PALM BEACH, Florida — It's a request we get all the time:
I'm exhausted and I need to get away for a few days. Someplace easy. Someplace restorative. With a great spa because I've needed a massage for five months and my back hates me. A beach is a must. A good gym would be nice, in case I get inspired to use it. And the food has to be fantastic. Oh, did I mention I don't want to spend nine hours on a plane to get there?
Actually, let me rephrase that. That's me talking to myself. At least once a week.
Not so long ago, before heading to Miami for a travel conference in June, I decided to do something about it: I made a pit stop in Palm Beach to check out Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa. The award-winning hotel is one of many jewels located on the impossibly thin string of islands that runs down the Florida coast from Palm Beach to South Beach. "Pit stop," by the way, is totally the wrong speed to bring here. But I only had 24 hours, so I packed my relaxation schedule — I know, I know, what an oxymoron — and still left feeling refreshed. So while a smarter traveler would exhale and settle in to the resort, I'm not the only one with more tasks than time on my agenda, and it's good to know that Eau Palm Beach can cater to both rhythms.
The Lovely Resort
The hotel exterior is Mediterranean (yellow-ocher walls, terra-cotta roof) and the furniture in the ground floor public spaces has that grand, European feel that I love — plush sofas, gilded credenzas adorned with cherubs, Old Master-style paintings in elaborate gold frames. This contrasted nicely with the decor in the guest rooms and suites (309 in all), which were designed by Jonathan Adler. My two-room suite, an Ocean Front King, had mid-century modern furnishings, geometric patterns on the metallic wallpaper in the foyer and in the carpet, florals and swirls on the blanket and headboard, and turquoise and yellow accents throughout, including on shagreen accessories like the ice bucket I was desperate to steal.
I had dinner at Angle, the fine-dining restaurant that specializes in local produce, meat, and fish. Each dish — caviar with lobster, scallops with sweet corn — was elegantly art directed and absolutely delicious. The chef works closely with local farmers and purveyors on the offerings, and you can tell the dedication in every bite.
I went to bed early and was awake to watch the sunrise on my balcony, an explosion of reds, yellows, oranges punctuated by fanning palm trees. Yes, folks, this scene is why the gods invented Florida.
I hit the gym, where a sign in front of the treadmills reminded me that "1 cupcake = 1 mile." Too early to use the cardio or weight machines, I did yoga in the sunny studio instead and cooled off with a quick dip in the pool before making my way to breakfast, where the expansive buffet included shashouka, black quinoa, tabouleh, and marinated feta, as well as raspberry cheesecake shots. Jonathan Adler was sitting with Simon Doonan two tables over, and I hope he heard my telepathic compliments on his design.
Fed, rested, stretched, and chill, it was time for the main event: Eau Spa.
Eau Yes, the Spa!
I like spas as much as anyone else, but I don't go crazy for them. Which is to say given the choice between five hours at lunch or in a museum, or five hours in a spa, I'll take pasta and paintings over pampering.
But this! This was something else. Massive for starters — 42,000 square feet, however big that is. Big enough to include the Self-Centered Garden, a tranquil oasis filled with swinging seats, sofas galore, bubbling fountains, and Moroccan candles. I was already regretting that I couldn't while the day away reading a novel in a quiet corner.
I was here for an elaborate massage, as my aching back reminded me, but my first stop was the Scrub and Polish Bar. Here I was presented with an assortment of natural elements — eucalyptus for energy, lavender for relaxation — from which I created a custom mix to apply all over my body. I then made my way through a circuit to incorporate these unguents into my skin, from the steam room to the sauna to the jacuzzi with the rainfall shower, all under the watchful gaze of cute rubber duckies scattered around the room.
Were there other women in the room?
Did I even bother to notice?
I don't know how something as simple as a scrub could feel so transformative, but it was, and the scrub-bar experience was the highlight of my time here. It's a memory I return to endlessly.
Bring Eau Palm Beach into Your Home
So memorable, in fact, that I begged the spa for the secret to recreating this magically restorative scrub at home. They have four signature formulas: Pause, with lavender, mint, and pumice; Play, with citrus, eucalyptus, and salt; Perfect, with vanilla, ginger, and sugar; and Signature with lemongrass, green tea, and pumice. Perfect seemed like the easiest, given that I don't know anyone who has pumice in their pantry, but with this template, you could experiment with all the options.
Eau Spa DIY Perfect Scrub
1. Gather the ingredients — sugar, water, ginger, and vanilla — and mix them together. You'll want enough to apply to your entire body from the neck down.
Use about 1-2 cups of sugar and enough water to moisten the sugar without melting it. A pinch of vanilla and ginger will do, but you can add as much vanilla and ginger as you like. The ginger should be grated. You can use the vanilla extract you use for baking, but vanilla bean powder is better.
2. Run the shower to create steam, allowing the wet heat to open the body's pores.
3. Apply body scrub in circular motion in the shower. Use a hand loofah for added exfoliation. Polish skin for approximately 15 minutes, then rinse off.
4. Moisturize, put on a robe, and relax for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the body butter to penetrate your skin.
That's it! Why is this so good, I asked the spa's general manager. Because the scrub provides dramatic skin hydration and nourishment,; vanilla helps to calm and soothe; and ginger is enriched with anti-inflammatory properties that help stimulate, hydrate, and renew skin's healthy radiance.
I'll take it.
And I'll gladly go back for more.
Plan Your Trip
How to Get There
Eau Palm Beach is not in Palm Beach but rather 20 minutes south of the Palm Beach Airport in Manalapan. This, for me, was a good thing, as Palm Beach is a very particular place that I didn't warm to as much, and Eau Palm Beach is its own thing. I took an Uber from the airport. If you want to drive around to explore the area, it's easy to rent a car. But this is a resort you can check into for a few days and easily never leave.
In addition to the expansive spa, gym, beach, and pools, the resort offers many family-friendly options, including supervised activities at the AquaNuts center. Bring your racket: There are three tennis courts and an in-house pro available for lessons. Gear is available for stand-up paddleboarding, snorkeling, bodyboarding, and biking.
Food + Drink
The hotel has eight dining options, including Angle, the fine-dining modern American steakhouse. The sushi you'll eat Bōken is, of course, local, and the rolls have an American flair. Polpo Palm Beach serves an Italian-inspired menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breeze Ocean Kitchen serves a seafood-heavy Floribbean menu at lunch in the open air; Stir Bar & Terrace serves cocktails and small bites; Savor is the spa cafe. Melt is the in-house ice cream shop; Oceana pours small-batch roasts of direct-trade coffee as well as pastries.