This month marks the unofficial beginning of “the season” in Palm Beach, the winter playground for America’s well-heeled since the 1920s and an even more high-profile destination of late, as the current president is a frequent visitor to his home Mar-a-Lago. Palm Beach is one of the most moneyed zip codes in America; millionaire (and quite a few billionaire) “Snowbirds” flock from cooler climes to stroll the gorgeous palm tree-lined boulevards, soak up the warm Florida sun and, of course, indulge in an array of luxury shopping and fine dining. We say: Join the fun!
Stay in Town
The Chesterfield, an utterly charming and historic 53-room hotel, located off tony Worth Avenue, has just had a facelift. Part of Red Carnation Hotels, the landmark property was originally built in 1926 and instantly puts you in a Palm Beach state of mind with its cheery pastel pink facade, pretty garden courtyard, manicured pool area, cozy wood-paneled library lounge and chauffeured Rolls-Royce; and then there’s the hotel’s iconic Leopard Bar and Restaurant, a legendary hotspot that attracts a fun mix of celebs (Rod Stewart and Jimmy Fallon are regulars), local business leaders and society matrons. Despite its small size, The Chesterfield has a lot going on.
The pool area at The Chesterfield has been given a facelift with new chaise lounges, umbrellas and landscaping.
The 42 guestrooms and 11 suites have all been renovated over the last few years, concluding with the Junior Suites this month. The vibe? English country meets the tropics. Each guestroom has been designed with rich fabrics and unique artwork, traditional English furnishings, all lightened up a bit for Florida (think: bright color, bold stripes and patterns, mixed with chintz and crisp white linens.) Top digs: The 694-square-foot Presidential Suite featuring a grand king bedroom, two full marble bathrooms and a spacious living room with two sofas and a mirrored bar. Décor is bold and pink, a tribute to notable past guests, which have included such strong females as Margaret Thatcher, Lauren Bacall and Cyndi Lauper. Good to know: There is a flight of steps up to the Presidential as it sits on a private floor on the top of the hotel without elevator access — but it’s worth it for the seclusion and views of Palm Beach.
A One Bedroom Suite at The Chesterfield has 550 square feet of space and has a king bed, a marble bathroom and a large living room.
For families, the hotel has one Two Bedroom Suite (Room Nos. 320 and 324) at 700 square feet, which can sleep up to six people. It has two queen bedrooms with generous en-suite bathrooms, which join either side of a large, classically furnished living room with sofa bed and a full marble bathroom with walk-in shower. We also loved the hotel’s two One Bedroom Suites, at 550 square feet, each with a king bedroom that adjoin a generous living room. The main difference is the color scheme: The Flagler Suite on the second floor, has a taupe and cream décor with a gorgeous distressed wicker Porter’s chair and The Dormer Suite, on the third floor, features a red and white décor with floral accents and plantation shutters. Our al fresco favorite is Room No. 200, a Junior Suite, at 440 square feet with crisp blue décor, king bed and seating area all in the bedroom, plus a pretty wrought iron juliette balcony that seats two.
A Juinor Suite at The Chesterfield has 440 square feet of space and comes with a sitting area and pool views.
As the hotel is a historic property, the guestrooms vary in size and shape; the smallest, the Queen Superior rooms, are still a manageable 200 square feet, and Deluxe King rooms, topping out at 256 square feet, all have new marble bathrooms and efficient modern closet space. The clever use of mirrors, pattern and glam window treatments make all the guestrooms feel grand. Amenities and services are what you’d expect from a luxury hotel, plush bathrobes, in-room safes, twice daily housekeeping and 24-hour room service.
General manager Natalie Le Clerc ([email protected]) has been running the property for nearly seven years and is particularly proud of the renovation and her team. “We’ve created a special place, where guests really get the feeling for Palm Beach; they can walk to the beach or Worth Avenue, both within a few blocks, and then come back here to relax and rest or have some fun in the Leopard Lounge,” she says. Luxury travel advisors can contact La Clerc with requests for VIPs or if interested in FAM trips (she encourages summer visits). You can also get in touch with her diligent deputy, guest services manager Jackson Fairchild ([email protected]).
The Library is the perfect place for avid readers to enjoy the Afternoon Tea.
The hotel offers several options for dining: Al fresco in the Courtyard or by the pool or in the sexy Leopard Lounge and Restaurant with its beautiful (and slightly naughty) hand-painted ceiling, animal print accents, dark wood furniture and retro styling. Talented executive chef Gerard Coughlin has created eclectic and inspired menus — with an excellent choice of local seafood and comfort-style cuisine (a range to suit any taste from crab cakes to curry), as well as signature dishes from Red Carnation Hotels’ president and founder, Bea Tollman. The Chesterfield is known for serving its traditional English Afternoon Tea in the Library, which we sampled, and can attest it is on par with any tea service we’ve had in London’s finest hotels. It is served with warm, freshly baked scones and cream, flavorful hand-cut sandwiches and delicious homemade pastries. Children’s menus are offered throughout the hotel; there’s even an adorable little prince and princess tea, with PB&J, cupcakes, ice cream and hot chocolate. Late night, Palm Beach comes to party at the Leopard Lounge, where guest wrap around the long black lacquered bar, swill cocktails and break away for a dance or two to the live music.
The Leopard Lounge and Restaurant has slightly naughty hand-painted ceiling, animal print accents, dark wood furniture and retro styling.
Palm Beach To-Do-List
The Chesterfield couldn’t be better positioned for exploring the best of Palm Beach. Guests can enjoy a day at the beach with the hotel’s chairs, umbrellas and a special Chesterfield packed lunch. Worth Avenue is two blocks away with a Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, plus all the most luxurious brands — Bottega Veneta, Chanel, Tiffany & Co., to name a few, and a gorgeous new Lilly Pulitzer boutique — but we say meander through the vias that jut off along the sides of Worth Avenue; here’s where you’ll find more unique stores, art galleries and cafés amid beautiful bougainvillea and sculptural fountains. For more shopping, head to the newly refurbished and fabulous Royal Poinciana Plaza, which has a hip mix of retailers from Europe (Cremieux, Orlebar Brown, Kiton and Zadig & Voltaire) and the Hamptons (LoveShackFancy and Joey Wollfer) and we’re crazy for the colorful personalized accessories from local Stoney Clover Lane.
The area’s trendiest and most established dining choices can be found within walking distance of the hotel — from casual SurfSide diner or TooJays for Jewish deli to Palm Beach’s best prime rib at Ta-boo or classical French at Cafe L’Europe and Café Boulud, plus delicious new sharing concepts at Bricktop’s and Buccan, topped off with ice cream at Sprinkles — nobody will go hungry.
Guests may be content to while away days at The Chesterfield’s refurbished and perfectly manicured pool area with all-new comfy chaise lounges, umbrellas and landscaping. If not, there are many options: Guests have access to two local gyms and several spas nearby, privileges at local golf courses and the concierge can make arrangements for adrenaline sports, such as scuba diving, jet skiing, parasailing and sea fishing. Luxury travel advisors should contact in-the-know guest services manager Jackson Fairchild with any questions or to make VIP arrangements.