In what seems like a different age, before this year’s pandemic, my most recent educational trip was only actually a few months back, at the end of 2019.
I was part of a small group of six, kindly invited by Hills Balfour, the UK representatives of Discover The Palm Beaches, for four days learning a little more about this hidden gem of Florida, America's first resort destination.
The Palm Beaches are made up of 39 different distinct cities and towns along a 47-mile South Florida coastline.
We flew from London via Atlanta to Palm Beach International airport although a direct flight to Miami would probably be more suitable with only a 50-minute transfer.
Our base was the Seagate Hotel in the centre of Delray Beach, a splendid luxury boutique hotel “where island ease meets urban chic, and the ocean soothes you as the city stirs you” – how about that for an attractive tag line! We were also given exclusive access to their private oceanfront club.
Delray is a charming seaside town famous for its lively main street, Atlantic Avenue, and a thriving art scene, and on day one we were shown around in one of the town’s complimentary beach buggies. Atlantic Avenue has a charming Pinball Museum along with a vibrant food and drinks scene, buzzing shops and art galleries.
In the afternoon, we moved on to the neighbouring city of Boca Raton, where we had a visit and lunch arranged at the Boca Raton Resort and Club founded back in 1926.
Much of the original architecture has been restored, especially felt as we entered the Cloister, one of three areas, along with the Beach and Yacht Clubs, that make up the hotel.
After a comprehensive look around the hotel and its facilities, we enjoyed a lovely meal at 501 East, one of their several restaurants, before being totally spoilt with a post-lunch chill in a waterfront cabana at the very relaxed Beach Club.
The Boca Raton has something to suit everyone with a fabulous kids club and the FlowRider, their dual-sided wave simulator and ultimate surf-on-land experience. This is also the very first hotel I have come across with a Moët & Chandon vending machine!
The following morning, we had a hosted breakfast at the iconic Breakers Hotel, steeped in history where the grandeur hits you as soon as you first glimpse it from the top of the long driveway.
The lobby is spectacular and already my favourite of any hotel I have visited. The atmosphere is one of relaxation and luxury service with an impressive choice of restaurants and activities. Or how about your very own beach bungalow with a private concierge and exclusive food/ beverage service. Simply wow.
The rest of the day was spent seeing other hotels in the area:
The Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island is a lovely laidback resort style hotel on the beach with a great pool and beach area. Suites have fully stocked kitchens with separate living and dining areas.
Hilton Garden Inn, Palm Beach Gardens is a lakeside, well-priced property, excellent for shoppers with an easy walk to the Garden Malls and Downtown at the Gardens whilst the PGA National Resort and Spa is a large resort catering for golfers or families looking for a broad range of activities and facilities.
Our final day started with a visit to the laid back yet very glamorous Four Seasons, Palm Beach. Set on a beautiful beach, the hotel has recently had a multi-million dollar renovation, drawing on the Palm Beach history whilst introducing a fresh, contemporary touch.
Our tour of Palm Beach Island was made extra special by Lesley, our local guide and resident sharing all the inside gossip from Rod Stewart's local haunts to Trump's behaviour around the town!
We concluded at the Palm Beach Outlets for a quick bit of shopping before heading to the airport for our flight home.
Many thanks to Miriam from Hills Balfour, Eva and Erick from 'Discover The Palm Beaches', all the hotel hosts for their kind hospitality and to my fellow agent and tour operator colleagues for their enjoyable company. A truly fabulous trip!