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Florida’s finest H


Since the arrival of the Four Seasons Orlando last year, the luxury spotlight has been relit on Florida, showing the state has much more than theme parks to offer, from spas to fine dining and Five Diamond hotels


author: Simon & Susan Veness enry Flagler brought


the first luxury-minded tourists to Florida in 1888 and they have been flocking there ever since. Today, the Sunshine State is a treasure trove of five-star hotels, restaurants, shopping and more, but it remains something of an under-the-radar destination for those seeking a truly sumptuous experience. While Flagler’s ambitious Florida East Coast


Railway initially took the rich and famous to St Augustine on the north-east coast, it was his discovery of Palm Beach 250 miles further south that fuelled Florida’s boom as an indulgent choice, and it remains the epicentre of luxury in the state today. Some may not put Florida and luxury


together, but Karen Farrar, product and marketing manager at North American Travel Service, says they should. “It is widely assumed to not appeal to


high-end travellers but this is a misconception. We are a luxury operator and Florida is definitely one of our top five US destinations,” she says.


“Although clients often include Orlando in their itinerary, the general focus would be the high-end beach resorts such as Palm Beach, Naples and Marco Island. There is a continual stream of luxury hotels opening their doors in Florida, all located in prime positions and offering upscale amenities. This investment would not be made if there wasn’t the demand. And it may surprise people to know there are more Ritz-Carlton hotels in Florida than any other US state,” she adds.


Back in the day In Floridian terms, it all began in Palm Beach with the historically magnificent The Breakers hotel – a beacon of 1920s opulence – and has been continued by modern splendours such as the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, the Four Seasons and the boutique Brazilian Court, all of which offer a distinctive and quality-conscious stay. Travel beyond this quartet of accommodation havens and you discover magnificent shopping


at Worth Avenue – among America’s three most iconic retail destinations – where every designer brand under the sun beckons to the fashion-conscious and casual shopper alike along a fabulous palm-lined boulevard of Mediterranean-style architecture and landscaping. Dining is another Palm Beach speciality and


memorable meals are assured at each of The Meat Market, where mouthwatering steaks stud a wildly creative menu; the Italian cuisine of Bice; small-plate delicacies of Buccan; period charm of Cafe Boulud (at The Brazilian Court); Jove Kitchen and Bar at the Four Seasons; and any of five main restaurants at The Breakers. The pampering is equally distinctive, starting


with the outrageously scenic Eau Spa (at the Eau Palm Beach) and continuing through the Frederic Fekkai Salon & Spa at The Brazilian Court and recently revamped temple of wellness at the PGA National Resort & Spa, but also many others. Perhaps the seal of approval, though, is


provided by the suburb of Wellington, which houses the International Polo Club and annual


66  TTGLUXURY.COM  SUMMER 2015  DESTINATIONS


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