My PR friend Ann Margo invited my dad and me to The Breakers for lunch and to play a round of golf. We began the memorable afternoon at the Flagler Steakhouse. Flagler Steakhouse is one of the hotel’s nine restaurants; it’s located across the street from the historic hotel and overlooks the Ocean Course. The restaurant is named after Henry Morrison Flagler, who built The Breakers in 1896. As you would expect from a five-star hotel, the service and food was amazing. To start I had the tomato soup with mini-grilled-cheese croutons ($9) and then had the “barbecued” grilled cheese with pulled short ribs, smoked cheddar, and a side of tomato soup for dipping ($16.75). Oh my, was it delish! My dad was a good boy and had the fish of the day over salad. However, for dessert we switched roles: he had Key lime pie while I had a bowl of fresh seasonal berries. I must admit I did dig into Ann Margo’s mint chocolate chip sundae.
Good to Know: The Breakers Palm Beach is one of the few privately held hotels in the U.S. to remain free of chain affiliation and still under the same family ownership, descendants of its founder, Henry Flagler.
The Breakers has a long history (by American standards), as it was originally constructed in 1896 by Henry Morrison Flagler and then rebuilt after a fire in 1926. To this day it’s still owned by Henry Flagler’s descendants.
The Breakers is a luxurious Renaissance-style oceanfront hotel that’s so unbelievable that it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architecture and engineering significance. It is almost impossible to walk through The Breakers lobby and not say “wow” or have your jaw drop. Mine does every time. The lobby was inspired by the Great Hall of the Palazzo Carega in Genoa and photos don’t do it justice.
As one would expect from a luxury hotel, the service at The Breakers is excellent. In fact, they have a remarkable 3:1 staff-to-guest ratio. I knew the service was going to be good when the bellman arrived to our room a minute after we did. I was taken aback when I returned to the room a couple days later only to find that the dirty laundry I had thrown on the floor had been folded neatly. Why can’t I get this kind of treatment at home? Oh yeah, I live alone.
Room TV and Working Desk at The Breakers
Our room at The Breakers had a decent-size flat-screen TV and a comfortable working desk with free Wi-Fi. NOTE: Rooms with connecting doors are not soundproof.
Telephone Charges at The Breakers
Be sure to read the fine print before making any phone calls from your room at The Breakers—or any other hotel, for that matter. I noticed that long-distance domestic calls from The Breakers cost guests $10 for the first minute and $1 for each additional. That is crazy expensive! TIP: Always use your cell phone.
Bathroom at The Breakers
The bathrooms at The Breakers are spacious, made of marble, and come with a separate shower and tub. They also have their own private-label deluxe toiletries, which make for a nice souvenir.
The View from Our Room
The best part about staying at The Breakers, besides the service and hotel amenities, is the view. The view of the ocean on a sunny day is breathtaking. Our room was 30 feet from the tide line so we slept with our balcony door wide open and fell asleep to the lull of the breaking waves.
The View from Room at Night
Believe it or not, the view from our room at The Breakers was even better at night. I took this photo without a flash and if you look closely you can even see one of the many stars.
The Breakers’ Interior Design
The hotel is huge, as it has 540 rooms, but walking down their long Italian Renaissance–style hallways is never a chore. What’s incredible is that The Breakers has invested $250 million over the past decade in its ongoing revitalization and enhancement. They also haven’t cut one job during this recession.
The Breakers Circle Room
Be sure to dine in the Circle Room, as it’s truly an architectural and design gem. It has fabulous ocean views and soaring 30-foot frescoed ceilings. There are eight oval murals depicting Renaissance landscapes. They serve the daily breakfast buffet in there but we experienced it for Sunday Brunch.
Don’t miss Sunday Brunch ($75 pp) at The Breakers—it’s one of the most elaborate food displays you will ever see. Here are some pictures from our buffet:
Fruit and Cheese table
Salmon and asparagus
The Breakers Circle Brunch Dessert Table
Just to give you an idea how elaborate The Breakers Sunday Brunch is, here’s the dessert table. To make you even more green with envy, here’s a close up of the ice cream sundae stand, which was located on the left-hand side of the table. One thing is for sure: No one will ever leave this brunch hungry or disappointed.
Top of the Point
The Breakers has nine restaurants, and some are among the finest in Palm Beach. A couple of them are located off property, but there is complimentary shuttle service to and from. We went to their newest restaurant, Top of the Point, which is a five-minute drive from the resort. It’s situated atop the Phillips Point building in West Palm Beach. Try and make it for sunset: The restaurant offers breathtaking views of the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean.
Top of the Point has a classic American menu with fresh seafood; here are some photos from our dinner. My dad had his favorite Oysters on the half shell as an appetizer. I had chicken and dumplings for my main entrée. For dessert we split the Key Lime pie and fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. The latter comes with a tall glass of cold milk but I substituted it for vanilla ice cream. Yum!
The Breakers’ Italian Restaurant
My favorite meal at The Breakers was at their Italian Restaurant. It’s a family restaurant so it’s much more casual. We were supposed to celebrate my dad’s birthday inside, but my sister had to go out of town last minute. So instead my dad and I celebrated outside since it was a perfect temperature and much quieter.
The service at the Italian Restaurant was spectacular and we had a tag team duo waiting on us: Olivia our hostess and Regan our waiter. The food was also incredible and that’s saying a lot for picky Italians like us. To start I had a caprese salad, while my dad had a simple arugula salad and stuffed eggplant (he was hungry). For my main entrée I seriously had the best chicken parmigiana I’ve ever had (sorry, Grandma!), and that’s my favorite dish of all. It was so light and tender I could cut it with a fork. The side pasta didn’t compare to my mom’s or grandma’s but the bread was devilishly good. When we left my dad said, “This is a great restaurant.”
The Breakers’ Pools
The Breakers has five oceanfront swimming pools and four whirlpool spas.
The Breakers’ Beach Bungalows
The best way to enjoy The Breakers’ five pools is by renting a beach bungalow or a grand cabana for the day. Our beach bungalow was so nice it was a shame that they wouldn’t let us sleep in there. It was basically a deluxe apartment complete with a living room, flat-screen TV (what’s better than watching Sunday football from your bungalow?), and mini-bar (they charge for the goods, except water and the sunscreen/lip balm). There’s even a private toilet, outdoor shower, patio furniture, and a hammock. Life is grand at The Breakers, isn’t it?
The Breakers’ Arcade
The Breakers is very much a family resort, and kids love to stay here because there is so much to do. My niece and nephew went nuts just to play games in the arcade, which is just one small example of all the amenities for kids. For more information on kids’ programs at The Breakers check out this link. GOOD TO KNOW: Families can reserve up to five adjoining rooms and children under 16 stay free in the same room as their parents.
As you can probably tell my dad had a fantastic time spending his birthday at The Breakers. There is so much to do we didn’t even get a chance to play golf at one of their two championship courses or visit their world-class spa. I guess we will just have to go back. (Twist my arm!) Above is a quick two-minute video that I made of our stay. I hope you enjoy it half as much as I liked making it.
RATES: BTW: From January 4 to April 27, 2010, guests earn $100 or $200 in nightly credits per room, based on type of accommodations, that can be applied to numerous resort amenities, from dining to recreation to shopping. Winter rates start at $499 (per room per night) to earn $100 nightly credits. TheBreakers.com