The debate about the South Florida peninsula is ongoing: as a vacation spot – or potential retirement/second home option – do you prefer the east coast or the west coast? Are you lured by the view of the expansive power of the Atlantic Ocean from a seaside high-rise, the pink glitz of Palm Beach and Miami’s Latin beat? Or do you prefer the soft sunsets, and sleepy, gated bedroom communities like sandy Sarasota and scrubby-shored Sanibel Island?

Sunrise from my guestroom.

A little of both, you ask? Without a tectonic compression of the Everglades and a shortening of the “Alligator Alley” highway which crosses them, the Boca Raton Resort and Club allows travelers to combine both the restful quiet of the west and the stylish sophistication of the east. This literally hidden 356-acre enclave on the Intracoastal Waterway is 20 miles from either Fort Lauderdale or Palm Beach airports and easily accessible from I-95, US 1, or A1A with a turn through a shaded gate. The resort and club only then reveals itself in an artistically breathtaking fashion. Towering palms surround a flower-ringed classical stone fountain in front of the Mediterranean-style main building, the entrance of which seems more like a royal welcome than a valet check-in.

The resort, designed in 1925, is clearly the flagship work of distinctive architect Addison Mizner, who intended the club to be the “Venice of the Atlantic,” and it is. The marina is a virtual boat show of glamorous, oceangoing watercraft and a whimsical ferry floats land lubbers to a half-mile, private beach where they can snorkel, sail, or simply sip, sun and “chaise” their cares away in a cabana.

With an array of other activities, including golf, tennis, croquet, swimming, and Spa Palazzo (a symphony of style!) all accessible by foot, one need never leave what feels like palace grounds featuring gardens, stone arches, marble floors and mosaic facades. For instance, breakfast is served in a former abbey so grand it resembles the main hall at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. If only my stay were long enough to dine in each of the restaurants, because, like New York City (the resort even copied the Big Apple’s legendary Serendipity desert café), Boca Raton Resort has palate-tempting, varied options, including Tuscan cuisine in Lucca; Cielo’s coastal Mediterranean menu; Seagrille; and Mortimoto Sushi Bar with giant virtual fish tank.

While timeless in its’ atmosphere and ambiance, Boca Raton Resort and Club is a Waldorf Astoria Resort, meaning its stately lodging provokes a sense of luxury and presidential/world leader-quality comfort. I set my alarm to go off early in my tower guestroom each morning because I wanted to start my day by lingering in bed and watching the sun rise over the Atlantic beach from 23 stories up. Soothing and exciting, too, was the churning white wake of boats returning to the harbor below to avoid the midday rainstorm visible at sea. Vision, and history, are both evident at Boca Raton Resort and Club.

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Boca Raton Resort and Club was designed to be the "Venice of the Atlantic." Its marina and architecture make it so. (Photo Credit: Harrison Shiels)

Breakfast at Hogwarts, anyone?












Michigan-based travel writer Michael Patrick Shiels may be emailed at or via


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