How The Breakers Rebranded Florida As Manhattan South
The Breakers: Arguably the most iconic fixture to swoon South Florida since the invention of the key lime pie. You’ve heard of it. Your swankiest friends in the know rave about it. Even your mom has met a guy who swears it’s tops. Really though, how fabulous can the gargantuan, classic-yet-modern beachfront hotel be? Pretty darn fabulous, as it turns out.
Impressively donning a storied goulash comprised of 538 guests rooms and suites, four majestic ballrooms, three sweeping event lawns, four heated oceanfront pools, 25 luxury poolside bungalows, two championship golf courses, nine distinctive restaurants, 11 shopping boutiques, and more potential for dazzling events than possibly calculable like it’s no big deal, The Breakers lives up to its name, and this isn’t even the half of it. Three separate lushly landscaped lawns cater to alfresco desires for anywhere from 75 to 700 guests. Fancy a breezy seaside cottage? The Ocean House extends a relaxed indoor-outdoor atmosphere for moderately sized weddings between 60 to 120 guests. Smaller, intimate affairs find their place at The Breakers as well, with by our calculation, more than 49 different venue options that are anything but cookie cutter. In essence, the property is as massive as it is versatile, but what is the secret sauce that makes it such the celebrated source for tastemakers? The consensus appears to be in the hospitality. In a word, the team that makes up the face of The Breakers is what one might allude to as thoughtful. Sure, the grounds are posh as it gets (and that’s measuring up against old world Upper East Side standards), but that’s nothing without an infrastructure that aspires for greatness. Elegant comforts met with energetic enthusiasm and keen personalization ensures its guests continue to hold The Breakers in high regard. Another element worthy of mention: Sunday brunch at The Circle redefines what we as New Yorkers know about brunch, and that’s saying a lot. Coupled with tight values, green initiatives, and modern social impact, the modern-classic resort ticks all of the marks that encapsulate one, dare we say, consummately perfect experience.
The magic in The Breakers is that one could return again and again for years on end, and never need to repeat the same itinerary twice. Indulge in one of 17 treatment rooms at The Spa, or take up an island bicycle tour. Go fishing at Sailfish Alley, the closest point the Gulf Stream in Florida, or embark upon one of four memorable themed catamaran cruises with the captain and crew. Hit the boutiques for a shopping spree, or stroll half a mile of private beach exclusive to guests of The Breakers. Go wild with a vast array of water sports, or simply just eat your face off at any one of nine restaurants (or in the comfort of your suite with 24-hour in-room dining). Its endless possibilities for how to spend the day and night, fiercely challenges even the most fickle and discerning palate.
Historically speaking, The Breakers has catered to industry tycoons and elite socialites since they began flocking to the pristine shores of Palm Beach in the late 1890s. Its founder, America’s great industrialist Henry M. Flagler, sought to delight guests with a premier oceanfront hotel in close proximity to the water at “the breakers,” where the waves crashed and sprayed. What resulted was the start of a trend for the institution of grand, gorgeous properties on the long strip island. Surviving two fires in the first quarter of the 20th century, the hotel reemerged more opulent each time. The latest iteration was modeled after the magnificent Villa Medici in Rome- an ambitious effort that called for 75 artisans brought in from Italy. The collective grandeur of intricate paintings, detailed soaring domes, and glistening chandeliers introduced The Breakers as a class of its own. The unapologetic luxury of the majestic hotel beckoned notable glitterati, with a guest register reading like a “who’s who” of the early 20th century America. Steadfast admirers flocked to the sunny grounds, hosting the likes of the Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Astor, and Carnegie families, to name a few. In 1973, The Breakers made the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, and the revered sentiment continues to captivate sojourners to this day.
So how exactly did The Breakers manage to rebrand an island strip in Florida to crown it as Manhattan South? It began with a touch of class and imperialism, avowed an impenetrable commitment to excellence, and forged ahead with a shrewd understanding of what the cultivated masses were seeking. For the true judicious sensibilities of the astute New Yorker, The Breakers has long been the obvious choice for holidays and celebrations beneath the Floridian sun.
"Palm Beach Proper" is written by Samantha Sendor and featured in the 2020 Edition of Sophisticated Weddings. For more information about weddings, honeymoons, and holidays in Palm Beach, visit The Breakers.