Nestled in idyllic Little Torch Key, Little Palm Island Resort & Spa is truly a beautiful destination and a unique getaway. Arriving at mile marker 28 – about 30 min from Key West – I was greeted with a rum punch filled with shaved coconut. Talk about a great way to start the stay – especially after a two-hour drive from Miami! A boat then whisked me away from the mainland to Little Palm Island, about 15 minutes away. The hotel is on it own private island and the rooms are TV-free with phones that only connect you to staff at the hotel. Every room is personalized for each guest with a nameplate (pictured) and your own stationary should you wish to put a message in a bottle. Details like that remind you of the fact that you are stranded on your own island, after all.
Sunsets at Little Palm Island are a must-see if you can pry yourself away from your private sanctuary. Something that might surprise you is the fact that deer also inhabits the island. They are native to these parts of the Keys and are often spotted swimming between the islands that surround the hotel. Trust me: give yourself a few days here and you’ll quickly forget what life back on the mainland feels like.
About a 90-minute drive north of Miami, I arrived in Palm Beach. With wealthy coastal towns such as Palm Beach itself, Jupiter, Manalapan, and Boca Raton within its limits – not to mention the equestrian Mecca that is Wellington and the golfing haven of Palm Beach Gardens – Palm Beach County is Florida’s wealthiest county.
I visited The Brazilian Court here: a historic landmark on the island of Palm Beach. Famous for being the ultimate Florida vacation destination for the rich and famous, this hotel was voted number one hotel in South Florida by Travel and Leisure and is also home to one of only three Frédéric Fekkai Salon and Spas in the country. There are 10 entrances and exits to the hotel for those high profile guests who don’t want to – or really want to – be seen.
Guests at the Brazilian Court have access to their own private beach club. Just five minutes away from the hotel, you can indulge in a tranquil oceanfront setting here. With their newly renovated rooms, this property is a must for travelers wanting the best of both worlds.
The Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach was next, a property that has catered to the world’s most discerning guests for almost 20 years now. The spa here was amazing, truly an experience you have to take advantage of. There are 12 Spa Villas that offer a private escape for couples. These Couple’s Villas provide an intimate experience far beyond simply providing treatments, where lavish garden enclaves, over-sized tubs and outdoor rainfall showers (for an open-air spa experience) cleanse one’s spirit and quench a thirst for sensuality.
My last stop was Orlando, where I found the new Waldorf Astoria Orlando, a destination in the middle of Mickey’s Empire. The first Waldorf Astoria to be built outside the flagship property in New York City, this hotel is a new incarnation of a legendary landmark in a brand new setting. Modeled after the famed New York hotel you will see bits of The Waldorf Astoria brought to Orlando, such as the Clock in the lobby and the famous Bull and Bear Restaurant. An 18-hole golf course designed by Rees Jones lies on part of the property’s 482 acres, and both pros and novices (such as myself) will find it perfectly suited to their needs. The hotel’s Spa by Guerlain, by the way, features 22 treatment rooms and offers an array of wet and dry treatments.
And with that, my trip to the Sunshine State was over. I was reminded again that this place has so much to offer… from the quiet, laid back Keys, to gorgeous South Beach and Palm beach, to the overall fun to be found in Orlando, there really is something for everybody here.