Insider's Guide to Spas
The Spa Courtyard at The Breakers


The Breakers Defines Palm Beach

Bernard Burt

Like fine wine, The Breakers resort in Palm Beach, Florida, improves with age.

Since the resort’s debut in 1896, its “Gilded Age” splendor has defined Palm Beach living. Transformed over the past two decades, with an annual minimum investment of $30 million, The Breakers is at the top of its game.

Preparing to host the Global Wellness Summit this October, The Breakers features a spacious new spa designed by renowned spa designer Sylvia Sepielli, refreshed guest rooms, and a jaw-dropping seafood restaurant.

The Spa at The Breakers has become a true destination, with spacious new lounges, garden courtyard facing the sea, ocean-facing exercise studio, and deluxe treatments. Featured are three natural skincare lines:

Refreshing OSEA from California, adds a touch of the ocean to facials ($195, 60 minutes). From Italy, hand-crafted ERBE aromatherapy based on formulas dating back to the 16th Century by former Floridian Carmen Miraglia. Local favorite Tammy Fender‘s herbal and botanical treatments are ideal for Florida.

Staying at The Breakers is best experienced at top-floor Flagler Club, a 25-room hotel-within-a-hotel, given a new look recently by Adam Tihany.

Experience total serenity in the Signature Spa Suite, four-and-a-half hours of skincare, scrub, and steam-shower. Soak in colored light after your facial and massage, then relax outside with ocean breezes as tea and gelato are served. The twin massage tables, walk-in shower, soaking tub, add to privacy ($695 for one, $1,390 per couple). Lunch from room service is extra.

Try something different: massage on a moving bed of warm sand, choreographed with your therapist to release tension. Created by Sammy Gharieni, this holistic experience can include vibration from “singing bowls” as you absorb quartz energy ($305, 80 minutes).

With seventeen treatment rooms, The Breakers offers great variety: pregnant women have prenatal massage on a table designed for their shape. Thai massage yoga-stretches you on floor mats. An elaborate nail salon offers pedestal chairs for pedicures, Gucci-inspired nailcare, men’s manicure/pedicure. And all facials and body treatments include a complimentary makeup application at the hotel’s Guerlain boutique.

Bring the kids; children six to 15 years of age get nailcare and mini-facial, enjoy snacks in the lounge, robes, and locker-room amenities.

Amy Retay, veteran director of spa operations at The Breakers, has seen amazing growth in guest services. The $8-million expansion by Sepielli has the look of a Medici garden by the sea. Peacock + Lewis Architects and Greg Lombardi Design supplied subtle finishes. Exercise equipment by TechnoGym and Life Fitness moved upstairs to spacious quarters with ocean views, open 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily, free for hotel guests.

Amy keeps things simple; 20% gratuity is added to your bill. Complimentary fitness classes (as many as 50 weekly in season) and guest speakers on wellness, are listed online and dedicated reservationists are on call (561-653-6656). Summer visitors get 15 percent reduction on all services, through October.

Staying at The Breakers is best experienced at top-floor Flagler Club, a 25-room hotel-within-a-hotel, given a new look recently by Adam Tihany. Customizing guest experiences and comfort, assistant manager Bernard Nicole adds continental flair. “Guests don’t even realize they need this level of service until they experience it,” Nicole says. From premium wines and water to gourmet buffet, making reservations for restaurants and spa, and sending you to Worth Avenue shops or the airport in a Tesla, the staff make it effortless.

Dining at The Breakers challenges dieters but delights foodies. The vast, gilded Circle was jammed for Sunday brunch at $110 per person. New star, Seafood Bar offers ocean views and long white marble bar heaped with seafood from the open kitchen in this Tihany evocation of an ocean liner.

A world unto itself, The Breakers is a monument to good living.




Bernard Burt

Bernard Burt

Health challenges led spa historian Bernard Burt to Canyon Ranch in Arizona, inspiring his 1986 book "Fodor's Healthy Escapes" for Random House. The co-author of "100 Best Spas of the World" (Globe Pequot), his byline has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, American Health, Spa Management Journal, and on Based in Washington, DC, Burt is chairman emeritus of the Washington Spa Alliance and founding director of the International Spa Association.