Seeking a resort town that combines fine dining and merry-making with a side order of world-class polo and gold-standard golf? Then head to the exclusive enclave of Palm Beach for a weekend like no other.
From PGA golfing tournaments to art fairs and boat shows, there’s plenty to attract visitors down to Palm Beach, but for equestrian fans – and polo ones in particular – it is an excellent base to situate yourself for a few days of high goal and high jinx. There are two stand-out polo clubs to check out:
The National Polo Center: The long-term home of polo in the US, these grounds have hosted the greatest players, ponies, and patrons for several decades. Today it has relaunched and remodeled but still showcases some of the highest level of polo in the country. This season, the games to see and be seen at include the annual U.S. Open Polo Championship (Final 23rd April) where a fabulous brunch is the ideal precursor to an afternoon of 22 goal polo; and the historic Westchester Cup. The latter has been contested only 19 times in its 137-year history, with only seven having taken place since World War II. On Friday 31st March a US team will face a UK side for the resplendent trophy created by Tiffany & Co. Gather friends and opt for box seats in the grandstand to witness the sporting battle in all its glory.
Grand Champions Polo Club: Grand Champions, the nation's largest polo club, is a unique private 102-acre polo facility in Wellington with 212 stalls in nine self-contained barns, two tracks, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and 13 well-manicured grounds with state-of-the-art underground irrigation. Launched 16 years ago, it’s mission was to create a space to encourage renewed interest in the sport. Today, the club promotes all levels from the grass roots, creating and developing new players, to the 26 goal World Polo League tournaments, the highest level of polo played anywhere in the States. From sunset socials and polo community asados to the fanfare of the major tournaments, this is a club to add to the must-visit list.
Image: International Polo Club Palm Beach
Away from the polo field?
This exclusive enclave of Florida has been the playground of the wealthy for over a 100 years. Since Standard Oil tycoon Henry Flagler set about clearing the swamps and the jungle into the winter resort of the well-heeled in the late 1800s, the people have flocked. Part of the golfing big leagues? Then try your luck on The Champion which includes the Jack Nicklaus-designed notorious three-hole-stretch, The Bear Trap. But if you’re not quite up to McIlroy par, the PGA National Resort Palm Beach Gardens have five tees to suit your standard. Indeed, there are 160 courses in the area so you’re bound to find something just right.
Where are we staying?
The word ‘icon’ gets bandied around quite a lot these days, but never did a place deserve such a moniker as The Breakers. The luxury oceanfront resort has presided over the breaking waves of Palm Beach’s Atlantic coast for more than 125 years. With its Roman Villa Medici-inspired proportions, grand interiors and unparalleled service, to stay at The Breakers is to join the illustrious and infamous names of America’s history from Rockefellers to Vanderbilts. And to truly act like a Rockefeller, opt for the coveted Royal Poinciana Suite, an ode to hotel founder Flagler’s six-story Georgian hotel which stood as the world’s largest wooden structure in the late 1800s. Beachfront living and glamorous touches hark back to a by gone era with all of today’s must-have mod-cons.
Image: The Breakers Palm Beach
Another absolute favorite is The Colony. With its flamingo pink walls fawning over Hammon Avenue, it is unmissable, and its de Gournay interiors are just as stand out. Pad around your beautiful room in a pair of Colony Hotel x Petite Plume pajamas and plan your day whether it’s lazing by the palm-fringed pool, ordering a YETI cooler of gourmet bites to the beach via The Colony’s Butler, or pairing a post-work cocktail with a listen to a live flamenco guitarist in the Living Room. To stay at The Colony is the sweetest of treats.
Image: The Colony
Where are we dining?
So if we were picking an ideal weekend of eating and drinking our way around the island, it would look a little like this: To start, we’d suggest passing gourmet French deli, Blue Provence for pastries en route to getting a daily dose of 'vitamin sea' via a dip in the ocean at the end of Clarke Avenue. For lunch, we’d step onto one of Worth’s secluded vias to enjoy the cooling interiors at Le Bilboquet, the audacious design at Ta-boo or the delectable dishes at Bice.
Image: Cafe Boulud by Aj Woomer
For dinner, we’re hoping we can get a table at Chef Daniel Boulud’s award-winning restaurant, Café Boulud . In marking its 20th anniversary on the island earlier this year, the menu still delivers Chef Boulud’s promise of showcasing classic French dishes and the region’s seafood – Dover sole meuniere, filleted table side? Oui, s'il vous plait! For a nightcap, we’re heading over for a Not Today, Satan (mezcal, passionfruit, cucumber, habanero, fresh limes = chef’s kiss) at Cucina.
For Sunday brunch it has to be at The Circle, the spectacular dining room at The Breakers. Yes, we’ll have the made-to-order, light-as-a-cloud omelet but we’re also raiding the raw bar for seasonal stone crab.