Checking In: The Breakers in Palm Beach combines history and luxury

The Breakers

One South County Road, Palm Beach, 33480; 561-655-6611,

Back story: With more than 112 years of history, The Breakers has back stories to its back stories. Presidential and royal visits. High-society soirées. Celebrity sightings in the lobby, by the pools, along the oceanfront promenade. If these walls could talk -- and they do, almost, through The Breakers' 93-year-old resident historian, James A. Ponce. For a complete -- and fascinating -- historical overview, meet Mr. Ponce for a tour (free for guests, $15 otherwise) at 2 p.m. Tuesdays near the Tapestry Bar. Call for reservations and wear comfortable shoes -- you'll need them to keep up with Mr. Ponce.

Just for fun: Five oceanfront pools (Main, Lap, Children's, Relaxation and Active), beach, water sports, reef snorkeling, golf, tennis, spa and salon, on-site shopping, child care, Family Entertainment Center, daily camp sessions for children ages 3-12, bicycle rentals and tours and much more.

Sleep well: The Breakers has 540 guestrooms, including 68 suites. (There are two Imperial Suites and four Poinciana suites for those who are royal, presidential or who aspire to be). Because the east side of the hotel is just feet from the seawall, the perspective from oceanfront rooms (with balconies) is exceptional. Step into the room, open the curtains -- and you'd swear you're staring out to sea from the tastefully decorated stateroom of a grand cruise ship. The rooms have sumptuous bedding, flat-screen TV and DVD/CD player, mini-bar (Laurent-Perrier champagne and, yes, that is a Toblerone bar!) and other amenities. You'll also find a marble, two-sink vanity, separate bathtub and shower, private-label toiletries and a phone for those moments it's just not convenient to get up and answer elsewhere.

In your dreams: After a day in one of The Breakers' 20 luxury beachside bungalows, you may not be able to go to the beach any other way. The 300-square-foot bungalows are situated around the "Relaxation" pool, where cell phones are not allowed. Order in food and drink from the Ocean Grill, or a massage from the Spa. For anything else there's a team of bungalow and cabana concierges. Take a sunbath on chaise lounges just outside the French doors, or drop into a hammock overlooking the ocean a few sandy steps away. Available for day-use rental only, unfortunately.

Eat, drink and be merry: Lots of menu specials this summer at several of The Breakers' excellent restaurants, including a three-course lunch menu for $20.10 at The Flagler Steakhouse; and three-course dinner menus for $35 at The Seafood Bar, The Flagler Steakhouse, The Italian Restaurant and the resort's two off-site restaurants, Echo and Top of The Point. The Tapestry Bar, Top of The Point and the Dragonfly Lounge at Echo will also be featuring special happy hours. The Breakers' exceptional French restaurant, L'Escalier, is closed for the summer, reopening Oct. 19.

Attractions: Paging through The Breakers' Resort Activities & Entertainment Guide, I randomly picked the "Bicycle Tour of Palm Beach," offered Tuesday and Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons. What a great time following the guide, Tiffany, on an easy, roughly oblong course from The Breakers to a bike path along Lake Worth to the Palm Beach Inlet and back to the resort along oceanfront A1A. Tiffany stopped frequently to point out the abundant natural, architectural, historical and celebrity sights. (Why yes, that was Celine Dion's house!) I could have picked another activity -- Croquet/Bocce on the Front Lawn, Tortoise Feeding and Facts, Cooking Demo in The Italian Restaurant -- and I'm sure it would have been great. But Tiffany's two-wheel tour taught me things about Palm Beach I'll never forget.

Mark Gauert

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