The Breakers Palm Beach Rating: 5.0 Pearls
Palm Beach, Florida, United States

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Prime location on a private beach
  • Beautiful old-world architecture and lovely grounds
  • 2 18-hole golf courses, 10 tennis courts, and 10 boutique shops
  • 5 heated oceanfront pools, plus 4 whirlpools
  • 9 restaurants and multiple bars
  • 2 fitness centers and a full-service spa
  • Beach bungalows with kitchenettes, Wi-Fi, TVs, and full bathrooms
  • Tennis and golf lessons; free fitness classes
  • Kid-friendly, offering a Kids' Camp and babysitting services
  • Half-price rooms and loads of discounts during the summer
  • Free beach chairs and umbrellas
  • Free Wi-Fi

Cons

  • Very expensive food and drinks
  • Rooms can be noisy
  • Standard rooms are on the small side
  • No food service on the beach or poolside (only in bungalows)
  • Valet parking only
  • Fee to use tennis courts
  • No in-room coffeemakers
  • Lounge chairs lack cushions

Bottom Line

This sprawling 140-acre resort feels more like a Renaissance palace than a hotel. The oceanfront grounds are defined by historic architecture and elegant landscaping, and the extensive features include five swimming pools, two 18-hole golf courses, 10 tennis courts, 9 restaurants, and 10 boutique shops. The Breakers’ 540 rooms include all of the modern amenities -- minibars, flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and iPod stereos -- but most feel a bit cramped for the price. The only major downside of The Breakers is its expensive, albeit delicious, on-site dining: A family of four could easily spend $350 a day on food, without ordering anything special. As far as competing hotels in Palm Beach go, nothing compares to the luxury found at this iconic property.

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 Scene

This chandeliered, historic estate attracts affluent families, conventioneers, and those who don’t mind following a dress code.

Hotel Grounds
Hotel Grounds

This luxurious, Italian Renaissance-inspired hotel is a world unto itself. With nine restaurants and 1,800 employees catering to every need, guests rarely need to venture off the 140-acre property.

Originally built in 1896 (but reconstructed in 1926 after a devastating fire), The Breakers has retained its old-world -- if somewhat stuffy -- charm. A "resort casual" dress code is required in the restaurants and most public spaces; this generally means no T-shirts, tank tops, flip-flops, cut-offs, torn jeans, swimwear, or exercise clothes.

The sprawling estate almost never feels crowded, thanks in part to its sheer size. The pool area, known simply as “The Beach Club,” has five distinct pools that effectively keep screaming children away from relaxing adults. The private beach has a more rugged feel than the gentle, sandy beaches at nearby hotels, largely due to the rocks and breaking waves, or breakers (which give the hotel its name). Waves are often big enough to surf on, and guests can be sprayed by sea mist on windy days. But the beach is generally pleasant.

The beach, pools, and most of the restaurants close around sunset, so the nightlife scene is limited. A cocktail lounge, HMF, and a bar inside the seafood restaurant, Seafood Bar, stay open until 2 a.m.

Travelers sticking to a budget may want to consider visiting the hotel in the summer, during the off-season. Rooms are nearly half off and discounts are given for valet parking, meals, poolside bungalows, and spa services. Kids’ meals, the Kids Camp, and daily breakfasts are also free.

 Location

Located on 140 acres of oceanfront property on Palm Beach Island

The Breakers is located on a sprawling oceanfront estate in central Palm Beach. The area immediately surrounding the property is filled with private homes, luxury apartment complexes, and a handful of small businesses.

Palm Beach is an enclave of the uber-rich. The town is filled with grade-A golf courses, high-end shops, upscale restaurants, and beautiful beaches.

A good deal of shopping outlets, restaurants, and two museums are all within 10 minutes of the hotel. Guests tired of paying for costly meals at The Breakers should head to CityPlace, a shopping area with a Cheesecake Factory, Thai restaurant, pizza parlor, and more.

  • 2-minute drive to Worth Avenue shopping
  • 5-minute drive to the Norton Museum of Art
  • 5-minute drive to Clematis Street, where the little bit of nightlife happens
  • 5-minute drive to downtown West Palm Beach
  • 6-minute drive to the Kravis Center for Performing Arts
  • 7-minute drive to CityPlace for shopping and dining
  • 10-minute walk to the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum (Flagler founded The Breakers)
  • 12-minute drive to the Palm Beach Zoo
  • 15-minute drive to Palm Beach International Airport ($20 taxi; $80 using hotel car service)
  • 1-hour drive from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
  • 90-minute drive from Miami

 Rooms

Smallish rooms have old-fashioned charm and modern perks

View from the Premium Full Oceanfront Guestroom
View from the Premium Full Oceanfront Guestroom

Most of The Breakers’ 540 guestrooms feature understated beach decor and classic, simple furnishings. The standard guest rooms are on the small side for a property of this caliber, at 300 square feet, and fit a maximum of two people. Every room includes a minibar, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TV, DVD player, and a stereo with an iPod dock.

For accommodations over 460 square feet, guests need to upgrade to suites, which run from 525 to 1,700 square feet. The largest suites have only one bedroom, but connecting rooms are available and can sleep up to eight people.

Club Level rooms are on the sixth and seventh floors. They include access to The Flagler Club, which offers freebies like afternoon tea, cookies, beverages, deserts, and buffet breakfast.

Less than half the rooms fully face the ocean, so guests that care about the view should be sure to book early.

  • 540 guestrooms, including 68 suites
  • Minibars and 24-hour room service
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Flat-screen TVs, DVD players, and stereos with iPod docks
  • Free newspaper delivery upon request
  • One king bed or two double beds
  • Bathroom mirror TVs in select rooms
  • Separate showers and tubs in Oceanfront Rooms and Suites
  • Small balconies in Oceanfront Rooms, Oceanfront Suites, Royal Poinciana Suites, and Imperial Suites
  • Free Pack N’ Play cribs available
  • Free rollaways available (except for Deluxe and ADA Resort View rooms)
  • No coffeemakers
  • No rooms with kitchenettes
  • No two- or three-bedroom suites

 Beach

Private beach with free lounge chairs and snorkeling

Beach
Beach

The Breakers sits on a lovely stretch of private beach, easily accessed by walking past the pool area. The beach feels a bit rugged due to large rocks and breaking waves, or “breakers,” which give the hotel its name. Those who like wading in gentle waters may be deterred by the waves here, which are often large enough to surf on. Sunbathing guests may also find themselves spritzed with seawater on windy days.

When the sea is calm, the beach is a relaxing place to sit and enjoy the view. Chairs and umbrellas are available free of charge, and beach attendants bring drink orders from the poolside bar. Shaded cabanas, or “cabinettes,” are also available for rent. Unfortunately, the lounge chairs have hard rubber slats and no cushions -- unusual at such a high-end resort.

The sand is soft and relatively clean, with the exception of some dried kelp and seaweed at the waterline. Paddleboards, floats, kayaks, and snorkels can be rented on the beach. A nearby reef and sunken pier are great places to snorkel, and guided snorkel tours are offered regularly.

Lifeguards monitor the beach from 9 a.m. to sunset. No food is allowed.

 Pool

Five oceanfront pools with rental bungalows and drink service

South Pool
South Pool

The hotel has five oceanfront pools -- an Active Pool, Children’s Pool, Lap Pool, Main Pool, and South Pool -- plus four whirlpools.

The Active Pool and Children’s Pool are designed mainly for kids, while the other three pools are intended to be more peaceful, adult areas. Guests who want extra privacy can rent pricey “beach bungalows,” which feature daybeds, living rooms, wet bars with refrigerators, flat-screen TVs, PS3 video game consoles, Wi-Fi, personal safes, and full bathrooms with showers.

A pool bar provides poolside drinks but no food. Guests who want to eat in the pool area have to rent a bungalow or sit at one of two restaurants: The Beach Club Restaurant or The Ocean Grill.

  • Five pools and four whirlpools
  • 25 rental bungalows
  • Poolside “Bathhouse” with a locker room
  • Pools are heated to roughly 84 degrees.
  • Lifeguards monitor every pool.
  • Pools open at 9 a.m. and close around sunset.
  • Free water available
  • No food allowed poolside, except in bungalows

 Fitness Center

Two well-equipped fitness centers

Oceanfront Fitness Center
Oceanfront Fitness Center

 Spa

Pricey spa with a nail salon and makeup service

Spa
Spa
  • Massages, scrubs, wraps, facials, and peels available
  • 17 treatment rooms and a private, oceanfront treatment area
  • Nail salon and makeup services
  • Steam rooms and a sauna
  • 50-minute treatments come with free makeup application
  • Romantic "full moon massages" with champagne and strawberries
  • Spa is open to the public.
  • No hair services

 Family

Kids' Camp, activities galore, and summer perks for families

Kids Camp
Kids Camp

The Breakers offers an impressive number of children’s activities. Its Family Entertainment Center has a playroom, arcade, mini-movie theater, Xbox game room, arts and crafts room, pet tortoises, outdoor playground, and a basketball court. Parents can send their children (ages three to 12) to Kids' Camp for morning, afternoon, or night sessions -- all of which include meals.

Kids can also sign up for a number of activities, including golf lessons, kids’ zumba, and guided snorkel tours. Rental kayaks, floats, paddleboards, and two kid-friendly pools are also available to keep children entertained.

Families on a budget may want to consider visiting during the summer months, when the Kids Camp and kids’ meals are free. Rooms are also about half the regular rate. The Kids Camp and food aren’t cheap, so the summer rates add up to significant savings.

During the holidays, The Breakers has seasonal activities such as ice-skating and photos with Santa Clause.

  • Kids Camp for ages three to 12 (free in the summer)
  • Two kid-friendly pools
  • Kids’ menus in all restaurants (free meals in the summer)
  • Babysitting services available
  • Kids’ golf, tennis, and zumba lessons
  • Playground, basketball court, and pet tortoises
  • Playroom, videogame room, and mini-movie theater
  • Game room with 24 arcade games
  • Floats, bicycles, and water sport gear available for rent
  • Children under 16 stay free
  • Rooms fit up to four people (eight with connecting rooms)
  • Free Pack N’ Play cribs available

 Food

Nine expensive restaurants with dress codes

Food from The Seafood Bar
Food from The Seafood Bar

The Breakers has nine restaurants that serve nearly a dozen types of cuisine, from Thai to Italian to Japanese. Most of the food is delicious, but all of it is expensive. With a compulsory 20 percent gratuity, glasses of apple juice end up costing $10, hamburgers are $20, and brunches are $110. A family of four could easily spend more on meals than on their room. A cheaper alternative is to visit during the summer, when continental breakfasts and kids’ meals are free.

Every restaurant also has its own dress code, so guests should remember to dress accordingly. Most don’t allow T-shirts, tank tops, flip-flops, cut-offs, torn jeans, swimwear, or exercise clothes.

Two hotel restaurants, Echo and Top of the Point, are located in town and can be accessed via a free (very short) shuttle ride. The Flagler Steakhouse is also a couple minutes from the hotel, at the golf course.

Guests looking for cheaper meals should head to CityPlace, a shopping area a seven-minute drive away with a Cheesecake Factory, Thai restaurant, pizza parlor, and more.

  • The Beach Club Restaurant: indoor and outdoor oceanfront dining; serves breakfast and lunch
  • HMF: server classic cocktails with in "mid-century style"
  • The Ocean Grill: indoor and outdoor oceanfront dining; serves lunch
  • The Seafood Bar: serves lunch and dinner; open late
  • The Italian Restaurant: open for dinner
  • HMF: cocktail lounge serving small, international plates; open evenings and late night
  • The Circle: serves breakfast and Sunday brunch
  • The Flagler Steakhouse: indoor and outdoor dining at the golf course (a two-minute, free shuttle ride away); serves lunch and dinner
  • Echo: serves Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese cuisine; open for dinner; a three-minute, free shuttle ride away
  • Top of the Point: serves American cuisine; open for dinner; located a five-minute, free shuttle ride away

 Drinks

Plenty of wine and cocktails to go around

Cocktail from The Seafood Bar
Cocktail from The Seafood Bar

Most of the hotel’s restaurants have some sort of bar, and all serve alcohol. The Breakers keeps 1,600 different types of wine in their cellar.

Frozen drinks, cocktails, juice, and wine are available at the pools and beach from The Beach Club Bar, which closes around sunset. The Seafood Bar and HMF (a cocktail lounge) are the only bars open past 9 p.m. (they stay open until 2 a.m.).

HMF opened next to the main lobby in 2012 and is easily the trendiest bar at the hotel. It serves traditional and original cocktails, beer, whiskey, wine, cigars, coffee, and small plates of food.

The Seafood Bar serves a similar drink menu, plus a few creative cocktails such as bacon-infused Bloody Marys and jalapeno margaritas. The best part about The Seafood Bar is the bar itself, which is a see-through fish tank, full of tropical fish and eels.

 Services

Ten boutique shops, business center, and 24-hour room service

  • Ten boutique shops sell jewelry, swimsuits, and sporting goods, among other items
  • Valet parking (validated if guests buy goods in the shops)
  • Snorkel, paddleboard, float, boat, bicycle, and kayak rentals
  • 24-hour room service
  • 24-hour business center
  • Laundry service
  • Free shuttle to the golf course and off-site restaurants
  • Babysitting services

 Golf

Two 18-hole championship golf courses, lessons, and a pro shop

Golf Course
Golf Course

The Breakers has two 18-hole championship golf courses -- one is next to the hotel (Ocean Course), and the other is inconveniently located 11 miles away (Rees Jones Course).

The famous golf course architect, Alexander H. Findlay, built the Ocean Course in 1896. It is believed to be the oldest 18-hole course in Florida. A golf pro shop and the Flagler Steakhouse are located at the Ocean Course.

  • 6,100-yards, par 70 (Ocean Course)
  • 7,100 yards, par 72 (Rees Jones)
  • Free resort shuttle to golf courses
  • Golf shop and steakhouse at the Ocean Course
  • Expensive private and group lessons
  • Club fitting

 Physical Activities

Bicycle tours, snorkeling, scuba diving, and free fitness classes

Tennis Courts
Tennis Courts

The Breakers offers an array of outdoor activities, including snorkeling at a natural reef and sunken pier, located just off shore. Free group fitness classes are offered in yoga, Pilates, zumba, and water conditioning.

  • Two 18-hole golf courses
  • PADI certification and scuba diving
  • On-site snorkeling; guided snorkel tours of the reef
  • Bicycle rentals; guided bicycle tours of Palm Beach
  • Paddleboard, float, and kayak rentals
  • Boat rentals and catamaran cruises
  • Basketball court and 10 lighted tennis courts
  • Golf and tennis lessons
  • Five heated pools, including a three-lane lap pool
  • Two fitness centers
  • Free group fitness classes
  • Personal trainers and private fitness classes available
  • Sports Pro Shop sells golf and tennis gear
  • Compulsory 20 percent service charge on all activity fees

 Business and Conventions

Dozens of meeting rooms and three lovely ballrooms

Ballroom
Ballroom
  • Three lovely ballrooms (largest fits up to 1,600 people)
  • Largest ballroom can be divided into six sections
  • 11 small boardrooms can fit up to 20 people each (38 using adjoining rooms)
  • Eight large meeting rooms can fit 24 to 175 people
  • Outdoor event space available
  • South Pool Deck fits up to 2,000 people
  • Outdoor lawns fit up to 1,100 people
  • Courtyard can fit up to 500 people
  • An oceanfront terrace on the second floor fits up to 400 people
  • Four hotel restaurants can accommodate between 120 and 400 people each
  • Team-building programs
  • Conference planning and catering services
  • High-tech audiovisual equipment and support staff
  • Flowers and decorating services

 Weddings

A dozen lovely locations for ceremonies and receptions

  • Ceremonies and receptions for up to 800 guests
  • Indoor and outdoor gathering space
  • Three ballrooms
  • Oceanfront events on the lawn, gazebo, terrace, or The Beach Club restaurant
  • Outdoor events in the courtyard or on the front lawn
  • Three beautiful rooms can accommodate roughly 250 guests each
  • Cake shop
  • Full-service design team for decorations
  • High-tech audiovisual equipment and support staff
  • Flowers and catering service

 Celebrity Sightings

Staff is careful to guard the identities of celebrity clientele.

Celebrities are rumored to frequent the hotel, but The Breakers staff can only give a handful of names.

  • Matt Lauer of The Today Show
  • Jimmy Buffet
  • TV star Susan Lucci
  • James Patterson, novelist
  • Betty Davis
  • Various Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Astors
  • Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan
  • Publisher William Randolph Hearst and his family

 Eco-Friendly

Green coffee, toiletry donations, and local produce

  • Certified Florida Green Lodging hotel
  • Incorporates local produce into select restaurant dishes
  • Organic vegetable garden on-site
  • Occasionally donates toiletries to relief efforts
  • Sells rainforest certified coffee

 History

Founded in 1896 by millionaire Henry Flagler

The Breakers was founded in 1896 by Henry Morrison Flagler, a wealthy oil and railroad tycoon. The original hotel, named The Palm Beach Inn, burned to the ground in 1903. Flagler rebuilt The Breakers the following year, and it was destroyed by fire yet again in 1925. The second fire was supposedly the fault of a politician’s wife, who was still growing accustomed to her newly invented beauty device -- the curling iron.

The current version of the Breakers was built in 1925 by the architectural firm Schultze and Weaver, which also built the famous Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City. It took just under a year to build and cost $7 million.

Today, The Breakers is privately owned and controlled by the descendants of Flagler’s wife, Mary Kenan. The hotel is believed to be the only large, historic luxury resort that is still in the hands of its original owners.

An elderly historian who has worked at The Breakers since 1952 gives weekly walking tours.

 Renovations and Upkeep

$20 million is spent annually to maintain the hotel.

Between 2002 and 2012, The Breakers invested over $250 million to renew the property. This included $80 million of renovations to the guestrooms, which were completed in 2011. Two boutique shops and five beach bungalows were also added in 2011.

 Handicap

Basic ADA services, plus accessible pool bungalows

  • ADA compliant rooms with wheelchair accessible bathrooms
  • ADA accessible bungalows
  • Free wheelchairs

 Bottom Line

This sprawling 140-acre resort feels more like a Renaissance palace than a hotel. The oceanfront grounds are defined by historic architecture and elegant landscaping, and the extensive features include five swimming pools, two 18-hole golf courses, 10 tennis courts, 9 restaurants, and 10 boutique shops. The Breakers’ 540 rooms include all of the modern amenities -- minibars, flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and iPod stereos -- but most feel a bit cramped for the price. The only major downside of The Breakers is its expensive, albeit delicious, on-site dining: A family of four could easily spend $350 a day on food, without ordering anything special. As far as competing hotels in Palm Beach go, nothing compares to the luxury found at this iconic property.

Things You Should Know About The Breakers Palm Beach

Address

  • One South County Road, Palm Beach, FL, 33480 United States of America

Room Types

  • ADA Resort View Guest Room
  • Classic Suite Resort View
  • Deluxe Partial Ocean View Guest Room
  • Deluxe Resort View Guest Room
  • Deluxe Suite Resort View
  • Executive Suite
  • Flagler Club Island View
  • Flagler Club Junior Suite
  • Flagler Club Partial Ocean View
  • Flagler Club Suite Partial Ocean View
  • Grand Suite Restricted View
  • Imperial Suite
  • Junior Suite Resort View
  • Oceanfront Guest Room
  • Oceanfront Junior Suite
  • Oceanfront Suite
  • Premium Oceanfront Suite
  • Premium Partial Ocean View Guest Room
  • Premium Resort View Guest Room
  • Premium Suite Resort View
  • Royal Poinciana Suite

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 540
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): Some
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Hotel Information

Location: Palm Beach, Florida
Address: One South County Road, Palm Beach, FL, 33480 United States of America
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