We’re approaching our room at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, and the geometric-patterned carpet in the hotel’s newly renovated corridors is already casting a spell on my boyfriend. “I love this carpet. It looks like the floor is undulating!” (What can I say? The man loves an optical illusion.)
Once we settle in our fourth-floor quarters, the space’s stirring blend of ocean blues, plush touches and playful artwork immediately wins me over.
And when we step onto our oceanview balcony, outfitted with chairs that spell out “Peace” and “Love” in wrought iron, well, it’s game, set, match.
Eau owes the lively new look of its hallways and 309 guest rooms to potter-turned-designer Jonathan Adler, a regular at the Manalapan resort’s spa as well as a neighbor. He and his husband, Simon Doonan — the author, bon vivant and Barney’s creative ambassador — maintain a Palm Beach condo less than four miles away.
It’s a home away from their Greenwich Village apartment that Adler doesn’t get to enjoy that often.
“I’m both blessed and cursed in that I travel constantly. I’m always in a hotel room,” says Adler, whose product line includes furniture, lighting, decor, dinnerware, handbags and tech accessories sold in more than 1,000 locations globally.
Hotel rooms, in Adler’s estimation, should provide the comforts of home while delivering touches of theatricality. In essence, through a deft combination of color and texture, furniture and accessories, he wants to put on a show that will lull you to sleep.
Room color muse: Lemon sorbet
Before Adler begins a recent tour of an Eau suite, he notes one of his key points of departure: that famous Slim Aarons photo of Babe Paley standing outside her fully decked-out cabana —“the most luxe cabana you could ever be in. I wanted that feeling. I didn’t want it to feel super hotel-y.”
Adler designed navy blue window treatments with “a cabana vibe,” and shaded the beds’ padded headboards with partial canopies.
He also tossed his brand’s tiny needlepoint pillows, emblazoned with the words “Palm Beach,” on each room’s chaise lounge. “It’s luxe and a little bit sassy at the same time,” says Adler, whose makeover muse was lemon sorbet.
“It needed to be a crisp palate cleanser, and sort of enlivening, but also sweet.”
Adler’s reboot is the latest update at the hotel formerly known as the Ritz-Carlton, where the rooms were previously more store-brand chocolate pudding than gourmet lemon sorbet, says Ayelet Rahav, Eau’s creative director and the woman responsible for hiring Adler.
“I always felt it was generic,” Rahav says. “There was no sense of place. Everything was very heavy and dark. Here it’s all about the beach. It should be blue.”
Adler, too, envisioned rooms in blue (borrowed from sea and sky), white (thank you, clouds) and pops of yellow (hello, sun). Says Rahav, “He lives here so he knows.”
To add color to the white walls, Adler returned to the Slim Aarons well for a photo of a family driving a convertible in the water — “it kind of captures the luxury and glamour and folly of Palm Beach,” he says — and commissioned pieces from Donald “Drawbertson” Robertson, Leila Jeffreys and Jenna Snyder-Phillips.
“I wanted all the art here to be truly special,” Adler says. “A lot of hotel art feels very phoned in.”
Fab, but pricey, spa
Downstairs, Eau’s highly regarded 42,000-square-foot spa collected more awards in 2014, landing on Town & Country’s Top 15 Spas in the World list and Conde Nast Traveler’s Top U.S. Spas round-up, and earning “Best Treatment Menu” recognition from American Spa Magazine.
The spa recently hired aesthetician Christy Chis, who for many years prettified the likes of models Heidi Klum and Naomi Campbell at Mario Badescu Skin Care Salon in New York City.
Shortly after my beau and I checked in to Eau, we headed to the spa to don robes and flip-flops. As he padded away for a one-hour massage, Chis took me in her capable hands for a face-contouring and lifting facial.
The treatment is designed to “freshen your face with no down time” (read: you can head straight to an event without the dreaded red complexion). For more than an hour, Chis swiped and soothed, massaged and microdermabrasion-ed my face. The finale was a Vitamin C mask.
“What makeup are you planning on wearing tonight?” she asked as my time on her table neared an end.
“Um, none. I left it all at home!”
Chis was delighted. “Good! I don’t want you to put any makeup on because you don’t need it now. You look so much younger.”
I don’t know how Chis worked her magic, but she temporarily erased wrinkles, frown lines and crow’s feet. If only I could roll out of bed as wrinkle-free.
That particular facial is part of Eau’s new Infinite Glamour Project, a two-day transformation designed to party-prep spa clients from head to toe.
The first day’s agenda includes a full body waxing and a full body polishing; eyebrow sculpting, lifting and tinting; a professional spray tan; eyelash extensions and Kerastase Hair Masque and scalp massage.
Day Two begins with a Champagne shimmer pedicure and iridescent pearl manicure; the pre-event contouring and lifting facial; eye soother and microcurrent eye lift; professional makeup application; hair shampoo and styling; body moisturization and bronzing.
The cost for 14 hours of pampering and primping: $1,955.
Enormous hot tubs, inspired brunch
You can’t put a price on Eau’s water features.
The spa is home to two enormous whirlpool hot tubs – one on the men’s side of the spa and one for women – crowned by large, waterfall showerheads and surrounded by heated stone loungers, a steam room, a steam shower and a sauna.
If it weren’t for other obligations – working, eating, sleeping and the annoying like – I would still be there, wrinkled as a prune but happy as a clam.
But I eventually tore myself away from the hot tub, and after cocktails in the spa garden, convinced my boyfriend that we needed to try out the resort’s heated pool.
Under a fat full moon, we had the pool to ourselves. (That’s one of the advantages of a Monday-night stay.)
We eventually decamped to the pool-deck hot tub, then wrapped ourselves in the hotel’s thick robes and moved to cushy seats by the fire pit.
Too soon, we retired to our happy room, where we slept like babies — “Beds are everything in a hotel room, so they needed to feel super-luxurious,” Adler says — rising in time for the signature Mediterranean-inspired brunch in Eau’s Temple Orange.
As we savored the view of waves crashing against the resort’s sea wall, we sampled hummus and tapenade, smoked salmon and smoked trout, fresh mozzarella and dried pineapple slices.
The brainchild of Eau’s Israeli owners, the delicious spread was unexpected and fresh, a palate-cleansing twist on the typical hotel brunch.
Not unlike lemon sorbet.
HOT SEASONAL HOTEL DEALS
What’s new at The Breakers, Four Seasons and other Palm Beach County resorts?
Wyndham Grand Jupiter at Harbourside Place: The county’s newest upscale hotel, the Wyndham Grand boasts 179 rooms, a rooftop pool and three onsite restaurants. Through 2015, residents of Florida and Georgia get 25 percent off the hotel’s lowest rate.
122 Soundings Ave., Jupiter, 561-935-9533, harboursideplace.com/wyndhamgrand
Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa: Jupiter’s only boutique, oceanfront property is offering Florida residents up to a 35 percent discount on rooms through 2015.
5 N. Hwy. A1A, Jupiter, 561-746-2511, jupiterbeachresort.com
Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa: In an effort to woo millennials, the Marriott is renovating its lobby to provide more communal seating and charging stations, it’s upgrading its pool area with new furniture and fire pits, and it’s making wi-fi available at the beach.
3800 N. Ocean Drive, Singer Island, 561-340-1700, marriott.com
The Breakers: In November, the historic resort opened Ocean Fitness, a $3.5 million, 6,000-square-foot, indoor/outdoor oceanfront facility, doubling the size of the hotel’s previous fitness center.
1 S. County Road, Palm Beach, 561-655-6611, thebreakers.com
The Colony Hotel: The historic hotel is still basking in the glow of its recent makeover by interior designer Carlton Varney, who wanted to give the property the feeling of a Southern mansion, he has said.
155 Hammon Ave., Palm Beach, 561-655-5430, thecolonypalmbeach.com
Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach: Graze restaurant is now serving Sunday brunch, with a side of ocean breeze, week in and week out. Brunch is $52 a person, with a mimosa and Bloody Mary bar option for an additional $18. And in the salon, stylists stand ready to heat- and humidity-proof your ‘do with two new bells-and-whistles blowout services: the Debutante and the Socialite.
2800 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach, 561-582-2800, fourseasons.com
Tideline Ocean Resort and Spa: In early December, the Kimpton chain dropped the Omphoy name and rechristened the 134-room hotel. A larger, fully renovated spa is expected to open in February, and a revamped restaurant is on the way. 2842 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach, 561-540-6440, tidelineresort.com
Delray Beach Marriott: Florida residents enjoy unspecified “special rates” through June.
10 N. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach, 561-274-3200, marriott.com
Waterstone Resort & Marina Boca Raton: The 139-room, DoubleTree by Hilton property opened last May following a multi-million dollar renovation of the former Boca Raton Bridge Hotel.
999 E. Camino Real, Boca Raton, 561-368-9500, waterstoneboca.com
Boca Raton Resort & Club: The Waldorf Astoria property recently completed a $30 million renovation of its Cloister building and a $1.4 million upgrade of its health club, and it’s opened the surf-centric Flow House Boca, which includes a FlowRider wave machine.
501 E. Camino Real, Boca Raton, 561-447-3000, bocaresort.com
IF YOU GO
Eau Palm Beach: 100 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan, 561-533-6000, eaupalmbeach.com
During season, rooms start at $579 a night. Members of AAA and AARP receive a 10 percent discount. And guests who book 30 days in advance get 15 percent off.