Do we want to see Judi Dench in a mini-skirt?
Or Maggie Smith with a facelift hoisting up the jowly disdain of the dowager duchess of Downton Abbey?
Grande dames are grand because they wear their age with a gravity that inspires respect.
Accordingly, dignified hauteur was what I was expecting from a recent stay at the 87-year-old Boca Raton Hotel and Resort, one of Florida’s famous Jazz Age hotels.
Addison Mizner designed the oldest part of this immense pink castle, which opened in 1926 as the 100-room Cloister Inn before the Florida land bust dragged the society architect into bankruptcy a year later.
What my husband and I discovered on a recent weekend was a huge complex of more than 1,000 rooms spread over 356-acres, geographically, and nine decades, stylistically.
While the hotel’s vintage elegance was occasionally obscured by jolts of modern hotel décor, the good-natured jumble of styles was fun, not fusty.
Besides, if it was good enough for JLo, who are we to complain?
Jennifer Lopez reportedly lounged by one of the oceanfront pools while Jason Statham filmed scenes at the hotel from their made-in-Palm Beach County movie, “Parker.”
That fight scene where Statham and a bad guy battle on a balcony high over the water? Ignore the near-death grappling and focus on the scenery. That’s the view from the hotel’s 27-story tower, built in 1969.
Nearly every Florida architectural style from the 1920s to the 21st century makes an appearance here, from the first 1930s addition, to the blocky 1980s Boca Beach Club, which commands a half mile of Atlantic shore, to the ultra-contemporary video art decorating the otherwise minimalist Morimoto restaurant.
Massive renovations in 2006 and 2009 have freshened almost every room and public space.
We were relieved, however, to see Mizner’s original entry and grand staircase relatively untouched, with its dark wood ceilings and old tile floors.
We splurged on a high-season stay to celebrate a major wedding anniversary, but still opted for the least expensive room ($200) in the Cloisters, the hotel’s oldest section. The room was cozy and comfortable with luxury linens and a marble bathroom.
Unlike most hotels, you can’t just waltz into this one, looking for a drink and a meal. Only guests or club members are allowed inside. But once you’re in, you can play golf, tennis, swan around the spa and laze on the beach or beside one of six pools (seven if you count one at the Boca Country Club, which the hotel owns) without getting back into your car.
Since I’m geeky about history and my husband humors me, we strolled around Mizner’s colonnaded courtyards, admiring fountains faced with faded but original Mizner Industries’ tile and a huge kapok tree with thorns as big and sharp as shark’s teeth.
A small trawler dubbed Mizner’s Dream ferried us across the Lake Boca Raton to the Boca Beach Club, a massive complex of more than 200 hotel rooms, parking garage and meeting spaces. It seemed forbiddingly like a day at the office until we found our way through the building to the beach, where three pools and a beach bar awaited.
My husband’s Hilton’s Honors Club membership scored us free drink coupons, which we traded for mojitos at the Beaches Cafe overlooking the Atlantic. We’re Floridians and it was still early April, so we didn’t even consider swimming, but the view is postcard perfection.
While the hotel is a Waldorf-Astoria property, it’s owned by Hilton, and there is a whiff of generic hotel culture here and there. In the main lobby, walls and ceilings - some of cast stone and carved wood - are coated with white paint. The standard-issue hotel front desk could be in a Marriott. Restaurants are inserted oddly into the old building, breaking a line of arches or cutting off a doorway, but it’s a quibble, really.
We were there for experience, not architecture.
At Morimoto Sushi Bar, a concept from the original “Iron Chef” Masahuro Morimoto, we savored intensely-flavored yellowtail carpaccio and a large cone of crunchy tempura shrimp.
After dinner, we joined the lively crowd in Bar Luna, a romantic bistro and bar tucked into the oldest part of the hotel.
Instead of the elaborate breakfast buffet offered under the high-tech fabric ceiling of the Palm Court, we picked up coffee and pastries from Serendipity and ate them in what was once a covered loggia, now an indoor sitting room.
Yes, the clothes and makeup of this grande dame may have been a bit too young for the old bones, but she was primed for a party.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Boca Raton Hotel and Resort, 17751 Boca Club Blvd., Boca Raton; 561-447-3600; www.bocaresort.com.
ACTIVITIES: Golf at the resort-owned Boca Country Club, tennis, spa, free use of the oceanfront Boca Beach Club with boat or bus shuttles. Ten restaurants.
ROOMS: from $200 per night, plus a $22 resort fee and $27.56 parking fee.