As ubiquitous as the palm trees and the sand in Palm Beach are the well-heeled Americans: immaculately dressed ladies who lunch and boys who play bridge. This corner of Florida’s east coast has long been the playground of the world’s mega rich – and who can blame them, with giant waterways to park superyachts, Italian-inspired palazzos to live in and the pristine coastline to ogle at? Ask any Palm Beacher where they’re heading for a good time and, more often than not, it’s to The Colony. Alanna Ospina finds out how this favourite of Frank Sinatra and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor is still casting its spell 75 years after opening its doors.
Hotel Review: The Colony Palm Beach, Florida
The self-proclaimed ‘pinkest hotel in Palm Beach’ isn’t kidding. The family-run The Colony is a grown-up design marvel following its high octane makeover in celebration of its 75th birthday. Third generation owners, Sarah and Andrew Wetenhall, have taken the mischievous and fun-loving spirit of the hotel that has carried it through the decades (there’s a reason Wallis Simpson kept coming back) and given it a modern-day makeover. Today, the hotel remains an iconic meeting place for locals and a beacon for out-of-towners looking for the ultimate laid back luxury.
Working with Palm Beach design firm Kemble Interiors, The Colony ramped up its design credentials by partnering with legendary brands. The exotic scenes donning the walls throughout the property are courtesy of De Gournay, while Farrow & Ball updated The Colony’s signature pink with a powdery candy floss hue. Roping in style icon Aerin Lauder to design one of the hotel’s beachside villas, The Colony is name-dropping galore, with Dolce & Gabbana and Jil Sander both hosting pop ups at the hotel, too. For fellas, Vilbrequin have launched an exclusive design (pink, of course) for The Colony, too; expect to rub shoulders with local doyennes picking their weekend outfits.
In the lobby, peacock chairs offer a resting place for weary travellers, with giant palm leaves stretching to the ceiling and a beautiful backgammon board set ready to play.
The 79 rooms and suites are so comfortable it feels as though you’ve reincarnated as one of America’s snowbirds – savvy citizens who summer in the north and head south to winter in always-sunny Florida. Resplendent headboards grace each bedroom in different styles (depending on the room category), and rattan chairs and design features add to the contemporary colonial-chic look. Bathrooms feature refillable bottles of the hotel’s own amenities.
Hit the beach or the five and a half mile car-free Lake Trail on one of the hotel’s adorable hot pink bikes – worth it just for the photo opp, obviously. Or hop in the most elegant pink golf buggy, instead. The pool is the place to be: hang here to feel like you’re in Palm Beach’s inner circle.
There isn’t a spa, but you can book a Dr Barbara Sturm facial to have in your room, and the hotel runs a series of fitness residencies (trainer to the stars, Tracey Anderson has led classes here).
Enjoy property porn? Take a meandering drive around the neighbourhood. Or feel like a star strolling down Worth Avenue and browsing the designer stores, antique shops and galleries – Russeck Gallery has a fantastic selection of artworks. Enter the gilded age at The Flagler Museum, or enjoy the revolving arts programme at Society of the Four Arts. For golfers, there are plenty of world class golf courses to enjoy.
Dining options at The Colony are some of the best in Palm Beach. The vibey Swifty’s (a former hallowed New York City institution) serves food throughout the day; a breakfast of Huevos Rancheros under the shade of a scalloped sun parasol is a particularly lovely way to start the day. But it’s particularly fun at night – the sort of place you want to dress up for. Feel the buzz of the Floridian warm breeze at night, under the twinkle of fairy lights, serenaded by live music and the hum of gossip (and probable scandal). Don’t miss the Florida Stone Crab Claws and Grilled Berkshire Pork Chop.
For a lighter meal or on-the-go dining, The Pink Paradise Café has a tasty selection of sandwiches, salads and smoothies during the day. For a casual cocktail with a side of live flamenco, hit The Living Room. The dining experience is overseen by British Executive Chef, Tom Whitaker, who has an impressive pedigree having previously worked at Relais & Châteaux properties.
THE FINAL WORD
Jet set pit stop or a home from home, stay for a night at The Colony to taste the American high life and escape the real world. Or settle in longer and join the Palm Beach brigade. This is a fashionable, fun flight of fancy worth packing your best wardrobe for.
Nightly rates start from $854 per room. thecolonypalmbeach.com