In the early part of the last century the Palm Beach Inn, a winter resort for America’s elite originally built by oil magnate Henry Morrison Flagler in 1896, was destroyed by fire, twice. Eventually it was renamed and rebuilt a third time. The Breakers, as it is known today, opened its doors December 29, 1926 and remains to this day one of the best known resort properties in the Sunshine State.
What do you do when a 450-pound animal that moves better, faster and far more gracefully than you do races directly at you at (seemingly) the speed of sound? If you’re participating in a Natural Dolphin Swim at Dolphins Plus like we were, count yourself lucky, make sure your hands stay tucked away and keep swimming as fast as you can. We felt lucky because sometimes the dolphins find visitors uninteresting or the sea mammals are not in the mood for company and ignore visitors swimming in their salt water pen. This means all the effort and excitement to see the dolphins is wasted when they just stay in a corner or swim away making it difficult to enjoy the unstructured swim. In our case, the three dolphins in the pool enjoyed playing with us, making our swim a success.
We arrived at Tranquility Bay, a family friendly waterfront property in Marathon, late in the afternoon on a Friday in September tired from driving and a day of fun activities. The reception area was refreshingly cool, small and bright. A smiling attendant greeted us and in a jiffy we checked in. A cheerful staff member accompanied us to our suite on the far side of the property.
: We cherished our stay at the Mandarin Oriental Miami. It featured a winning combination of customer oriented, friendly and efficient staff in a beautifully designed, and luxurious waterfront property, just steps from downtown Miami . Sail shaped, the Mandarin was reminiscent of the orient though inside there was a definite Latin flavor. Almost every staff person we encountered was of Hispanic heritage. This made it easy for staff members to interact with the many guests we heard speaking Spanish in the common areas. More than once we saw staff members switch smoothly from English to Spanish and vice versa.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, an 83-acre haven for nature lovers in a ritzy residential neighborhood, was one of our choice places to visit in Miami. Well managed and populated by rare and striking tropical and subtropical plants from all over the world, the Garden was visitor friendly. Young and old alike were made welcome through tram, audio and walking tours, classes and tropical plant themed festivals such as ginger, mango, orchid, palms and many others. New and popular features included a butterfly garden (a favorite with children), a bird watching section, the Victoria pond with its four Amazon water-lilies, and a tropical fruit tree pavilion. There was also a 13-acre palm collection, a green house with orchids, bromeliads, palms aroids and ferns, and the only outdoor tropical rainforest in the continental United States .
We found Rosemary Beach, established as a planned community in 1995, to be an ideal vacation village for beach lovers from the South. Situated on a striking white sand beach in the Northern Gulf, Rosemary Beach consisted of a town hall, post office, restaurant, spa, fitness center, tennis courts, five swimming pools, a handful of retail businesses and about 350 homes. Architecturally distinctive, it featured a blend of elements from various areas of Florida and the South. Named after a local shrub, this pedestrian friendly exclusive vacation neighborhood seemed well suited for families