Take an architectural masterpiece listed on the National Register of Historic Places, add AAA Five Diamond family friendly service and world class cuisine. Then, put it all on 1/2 mile of private beach overlooking crystal blue water - and you can see why The Breakers Palm Beach has been an icon of Florida luxury for 125 years.
It is hard to describe the feeling the first time you turn onto Breakers Row and see the behemoth Italian Renaissance style hotel standing at the end of the palm lined drive.
It is stunning. Breathtaking really. And the gasps don't stop there.
Visiting The Breakers in Palm Beach is like stepping back in time and into another world. You can't help but feel the history and wonder about the past guests that took the same drive.
Henry Morrison Flagler built the hotel in 1896 as a winter retreat for wealthy New York society. The Carnegies, Vanderbilts, William Randolph Hearst, and JP Morgan are just a few of the famous guests who escaped cold New York winters for the Palm Beach social season.
Flagler originally named the hotel the Palm Beach Inn, but changed the name in 1901 when guests continued to request rooms "down by the breakers".
The resort is still privately owned and operated by Flagler's heirs and I have to believe that the family connection is a key to maintaining the traditions of generations past.
Located on a tiny island that also happens to be home to 48 billionaires, The Breakers exudes authentic luxury. The hotel is sophisticated and elegant, but not pretentious. Think old money and Jackie Kennedy classic. The friendly and super helpful staff greet you by name when you arrive. The ladies on staff are dressed in custom Lilly Pulitzer dresses, while the men wear perfectly pressed shirt and tie.
Italian Renaissance In Palm Beach Florida
The artistic details throughout the resort are absolutely amazing. But, the resort today looks nothing like the one Flagler first built.
The first Breakers burned to the ground in 1903. It was rebuilt, but burned again in 1925 when a guest left her new electric curling iron plugged in while she and her husband attended the St. Patrick's Day Ball.
Architects for the third version of The Breakers took inspiration from the Villa Medici in Rome.
To insure every detail was authentic, they employed 72 Italian artisans to hand paint the ceilings in the 200 foot long lobby. Construction was completed in record time and the hotel opened again in 1926.
Being a complete design geek, I wandered through the hotel for hours taking pictures of every nook and cranny.
One of the things that was so cool was how modern touches were blended perfectly with the classic architecture.
There are 538 guest rooms located in two main towers. Our room was in the south tower and we were lucky enough to have an ocean view. Elevators to the guest floors operate only by key card, so don't leave your room without it!
The hallway oozed Palm Beach style and the wallpaper mimicked the view outside. See how the trellis on the right has an ocean view and the trellis on the left shows the garden? The rooms on the right were ocean front and the ones on the left were - you got it - garden view rooms.
We arrived at the resort after dark, so my pics of the room before our luggage exploded were pretty dim. I grabbed the one below from the Breakers media kit to show you the room in full daylight.
The Breakers encourages guests to keep the door to the Juliette balcony open wide so you can take in the view and listen to the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks below. Which is exactly what I did every night before bed. I got comfortable on the giant chaise, poured a glass of wine and savored the gourmet chocolates left on the pillow nightly while listening to the ocean.
The Breakers stretches out over 140 acres, and includes two golf courses, four pools, a fitness center, jogging trail, tennis courts, and even a children's play park. There are so many places to explore. One of our favorite spots to people watch was the Palm Court. It is beautiful, even in the rain!
The Breakers Beach Club
A private beach and four beach front pools are available to resort guests and club members. Show your room key to the attendant at the Beach Club entrance for access.
Beach chairs and umbrellas are provided at no additional charge. In fact, The Breakers does not charge a resort fee like most other resorts we have visited. If you want to up your luxury game, Guests can rent poolside bungalows that come complete with a lounge area, bathroom, stocked fridge, and a personal concierge.
For those of us not needing a fully furnished bungalow for a day at the pool, chairs are offered on a first come, first served basis. An attendant will set up the chairs with towels for you and deliver drinks right to your spot so your toes never have to leave the sand.
A note about enjoying the surf. The water is crystal clear, but remember that the resort was named for the breaking waves along the beach. So, be aware that the water can be rough at times.
Dining At The Breakers
There is no shortage of amazing dining at The Breakers. There are 10 restaurants serving everything from seafood to steak to Italian.
Whatever you do in Palm Beach, you have to have dinner at HMF. Named for Breakers founder Henry Morrison Flagler, this is the place to be seen in Palm Beach. We loved it so much, we ate here twice during our stay. Over the course of the two meals, we shared wild boar empanadas, sushi, wagyu sliders, grilled artichokes, and crab dip. It was all divine.
Seafood Bar was another restaurant that we visited multiple times. The decor is vintage nautical with a 1940s vibe. A wall of windows looks over the ocean, so there isn't a bad seat in the house. But if you want a closer view of the nautical world, be sure to sit at the bar which is an actual aquarium.
TIP: Order the Blue Crab Fried Rice. Trust me. Best thing I have ever tasted!
Henry's Palm Beach is part of The Breakers but is located around the corner in Via Flagler. The Filet Mignon French Dip is amazing and you have to try the Avocado Fries as an appetizer. Even Jason (who was skeptical) could not stop raving about them. Be sure to charge your meal to your room key for a 20% discount.
I couldn't wrap up talking about dining at The Breakers without mentioning The Beach Club Restaurant. Sit outside by the pool or enjoy the same gorgeous views just inside. The giant doors are open wide, so you get the same al fresco experience with the benefit of air conditioning.
The Lobster Club salad was phenomenal. It had huge chunks of lobster in a creamy citrus vinaigrette with crispy bacon and avocado.
I'm only sorry I didn't order the Skinny Pineapple Margarita - served in an actual pineapple. Oh well, I guess that Pineapple Margarita is my reason to return to The Breakers - as if I needed one.