Best Hotel/Palm Beach County (2000)
Your first glimpse of the Breakers' history of indulgence comes as you approach the imposing Italian Renaissance structure from the driveway. Walk past the limos and into the lobby, where Venetian chandeliers and gold leaf ceilings accentuate the feeling of opulence. The tapestries and fresh flowers further confirm it. This is old money. The original hotel was built more than a century ago with some of the robber baron dollars Henry Flagler made with John D. Rockefeller. While the building has aged gracefully, it was recently revitalized by an expensive refurbishment that has continued to earn it a place among the best hotels in the world. It has all the stars and diamonds bestowed by travel guides, and 1500 employees, who speak 25 languages, make sure it stays world-class. The spa, the boutiques (you can get Steuben glass at one), and the golf course add to the upper-class experience that can be had on a weekend getaway. But for that real old-money feel, we like dining in the Florentine Room, with its Continental cuisine, impressive wine list, and older gentlemen who wear jackets to dinner simply because one must.