Stay at The Breakers Palm Beach

An Italian Renaissance high-society playground for well over a century. Est. 1896
Article: Valerie Rains

Sprawl Factor: 140 oceanfront acres; 540 rooms

Recent Nip & Tuck: The resort's five-year, $80 million guest room redesign (completed in November 2011) features soft, coastal-inspired colors (sand, slate), natural materials (bamboo, rattan), and black-and-white photos of the island. The addition of a boutique by Lilly Pulitzer—practically the patron saint of Palm Beach—and the arrival of HMF, a new cocktail bar by famed restaurant designer Adam Tihany, play up the classic-contemporary balance.

Fame Slept Here: There's no official record, but at least six U.S. Presidents have stayed here. More recently, a slew of celebrity weddings have upped the star factor with guest lists including Cameron Diaz and Elton John.

Resort Lore: The Breakers served the American war effort in the 1940s, becoming the U.S. Army's Ream General Hospital, hosting thousands of recuperating soldiers from 1942 to 1944.

White Glove Treatment: The Breakers' Sunday brunch features pastries and a caviar-stocked raw bar. As for the harpist and unlimited Champagne? That's just icing on the torta.

Signature Style: A veritable encyclopedia of Italian Renaissance architecture, the resort has a facade modeled after Rome's Villa Medici, a fountain in the style of those at Florence's Boboli Gardens, a lobby inspired by Genoa's Palazzo Carrega, and hand-painted ceilings that took 73 Florentine artists.

While Away the Afternoon: Lounge by the pool, but first spend the morning on a bicycle tour of Palm Beach ($20 per guest), during which your guide will point out architecturally significant and celebrity homes and local landmarks.

Book this Room: For the best value on some of the resort's grandest options (personal concierge and private balconies), book an Ocean Front Junior Suite. Rooms from $550, Ocean Front Junior Suites from $625; thebreakers.com