An Extravagant Getaway
The Village of Bal Harbour
In the 1950s, Bal Harbour and Miami Beach were known as America’s Riviera and a magnet for celebrities and the well heeled. On the coast of the Atlantic, just 15 minutes north of the action in South Beach on the northern port of Miami Beach, Bal Harbour has one of the most coveted zip codes in America and continues to be an oasis of prestige and privilege to this day.
We’re guests of the venerable St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, an oceanfront property that carries on the hundred-plus-year John Jacob Astor tradition of exquisite hospitality. Its guest rooms and suites in cool blues and grays, by Sieger Suarez Partnership, reflect a contemporary mood with a nod to legendary neobaroque architect Morris Lapidus.
What better way to set the mood than with afternoon tea St. Regis-style with delicate pastries from La Gourmandise while the butler unpacks? After all, darlings, we’re here for wining, dining, fun, and did I mention shopping?
Conveniently, the finest shopping a girl could wish for is a hop, skip and a jump in her Manolos across Collins Avenue. The vision of developer Stanley Whitman, who dreamed of “lavish, open-air shopping in a garden concept,” The Bal Harbour Shops opened in 1965.
A mecca for luxe retail with fountains, koi fish ponds, palm trees and lush vegetation, we’re told that it generates the largest income per square foot in America with its two chichi floors of drop-dead-gorgeous fashion and jewellery boutiques. Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus are the anchors and big plans are afoot for tasteful expansions if the current owners, the Whitman family, receive the necessary approvals from residents.
After a decadent day of shopping: Two dresses, some shoes and a couple of gifts—dinner at The Shops simply makes sense. What could be nicer or easier? Day 1: We chill with Bond-style martinis and a tasty selection of steak and ribs from the American classic menu at the Grill at Bal Harbour. Tres leches with fresh fruit shouldn’t be missed as a finishing touch. Day 2: We are hungry again after a lazy day at the hotel’s beach. It is off to Le Zoo for French cuisine St. Tropez style with the sun-bronzed set. Gracefully savoured, east-coast oysters, warm shrimp salad and perfectly grilled branzino and a taste of each of the vanilla bean crème brûlée and the milk chocolate, pot de crème.
Night caps at the stunning St. Regis Bar, with its handcrafted cocktails and seductive twist on contemporary music, set the tone each evening for a good night’s sleep and dreams of croissants for breakfast.