By Genevieve Dureau
By Genevieve Dureau
If you haven’t been in South Florida lately now is the time to go. The Boca Raton, formally known as the Ritz Carlton Cloister Inn, is entering “A New Golden Era,” according to owners, MSD Partners and the Northview Hotel Group.
The remarkably stunning renovation includes a redesign of the 200-acre property’s public spaces and a blockbuster lineup of new amenities, including a destination spa and standout restaurants.
In 1926 when it was called the Ritz Carlton Cloister Inn, the property instantly became the place for a well-heeled crowd to see and be seen and to enjoy the oceanfront setting, unparalleled service, and fine dining. Over the next half century, the resort grew its footprint by adding more restaurants and rooms that were divided into five hotels, each with a distinct style.
Drawing inspiration from the idyllic coastal locale, Harbor House is The Boca Raton’s newest culinary concept, delivering island-inspired cuisine in a laid-back setting. Positioned lakeside between the newly manicured marina promenade and Harborside Pool Club, the restaurant serves as a lively spot to drink, dine, and be social with family and friends throughout the day. Coastal cuisine spotlights fresh seafood, salads, and seasonal main courses, while an extensive wine list and whimsy cocktails complement the menu.
At the heart of this immense facelift is Cloister, The Boca Raton’s first building and the center of the resort’s action. A mix of Spanish Mediterranean, Moorish, and Gothic influences, the building has been restored from top to bottom, including the barrel tile roofs, archways, intricate mosaics, and beamed ceilings decorated with cypress trees. In addition, the pink façade that gave The Boca Raton its nickname as a “pink palace” has been repainted in the original coastal white, as it appeared in 1926.
What’s a destination resort without a destination spa? To that end, the 50,000-square-foot Spa Palmera is the new incarnation of a mini-Alhambra, the incredibly picturesque palace in Granada, Spain.
Colin Cowie, a celebrity event planner, and interior designer is leading the redesign and says that the Alhambra is a historic site that’s one of his favorite places in the world. “I love the culture, architecture, gardens, and romance,” he says. “I wanted to replicate that in Boca Raton.”
The Great Hall, where guests gather before and after treatments, transform into a space with 35-foot ceilings, patterned walls and balconies, and an oversized stone fireplace. Towering glass doors lead outdoors to a large garden with a swimming pool that’s currently being planted with an abundance of trees and flowers found at the Alhambra, such as cypress trees, night-blooming jasmine, and wisteria. In addition to 44 treatment rooms, this escape to the south of Spain features a new Himalayan salt room and Vichy shower.
Another new amenity worth mentioning is the Harborside Pool Club, which features three swimming pools, a floating river, a pool bar, and luxury cabanas with butler service. It’s already a mainstay for guests and club members, including those who have been regulars at the resort for decades.
More changes are underway for this South Florida icon, but until then, a fresh cadre of travelers, as well as those who have returned many times will have plenty to look forward to during their stay.