Palm Beach’s Brazilian Court Hotel offers the perfect celebrity-style getaway with old school Hollywood glam, according to our fun seeker, Rob Giardinelli.
Photography courtesy of Brazilian Court, author’s archive
There is so much to love about the Brazilian Court Hotel, located in the heart of charming Palm Beach. It’s one of the East Coast’s premier, five-star destinations…a beautiful boutique hotel that offers luxury mixed in with Old Hollywood glamour. Founded in 1926, and restored to its original Roaring 20’s elegance, this 80-room resort is the perfect destination for a host of luxe activities ranging from quick, ritzy getaways to weddings for a hundred guests or so. Best of all, it is a place where you can unplug and recharge…without the jetlag. Yes, JetSet without the jetlag.
The great thing about Palm Beach is that it is easily accessible from the four largest cities in Texas. While Dallas and Houston residents can fly into Palm Beach directly, Austin and San Antonio residents can fly to Ft. Lauderdale, as we did via a quick two-hour flight on JetBlue from Austin. Leaving no detail unturned, the team at the Brazilian Court arranged, after we landed, to have for Go Rentals, a luxury car rental company to have our car waiting with an attendant outside arrivals. Popping into our luxury SUV, we jetted up I-95, and in about 45 minutes, we were arrived at the famed Brazilian Court.
JAZZ AGE REDUX
Located in a residential neighborhood, we pulled into the Brazilian Court’s porte-cochère, which had the feeling of pulling into a grand Jazz Age estate, and we were promptly greeted by the valet and escorted inside to check-in. The staff, friendly and attentive, offered a series of can’t-miss recommendations that we tried out during our stay.
The porter escorted us through a stunning, leafy outdoor courtyard to our room. As we walked through the halls, we saw miles of walls adorned with vintage photos of celebrities who frequented these halls from Hollywood’s Golden Age. Our accommodations were a chic, bungalow-style room, with a massive private terrace to enjoy the beautiful weather.
After unpacking, famished, we strolled two blocks for dinner at Renato’s. It was an authentic Italian restaurant with an alfresco patio that reminded me of the delectable meals I had on my honeymoon in Rome and Venice…with the Risotto all’Aragosta being a highlight. Overhearing someone from another table mention there was a gelato place next door; we dropped into Piccolo Gelato for a light, refreshing dessert.
Against the backdrop of year ‘round picturesque weather, we savored our sweet treat as we walked to Buccan for a night-cap. An outstanding restaurant in its own right, our concierge, had recommended Buccan as the place where people in Palm Beach go to see and be seen whether it be for dinner or drinks. In the crowded and lively bar, we found two seats from another couple who finished grabbing a late supper and we toasted our first night in Palm Beach with a delectable Buccan T martini and smoked jalapeno margarita.
After a splendid night’s sleep in a king-sized bed with luxe linens, I woke up the next morning, foregoing breakfast and taking advantage of the Brazilian Court Fitness Center to burn off those calories from the night before. The gym, located in a building across the street from the main hotel, has everything you need to stay fit with treadmills, elliptical machines, free weights and medicine balls.
After my workout, we took a tour of this grand hotel with Ian Black, the director of sales and marketing. In touring the space, we learned more about the hotel’s incredible history. Designed by the legendary architect, Osario Candella, the Spanish-style resort is built through not one, but two courtyards–one built upon completion of the original hotel in 1926 and a second one added in 1936.
The current owners purchased the property in 2002 and set out to restore the hotel to its original grandeur, with some of the rooms maintaining a true 20’s authenticity. In fact, there are even USB-free room options available for those who truly want to unplug and get away from it all, just like the celebrities who frequented the hotel during the 1920s and 1930s.
Many of the suites are aptly named for the plethora of celebrities that occupied them, including: Katherine Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks and Texas-born Joan Crawford, just to name a few. The main reason celebrities and notables frequent the Brazilian Court, then and now, is its close proximity to the action of the main attractions of Palm Beach such as tony Worth Avenue and The Breakers, yet it is far enough away from everything for notables to slip in and out undetected.
After our tour, we strolled down to Worth Avenue, the world-renowned shopping district of Palm Beach. First, everyone is beautifully dressed in brightly-hued colors year ‘round. Second, that attention to detail is evident everywhere in Palm Beach. Located only three blocks from the Brazilian Court, we did some window shopping at many of the luxury brands, including Gucci, Neiman Marcus, Tiffany, and Salvatore Ferragamo before finding a bite for lunch at Ta-boo. Known as the power-lunch place of Palm Beach, we saw that the much-coveted window-front table was available and popped into the restaurant to dine.
The window-front table proved to be the perfect spot to people watch as the chic shoppers strolled up and down Worth Avenue, among them a legendary, Academy AwardÒ-winning actor from the British Isles. While there, we enjoyed the mussel frites and Cobb salad, each the perfect mid-day bite to keep us going. After lunch, we headed back to the hotel for an afternoon of pool-side lounging and siesta while the gentle breeze of the palm trees swayed overhead. There are so many characters who stay at this hotel that eavesdropping the varied conversations of fellow guests is a true pastime here. During the afternoon, the hotel staff arranged for a treatment at the Brazilian Court Salon, where I was treated to my first, and very best, mani-pedi.
We ended the day staying at The Brazilian Court and dined at Café Boulud, the award-winning restaurant of celebrity chef Daniel Boulud. A mainstay in the Palm Beach dining scene since 2003, with additional locations in New York and Toronto, it would impress the most delicate of palettes.
Opting for a table alfresco to take advantage of the picturesque evening, we enjoyed the five-course tasting menu and wine pairing. The tasting menu, which changes seasonally, offered red pepper risotto and one of my favorite fish dishes, pan-seared grouper. The meal was capped off with the most delectable dessert I have ever experienced at any restaurant, a transcendent grapefruit sorbet, which served as the perfect palate cleanser to an absolutely delectable meal.
Waking up early on our final morning in Palm Beach, we decided to walk to Ocean Drive and up and down the blocks of estates along the Atlantic Ocean for which Palm Beach is famous. Walking down street after street of the eight-figure Gatsby-eque homes, we could see Old Hollywood influences in many of the homes, which had a Beverly Hills vibe and made me wonder how many of the stars of yesteryear stumbled from the estates’ parties to the Brazilian Court after a night of revelry.
Before taking off for the airport, we decided to grab a final bite at Surfside Diner. Located just a block from the Brazilian Court, it is a small, chic space with an old-style u-shaped counter in the middle. If you want to see a place that offers a slice of what life in Palm Beach is like among the locals, this is the place to go. We saw the proprietor engaging with regulars from 8 to 88, giving each guest the white-glove treatment for which Palm Beach is known.
After our meal, we bid adieu to Palm Beach, where our 48-hours felt like a week. So, the next time you are looking for a quick getaway from Texas to a beautiful, intimate and familiar resort, you must check out the Brazilian Court for a wonderful experience. I cannot wait for my next visit to this paradise.