A Palm Beacher’s Guide to Picking the Perfect Staycation Spot

1. Eau Palm Beach

Just south of Palm Beach is an equally posh enclave you don’t hear as much about: Manalapan. That’s how the locals like it. It’s every bit as luxurious but a lot more private than its glittering neighbor. Manalapan’s hospitality gem, Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, feels deliciously removed, yet its vibe is so au courant—and so cheeky! that you actually want to be seen. A big attraction here is the decor, masterminded by the King of Cheek himself, potter/ designer Jonathan Adler. Adler, whose manifesto is “Minimalism is a bummer,” was fearless in blending turquoise, navy, sunny yellow, and bursts of silver, punctuated by needlepoint and prints of Slim Aarons photography. Suites are a riot of color and texture, guaranteed to make you smile. Eau Spa, a true altar of self-indulgence, is worth the staycation alone. The experience begins at a wishing well, where you set your intentions for the day, followed by a moment of reflection in the Self-Centered Garden, where bucket chairs swing from the ceiling over a pool of shallow water. Following a snack of Champagne and cupcakes, the perfect spa day continues with a custom concoction at the Scrub & Polish Bar and treatments like the coveted Hydra- Facial MD or The Imperial Geisha, which, as the name suggests, is fit for royalty. Eau’s fine-dining concept, Angle, has been closed for a reimagining and will reopen this month. We can’t wait to see its transformation. In the meantime, it’s hard to find fault with sipping a Mango Mule and nibbling on a Cubano taco en plein air at the Breeze Ocean Kitchen. Eau, so lovely. (561-533-6000)

2. Boca Raton Resort

South County’s oldest, most historic hotel remains its most lauded. Addison Mizner took inspiration from Spanish castles when designing the Boca Raton Resort, which opened in 1926. Now a member of the Waldorf Astoria family, this lavish property delivers the perfect mini getaway for couples, families, and solo excursions. Children love learning to surf and body board at the on-site Flow House Boca—and are certain to cap off any activity with a decadent sundae at Serendipity. Adults flock to the award-winning spa and mark many a date night with superb sushi at Morimoto. (561-447-3000)

3. Sundy House

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Sundy House is a storied gem in Delray Beach. John Shaw Sundy, the former construction superintendent of the Florida East Coast Railway and mayor of Delray Beach, built what is now the boutique inn in 1902. The Victorian-style structure served as the family’s home, the storefront of their feed and fertilizer business, and the school where John’s wife taught Delray’s pioneer children. Today, its current owner, environmentalist Tom Worrell, has fully restored the main house and a number of cottages tucked away in the surrounding Taru Gardens. Sundy House’s rich history and unbridled beauty grows bountiful here. Along the tranquil paths, visitors will find turtle- and fish-filled ponds, waterfalls, streams, benches, gazebos, and the oldest documented Royal Poinciana tree in Palm Beach County, planted in 1919. More than 500 varieties of foliage flourish around this landmark and stretch across a full acre. There’s also a hidden cenote, a freshwater pool where guests can swim and take in the sounds and sights of nature. Inside, Old Florida touches—like bamboo, archaic stone, wooden mantels, and handpainted details—coexist with the Queen Anne revival architecture. The symbiosis between the interiors and omnipresent botanical elements makes for an ideal escape, where guests can easily forget they’re blocks away from Atlantic Avenue. The Sundy House restaurant also allows ample opportunities to appreciate the native flora and fauna, with multiple outdoor patios, floor-to-ceiling windows, and tables scattered throughout the gardens. For a mini staycation, make a reservation for the legendary brunch buffet, available on Sundays (Saturdays are à la carte). The spread occupies two rooms and features omelet, crepe, and carving stations; a selection of charcuterie and cheeses; hot dishes like paella and eggs benedict; fresh seafood including oysters and king crab legs; and a dessert and sundae bar. Mimosas, sangria, and Bloody Marys are all bottomless, and diners can customize the latter with accouterments at the greenhouse-style bar. Thankfully, there’s no better place to walk off the inevitable food coma than the peaceful gardens. (561-272-5678)

4. Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa

Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa allows staycationers to savor Miami’s sexy vibe in the more relaxed setting of Vero Beach. The experience begins with a glass of bubbly upon arrival in the orchid-filled lobby, which exudes a Latin sensuality prevalent throughout the 94 rooms and suites. Authentic Cuban flavor awaits at The Wave Kitchen & Bar, where diners can taste local ceviche and bistec de palomilla (a traditional steak preparation) while enjoying live music. The bottomless mimosa or Bloody Mary brunch, with dishes like Cuban-style eggs benedict and dulce de leche–stuffed French toast, is also a must. When relaxation beckons, visit the spa, sip a Paloma by the pool, or hit the beach just steps away. Guests can also borrow a bike to explore Vero’s shops, locally owned eateries, and attractions like Orchid Island Brewery. (777-562-9919)

5.The Brazilian Court

Many Palm Beach hotels evoke the grandeur of the 1920s, but few do it with as much panache as The Brazilian Court. Since opening its doors on January 1, 1926, this boutique hotel has hosted elite visitors, including celebrities like Marlon Brando and Katharine Hepburn, both of whom now have suites named in their honor. An air of Old Hollywood glamour permeates the property, from numerous secluded tropical nooks to the piped-in big band music and even the intimate entry that smells of honeysuckle. Should you choose to venture to the beach, have the bellhop order up a complimentary Mercedes to escort you directly to the sand, where chairs, umbrellas, and a stocked bag await. Now that’s all-star service.

A member of Leading Hotels of the World, The Brazilian Court mimics a traditional Palm Beach estate, with Spanish-Mediterranean architecture that complements its residential neighbors. While the valet is off Australian, the original entry was on Brazilian (hence the name), and the hotel’s open design is centered around a main courtyard. Inside, guests are met with a number of cosmopolitan delights, such as an art gallery with works swapped out quarterly and available for purchase through Paul Fisher Gallery. There’s also the Frédéric Fekkai Salon, which provides the French stylist’s beloved treatments, like the Rose de Mai manicure that incorporates Chantecaille beauty products.

The Brazilian Court is also home to Café Boulud, where lucky diners can savor chef Daniel Boulud’s modern French cuisine. The culinary adventure begins at the illuminated onyx bar for a taste of the signature White Cosmopolitan, a beautiful blend of vodka and elderflower liqueur enhanced by lime and white cranberry and finished with an orchid ice cube. Meals are savored under a patchwork ceiling of pecky cypress and mother-of-pearl. While the menu changes seasonally, it often features favorites like the chilled tomato soup with fennel and olive crumble, perfectly prepared steak au poivre, and a heavenly mint and chocolate bar. But nothing beats those complimentary madeleines, sprinkled with powdered sugar and flavored with a whisper of citrus. (561-655-7740)

6. PGA National Resort & Spa

Luxurious accommodations and legendary courses designed by the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer pair up at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens. The top priority of any golf staycation? Playing a round on The Champion course, the resort’s crown jewel and home to the Honda Classic, an annual charitable tournament. This golfer’s playground also features an on-site instruction school for plentiful opportunities to improve your game. After the clubs are stowed away, head to the 40,000-square-foot spa’s outdoor Waters of the World mineral pools for a rejuvenating dip. There’s no better way to top off a day on the links. (561-627-2000)

7. The Breakers

Palm Beach’s iconic landmark hotel is steeped in history and tradition, but thanks to constant reinvestment by the owners—descendants of The Breakers’ founder, Henry Morrison Flagler—it always feels fresh and relevant. In the past few seasons, the hotel has rolled out reinventions of its spa and fitness center, Flagler Steakhouse, the ultra exclusive Flagler Club, and, most recently, Seafood Bar. And the changes keep coming. That’s probably why a staycation at The Breakers feels more like an extravagance than a mere hotel visit. Its grand spaces, with their Renaissance architecture and frescoed ceilings, evoke a sense of place: This is the real Palm Beach, a sanctuary for unapologetic luxury and service the way it should be. Yet there’s always something to discover and an energy that’s addictive—whether traveling solo, with a special someone, or with children. Here are three experiences no staycationer should miss:

  1. Bungalows by the pool – This is your oasis away from the sun—and the crowds. Like a cabana on steroids, a bungalow at The Breakers measures upward of 400 square feet and is appointed with beach house–style furniture, private loungers, a semi-outdoor shower, a stocked fridge, and—the best perk of all—concierge service to cater to your whims. Don’t pass up the skinny pineapple margarita, served in a hollowed-out pineapple.
  2. Seafood Bar – The Breakers’ classic restaurant has been reimagined in a big way. Inspired by a ship’s interior, the new space is more open and boasts an exhibition kitchen. Its beloved features, like the aquarium bar and sprawling ocean view, have been preserved, as have some of the most popular menu items, such as the crab cakes and seriously addictive Key lime pie. From the new batch of offerings, the tuna tartare tostada is a thing of beauty.
  3. Cool kids’ stuff  – Traveling with children? The Breakers will keep them busy with all the activities they love, and then some. From the moment they walk in and are handed a “passport” to record their discoveries, they’ll find oodles of fun things to do: riding the waves in a Jet Ski–towed Banana Boat, blowing off steam in the interactive playground, taking a junior golf lesson, going on a nature scavenger hunt, and playing games in a huge arcade. (561-655-6611)

8. Hilton West Palm Beach

The addition of Hilton West Palm Beach has turned the trifecta of tourism (i.e. the Palm Beach County Convention Center, CityPlace, and the Kravis Center) into a bona fide cultural corridor ideal for weekend revelry and mini staycations. The 400-room, four-diamond hotel opened in early 2016 with the goal of becoming a hot spot for both the convention crowd and residents. It achieved the latter in a couple ways: imbuing the modern interior with coastal-inspired art curated by Texas–based Eaton Fine Art and turning the 20,000-square-foot pool deck into a hip hangout complete with cabana rentals, lawn games, and “dive-in” movies at night. On Saturdays, the Hilton ups the fun factor with an à la carte brunch menu and outdoor yoga, both of which are open to the public. (561-231-6000)

9. Waterstone Resort & Marina

Situated on the Boca Raton Inlet, Waterstone Resort & Marina boasts some of the best waterside vistas in South County. By day, the Curio Collection by Hilton property is a boater’s paradise. Those traveling by sea can dock and grab a bite at the casual Waterstone Rum Bar & Grill (we recommend the smoked fish dip and the Old Cuban cocktail), lie by the pool, or relax in a shaded hammock. Visit on Sunday afternoon, when a steel drummer draws a lively crowd of locals. By night, the resort’s fine dining restaurant, Boca Landing, makes for a romantic scene, with Lake Boca Raton visible from every seat. When it’s time to retreat in for the evening, the cozy, coastal-contemporary suites with panoramic ocean views are equally serene. (561-368-9500)

10. The Chesterfield

In the midst of the tropical haven that is Palm Beach, it’s lovely to have something so very British. The Chesterfield, the Palm Beach outpost of the beloved London hotel of the same name, is a bastion of Englishness, with traditional afternoon tea service (those scones, though) and classic furnishings that could belong in a manor across the pond (Canopies! Fabric-covered walls!). The best reason to book a staycation is the newly upgraded Presidential Suite, a super-private, apartment-style residence on the top floor. The space is admittedly very pink, from the Indian silk wall treatment to the upholstery, but it feels so chic and luxe. The genius is in the details: his and hers marble baths with day and evening lighting, arrangements of dried Parisian roses, and modern art for a counterintuitive note.

A highlight of a stay at The Chesterfield is The Leopard Lounge, an island institution. The restaurant offers all the classics from past and present, and the bar is a weekend hot spot for imbibing and dancing to live music. If only those walls (and that famous painted ceiling) could talk. (561-659-5800)


11. Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa

No jaunt up to Jupiter is complete without a visit to this Old Florida getaway. Nestled at the end of Indiantown Road, the Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa specializes in easygoing escapes, complete with 1,000 feet of shoreline dotted with turtle nests, secluded by mangroves, and encircled by hammocks. An ocean-view suite tops the accommodations list, but each room is outfitted with aquatic odes, including a resident plush turtle available for purchase. For a staycation sampling, dine at Sinclair’s Ocean Grill, which serves up fresh fish specials and outstanding versions of classic sea fare, like crab cakes and saku tuna tartare. (561-746-2511)

12. The Seagate Hotel & Spa

If you dream of a day when underwater hotels are a reality, it’s time to book a stay at the next best, land-based thing: The Seagate Hotel & Spa. Centrally located on Delray Beach’s Atlantic Avenue, The Seagate takes decor cues from the nearby ocean. The lobby and Atlantic Grille restaurant are home to an array of aquariums full of moon jellyfish and sharks, among other sea creatures. Design elements like an undulating elevator wall and indoor water features instantly recall the lapping of waves, while a plethora of purple orchids (particularly the single bud left at turndown service) inspire endless relaxation.

When it comes to Zen moments, The Seagate Spa is a must-visit for locals and out-of-towners alike. At 8,000 square feet, the spa’s size allows for an expansive menu but the attentive staff makes sure every guest feels like it’s all theirs. Given the overall ocean vibe, it’s no surprise that the sea creeps into the treatments. The spa’s signature
Hot Shell massage trades stones for ceramic seashells, resulting in a sublime yet effective hour of bliss. In addition to its regular menu, the
spa often offers seasonal specials. In November, channel those autumnal feelings with the Spice It Up package, composed of a pumpkin-themed enzyme facial, manicure, and pedicure, as well as a complimentary pumpkin spice martini. (561-665- 4800)

13. Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach

One of the island grande dames, the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach has a Zen vibe that immediately calms the senses. Perhaps it’s the palette of cool neutrals, or the large-scale, modern floral arrangements in the lobby. Or maybe it’s the tranquil mood that permeates everything from the living room to the spa zone to the chill waterfront cabanas. Whatever it is, a weekend here feels like a far longer getaway.

One of the highlights is dining at the water’s edge. AB&G, the resort’s casual open-air restaurant, is separated from the sand by a clump of sea grapes, giving new meaning to the term “barefoot luxury.” Though it’s a splendid spot for lunch, weekend evenings bring a host of delights, including a view of the rising moon. On Saturday nights, AB&G features Hook’d, a seafood-centric experience with oyster and sashimi selections, market fish, and whole branzino to share (we recommend the curry spiced preparation). On Sundays, the place to be is Graze. Brunch here is lavish and interactive, with made-to-order specialties like chirashi rice bowls and an endless mimosa and Bloody Mary bar, plus a spread with diverse fare from monkey bread to stone crab claws. Be sure to grab a cabana for a post-prandial nap; you’re going to need it. (561-582-2800)

14. Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel & Spa

There’s no place like home, but Kimpton’s Vero Beach Hotel & Spa is a close second. The hotel’s West Indies–inspired design and oversized rooms and suites ooze a stylish comfort reminiscent of a friend’s beach house—except this beach house has room service. Wine hour begins at 5 p.m. in the lobby, a great precursor to dining at Cobalt, the property’s elegant oceanfront restaurant. Chef Daniel Traimas infuses his dishes with a blend of Midwestern and Southeast Asian influences, as seen in standout dishes like the cobia crudo with watermelon radish, serrano pepper, kaffir lime leaf, and a coconut-lime vinaigrette. Dessert becomes a tasty, charitable endeavor when ordering the turtle brownie sundae, which supports local turtle protection. For after-dinner drinks, head to the outdoor patio dotted with fire pits and featuring live music on the weekends. The resort excels at offering a calming environment for rejuvenation. A yoga session on the beach (held every Saturday) is one of the best ways to start the day. Other activities include paddleboard or kayak lessons and tours, available through on-site Paddles by the Sea. The White Orchid Spa is another must-do. While the medical-grade spa is undergoing a facelift of its own, guests can still enjoy services such as CoolSculpting, Botox, LED light therapy, and treatments like the O2 Lift Facial with exfoliating papaya and pineapple enzymes. (772-231-5666)

15. Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa

This all-suite resort on singer island calls to families with a lagoon-style pool (with water slide!), condo-like accommodations with full kitchens and modern appointments, an awesome kids’ club, and all manner of outdoor activities. Bonus: The resort is an advocate for turtle conservation and offers staycation packages that benefit Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach. (561-440-0795)

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