Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa Still Dazzles on the 10th Anniversary of Its Name Change

Go for the pampering. Stay for the stellar Polpo restaurant.

For a decade, the 309-room Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa has occupied a curious space, both literally and figuratively. For one thing, its location—around 10 miles south of the Breakers—is apt to confuse drivers, since it tends to show up on navigation systems as in nearby Lantana (which is on the mainland), as opposed to its oceanfront position on Manalapan, the minuscule beach town that has been home to an impressive number of boldfaced names (F. Lee Bailey, Tony Robbins and Larry Ellison among them).

And there’s its complicated history: The palatial independent resort is a former Ritz-Carlton that the London-based Lewis Trust Group purchased in 2003 for $67.5 million. The property retained the marquee hospitality name, but in time the marriage turned rocky, with the Lewis family initiating proceedings to wriggle out of their union with Marriott/Ritz-Carlton. When the split finally arrived, in 2013, the Ritz-Carlton became the Eau (“water” in French), referring not just to its beachfront position, but also to its spectacular water-themed spa.

With the Lewis family pouring millions into multiple renovations both before and after the rebranding, the Eau earned an enviable place on South Florida’s luxury landscape, an attractive destination for corporate gatherings (the resort boasts 32,000 square feet of meeting space), spa aficionados (the spa is 42,000 square feet), and luxury enthusiasts from around the world. After putting the property on the market in 2019, the Lewis family found satisfactory offers wanting and pulled it back. The Eau is a member of the prestigious consortium Preferred Hotels & Resorts, which helps to keep bookings brisk, with happy guests frolicking in the two seaside pools, the Atlantic crashing just feet away.

If the property still recalls the architecture of the Ritz-Carlton aesthetic of the 1980s and ’90s, epitomized by the brand’s properties in Maui and Laguna Niguel, Calif., it also recalls the ways in which the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel successfully transitioned to its current contemporary interior design. The look is fresh and shimmering, with Murano-style glass chandeliers, layers of molding, and tubular glass and metallic floral arrangements. Shagreen can even be spotted in the elevators. The resort layout is configured in such a way that some prime suites enjoy panoramic terraces, complete with daybeds and hanging egg chairs suspended from the ceiling.

But to save the best for last, Eau’s true standout is its Italian restaurant Polpo, an outpost of the beloved original in Greenwich, Conn. Prepare to savor the most finely balanced caponata you’ve ever eaten (at once savory and sweet), and an outstanding grilled polpo (Italian for octopus), which is perfectly offset by delicate arugula and hearty, flavorful cannellini beans. Meanwhile, pasta lovers will rightly gravitate to the ravioli in truffle sauce or the “Sunday Sauce”—rigatoni, enriched with sausage, braciola pork rib and meatballs—no matter what day of the week it is.

Drew Limsky
dlimsky@sfbwmag.com
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