Sun Getaway: Florida’s Atlantic Coast

Multi-Gen getaway or champagne and polo ponies? Here, Florida’s Atlantic coast, two ways.


Multi-Gen: Bal Harbour

If Caroline, the Mrs. Astor, were around today, she’d be happy to call the beachy enclave of Bal Harbour Village home. It is, after all, where one of the newest outposts of the St. Regis, a result of her family’s gilded age hotel legacy, is located, and tradition is alive and well. Cocktail hour sparkles with Bloody Marys based on the recipe first shaken back in 1934 in the New York flagship. Try the Bloody Sunrise, Bal Harbour’s version. At 7:30 p.m., the sommelier enters the bar to perform another tradition started by Mrs. Astor: the sabring of the champagne. Sabre drawn, he nimbly slices off the cork, signalling the party can begin.

Here in Bal Harbour Village, just north of Miami, family is everywhere. At One Bal Harbour Resort and Spa, just down the palm-tree lined Collins Avenue, the multi-generational have come out to play. The hotel’s pool is awash with grandmothers swimming with tots, prams are trundled by parents down the lower level corridors out of the way of guest rooms and the poolside snack bar serves sushi and chicken fingers, too, of course! The beach is within view of the pool, and rows of chairs and umbrellas have been laid out by attentive Bermuda shorts-clad staff at a perfect angle to take in the rising sun. Across the bridge is Haulover Beach Park, a state park popular with surfers or picnickers.

It’s a kinder, gentler version of South Beach, with the requisite shopping and restaurants – Bal Harbour Shops serves up McQueen, Chanel and Gucci fashion alongside French (La Goulue), Italian (Carpaccio) and Japanese (Makoto) cuisine. Here, too, you will find Gee Beauty. This makeup and skincare studio is the Florida branch of Canadian Miriam Gee’s Toronto-based business that she started a decade ago with her daughters, after leaving her fashion and beauty editor post at Chatelaine magazine. Why Bal Harbour? “We opened a business here because it’s been a place that I have been taking my family to for years,” says Gee. “Bal Harbour offers something for everyone – beautiful beach, world-class hotels, restaurants and shops, galleries, glamour, music, wonderful people, exceptional service and, of course, beauty.”

But South Beach is also just a shuttle away, with scheduled pickups between the Bal Harbour Shops or One Bal Harbour. So you don’t even need a car if you’re here for the weekend – just hop the shuttle. Take in the pink sidewalks and art deco hotels of Ocean Boulevard or stay closer to home and take a cab to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in North Miami.

Another gem, the Sea View Hotel on the Ocean maintains the character of old Miami – and the prices. It’s a wallet-friendly alternative yet still offers those amenities we’ve come to expect as gold standard luxury: direct beach access, spacious rooms (if a little bit on the old-fashioned side, they do suit a family of four just fine), private poolside cabanas can be rented, and you can even have a game of shuffleboard. The owners have championed the property’s original architecture and that, like so much nostalgia, is part of its charm.

Perhaps the best part, says Gee, sun seekers and sophisticated travellers can groove to the global vibe here. “One of the things I love most about Bal Harbour is how international it is. On any given day, I hear at least four different languages spoken, and we get to be exposed to so many different cultures,” she says, “plus, travel from Canada is easy.”  —Vivian Vassos

Champagne and Polo: Palm Beach

There’s nothing like a sultry weekend in an ultra-luxe hotel to soothe the winter blues. And nowhere else says glamour and glitz in quite the same way as Palm Beach, Fla., where no mansion is too opulent, no car too expensive and no tan too fake.

Check in to The Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach. Sure, there’s been a cool, sophisticated reno and design upgrade, courtesy of Canadian designer Brian Gluckstein, and the cuisine and beachfront views are what you expect from a five-star resort. But what got me was the hotel’s Polo in Paradise packages for those itching to rub elbows with the horsey set. There are three options, including a polo lesson with a pro, such as Canadian player/model Brandon Phillips, or the Ultra-VIP Sunday Brunch and Polo, where guests are driven to the International Polo Club in nearby horse-crazy Wellington.

Once there, the champagne flows freely. If you’ve never been to a polo match before, be prepared for the thrill of horses and riders galloping down the field at breakneck speed as they chase the ball through three chukkers (periods of play) before half-time. Then, it’s time to follow the crowd onto the field to stomp divots and down more champagne as some of the best people watching unfolds. At the end of the game, guests of the VIP package can opt to present the Best Pony award to the horse’s team owner (and mingle with players).

The horse crowd knows how to keep the celebration going. That’s why your package will also include access to the official after party at the club’s exclusive Mallet Grille. Here’s to the ponies!  —Kim Izzo



One Bal Harbour Resort and Spa 877-455-5410;

St. Regis Bal Harbour 866-716-8116;

The Shops at Bal Harbour;

Sea View Hotel on the Ocean 800-447-1010;