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Palm Beach: Lessons from the Island of Power and Gold

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How to travel for less. Budget luxury travel ideas for Palm Beach

So your budget is tight but your taste is that of Worth Avenue?  Let’s face it; being on a budget is no fun. Get a luxury fix by tapping into the world known for “Power and Gold,” Palm Beach.  Here’s a value luxury primer for the well-heeled wanna bee.


The Golden Rule – There is only one rule on Palm Beach.  He who has the gold — rules! The Island of Palm Beach.  A visit to the home of the first family of Palm Beach provides a glimpse into its history. A stunning mansion built in 1901, “Whitehall,” is now home to a museum as well as a tribute to the famous Henry Morrison Flagler family and its fortune. Inside, you get a glimpse of how the ultra elite lived.

Listed on the Registry of Historical places, The Breakers, was founded in 1896 and is the destination the rich and famous. This Italian Renaissance luxury hotel has seen an A-list of famous guests which reads like a “who’s who.”   The lavish lobby is a grand  introduction to the many treasures of this 540-room hotel which features a ceiling modeled after the Palazzo Davanzati (ca. 1400) in Florence and hand-painted by 75 Florentine artists.

He lives twice is he who lives well.  It’s an old Latin saying which fits island’s credo.  So it’s no surprise in a recession that consignment shops are stocked with luxury goods.  Not far from the Breakers Hotel is a cluster of fabulous consignment shops including a Good Will, like you’ve never experienced.  Hermes scarves, de la Renta, Chanel chain purses, Van Cleef & Arpels jewels, and beaucoup designer dresses. Pickup a little accessory which makes a statement like a yummy Italian leather satchel or a chunky piece of jewelry.  You’ll find the proper couture or accessory for any function. This is my own little Worth Avenue.  Give new power to Cost-Per-Wear.

Live By the Card; Die By the Card.  Place card that is. An old guard society known for fundraising events and gala mania, Palm Beach natives “live by the place card and die by the place card.”  For more than a century, the super wealthy have ruled Palm Beach giving this destination the reputation for social stardom and financial power brokers.  Names like Flagler, Rockefeller, Phipps, Kennedy, Lauder, Trump, Adler and du Pont to name a few, dominate and are known more for their character than their reputation.  The locals are known to be very accomplished and accustomed to the best and therefore tend to be very reserved. They know who they are and don’t feel compelled to impress.

Do not feed the Cougars! If you are on a date, hold on tight. Unsuspecting visitors to the “Island” will hear the throaty purr of hungry Cougars – the 40-plus strategically enhanced, social climbing set with a keen scent for status. Usually clustered at the bar at places like restaurant Ta-Boo — where I almost lost my date.  If you’re over 40 and then-some, sashay on in with no shame.  The lighting is low and everyone looks purrrr-fect.


*All photographs by Renata Parker

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