Passion Points: Family
When I mentioned to friends that I was taking my kids down for a weekend in Boca Raton, almost everyone had a story to tell about their trips there as a child. The Boca Raton Resort, architect Addison Mizner’s pink palace on the Florida coast, has been a destination for New York families for over eighty years, and many of my Tristate friends remember escaping there during school vacations. If they returned to visit with their own families, however, they probably wouldn’t recognize much of what they saw.
Mizner’s palace remains the center of the resort, but many of the younger families heading to Boca these days will never set foot on the main grounds. Instead, they will head straight to the updated Boca Beach Club, located across the Intercoastal from the main resort, directly on the beach. Formerly the frumpy sister to the main hotel, the Beach Club now stands as the main attraction following a $120-million renovation. The spacious rooms have a hip, contemporary look, with crisp white linens, bleached wood furnishings and grass cloth walls. Even in standard rooms, the baths have separate rainfall showerheads and deep soaking tubs. Every category offers water views from floor-to-ceiling windows as well as a sitting area with a chaise lounge and small dining table.
Downstairs, the facilities include a sizeable new fitness center, three pools, a kids club, a restaurant and a poolside café. The food ranges from good (fresh salads from the café) to great (sea bass in the main restaurant), and a kids menu is available for tiny diners. When I was there, the two primary pools had a bit of a party vibe, but the children’s area was perfectly suited for families. Guests can rent a cabana equipped with a flatscreen TV and a private bathroom and shower for a bargain $46 per day. I would recommend this option to anyone traveling with kids. You can even request a pack n’ play for the cabana, allowing younger children to nap while older kids play in the zero-entry pool.
In case of boredom, the main resort’s amenities still have their appeal. Golfers love the two championship courses, and the property’s tennis program is consistently rated one of the best in the country. There is also a multitude of additional dining options, including the Morimoto sushi bar, family-friendly Serendipity and elegant Cielo, located on the 27th floor of the Tower and offering unrivaled views. But there’s no question that the Beach Club is the place to stay. The original rooms, especially those in the Cloister and the Tower, sorely need an update, and they are a shuttle ride away from the beach.
The Beach Club is not without its flaws. Service can be frustratingly slow and a little clueless. When I arrived, the crib I requested had not been put in our room, and I had to ask twice before someone brought it up. But where it really counts – specifically in the kids club – I found the staff to be friendly and hard-working. My preschooler begged to go back with the counselors after her first afternoon at Camp Boca, and she returned each day with a bevy of arts and crafts projects she’d completed. Now she can start to create her own memories of cold weather sojourns to Boca. The details may be different than those her father has of visiting as a child, but the essence of the resort remains the same: happy kids equal happy parents, and a few blips in service couldn’t ruin three days of contentment.
Who Should Go: Families in search of an easy, kid-friendly vacation. Social types will also enjoy the sense of camaraderie around the kids’ pool, where parents were chatty with neighboring cabanas and children played together.
Who Shouldn’t Go: Guests who are used to the service and the crowd at the Breakers will be disappointed. The area lacks the sophistication of Palm Beach.
Room to Get: The Sky Deck rooms have oversized private terraces that overlook the sea and are great for sunset drinks. But keep in mind that there are no outdoor lights on these balconies due to nesting sea turtles nearby. Once the light disappears, they can be quite dark.
Indagare Tip: Request cabanas numbered 120-124. They are the closest to the family pool, and the proximity allows parents to keep a close eye on swimming children without leaving their loungers.
Getting There: Boca Raton is equidistant from the Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach airports. You likely won’t need a car while visiting, so ask the resort to arrange your airport transfer.
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