Stroll along the elegant gardens, sparkling fountains, intricate mosaics, and rare antiques at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Florida and you'll be transported back to 19th-century Spain. That's exactly what self-taught architect Addison Mizner intended when, to great acclaim, he opened the Cloister Inn on beachfront property 75 years ago. The opulent 100-room hotel, modeled after a Spanish castle, attracted many celebrities of the day, including Elizabeth Arden and Al Jolson.
Today, Boca still sees plenty of celebs, like John Travolta and Whitney Houston, many of whom prefer to stay in the original Cloister area of the resort, which has been expanded to 338 deluxe rooms. But for guests who like more contemporary accommodations, the 963-room hotel features four other styles of lodging, including golf villas and a beach club with two heated pools, an outdoor whirlpool, and a half-mile of private oceanfront. All guests have access to the resort's three fitness centers, a $10 million state-of-the-art tennis center with 30 clay courts, a full-service marina, and a new Tuscan restaurant on the waterfront. A 50,000-square-foot spa will open this summer.
Still, last summer, executive chef James Reaux, 38, thought the resort could use one other improvement to better accommodate its growing clientele of families with young children, which now makes up more than 30% of its business. "Our kids' menu was in the Dark Ages," he says. "It mainly consisted of pizza, macaroni and cheese, and hot dogs."