By Angela Caraway-Carlton
Pulling into the grand, palm-lined entrance of The Boca Raton, my eyes need a moment to adjust. Standing tall like a seaside stunner you’d find perched along the Mediterranean, the iconic resort’s façade shines in a coastal-white hue, a dramatic departure from its famous pink color that most longtime South Floridians recall.
It’s my first clue that the property—formerly known as The Boca Resort & Club and fashioned by architect Addison Mizner in 1926—has shed much of its former (dated) style and moved into a new and exciting era thanks to a $200 million transformation. For vacationers, that translates into upgraded accommodations, a roster of hip, new dining options, a play-all-day poolscape, and glamourous communal spaces where the past and present beautifully mingle.
With five distinct hotels sprinkled throughout the 200-acre property, there’s an accommodation for every type of vacationer—from the original Cloister hotel with its rich architecture and classic elegance to the residential-style Bungalows that are perfect for extended stays, to the dreamy oceanfront Beach Club.
I chose the newly refreshed Yacht Club, an adults-only hideaway where kids are not allowed but fur babies (like my regal beagle) are welcomed by a doting staff and given their own cushy pet bed, bowls, treats and toys. The Yacht Club has the prime position of being attached to the Cloister, yet with its own lobby, check-in desk and floor butlers. Gone are the dark guest rooms with heavy furniture; spacious suites are now light and bright, dressed in a coastal attire of blue and creamy white hues that blend in with the fronting yacht-lined promenade. Bathrooms present plenty of space too, fitted with a soaking tub and stand-alone shower, Molton Brown beauty products, and plush robes that beg for lounging around the room.
Mornings were spent on my sunlit balcony overlooking Lake Boca Raton, which is always alive with boats on parade. Guests at the Yacht Club can dine exclusively at Flybridge restaurant, which hovers over the sparkling water, and pets can join their owners for terrace dining.
What Vacation Looks Like:
The resort’s centerpiece is the new Harborside Pool Club. Think of this as the water park of your dreams—whether you’re a family looking for nonstop fun to keep the kids entertained, or a couple seeking solitude. Fronting the lake, the sprawling space brags three pools and a 450-foot-long lazy river meant for languidly floating in inner tubes or shooting down waterslides.
I spent relaxing days at the adults-only pool, an oasis that features lounge chairs nestled under umbrellas, luxury cabanas for rental, and a large hot tub that flaunts views of the lake. After making leisurely laps around the lazy river, I sunbathed in wavy chairs submerged in the pool.
While I soaked up the silence of the adults-only side, kids giddily packed their own water paradise: a pirate ship where they can fire off water cannons and flit around a splash pad that’s fixed with palm trees that spray water and small slides.
For a totally different vibe, a water taxi will whisk guests across the lake to the Beach Club for a day spent camping out on their private beach. Those seeking a pampering treatment should escape to Spa Palerma, a massive retreat that boasts a salt room, individual baths meant for fragrant soaks, and a tranquility pool reserved for spa guests and those staying in the Yacht Club.
If you love a vacation where you never have to leave the resort for good food and entertainment, then you’ve found your heaven. With several Major Food Group restaurants (the New York-based group behind trendy restaurants like Carbone) that are exclusive to the resort, guests can embark on their own food crawl. Start each evening in airy Palm Court, where light pours through floor-to-ceiling windows and there are plenty of posh spaces to tuck away for lively conversation and cocktails.
Make dinner reservations at The Flamingo Grill—a midcentury modern chophouse where the only thing that upstages the artwork starring pink flamingos and tropical foliage, black-and-white checked flooring, and eye-catching chandeliers—is the dapper waiters donning pink jackets that cater to every whim like popping bottles of bubbly. Order a seafood tower, then move on to perfectly cooked meat dishes (but don’t sleep on the oversized roasted salmon encrusted in horseradish), and spring for the flashy show of tableside bananas foster flambe.
Discover a completely different vibe at MB Supper Club, which is dripping in deep red hues and playful wallpaper with images of misbehaving monkeys drinking vodka or smoking cigarettes. Kick off the night with coupes filled with Champagne, as live entertainment whisks you back in time. This is the place to indulge in classic dishes of the past too; think Crab Louie Salad and Oysters Rockefeller, Beef Wellington for two, and desserts like a flaming Baked Alaska.
Don’t Leave Without: Carve out time to wander the massive property, searching out the impressive architecture and design details, lush gardens, and hidden-away courtyards. Stop in the gourmet macaron and chocolate shop, Maison Rose, where they’ll put together gift boxes of artfully designed chocolates—think chocolates adorned with palm trees or coral reefs —the perfect reminder of your sweet stay. thebocaraton.com