This is the year to travel! We are receiving tremendous values daily from the cruise lines, hotels and tour operators. The
drop in the value of the Euro has made European travel more appealing.
I have chosen two cities, much alike, to write about – Palm Beach, Florida and Beverly Hills, California. Palm
Beach has the advantage of beautiful beaches and the inland waterway. I stayed in the Ritz Carlton in Manalapan, at
the entrance to Palm Beach. Last year they added an incredible children’s activity area, covering everything you can think
of – even a recording studio! The latest addition is a beautiful and very large spa. There is a unique, shallow pool in a
water garden with hanging, moveable, upholstered chairs. Your feet are in the water as you move around or relax. You
can eat outside and have a spa lunch if you prefer. All of the rooms have been redone in the usual, attractive Ritz Carlton
style. The public areas are outstanding with exquisite flowers everywhere you look. This is a Virtuoso hotel that we highly
For the first time in many years, there is a new hotel in Palm Beach next to the Four Seasons. It replaced the Hilton
hotel and is called the Omphoy. It’s very different from the existing properties – reaching out to the younger, eclectic
crowd. It has a very nice spa, wonderful dining areas with a local celebrity chef, Michelle Bernstein. She is very well-
know through television and the restaurant was highly recommended. She is in charge of all the property’s restaurants and
catering. I had dinner there and it was really very good.
The Four Seasons hotel next door, on the same beautiful beach, has had all their public spaces redone and is now
refreshing their rooms. It is filled with exquisite artifacts and flowers. They also added an outstanding spa.
There are so many great hotel choices. The Breakers has everything – the most extensive and beautiful grounds, their
own golf course and a terrific Golden Door Spa. There are also unusual places to stay, not on the beach, such as the
Brazilian Court with famous chef Daniel Boulud in charge of all the dining. The long-standing Colony hotel seems to hold
most of the social functions, just off of Worth Avenue, in the heart of exclusive shopping and very charming restaurants.
The nearby Chesterfield Hotel is the sister hotel to the one in London that we love so much. It is known for its afternoon
tea and evening entertainment.
Palm Beach is also known for its culture. The Norton is the largest museum in Florida and has outstanding special
exhibitions. The Kravitz Center offers theatre and opera.
I have to mention shopping! It is unique with so many attractive shops and alleys full of flowers, shops and places to eat.
At Season’s End, there are plenty of bargains! You have to go inside to see for yourself, as the stores are not permitted to
put sale signs in the windows.
Palm Beach has hundreds of beautiful homes and gardens. The most spectacular face the beach with tunnels under the
street to the sand. Some years ago, Donald Trump took over the exquisite Merriweather Post estate. He has opened it
up for charity functions and kept an apartment for his family in the house, which is incredibly beautiful. He built a huge
function room for his son’s wedding, filled with the largest number of crystal chandeliers I have ever seen! Palm Beach is
a winter destination but Floridians make it a summer destination since there are terrific hotel bargains. One Fourth of July,
so many of our clients were returning to Florida to celebrate, we decided to go. It was more festive and no hotter than
Boston and no rain!
Delray Beach, the next town south, has become a mecca for young people in the evening. A new hotel, the Seagate,
just opened. It’s very attractive with lovely rooms, nice spa and lots of open dining areas. Their seafood restaurant is very
large but is often sold out because it’s so popular. It is located downtown with shuttle service to a private beach club for
hotel guests and members. The design is unique with several very large wall tanks filled with exotic fish.
I also just recently returned from Beverly Hills, California where I was invited to participate on a new travel agency
advisory board for Spa Magazine. Their first meeting was at the Montage Hotel which is quite new and as beautiful as
all the other Beverly Hills hotels. It has an outstanding spa, public rooms, lovely outdoor pool area and exquisite flowers.
The trees and flowers seem even more beautiful than in Palm Beach. The outdoor eating areas are very lush.
We stayed at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills hotel. They also manage the Beverly Wilshire and if you are
shopping, you would stay there since it is right at Rodeo Drive. The area is filled with luxurious shops and wonderful
restaurants. Many years ago, I stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel and after a site inspection, we had lunch in their famous
Polo Lounge. The hotel was beautifully redone a few years ago. Their famous bungalows in the garden area are
outstanding, some have private pools. We viewed one with three bedrooms, ensuite bathrooms, dining room, living room
and kitchen – simply gorgeous! The outdoor area of the Polo Lounge is filled with exotic trees and plants and is probably
one of the nicest outdoor dining areas one could ever enjoy. This hotel has many landscaped acres offering a beautiful
haven for a vacation.
The BelAir Hotel is now closed for renovation and is the sister hotel to the Beverly Hills Hotel. When it reopens, it
will once again be one of the most beautiful places to stay in the world.
There is more culture in the Los Angeles area than we can cover. The nearby LA County Museum (LACMA) had a
Renoir exhibit which was the largest I have ever seen. The museum has seven buildings! The “Angelinos” think big. I had
always wanted to see the two Getty museums. The one nearby had difficult access so I chose the Villa Getty in Malibu
where there is also a lot of walking and it was disappointing. It’s mostly new, renovated just a few years ago and loaded
with reproductions. If you’ve been to Pompeii, Herculaneum or Greece and have seen the originals, don’t go.
However nearby, in Malibu, there is a state park with a very unusual house on the ocean. The Adamson House original
owner, at the turn of the century, had a tile factory. With money problems, she was digging for gold and instead found clay
and started a tile factory. Every room in this house including all the bathrooms and terraces off of every room are covered
with the most dramatic hand-made tiles. On the downstairs floors, the tiles are replicas of Persian rugs with fringe
included. Every room is heated with a fireplace all covered with these remarkable tiles. The outside grounds on the sea are
used predominantly for weddings and functions but they are not allowed to use the house itself.
We went to Geoffrey’s Malibu restaurant on the sea in the midst of very dramatic trees and flowers. It’s very popular and
very busy. Unfortunately traffic was bumper to bumper all the way back to Beverly Hills – the weekend should be
avoided. The newest and very popular restaurant in the area is Thomas Keller’s Bouchon. It’s a casual bistro with
some very unusual touches and very good food. Downstairs is even more casual with outside dining and a bakery. The
building is new, built by the Montage and matches the construction but is run by the city, including a small park between the
This area can be visited year-round and it would make a wonderful combination with Yosemite, Palm Springs, San
Diego or travel up the coast north to San Francisco or Napa Valley. We of course have great specials.
Please call us when planning any travel anywhere in the world. We look forward to helping you! Most of the hotels
mentioned belong to the Virtuoso Collection, offering special amenities including breakfast when you book with us.