UNEXPECTED MOMENTS of whimsy. That’s what the Eau Palm Beach promises its guests. Arriving by chauffeured car from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport, the valet hands me a glass of champagne as I step out of the vehicle and enter the decorative lobby. I don’t know if this is meant to be a moment of whimsy, but it’s certainly welcoming. The slender champagne flute remains in my hand throughout the tour of the Floridian resort.
On seven acres of Atlantic coastline, the AAA Five Diamond Eau is a splashy new beach resort located in Manalapan that has already received an armload of awards since its establishment in 2013, including many for the property’s indulgent 42,000-square-foot spa. Last year, the resort parted ways with the Ritz-Carlton brand and has since become affiliated with the Preferred Hotels & Resorts independent group of properties. The Eau moniker (eau is French for water, perfume or liqueur; all could apply here) was adopted from the spa founded in 2009, which has been entirely redefined as the “official adult playground of Palm Beach.” The result? Elemental indulgence, personalization and… rubber ducks.
If that throws you for a loop, the Eau spa reminds you to pause, play and perfect. This isn’t a theoretical concept; the alliteration is as much a mantra as it is a guide. Before you put on your magic slippers (sandals), a personal spa concierge commences your luxuriant experience.
Clipboard in hand, the concierge helps me to customize my treatment to varying degrees, asking if I want to increase the relaxing vibe with hints of lavender (pause), focus on energy with upbeat music and a citrusy aroma (play), or combine the latest technology for beauty treatments with scents of ginger and vanilla as well as a gold color therapy (perfect). Channeling my inner Robert Frost, I choose the path less traveled—playful—and receive the Self-Centered Massage, with upbeat European music playing in the background. Citrus and eucalyptus fragrances fill the air, giving the impression I’m being massaged on the beaches of Ibiza.
The customization is further refined down to the level of “scrub couture.” The Scrub & Polish Bar follows a DIY mentality, allowing guests their choice of ingredients that, after being blended, stirred and whisked, become their very own magic potion applied by the hands of their relaxation masseuse. Although this journalist is alone, he is given leeway to explore the couple’s treatment rooms—performed in a private villa with a shower, bathtub or hamam for two—which seem the perfect way to unwind with a significant other.
There is an element of casual fun that pervades the luxury resort, which I find charming, if not delightful. Next to the spa’s hot tub are water guns for guests to use at their leisure, and bright yellow rubber ducks bob in the foyer’s wishing well. After my massage, I am found in the Self-Centered Garden (located at the heart of the spa), dangling my feet from the iron-linked swinging chairs that hang
over inches of cool water below.
From this playfulness stems the inspired guestroom design of famed potter, designer and author Jonathan Adler, a seasonal resident of Palm Beach. Imbued with the barefoot elegance of the Eau, the new guestroom reimagines a luxury retreat with Adler’s personality: equal parts glamour, fantasy, luxury and amusement. Described as a re-envisioning project rather than a total renovation, the room I’m treated to features a silver bamboo detail with ocean inspired blues and teals with the
occasional pop of yellow that mimics the Florida sunshine. Outside, the balcony is framed by cabana-esque, crisp draperies and outfitted with another whimsical hanging chair and a dining area overlooking the infinity pool below.
At night, I’m treated to Angle, a contemporary American restaurant featuring locally grown ingredients and South Floridian specialties, including line-caught fish, all natural, dry-aged prime beef and classic seafood appetizers. Behind us stands the award-winning wine wall, and the selections chosen complement the decadent meal at the chef’s table, an imposing under-lit onyx slab.
Before heading home, I am treated to another valet, coming to collect my things and offer me a second flute of champagne. While I can’t finish the glass before my car arrives, my crafty and knowledgeable valet (like most of the staff he has been with the property for years) offers to pour the bubbly wine into a coffee cup for the ride to the airport. What a whimsical moment.
Explore more of the Eau Palm Beach by clicking here.
Check out more photos from the whimsical resort below (and click on them to make them bigger!)