The Bradley Park Hotel and that Palm Beach Energy, by Bruce Klauber

One of the most beautiful things about Naples, Florida, is its individual and collective attitude, if a city can have such a thing. Apt descriptions of this Naples state of mind would likely include phrases like “laid back,” everything “on an even keel,” etc. In short, everything and everybody in Naples is just darned nice.

From time to time, however, there is a need for a change of energy, a shot of adrenalin, a surge of excitement and, shall we say, a modification of attitude. Joy Adams and I experienced all this quite recently, and it came from an unlikely source, if only because we didn’t know we needed this energy shot until we got where we were going. The place was Palm Beach, Florida, a locale we’ve not visited for ten years. Friends from the north were visiting Palm Beach, and we decided to meet them for lunch, and then drive back to Naples. Our lunch visit lasted almost three days.

Because Palm Beach exists virtually as its own universe–Joy characterizes it as “a different country”–it also has its own energy. The wealth, the fashion, the beauty, the grace, the gentility, and yes, the excitement of it all combined, at least in our case, to inspire and lift the spirit. Like every city of every size, Palm Beach has changed somewhat in terms of gearing itself a bit more to the younger contingent. But Worth Avenue is still Worth Avenue (and more beautiful than we recall), the pristinely restored and majestic Breakers is still The Breakers, Ta-boo’ restaurant remains one of the culinary and social epicenters of the island, and Ta-boo’ co-owner Franklyn deMarco is still the host of hosts.

For us, one of the major contributors to the Palm Beach charm factor, was The Bradley Park Hotel, and we happened on this jewel of a property quite by accident. When we decided on an overnight stay, we first checked The Palm Beach Hotel, where our friends were installed, for a vacancy. They were filled, but when asked to recommend a place in “the neighborhood,” the suggestion was Bradley Park.

This hotel, quite simply, is a certifiable gem that personifies the grace and charm of old Palm Beach. And they had a vacancy.

Now 85 years old and meticulously restored, the hotel accurately describes itself as a charming, intimate and historic boutique property that offers “traditional values in hospitality, blended with an original expression of the past and present.” The 32 guest rooms and suites are beautifully appointed, many with features like full kitchens, European linens, bathrobes, DVD players, surround sound and much more. There is a wonderful, gourmet grocery, C’est Si Bon, on the premises (Joy now swears by their coffee) and a to-die-for Asian fusion restaurant, Coco’s, on the premises. The hotel’s Royal Palm and Bradley Suites on the penthouse level, have to be seen to be believed. All of us who saw the unbelievable penthouse deck clearly and quickly envisioned throwing a spectacular private party there, with entertainment, of course, by the Joy Adams/Bruce Klauber Orchestra.

Deservedly, the facility has been designated as an historical landmark by the Palm Beach Historical Society. Its Mediterranean Revival architecture is indicative of the gracious, tropical lifestyle of Palm Beach. Adding to the beautiful picture is a central courtyard, café tables and a trickling fountain. Arched entryways and expansive suites opening to landscaped balconies complete the experience. Yes, it is luxurious, but without stuffiness or pretense of any kind.

Charm and gentility factors notwithstanding, service is what makes a hotel — of any size and in any locale — work. The staff of The Bradley Park Hotel sincerely cares about its guests, and I got the sense, early on, that they would do anything within their power to make a guest happy. While moving into our room, I encountered one of the managers in the elevator, with his hands literally filled with pots and pans.”What’s up, Peter?” I asked. (It does not take long for everyone to know everyone’s name here.) “Well,” a lady on your floor wants to cook spaghetti in her room tonight, so I just gathered up everything she might need.”

Service, indeed. Coincidently, that lady also drove over from Naples that afternoon, and had come to Palm Beach to participate in a croquet tournament.

After a full day of more shopping and more beauty, we had no choice but to ask if there were a vacancy for another night. Fortunately, there was, and if we didn’t have a commitment back in Naples Friday evening, we might still be there.

The Palm Beach energy jolt remains within, especially because we’re now aware there’s a warm, welcoming and charming place for us there, in the form of The Bradley Park Hotel, when we return. If there’s a vacancy, that is.

General Manager Melissa Payson deserves a good deal of credit for overseeing operations at the hotel, which includes supervision of the restoration. I fervently believe that any staff takes on the attitude of management, which certainly explains why everyone involved at The Bradley Park Hotel is so wonderful.

Incidently, if only because this is, I would be personally and professionally remiss if I didn’t tell of the rather active jazz scene in Palm Beach. For information on clubs, schedules and festivals, log on to the web site of The Jazz Arts Music Society of Palm Beach at:

The Bradley Park Hotel is located 280 Sunset Avenue, Palm Beach, FL, 33480. Telephone: 800-822-4116 or 561-832-7050. Visit on the web at

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