Bal Harbour, Florida
The Gold Coast, as the southeast coast of Florida is called, hugs the Atlantic coastline for more than 60 miles. Within this endless shoreline are several well-known beach communities – Jupiter, Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, to name a few. However, none is as elegant and sophisticated as the one square mile enclave of Bal Harbour Village with its lush greenery, fabulous views and romantic ambiance.
This is quite apparent if you should happen to drive into the village during the evening hours, when date and coconut trees lining both sides of Collins Avenue are illuminated. It is as if you are entering an incredible tropical oasis of beauty.
Despite the evils of ever-increasing tourism, Bal Harbour Village has still managed to maintain its stately appearance, while at the same time being within easy access to everything this renowned tourist region has to offer.
It certainly has come a long way from the time during World War II when it was a United States Air Corps Training facility. Today, it is difficult to conceive that there was a rifle range within the ocean- front, and a camp for war prisoners where the luxurious Bal Harbour shops is now located!
Bal Harbour was originally called Bay Harbour. However, the city fathers believed that, due to its strategic location, the name was inappropriate and unbecoming. Mustering up all of their ingenuity and imagination, a name was invented to reflect its breathtaking location. As the town is located between the Atlantic Ocean on the east and Biscayne Bay on the west, the letter “B” was borrowed from the word bay and the “A” and “L” from the word Atlantic. The result was Bal Harbour.
Always in season, and no matter when you plan that special romantic get-away, you will always be able to savour the richness of Bal Harbour’s surroundings with its array of water sports, cultural entertainment, dinning, sunbathing, fishing, and its bountiful spirit.
Of course, for those romantics who seek and appreciate the ultimate in an upscale shopping experience, “la crème de la crème” are the Bal Harbour Shops where you will be seduced by the latest in fashion, without having to travel to New York, Paris, London or Milan. No doubt, great shopping does make for great romance!
A swath of design boutiques and shops include such august names as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani, Hermes, Georg Jensen, Tiffany & Co, Bulgari, Prada and Pratesi, Yves St Laurent, Lacoste, Gianfranco Ferre Jeans, Louis Vutton, Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, Joseph, Gianni Versace, Chanel, Jaeger, Escada, and Valentino, Ermenegildo Zegna, are but a few making up the 98 occupants.
Many of these upscale boutiques are first to introduce the newest collections of chic and stylish clothing including the most fashionable wedding apparel and jewellery. If you can’t find the latest designer wedding dress, a unique diamond ring, or that special gift in the number one productive shopping mall in the USA, as ranked by Women’s Wear Daily, you probably will not find it anywhere else.
After a day of recreation or shopping, restaurant hopping at one of the many establishments is a favourite Bal Harbour activity. Al Carbon prepares excellent meat on an open grill. Bal Harbour Beach House overlooking the ocean provides views that cannot be beat. Chef Bennie Banks of the Sea View Hotel was recently profiled in the New York Times for his terrific cuisine. You certainly should not go home without feasting on the homemade pastas at Carpaccio or the cheesecake at the Bal Harbour Bistro. If caviar is your craving, try the Petrossian.
For accommodations, Bal Harbour is home to the 4 star, full service, Sea View Hotel located directly across from the Bal Harbour Shops. This hotel affords a setting of relaxed tranquility coupled with the enduring appeal of the classical approach to hotel hospitality. 220 spacious rooms and suites all provide unbelievable views of either the Atlantic Ocean or Biscayne Bay with some having private terraces and balconies. Suites come with a living room, dining room, and kitchen facilities or microwaves.
Favourite recreational options range from experiencing the full fitness center with state of the art equipment and private training, to swimming and sunning in the outdoor Olympic size, heated pool. For added comfort are the “Key West” style cabanas surrounding the pool that are equipped with ceiling fans to ensure a tropical breeze. They also include mini-refrigerators, walk-in closet, lavatory, phone, and a huge covered patio. Room service is available to all cabanas as well as pool service. You can even enjoy a frozen tropical drink at the hotel’s outdoor bar overlooking the ocean. Guests wishing to soak up the area’s sunshine are only steps away from the gorgeous stretch of white sand and crystal blue water that makes Bal Harbour a magnet for the visitors seeking a romantic escape.
Bal Harbour activities, be they shopping, sport or cultural, breed hearty appetites, and the Sea View responds with superb culinary delights. You can start the day off with French breakfast, and end with a Mexican feast, Italian dishes or a Caribbean meal.
The hotel’s ideal location only enhances its charms, and guests will have little difficulty in discovering many of the area’s cultural gems. Some guests seek directions to such attractions as the Art Center/South Florida, Bass Museum of Art, Bal Harbour Gallery, Lowe Art Museum, and The Wolfsonian-FIU.
Other favourites include the Ballet Flamenco La Rosa, Florida Grand Opera, Florida Philharmonic, Miami City Ballet, New World Symphony, the Concert Association of Florida, and the Jackie Gleason Theatre of the Performing Arts.
For travelers who value warm and charming hospitality, beauty, a vibrant cultural scene, exotic dining, and that unique romantic atmosphere, Bal Harbour fits the bill.
For a more comprehensive listing of the various cultural activities as well as any other information you may want to check out the official site of the Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.