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No, this is not Alfred, the prattling British manservant from Batman. The Bal Harbour butler service is far more relaxed and cosmopolitan, though nonetheless professional in skill and discretion. Both male and female butlersmost are also multilingualare on call 24-7, offering travelers personalized hospitality as they unwind at the five-star property, among the newest and most glamorous in South Florida. I think at times it might sound a bit intimidating having a butler, but I encourage our guests to try it, says Marco Selva, the resorts general manager. What I always hear is I wasnt sure it would be good for me, but when they leave its like I cant believe Ive been living my life without it. They want to take them home!
How far are the butlers willing to go to please? Selva shares this story: We had a Russian couple here celebrating a very intimate wedding. They requested from our butler team to have seven white puppies for the ceremony. This is a good luck tradition in Russian weddings. They made the request on a Sunday morning. The wedding was Sunday afternoon. Our butlers were able to find those seven white puppies to walk down the aisle with the brideall wearing matching blue collars. We never say no, Selva adds. We may say it might take a little bit longer. But the word no doesnt exist in our language.
Another perk: If youre in the market for something chic from Chanel or something gorgeous from Armani, ask a butler to arrange a ride to the nearby Bal Harbour Shops in one of the hotels two house Bentleys. It may be a short drive across the street, but youll arrive long in style.
St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, 9703 Collins Avenue, Bal Harbour, FL; 305-993-3300; stregisbalharbour.com
If you dream of writing the Great American Novel...
THE BETSY HOTEL, SOUTH BEACH
Of course its a scene down on Ocean Drive. And yet youll be hard-pressed to find a South Beach establishment more committed to going beyond that scene, to elevating culture and making the Beach more thanwellthe Beach. Known as the consummate hosts to Floridas cultural glitterati, with events like poetry readings, afternoon literary talks and photo exhibits, The Betsy Hotels most recent gesture toward the arts is by far its most impressiveThe Writers Room.
Aptly named, its a simply if luxuriously appointed room where writerspoets, novelists and memoirists alikecan do their thing with inspired, tropical surroundings and (heres the impressive part) free of cost to them. The rooms centerpiece is a vintage wooden desk that once belonged to Pulitzer-nominated poet Hyam Plutzik, father of the hotels owner, Jonathon. It was his original desk, says Jeff Lehman, the hotels general manager. It almost doesnt fit in because it doesnt look like the rest of our furniture. But it does fit...because of what it is.
That desk is just about the only thing in the room that isnt hi-tech or drenched in decadence. The hotel partnered with Apple to equip the room with every modern electronic or digital tool a writer, who can stay up to a week, might need. Theres a flat-screen television and Wi-Fi. The walls are lined with a special, textured wallpaper that makes the room soundproof, the better to concentrate. Also provided: an unlimited supply of Italian illy espresso and a per diem to cover meals at the hotels swanky BLT restaurant. No sir, this is not Thoreaus Walden.