The storied history of The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla. (billed as “America’s First Resort Destination”) began in the late-1800s as railroad magnate Henry Flagler continued his southward journey toward the Florida Keys. After achieving terrific success with his first Palm Beach resort, the six-story, 1,200-room Georgian Royal Poinciana, Flagler decided to build a second resort in 1896, the oceanfront Palm Beach Inn. Over time, guests began to prefer the oceanfront property at “the breakers,” and eventually the property adopted the name.
After fires destroyed the hotel in 1903 and 1925, The Breakers was rebuilt in just over 11 months’ time at a cost of $7 million and reopened in 1926 in all of its lavish grandeur. After its reopening, the resort hosted the “who’s who” of early 20th-century America, including the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Astors, Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan. The names of today’s illustrious guests are kept under wraps to ensure privacy.
During World War II, the War Department took over The Breakers and from 1942 to 1944, the hotel served as the U.S. Army’s Ream General Hospital, complete with maternity ward. In fact, more than a dozen babies were born during this time at The Breakers; some of those “Breakers Babies” have even returned to visit the resort where they were born. After the war, the hotel was restored and reopened in 1944.
Today, $30 million is reinvested annually into the resort, which is still owned and operated by Flagler’s decendents. The Breakers’ 538 guest rooms feature flatscreen TVs, PlayStation videogames, and wireless high-speed Internet. On the top two floors of the hotel, The Flagler Club serves as a 25-room boutique hotel for an exclusive stay, including a Club Lounge and panoramic terrace.
The resort’s grounds encompass 140 acres along the Atlantic Ocean, and guests will find four pools; two 18-hole golf courses, including The Ocean Course, created in 1896 by Alexander H. Findley, making it Florida’s oldest golf course; a new, 6,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor fitness center; a new 20,000-square-foot spa; poolside bungalows; family and children’s activities; a shopping arcade; and nine restaurants in which to dine.
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