Oh what a marvellous welcome at the luxury St Regis hotel in Bal Harbour FL – some go there because it is such a gorgeous hotel, only three minutes’ walk from the justly-famous Bal Harbour Mall (summer long, you hear Portuguese and Spanish everywhere as shopaholics from Argentina, Brazil and Mexico rush north for supplies). Others, like the gal, are drawn by the hotel’s style. What a lovely surprise to arrive in the taupe theatre that is suite 2211 to find a welcome highlight like the canapés above.
I look around the suite (see the video below for more) and go out on the balcony to look down at the complex of swimming pools, which have to serve not only the 216-room hotel but also its 281 residences. Of course, being your super-fit correspondent I also head down to the gym, on the lowest level of the entire complex. From there, while using one of the Technogym pieces, I can look out at one of the pools, where northern kids who have just arrived, with their families of course, are happy to be here, in the sun and for days on end – average stay at this time of the year, says GM Oliver Key, is two weeks.
Oliver Key has a long history of being involved with FOOD and this is certainly evident here. The hotel opened in 2012 with a Vongerichten grill but that space is now for events and banqueting. Now the hotel has taken what was an overflow of the gym and turned it into Atlantikos, an all-day Greek restaurant – apparently the owner of the hotel is quite partial to taramasalata and feta and, I guess, sweet desserts, say extra-syrupy samalis, semolina cakes. We dined off chef Tasos Chasekioglou’s sardines with crushed olives, and Aegean wild seabream cooked in parchment, paired with glass of Saint George Aghiorghitiko Némea 2013, whose winemaker, George Skouras, trained in Dijon.
Breakfast was in Atlantikos, too – the bar area was now turned into a splendid buffet, which had all western foods you could possibly think of as well as signature eggs, Kagiana-style, with tomato, green pepper and feta foam. After that I headed to the Remède spa, for a really fabulous soothing facial from Marisol from Puerto Rico – I lay on the Clodagh bed, under a cashmere-type lacy blanket and had a good sleep, awaking to think wow, this experience should be an essential ingredient of every luxury hotel today. Yes, the expectation of luxury is evolving the whole time – and when we left we had bottles of Voss, in the Cadillac 4×4, with our names printed on the labels, thanking us for coming. WOW! NOW SEE SUITE 2211, BELOW