By Lori Capullo
City & Shore Magazine
So it’s winter and we’re not exactly dreaming of floating down a ski slope any time soon here — or, more accurately, we are dreaming of it, because we’re never going to see it. What we can see is the little white ball floating across the rolling greens of so many golf courses across the region (not just now, of course, but, c’mon, it’s so much better now than lightning-charged summer). In Greater Fort Lauderdale alone, there are more than 40 courses catering to a range of skill levels and offering top-notch facilities, designed by masters of the game such as Tom and George Fazio, Robert von Hagge and Rees Jones.
So many spas
To try and list all the superlative spas among us is impossible, because there are just that many. And while there are also spas up north and across the Midwest, at none of those spas is one able to indulge in a beachside salt scrub in the middle of February. If you don’t have a clue where to start, it’s worth noting (2) The Seagate Hotel & Spa in Delray Beach is offering a sweet deal: a Himalayan Salt Serenity Package (80 minutes, $235) that will put you in a private halo-therapy booth that harnesses a blend of 84 micro-elements and minerals to ease away your stress and toxins, followed by a healing aromatherapy Himalayan salt stone massage (theseagatehotel.com). (3) The Pure Romance Package at Pelican Grand Resort in Fort Lauderdale includes a Microsilk couples’ bath experience, 80-minute couples’ massage in their glass-enclosed rooftop treatment room overlooking the ocean, and a bottle of champagne (pelicanbeach.com). (4) In Miami-Dade, a visit to ESPA at Acqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles is a must — the Royal Spa Suite 4-Hour Experience is a decadent treat that includes three hours of ESPA time starting with a healing foot ritual and continuing with treatments of your choice — body wrap, therapeutic massage, facials — plus a healthy spa lunch with a bottle of champagne ($650 per person, acqualinaresort.com).
It’s one of our favorite — perhaps our very favorite? — rituals, every single weekend. Bloody Marys and mimosas are as integral to kicking off our Sundays as coffee is to jump starting our Mondays. Our list could fill these pages – let’s just say they range from the legendary Sundy House in Delray Beach (where the aforementioned libations are included in the $75-per-person price) to the now-legendary Michael’s Genuine in the Design District, where homemade Pop Tarts and breakfast pizza are in the offing to S3 in the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort, whose Pastelito French Toast stuffed with guava and cream cheese is an otherworldly experience—meaning you can sate your every craving weekend after weekend and never have to repeat.
Got a yacht? If so, no explanation necessary. No yacht? No problem. Doesn’t mean you can’t get out and savor what every visitor to our state dreams about: the water, as experienced by boat. South Florida’s boat clubs offer monthly memberships equivalent in nature to time shares, from Fort Lauderdale to Miami, allowing you and your friends and family to take off and enjoy all the benefits of boat ownership without having to worry about maintenance, storage and cleaning; visit, for example, boatclubflorida.com, carefreeboats.com/south-florida or boatsetter.com (like airbnb, but with boats).
The Miami International Boat Show
And speaking of boats, if the boat club idea doesn’t do it for you and you’ve just got to get your name on a deed, the Miami International Boat Show Feb. 14-18 is your go-to. Not that you have to buy—you can easily enjoy the endless browsing, noshing from the Food Trucks and hanging out in the sun sipping a beer, mentally planning your around-the-world voyage.
Every February, the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival — whose name continues to expand every year in tandem with its attendees’ waistlines — descends on South Florida in the form of tasting villages, cooking demos, exclusive fêtes hosted by marquee-name chefs and TV personalities, and more, all to benefit the FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. The tickets are some of the hottest around. A few years back, it expanded its footprint from Miami-Dade into Broward, and this year’s event, the 18th annual, will include as part of the CRAVE Greater Fort Lauderdale Series a dinner hosted by renowned chefs Anne Burrell and our own Angelo Elia as well as a clambake hosted by Food Network star Alex Guarnaschelli and Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach’s own Chef Jorge Ramos. For details about all events and to purchase tickets, visit sobewff.org.
Jazz in the Gardens
Just the word “gardens” in the title of a music festival in March is enough to let you know this is a uniquely South Florida seasonal experience. Granted, it refers to Miami Gardens, but it is indeed outdoors, and every year this event becomes more and more star-studded. This year’s lineup of artists includes Lionel Richie, the O’Jays, En Vogue and Bobby Brown, among others; save the dates of March 9-10 and log onto jazzinthegardens.com to purchase tickets.
Luxury Shopping — as fresco
No need to jet off to Istanbul for an original Sevan Biçakçi bauble, to London for the latest structured waistcoat from COS or to Italy to purchase your husband’s next pair of deliciously supple leather Stefano Ricci loafers. That’s because so many of Europe’s highest-end design houses are choosing to hang their glorious shingles right here in the (10) Miami Design District, all at once a glamorous and inviting outdoor playground of shops (and restaurants and galleries) offering everything from scents to stilettos, clutches to couture, from every corner of the globe and from our talented locals as well. At the legendary (11) Bal Harbour Shops, the ritual of perusing Saks until our rumbling tummies lead us to a fabulous lunch at Carpaccio for one of their world-famous chopped salads is still one of our top picks, while (12) The Shops at Pembroke Gardens is an ever growing favorite, with a casual vibe and dining and drinks outdoors (or in) at several fine restaurants.
Call your freezing cousins in New York and ask them to join you for a Mamajuana Old Fashioned at Burlock Coast at the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale, where you can sip the concoction — an elixir made from Atlantico Rum Housemade Mamajuana, plum, ango, orange bitters, Florida Keys raw honey and black tea — while watching the sun set the horizon ablaze amid a balmy breeze, just to make them jealous. It’s one of the many ways to combine sun, sea and sips in South Florida, which we get to do all year, every year, and never is the weather more perfect for it than this time of year.
Is there any sport more regal than polo? Now through April, the “Sport of Kings” is in full swing (literally). One of the most famous places to watch is the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington; the tickets are inexpensive and their upscale field-side brunch — accompanied by champagne, of course — is a long-beloved tradition. Tickets start at a bargain $10 for general admission and go up to $120 for box seating; the Sunday brunch at The Pavilion through February is $100 and reception passes are $55.
It starts in December and continues through April, and several of the u-pick farms in South Florida are open the entire time, weather permitting. Of course, most U-Pick farms — Strawberry Fields of Kendall, Burr’s Berry Farm in Miami and Bedner’s Farm Fresh Market in Delray Beach among them — also offer a variety of other fresh delights you can pick up while there, so scope out your favorite shortcake (or daiquiri) recipe, find the one nearest you and get plucking.
Coconut Grove Arts Festival
One of the most major outdoor arts festivals in the country takes place in the middle of winter, under the sun and the swaying palms: The Coconut Grove Arts Festival, held every year on Presidents Day Weekend, is not just booth after booth of arts and wares from hundreds of makers from all over the world. It’s also a festival of food, live music and contests that add up to a full weekend of entertainment — and proceeds go toward scholarships for students who attend fine arts programs at local schools.
3 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day that you can’t do anywhere but here
(17) Slurp oysters at Geoffrey Zakarian’s Point Royal at the Diplomat Beach Resort Hollywood before taking a romantic dip in the pool — the outdoor pool (pointroyal-fl.com)…. (18) Dinner a deux on the rooftop of Area 31 with a view of downtown Miami’s glittering lights (area31restaurant.com)…. (19) Road trip to the Keys — possibly all the way down to Key West, where you and yours can tuck into the insanely delicious Between My Red Velvet Sheets Cheesecake at Better Than Sex Desserts (call ahead to reserve your piece; the owner bakes it herself and it sells out quickly) and sip some Sex Appeal, a sparkling Moscato served in a red sugar-and-white-chocolate-rimmed glass (betterthansexdesserts.com).