HomeFam TripsITTN's Shane Cullen at The Breakers - America's First Resort Destination

ITTN’s Shane Cullen at The Breakers – America’s First Resort Destination

Forget about how the other half live, The Breakers is how the other 10% live. This is a very upmarket resort in Palm Beaches on Florida’s southeast coast. No expense has been spared. ITTN’s Shane Cullen enjoyed a luxury breakfast and a guided tour as part of Florida Huddle 2023. Ivy Wong, Director of Global Travel Partnerships at the beautiful Breakers in Palm Beach was interviewed as part of his visit.

Shane Cullen at Florida Huddle 2023 - Breakers Palm Beach
Shane Cullen: Poolside at Breakers, Palm Beach

Capitalising on the Health Benefits of Sunshine

Henry Morrison Flagler (1830 – 1913) was an American industrialist and a founder of Standard Oil. He is also the founder of Miami and Palm Beach in Florida. With an ill wife and a recommendation from her doctor to head to the healing warmth of the sunny South, a New York-based Flagler moved to Florida. Here he believed the area would attract tourists and set about building a hotel.

Flagler built two waterfront resorts, firstly, the Royal Poinciana Hotel and two years later, his oceanfront hotel, The Breakers – right where the waves broke along the coastline. This made The Palm Beaches America’s First Resort Destination – the first developed exclusively for tourism.

The hotel guest register from the early 1900s boasts the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Astors, Andrew Carnegie and JP Morgan alongside US presidents and nobility from Europe.

Shane Cullen at Florida Huddle 2023 - Breakers Palm Beach
Shane Cullen: Poolside at Breakers, Palm Beach

Interview with Ivy Wong from Breakers 

Shane Cullen interviewed Ivy Wong, Director of Global Travel Partnerships at the beautiful Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida. 

Unique History of Breakers

Ivy Wong explained “one of the most interesting things about the hotel, of course, is our history that where we stand today is actually the third version of the hotel that was originally built in 1896. In 1903, we suffered our first fire and then in 1925, we suffered yet another fire and that was due to the mayor of Chicago in Illinois, here in the United States. He actually brought his wife to the Saint Patrick’s Day Gala Ball. Unfortunately, she also brought with her, what the newspaper’s called at the time, a newfangled electric curling iron. So, the lovely Mrs Mayor had left the curling iron plugged in in the guest room. Back then, of course, there were no fire retardant materials and as such, it lit the curtains on fire in the guest room, which eventually brought down the entire hotel.”

Not willing to let the hotel just die off, Ivy explains “at that point, they hired architects to come in and rebuild an even grander structure, which is what we stand in today. So, on December 29th of 1926, we unveiled what we know today as the Breakers Palm Beach” 

Shane “it’s like the birth of tourism here in this area – that is was the first hotel.”

Ivy Wong; “It really was. So Henry Flagler what really kind of opened up our area for tourism was him bringing the railroads down from the Northeast section of the United States. So what we call the glitterati, right? All of the wealthy, you know, the barons at the time, all of the Titans of industry, they all wanted to come down to warmer weather, someplace by the ocean where they could breed in the salt air because then it was actually quite common for doctors to say, you need to take a holiday where you can breathe in some healthy air right by the ocean.”

“And so, the railways were really what brought in a lot of those folks that were looking for holiday destinations. much like air flights would bring in tourism to any new destination today. So the Breakers was actually established, like we said, in 1896, but the town of Palm Beach itself was not incorporated until 1911.”

The Birth of America’s First Resort Destination

“So we really were. In fact, one of the first, like, big businesses on the island and that’s what our destination has been about ever since. So, our tagline for the Palm Beaches: America’s first resort destination is, in fact, because that was our first industry. We didn’t have banking, we didn’t have manufacturing – anything else in our destination. It is always been a mecca for those looking to enjoy and relax.” 

Refurbished Lobby a Blooming Delight

Shane “And you were talking about the amazing lobby and it’s undergone a refurbishment?”

Ivy,  “So what we see today is actually the brainchild of Adam Tani… We’ve had a partnership with Adam Tahani, the famous hospitality interior designer for over 10 years now. He really likes to take on these like signature experiences. As soon as you enter the breakers, you’re greeted by this beautiful custom floral arrangement that is designed by our design studio team. That gets changed over every single week to a new design.”

“And so, he said, well, if that is the case, what we really should do is spill the blooms down the length of the lobby. That’s 200 foot long, barrel-vaulted ceiling lobby really should be a reflection of all of these wonderful blooms that we see every single week. And so he actually had a custom tufted carpet made specifically for the hotel that features native blooms to the state of Florida.”

In fact, thirty staff attend to only the interior floral designs alone!

High End with No Hidden Extras

Ivy detailed the lead-in price for staying at the very upmarket Breakers, “so this time of year, and again, this is publicly available information, but our deluxe category guest rooms with resort view, would start at about US$1,490 per night plus 13% tax, There is no resort fee, no charge for Wi-Fi, no charge for bicycle rentals to utilise around the island.”

As a reflection of the clientele, the hotel offers a chauffeur Tesla house car that you can utilise on the island and complimentary valet parking. 

Five-Acre Beach Club with Oceanviews

There is no charge to utilise the five-acre beach club which includes the four pools that face over the ocean and the private beach as well. In fact, Ivy explains, “our team will actually set up guests with their chairs and towels. We have beverage services as well and that includes the easy buttons that you saw on the umbrellas that you can push for service whenever you need a beverage… so there’s a lot of included items that boost up the value proposition for the hotel.”

Family Friendly Ethos

Ivy explains that throughout the hotel, over 80% of the rooms feature at least one connecting door which will confirm at the time of booking for families that are travelling with children under the age of 16.

Ivy added “If connecting is not available, we do have 68 suites at the hotel that would be able to accommodate a family together as well. There is a difference between bedding as well. So you have the option of one king bed or two doubles, which of course is perfect for families to enjoy” 

As part of the resort, the Family Entertainment Centre “encompasses both the indoor and the outdoor area that is specifically focused on family fun. So the outdoor area will include a beautiful outdoor playground that has two different jungle gyms and there’s a padded grounding as well. So as soon as children fall over, obviously, it’s very safe for them.” Ivy elaborated.

Family Entertainment Centre

She continued, “And then indoors to the family entertainment centre, you’ll have the toddler playroom, there’s a separate foosball playroom. As you continue down, the hallway opens up into the arcade, which is where we feature that beautiful tea lounge – this has the game consoles with a huge library of different games that you can borrow during your time here.”

This family area comes part and parcel with the Italian restaurant which is a part of the same complex. Ivy shares “families very often will enjoy dinner at the Italian restaurant and then the children when they get up, inevitably from the tables, they will go off to the playrooms to enjoy some free play.”

Ivy confirmed there is no charge to access the centre. Also, you can pre-purchase a token card for the arcade which they deliver to the children upon arrival. 

Shane Cullen: Oceanview at Breakers, Palm Beach

ITTN’s Shane Cullen is attending Florida Huddle 2023 with Vist Florida and The Palm Beaches.

Shane Cullen
Shane Cullen
Shane Cullen has been managing director of a media production studio for nearly 20 years working on projects for a global clientele. He has worked in the travel industry for over a decade and as a travel journalist since 2015. He is passionate about travel, film & photography. He also has a keen interest in emerging technology.

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