Meg McKinney and Allen Rokach
I'm breathing air scented with eucalyptus. My eyes are covered with slices of chilled cucumbers. Pardon me if I don't get up. I've found the fountain of youth Ponce de León was searching for. It's in the marbled halls and steaming mineral baths of Spa Palazzo, an amazing new oasis at Boca Raton Resort & Club.
Almost like they've been dipped in magic waters, some of the South's most venerable resorts are rediscovering their glory days. They've added luxurious spas and other amenities and spruced up with elaborate renovations. If you're looking for a place to refresh your spirit, set your course for one of these timeless beauties.
Boca Raton Resort & Club, Florida
Beyond entrance gates and swaying palms, tile-roofed buildings as pink as flamingos nestle at the edge of emerald fairways on the 356-acre grounds of Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton, Florida. Built in 1926 and patterned after a Spanish castle, the resort hosted hundreds of celebrities during its early years, but none of them were treated any more royally than guests of today.Since 1990, the resort has spent more than $200 million making improvements. The work refurbished dining rooms and other public spaces, rebuilt the golf course, and renovated the 1,041 rooms. Just in the past three years, the landmark has added a new 112-room boutique hotel; opened the award-winning, Tuscan-style, waterfront restaurant Lucca; and unveiled the palatial Spa Palazzo, built with old-world charm by European craftspeople. The additions flow so seamlessly that most guests can't tell whether they're in a section built in 1926 or 2001.
It isn't an inexpensive getaway, but guests enjoy a bargain when they visit during the value season from May through September, when rates start at $190 for two. That's half what vacationers pay in winter.A menu of activities for the day, slipped under my door this morning, offers everything from croquet to a 100-mph thrill ride in a cigarette boat.
Children who sign up for Camp Boca ($25 for a half-day) also have abundant choices. Patti Vicari, director of activities and events, plans more than 300 programs a month. In summer, Camp Boca kids board the vintage-style launch Mizner's Dream--named after the resort's first owner--and take a five-minute ride to the Beach Club's half-mile sweep of beach. They learn to snorkel and search for hidden shells.
As tempting as the beach sounds, I opt for Spa Palazzo. The therapies and treatments pamper you from head to toe. Because I'm trying to roll a few years off my odometer, I choose the Palazzo Bathing Ritual. A bargain at $55, it's nearly an hour-long plunge through water treatments inspired by the mythical fountain of youth. After going through the inhalation room, steam room, sauna, private mineral bath, Swiss and deluge showers, and whirlpool, I may not be younger, but I am definitely cleaner than I have ever been. Maybe it just takes some time for the magic to work.
"Look at the lights out there. It's like a Christmas tree," the waiter says when I sit down to dinner at 27 Ocean Blue, a restaurant surrounded by windows on the 27th floor. In this charmed place, every day is a gift waiting to be opened.
When You Go
Boca Raton Resort & Club: 1-888-495-2622 or www.bocaresort.com