The Breakers – Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.A.

Medici Pleasure Palace by the Sea

Europe is a place where people come from,” wrote Henry Morrison Flagler more than 100 years ago. “Nobody should actually go there.” The self-made American developer, railroad magnate, oil baron, and partner of John D. Rockefeller in the cre­ation of Standard Oil, built the magnificent Breakers in 1896, importing master European artisans to create his twin-towered, Medici villa—inspired extravaganza.

Today, the ultra-affluent enclave of Palm Beach has other top-drawer mega-resorts to be sure, but the 140-acre Breakers was the first to envision Florida’s then wild and alligator-infested swamplands as the playground destination of choice for the North’s most socially prominent families.

Rebuilt after a fire in 1926, it is possibly the most remarkable beachfront hotel on the eastern seaboard, having secured its priceless sliver of real estate way back when competition was nonexistent. A heroic $145-million lily-gilding renovation has recently put it back on the map.

Vaulted ceilings, frescoes, Venetian chandeliers, 15th-century Flemish tapestries, and a friendly, snap-to staff of 1,300 combine with a cool Floridian palette of sea foam greens, aqua, and seashell pinks to create the ultimate warm-weather resort. Gorgeously manicured, fountain-splashed grounds are shaded by more than 3,000 regal palms (representing thirty species) and include two 18-hole golf courses (one of which was Florida’s first) and twenty-one Har-Tru tennis courts.

Meandering pathways lead down to a half-mile of private beach, the breezy location of the hotel’s Beach Club and Mediterranean-style 20,000-square foot indoor/outdoor spa.

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