In the mid 1920s, Addison Mizner, a preeminent architect of South Florida mansions, built what was then one of the most expensive and lavish properties in the world. Celebrities, wealthy, and upper class moguls considered Mizner’s retreat as “THEE” place to people watch and be seen.
Imagine The Great Gatsby and the Roaring Twenties. [ OK, I am curious, did you first think of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Redford, Leo DiCaprio, or something else? Leave your answer in the Comment field below. I will wait for you to return. ]
Boca Resort, called Mizner’s Dream and one of our favorite Relaxed Luxury Resorts in Florida, opened in 1926 and turned 90 years young in 2016. Actually, it opened as Cloister Inn, a Ritz-Carlton property. Its official name since 1988 is Boca Raton Resort & Club and it is a Waldorf Astoria Resort (a Hilton Worldwide brand).
Charles McCool was a guest of Boca Resort and the blue restaurant.
8 Great Boca Resort Relaxed Luxury Features to Enjoy
To regain (or retain) its status as the premier luxury resort—in Florida, on the East coast, perhaps in all the United States—Boca Resort spent nearly a quarter of a BILLION dollars the past few years on enhancements, upgrades, and additions. Its Spa Palazzo was named the world’s top spa in the 2014 Condé Nast readers poll, so their modernization master plan is playing out.
My stay was short and sweet and I did not even have time to try the award-winning spa, the beach club (with half mile of private beach), or many other amenities. I did explore their gorgeous grounds, lounged by the pool, and ate, ate, ate!
Even though Boca Resort is a luxury property, it does not have a pretentious, stuffy, uncomfortable, elitist vibe. Here are some “relaxed luxury” discoveries from my recent stay—remember, not including the world-class spa and private beach club.
Arrival at Boca Resort
After sleeping at three different places the prior three nights, I experienced some blissful relaxed luxury for one night at the Boca Resort in Boca Raton, Florida. Literally from the moment I arrived, I was taken care of. After I provided my name at the guard gate, I was greeted by name by the valet attendant. Then a staff member greeted met me as I walked into the lobby, gave me a quick tour and history of the main building, then took me to my room—er, rather, my suite.
Boca Resort Rooms
My magnificent room was a one bedroom suite with a balcony overlooking the croquet field. I stayed in the original Cloister building, where renovations of over $100,000 PER ROOM were completed in 2015. While there are certainly newer lodging options throughout the property, staying in the classic building, and especially in a one bedroom suite, made me feel like Jay Gatsby in West Egg. What happens at the Boca Resort stays at the Boca Resort!
Boca Resort Grounds
Walking around the massive property, I discovered gorgeous spaces, the croquet court, marina, fitness center, future golf course, and so much more.
Try to find this serene setting.
In the lobby, I loved the computer center decor.
Boca Resort appears to have been designed around some magnificent trees. Here is the banyan tree is front of the fitness center building. For scale, find the woman in the arched entrance.
Kapok trees are rain forest giants, towering over all other vegetation, growing in excess of 200 feet tall. Kapok trees are disappearing in South Florida, and around the world, because of development. Being raised in South Florida, I made a handful of visits to the Kapok Tree Restaurant in Davie, Florida. It is now gone but I appreciate any time I see a kapok tree.
Lest you think the bark of this Jurassic looking tree is smooth, here is a close up.
The Tower pool is the happening place to be on a Saturday afternoon. Listen to the hip DJ spinning tunes, have some fish tacos and a refreshing cold drink from Shaka Bar & Grill, and try your skills on the FlowRider surf simulator (the FlowRider House is a cool Airstream-like trailer). Reserve a cabana online before your stay.
Dining at Boca Resort
Morimoto caught my eye as I walked to the pool from the lobby. I will most definitely go there on my next visit. To hold down my hunger until my 8:30 dinner (see below), I had a relatively healthy snack from Serendipity in spite of their amazing menu items. Both places, Morimoto and Serendipity, are affiliated with flagship locations in New York City.
Frozen hot chocolate? Yum!
Sunday brunch in the Palm Court was magnificent. There were several food and drink stations, which I suppose was a training session for the cruise I was checking into that afternoon.
I loved the fresh fruit, including some exotic items like dragon fruit.
The Blue at Boca Resort
Probably the highlight of my Boca Resort stay was dinner at the blue. Being on the 27th floor gave me a phenomenal view, especially of the lightning storm. Roberto, the General Manager, told me that every night is different: to watch storms or amazing sunsets, experience calmness, see boats arriving.
While I was looking forward to fresh seafood, my waiter talked me into the pork entree. It was no imposition as a pork chop is one of my favorites. He said it is marinated in apple cider for 48 hours and one of the chef’s signature dishes. I would definitely order it again. I ordered a glass of malbec but Roberto overrode my choice and brought a glass of his favorite wine. Pretty cool! McCool Travel tip: ask waiters what their favorite menu items are.
Chef Christine Tenaud wanted me to try other menu items, so my waiter brought me the deviled eggs (remarkable), grilled octopus (an acquired taste), and pork belly (amazing) appetizers. I strongly suggest ordering the deviled eggs and pork belly.
Chef Christine has been at the blue for three years, since it converted from Mediterranean to American cuisine. She changes the menu every three months, seasonally, to reflect local availability. For instance, they feature stone crabs when they are in season.
For dessert I was faced with way too many choices but settled on the banana springroll. I asked the waiter about their ice cream (flavors and if they are homemade) and he gushed that their ice cream is so good that many people skip Serendipity downstairs and come up here just for a bowl.
Chef Christine did twist my arm by having my waiter bring me the ice cream sampler.
Waldorf Astoria and Hilton
I have always enjoyed the Hilton brand and it is a wonderful bonus to earn points for Boca Resort stays. Hilton HHonors members can also redeem points for free stays here. Being affiliated with Waldorf Astoria gives this property such clout and status but as I have hopefully pointed out, it is a relaxed luxury vibe. During my mid-June stay, I saw rates as low as $150, when booked more than 2 weeks in advance. Currently, the lowest rates are $198.
Checking out was simple simon and there was one last surprise in my car as a drove away. Nice touch!
Have I made a compelling case to stay at Boca Resort? Have you? Would you?
See also our article about romantic hotels in North America.
Also see these fun Florida travel articles:
- Great Key West Tips
- Fun Scenic Drives in Florida
- Great Scenic Drives in South Florida
- Great Places to See Miami Like a Native