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Insider’s Palm Beach with The Colony’s Sarah Wetenhall

For Sarah Wetenhall, Palm Beach really is a love story. She first started visiting the Florida town with her boyfriend and future husband, Andrew Wetenhall, when they were in college at Vanderbilt University. His family had owned The Colony, a flamingo-hued boutique hotel near the shops of Worth Avenue and a block off the beach itself. “Palm Beach plays a major role in our lives, as well as the lives of our three children, and always has!” she explains.

She and Andrew took ownership of the hotel in 2016, and set about restoring it—“not only to physical splendor, but also to revitalize her as a thriving hub for fine food, culture and entertainment for all of Palm Beach.” They certainly succeeded: After reopening in November 2020, The Colony quickly became a favorite in the area for Indagare staff and members, and it earned a spot on our list of Indagare’s most booked beach resorts for last year.

As she’s watched Palm Beach evolve over the years, Sarah has come to believe that the town’s development is “very cyclical.” She explains: “When my father-in-law first purchased The Colony in 1969, Palm Beach was fashionable, fun-loving, and an international hotspot. Over subsequent decades, it perhaps became a bit more sleepy, but is certainly having a well deserved renaissance at present. What has never changed is the gentility, sophistication and Old World glamour that penetrates this town.”

Read on for her insider tips to the always-chic Palm Beach.

Contact Indagare for assistance in booking your trip to Palm Beach. Our Trip Designers can help match you with the hotel or resort that is best for you—including The Colony—and offer even more restaurant, activities and shopping recommendations.

Sarah Wetenhall’s Palm Beach Guide

WHERE TO EAT

The daytime snack
“I adore Surfside Diner for a casual bite during the day. It’s an old world, traditional diner, but remastered through a fresh, beachy filter. Surfside is buzzy and casual, perfect for a post-beach milkshake or a delicious salad. I also am a fan of the lunch counter at Green’s Pharmacy for a quick bite. It’s such an old-school establishment that feels like it belongs in another decade. It’s definitely an ‘old Palm Beach’ staple.”

The newcomer in town
Le Bilboquet has been a wonderful addition to the Palm Beach dining scene!” she says of the South of France-inspired restaurant that opened its first Florida outpost here in 2021.

The fabulous night out
“I am a fan of Renato’s which is a short walk from The Colony. Not only is their service and food other-worldly, but dining in their vine-covered courtyard is a magical experience.

And of course I love Swifty’s right here at The Colony, in large part because of founder Robert Caravaggi. Robert is the ultimate host, making diners feel as though they are his personal guests. He has deep friendships with Swifty’s clientele going back 20 or 30 years and that shows the minute you walk through the door and he greets you!”

The best dessert in town
It is a tie between the Semifreddo at Renato’s and the Princess Cake at Sant Ambroeus. They are both so delicious! And when I have my kids with me we always make an after-dinner pilgrimage to Piccolo Gelato for their handcrafted gelato and sorbet.”

WHERE TO SHOP

The main destinations
Worth Avenue has and will always be the shopping mecca in Palm Beach, but it is much more than that. Worth Avenue is home to top galleries and diverse restaurants as well: Le Bilboquet, Renato’s, Bice, Taboo and Pizza al Fresco to name a few. The Royal Poinciana Plaza is another great Palm Beach destination for more fashion forward brands as well as stellar people-watching.

The clothing stores
“My go-to for years has been Kirna Zabete at the Royal Poinciana Plaza. Beth Buccini, who is a dear friend, has the best assortment and she gets my personal taste to a ‘T!’ There is a newcomer in town, however, that is amazing! Marissa Collections just recently opened, also in The Royal, and they even have an in-house ear piercer for their fine jewelry.”

Both La Ligne and Nili Lotan have also recently opened shops at The Royal. I love their pieces for casual work days—they are so chic and easy to wear. Both brands are a great addition to the Palm Beach shopping landscape.

My husband and teenage son live and die by the menswear at Maus & Hoffman, which is also a local family-owned business. The collection of Italian fabrics and cashmeres are unrivaled on Worth Avenue.

The home décor (to bring some Palm Beach home!)
The Kemble Shop from Kemble Interiors. It has curated new and vintage finds that are quirky and quintessentially Palm Beach. Mimi McMakin and her daughter Celerie Kemble steward the business and descend from one of the island’s founders. A great newcomer on the scene is Well Made Home on South County Road. Their assortment of pillows, pottery, linens and tabletop home accessories can’t be missed—and are great for that last-minute hostess gift!”

The galleries
“New York’s Voltz Clarke Gallery does a rotating show at The Colony every season. Proprietors Blair and Alistair Clarke represent amazing up-and-coming contemporary artists; their works are incredibly interesting and bring a modern voice to the more classic décor I have in my homes. I also regularly visit both Christie’s and Sotheby’s here in town to see their exhibitions. They select the best of the best to bring down to Palm Beach—so I always see something I covet!”

The local spots
“I adore the AERIN shop in Palm Beach. There are a couple others in the country, but the Palm Beach location is truly a jewel box full of clothing, accessories and decor that all made perfect sense and that captured the spirit of this island.”

The cultural musts
“I love that the Flagler Museum is a physical representation of the founding spirit of this community. The ambition, the love of beauty and fine arts, and the grand scope of entertaining. The other cultural destination not to miss when visiting Palm Beach is the Society of the Four Arts. It is Palm Beach’s oldest cultural institution, and they do an excellent job of creating a constant roster of relevant and interesting programming including recent talks by Lance Armstrong, Wes Gordon of Carolina Herrera, and Lisa Dennison of Sotheby’s to name a few.”

The can’t miss activity
“You must bike or walk the Lake Trail. It is the pedestrian thoroughfare of Palm Beach. Mornings are the liveliest with soft, rising light breaking over expansive water views, and everyone greeting each other as they pass. You will almost always pass a celebrity or two just starting their day.

Contact Indagare for assistance in booking your trip to Palm Beach. Our Trip Designers can help match you with the hotel or resort that is best for you—including The Colony—and offer even more restaurant, activities and shopping recommendations.

– Peter Schlesinger on February 23, 2022

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Quotable

I love the sense of community and history. It is amazing to live in a place that is so beautiful, but the most special thing about our town is the generations of overlapping family connections and deep friendships.
~ Sarah Wetenhall

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