Palm Beach, Florida (including West Palm, right across from Lake Worth) has increased its design quotient this winter, with great museums, iconic hotels, and special exhibits, including the popular Downton Abbey display. Plus, there’s always upscale style – and those Atlantic beaches.
In the late 1890s, Henry M. Flagler, one of America’s great industrialists, built The Royal Poinciana, a six-story Georgian beauty. Two years later, Flagler opened its first beachfront hotel, The “Breakers”, where the waves crashed and sprayed.
After the fires of 1903 and 1925, the hotel resurfaced even more opulent. New York designers Shultze and Weaver, who would later create the Pierre, Sherry-Netherland and Waldorf Astoria hotels in Manhattan, described the Breakers as “the pinnacle of perfection in design and magnificence.”
The Breakers was modeled after the Villa Medici in Rome, an ambitious effort that saw 75 artisans from Italy complete the intricate paintings on the ceilings of the 200-foot-long main hall and the first-floor public rooms, which are still on display.
Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Astors, Andrew Carnegie and JP Morgan, have vacationed alongside US Presidents and European nobility. Today, the grand hotel emphasizes green efforts, including energy efficiency, water conservation and waste reduction. It is engaged in environmental programs and is a Green Power Partner of the US Environmental Protection Agency.
When completed in 1902, the New York Herald proclaimed that Whitehall, the estate of Henry Flagler’s heyday in Palm Beach, was “more wonderful than any palace in Europe, bigger and more magnificent than any other private home in the world.”
Today, Whitehall is a National Historic Landmark and is open to the public as the Flagler Museum, offering tours, temporary exhibits and special programs.
Steps from Worth Avenue shopping, courtyard restaurants and the ocean, this historic boutique hotel features Mediterranean architecture, tropical courtyards and splashing fountains. The Brazilian Court is a 1920s landmark with 80 upscale-style rooms and a classic luxury getaway in Palm Beach, complete with Cafe Boulad, a secluded palm-fringed pool, and two tropical courtyards.
Five more reasons Palm Beach is appealing – right now:
- The Kips Bay Decorator Show House Palm Beach—The Florida iteration of the prestigious four-decade Designer Show House program in New York City — lists more than 20 of the nation’s most talented interior designers to transform a 10,000-square-foot Mediterranean-style mansion along the ‘Intracoastal Waterway. Theatrical design statements to be exhibited by industry veterans Danielle Rollins, David Scott and Meg Braff, among others. The program raises funds for the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County.
- Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa– The Forbes Five-Star Resort offers refurbished rooms designed by Jonathan adler which brings its signature touches of color to the customer experience. The resort offers a Kips Bay Decorator’s Show House Opening Weekend Package, including show house tickets and a Mediterranean breakfast for two at the resort’s Temple Orange Mediterranean Bistro.
- Downton Abbey: the exhibition – After a successful run in New York, Downton Abbey: the exhibition winters in S Florida, West Palm Beach. Visitors are transported on an incredible journey through the grand abode of Downton abbey and offered a glimpse into the world of the Crawleys and those who served them under the stairs. The most recognizable and beloved sets from the series, as well as more than 50 official costumes from the series are on display.
- The reinvented Place Royale Poinciana offers one-of-a-kind luxury fashion / design shopping experiences. In its layout around a central courtyard with landscaping designed by Design by Nievera Williams, the square echoes some of Europe’s legendary shopping destinations, such as the Palais Royal in Paris.
- The West Palm Design District, known locally as Row of antiques– offers an array of lifestyle boutiques and showrooms such as Sean Rush Workshop. The region has also seen a wave of news, design-oriented restaurants featuring spectacular chefs and cuisine.