Palms, polo and pomp permeated the air at The Colony Palm Beach, a boutique hotel tucked behind Worth Avenue on one of the most prestigious islands in America.
The occasion: a dazzling debut of décor and design masterminded by the one and only Carleton Varney, who headed a $9 million interior renovation of the quintessentially Palm Beach accommodation.
“The idea was to really bring the glamour of yesterday back,” said Varney, an internationally renowned artist who owns Dorothy Draper & Co. “I wanted to give it that sparkle from the day the Windsors were here.”
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Palm Beach socialites and winter residents, stayed at The Colony during the post-war period, along with other notables such as Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra. A picture of the royal couple – the former King Edward VIII and wife Wallis Simpson – hangs in the historic hotel, and a 1,900-square-foot, two-bedroom abode on the top floor is named in their honor.
During The Colony’s Grand Re-Opening Celebration, more than 400 invite-only guests entered the palm-frond-themed lobby to admire the fancy floor rugs and furniture arranged in front of the fireplace, and then gazed upward at the impressive chandelier comprised of 637 jade crystals. They took tours of the quaint rooms and suites, each personalized by a signature color, accented with artwork and aglow from lamps that resemble living floral sculptures.
The hallways of the hotel soothe with pink-and-white wallpaper, and the carved doors to each domain resemble that of a dollhouse.
The hotel’s British Colonial vibe of days past now is met with high-tech amenities of the present, including Bluetooth-enabled phones, flat-screen televisions and wireless Internet service.
The elegant evening also featured live music. The cabaret-style Royal Room rocked with a multipiece band, and a piano player and standup bassist grooved in Polo, the posh steak-and-seafood restaurant. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres flowed throughout the three-hour affair.
The big reveal of the night was a back-alley, behind-the-scenes tour of The Colony Garden. The garden sits on a lot previously occupied by a large nuisance tree and grows more than one dozen different herbs and spices used in the making of both food and beverages.
“I think it’s one of The Colony’s best-kept secrets,” spokesman Gary Schweikhart said.