Properties such as Boca Raton (Fla.) Resort and Club, The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla., and the Delray Beach (Fla.) Marriott each offer high-end amenities and extensive concierge service at boutique hotels within the larger resort properties. “It’s like having a yacht on a battleship,’’ said Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide.
By this fall, guests of Boca Raton (Fla.) Resort and Club will bypass the general arrival area and be ushered directly to the Yacht Club. After an $8.2 million renovation, it will reopen this summer as a 112-room, self-contained boutique entity within the 356-acre, 1,047-room resort, the New York (N.Y.) Post reported.
Here, where the starting nightly rate is $1,059, as opposed to $369 for standard rooms, visitors enter via a private lobby before being escorted upstairs to their rooms, the Post reported.
Unlike most five-star boutique stays, which have limited services because of their small scale, the Yacht Club will offer the resort’s entire range of activities, like tennis, golf, surf lessons and fitness classes. There are 13 different restaurants, including an outpost of Japanese mainstay Morimoto, as well as private cabanas at the pool and beach club, the Post reported.
The Boca Raton Resort is one of several spots in South Florida that now house high-end boutique hotels within their larger properties. At the same time, other outlets in the area have upped the level of their concierge floors in an effort to attract that same affluent clientele in search of a more exclusive experience, the Post reported.
The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla., reimagined its Flagler Club at the end of 2015, transforming 25 out of its 539 rooms from a concierge level into a dedicated boutique hotel (which start at $2,100 rather than $699). It now boasts a lounge and terrace designed by top hospitality guru Adam Tihany, and black key cards rather than the traditional blue, so staff will immediately recognize preferred guests, the Post reported.
The Delray Beach (Fla.) Marriott, for its part, has eight “villas’’ that opened in 2013 ($800 compared with a regular rate of $379), which have a private entrance and their own pool. The Eau Palm Beach (Fla.) Resort & Spa has spiffed up its 24-room concierge floor and club lounge by increasing its staff and enhancing its food and beverage offerings to include sushi and extravagant pastry presentations. For access to these extras, the hotel charges a starting rate of $795 instead of $495, the Post reported.
The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne (Fla.) Miami, one of the first to offer concierge services, has also beefed up its program, bringing in guest mixologists, pop-up shops and other attractions to its premium floor. Out of 450 rooms at the Ritz, 44 enjoy the concierge amenities. (A member of the concierge team recently dashed out to CVS to replace the inner tube of a child’s float.) Rooms start at $1,099, a premium over the standard rate of $799, the Post reported.
“It’s like having a yacht on a battleship,’’ said Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide. “Now a hotel can have three-star, four-star and five-star markets within the same place. It’s a very clever trend that I think will continue, because perhaps five-star properties are too small to have all these amenities, or 10 restaurants instead of two.’’
The elevated stays usually include four food presentations, generally breakfast, lunch, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and dessert each day, flowing wine and cocktails, and superior linens or bath amenities. A visit to the Commdore, the concierge lounge at Boca’s Yacht Club, for example, comes with unlimited fitness classes, spa access and a daily blowout at the salon. But what really seems to drive these hotels-within-hotels is staff dedication, the Post reported.
At the Eau’s lounge, chief concierge Philip Brice recently drove about 10 miles to personally deliver a hairbrush a guest had left behind. And Delray Marriott chief concierge Patricia Ozburn called her own dentist after hours to make an emergency appointment when a guest cracked his tooth. Adds Ozburn, “It’s nothing for me to get a call at 11 p.m. because a villa guest needs something pressed, and the laundry is closed.”
As a result, guests report a sense of belonging to a privileged set. James Hawes, who lives outside of Washington DC and works in finance—and who stayed at the Breakers—likens staying at one of these properties to a membership at an exclusive organization. He also enjoys the networking opportunities, the Post reported.
“There are only 25 rooms at The Flagler, so it’s like staying in the private rooms of a private club, and it makes you feel very special,’’ he says. “It’s the experience of being part of a little cluster of people. You have a chance to meet and interact with fellow guests. It’s a six-star experience in a five-star hotel.’’
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