By Jan Norris
A return to luxury service and sophisticated dining from a “golden era” is the theme of the extensive renovation at The Boca Raton, formerly the Boca Resort and Club.
The expansive remake of the iconic Addison Mizner-designed hotel is set in phases, with the $175 million first phase scheduled to accommodate members and their guests starting Dec. 17, even as some work continues into winter 2022.
In a statement laying out details for the renovation, Daniel Hostettler, president and CEO of The Boca Raton, described the property as an “internationally recognized landmark and a private escape for the in-the-know travelers.”
The hotel that opened in 1926 as The Cloister Inn is now owned by MSD Partners LP. The firm bought the property in 2019. Versed in luxury hotels with the Four Seasons Resort Maui and Four Seasons Resort Hualalai in its portfolio in Hawaii, the group plans to continue The Boca Raton’s long-standing model as an exclusive, members-only resort.
The property encompasses five hotels along 200 waterfront acres on both sides of the Intracoastal Waterway, with numerous restaurants, a private beach, 18-hole golf course, 32-slip marina, wellness spa, tennis and pickleball courts, four swimming pools and retail shops.
Each hotel is designed to attract a different traveler. The original 294-room Cloister is family- and pet-friendly, while the 225-room tower will be adults only, with butler services included in its $45 million transformation.
Rooms rates in January 2022 start at $1,190 for a two-night stay at the Cloister.
The Yacht Club, 112 rooms with balconies overlooking the water, is expected to attract mariners, and the Beach Club’s 212 rooms are designed for couples and young families.
The 58 bungalows, with two-bedroom suites and kitchens, are typically booked by long-term visitors.
The Cloister is being redesigned from the inside out. A new driveway and entranceway are in place. All rooms, interior public spaces, restaurants and retail shops are getting an overhaul. It plans to reopen in December along with the Yacht Club.
Tower rooms also are being redesigned. The bungalows will get a décor makeover, while the Beach Club rooms will be refreshed at a later stage.
The Boca Raton properties have been repainted to their original white, except for the 27-story tower, which will retain its construction color of dusty pink.
As a major renovation, the 4-acre Harborside pool area will be reimagined. The convention facility that once stood on the east side of the mainland property has been demolished to make way for an expansive water park-like experience with clear views of the Intracoastal.
A surf-riding pool, a lazy river, a three-story water slide and four pools for adults and youngsters are among its features. A portion of it will be open as part of phase one; the remainder is expected to be completed in 2022.
Spa Palmera is to reopen in December as well.
With the closing of the convention facility, the focus for group bookings will be for smaller conferences, according to hotel officials.
A number of restaurants are opening or have already come aboard, some operating under the Major Food Group of Miami umbrella.
The Flamingo Grill, a tropical-themed chophouse, already is serving lunch and dinner with servers in pale pink jackets preparing foods such as cherries jubilee and Caesar salad tableside.
Sadelle’s, a noted New York brunch spot run by the Major Food Group, will open in November to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner until the other restaurants on the property are open. Then it will revert to breakfast and brunch only.
The Palm Court will occupy the main large space in the center of the Cloister. Lunch, light bites, charcuterie and cocktails will be served there.
A new chocolate shop is called Maison Rose. Signature gold-leaf French macaroons and handmade chocolates will be sold.
Opening next year are an Italian concept restaurant and a Japanese concept from MFG.
The star of the dining program is the MB Supper Club. Harkening to the glamorous “new golden era” campaign, the venue will be a luxury supper club that evokes the Monkey Bar popular with the early visitors to the hotel. Along with select nights of entertainment, there will be tableside presentations of classic dishes served on vintage plates from the hotel. Servers and hostesses will wear uniforms and gowns reminiscent of the 1930s supper club staff. Diners will have the option of sitting outdoors, or indoors at the bar as well as in the main room.
To staff the resort, two job fairs are being held in November in an attempt to bring in 400 workers. Addressing the workforce situation, specifically one versed in luxury service, Hostettler said he is looking for those who are enthusiastic and who can engage with guests — the methods and details of luxe service, he says, can be taught.
So far, he’s pleased that hiring has been successful, going against an industry trend of workers who sign on, but drop off shortly after.
The Boca Raton and its restaurants will be open to members and their guests only beginning Dec. 17. Membership figures have not been released, but an increase in fees from years back is expected.
New leadership team
Hostettler announced the new members of the resort’s senior executive leadership team overseeing phase one, marketing and branding, sales and staffing.
The new team includes Erica S. Kasel as chief marketing officer, Emily Snyder as chief sales officer, and Maria Burns-Aladro as chief human resources officer.
“Our eyes are set on elevating The Boca Raton to extraordinary new heights, and we’ve curated a powerhouse lineup of well-respected leaders to steer us into the future,” Hostettler said.
In Kasel’s previous role heading up marketing at Chanel U.S., she led strategic communications, events and digital initiatives across the fashion, watch and fine-jewelry division. Most recent, Kasel was managing director at Traub, a global advisory firm, where she developed retail marketing and business strategies.
Prior to that, she relaunched Clé de Peau Beauté for Shiseido’s brand team in Tokyo as chief marketing officer and chief experience officer of Jane Smith Agency. She was also vice president of marketing at American Express Publishing, where she published Departures and launched Centurion magazines.
Snyder recently led and recruited a global sales team for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. Burns-Aladro brings 30 years of experience into her new role as The Boca Raton’s chief human resources officer. Her most recent position at The Boca Raton was as director of human resources.
The Boca Raton, 501 E. Camino Real, Boca Raton. Phone 561-288-9944; www.thebocaraton.com.
Christine Davis contributed to this story.