A beloved destination of the rich and famous for over a century, Palm Beach’s star studded glamour and style is part of its charm. Guests at The Chesterfield Palm Beach are ideally placed to soak up the historic and glitzy atmosphere of the local area, from the elegant boutiques of Worth Avenue to the magnificent Flagler Museum. Here, Rick Rose, local Palm Beach expert and author of Palm Beach: The Essential Guide to America’s Legendary Resort Town shares his insider secrets.
Can you tell us a bit about how Palm Beach came to be a playground for the elite?
“Henry Flagler established Palm Beach as America’s First Resort destination when he opened the Royal Poinciana Hotel here in 1894 and completed the train line down to the hotel from Jacksonville in the same year. During that era, it was only the elite who travelled on vacations beyond their own county or state, meaning that travellers arriving in Palm Beach at that time were a who’s who of the American and European high society.”
What was in like growing up in the Palm Beach area? How has it changed throughout your life?
“For me, growing up here was all about going to the beach, fishing and riding bikes. Today, Palm Beach is still an outdoors, sporting community, but it has become more culturally diverse over the last 50 years and there’s plenty to keep guests occupied. From fabulous designer boutiques to world class restaurants and fascinating museums.”
Why do you think Palm Beach still attracts some of America’s most famous citizens?
“Palm Beach offers a wide range of entertainment and activities, superlative accommodation options and gloriously warm weather even in the depths of winter. In my opinion, it surpasses every other South Florida destination.”
How did your book, Palm Beach: The Essential Guide to America’s Legendary Resort Town come about?
“In addition to welcoming around 2,000 guests a year to Grandview Gardens Bed & Breakfast and Palm Beach Vacation Rentals, I also lead the Historic Walking Tours of Worth Avenue on a weekly basis. I think the combination of knowing the historic background of the area coupled with acting as a concierge over many years here has made me a popular ‘go to’ guy to find out about the most important things to see and do while visiting Palm Beach. Jed Lyons, CEO of Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, came on my tour and the idea for the book sprung from that.”
Where are the best places to soak up Palm Beach’s star-studded atmosphere?
“I would say that Sant Ambroeus at the Royal Poinciana Plaza is the place to go right now to rub shoulders with Palm Beach’s most notable residents.”
Who are your favourite Palm Beach locals, both past and present?
“I’d have to say Henry Flagler, the eminent Palm Beach architect, Addison Mizner and Marjorie Meriweather Post, a well known 1920s socialite and art collector who built the famous Mar-a-Lago. I also have a serious soft spot for local legends Brownie McLean and Dame Celia Lipton Farris as well as President John F Kennedy, just to name a few.”
What local sights should visitors not miss?
“When visitors ask me this, I always highly recommend the Flagler Museum as well as a walk down Worth Avenue, the main shopping street in Palm Beach, and a stroll along the beautiful Lake Trail.”
What does a perfect day in Palm Beach look like to you?
“A perfect day for me would begin with a leisurely breakfast outside, a swim in the ocean and then lunch and shopping on Worth Avenue. I’d take an afternoon nap before enjoying cocktails and dinner at Chez Jean Pierre, my favourite French restaurant.”
Enjoy an authentic Palm Beach evening at the Leopard Lounge Bar at The Chesterfield Palm Beach, which offers live music six nights a week.