebook Palm Beach, The Essential Guide by Rick Rose.
ADVENTURES IN SUNSHINE
At the Eau
2021 wore me out, so when I arrived at the Eau (after a direct flight to Miami) I did not want to leave 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 splash pad, tiny sun shades for dogs (with tiny water bowls and a normal-sized bottled Eau water), and an ice cream shop.
The Kid’s Club is so astonishing I almost wished I’d brought my kids along on my “Mom Vacation.” (Not quite…but almost.) From crafting and culinary areas to a Lite Zilla interactive wall, the club’s virtual playground also features an interactive “BEAM” laser overhead projector and a ‘sketch aquarium,’ in which kids can feed digital turtles and fish that are uploaded to a life-size aquarium. I knew my daughter would adore the resort’s collaboration with nearby Loggerhead Marinelife Center—a renowned sea turtle hospital. And the arcade and teen video game area, with luxe seating and giant screens for whatever inappropriate game they’re playing was so astonishing I texted a picture to my 14-year-old, who responded, “LESSSGOOO!” (That means he liked it.)
The social spaces of the resort are designed by Palm Beach County-based interior design firm, Bilkey Llinas Design and landscaping by EDSAfeatures lush palms, seagrass, palmetto, and tropical flowers.
The Eau concierge helped me plan an excursion into Palm Beach. I rented a bicycle at the Palm Beach Bicycle Trail shop, located at the entrance to the charming “Lake Trail,” which winds along the Intracoastal Waterway and back along Ocean Boulevard for a three-mile trip past the historic Everglades Club, Kennedy Compound, Royal Poinciana Plaza, and more.
Palm Beach’s Worth Avenue is home to art galleries, Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and of course, the flagship Lily Pulitzer shop. But since I am not on a champagne budget, I was thrilled when the Eau concierge recommended the Church Mouse resale shop. Nestled in-between the highest-end boutiques on earth, the Church Mouse is a treasure trove of gently-used haute couture and home goods. For cheapskates with taste, the Church Mouse is nirvana. I also enjoyed the PB Boys’ Club surf shop, locally owned for 27 years.
I indulged in an entire day at the Forbes Five-Star, 42,000-square-foot Eau Spa. Seriously: they told me I could enter the spa at nine a.m. for my one p.m. massage and I was in a spa robe nibbling on a mini-cupcake by 9:05.
In an awe-inspiring bronze rotunda, I lit a candle in to place in the “Wishing Well.” I ate a zillion peanut M&Ms and lounged in various hanging chairs, dipping pools, cabanas, bath lounges, saunas, steam rooms, and oversized Jacuzzis. I discovered a heated spa chair next to a rainfall water feature above a jacuzzi and if I could live there, 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 the 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 did not).
EATING AND DRINKING
Polpo Palm Beach is the recently-opened outpost of a beloved, Greenwich, CT restaurant. The menu showcases fresh local seafood and Italian dishes. I dined outside overlooking the ocean, savoring Burrata Caprese with fresh mozzarella made in-house and Risotto Agli Scampi with jumbo shrimp in a basil-rose cognac cream sauce.
Breeze Ocean Kitchen is festooned with lemon-and-white striped umbrellas and is lively at lunch and cocktail time. I thought there could be nothing more amazing than my seafood cobb salad with lobster, shrimp, avocado, pineapple, and a citrus vinaigrette, but then I returned and ordered the lobster roll on a buttery bun with crisp fries.
In all, my January escape was restorative and left me feeling pampered and ready for whatever 2022 has in store for me. As I drove toward Miami on my way home, I decided I’d rent a convertible when I came back, and put the top down, to feel the Florida warmth on my shoulders.