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Friday, June 8, 2012

South East Florida January 2012

Well, this is my first "new" blog since starting this site (everything else was either copied from my old site, or about something that had happened some time ago).

My daughter 18 year-old Natalie is going back to college at the end of January, so my wife Andrea and I decided it would be fun to take a small trip to someplace warm before Nat leaves again. For this post I'll write a bit about the trip in general, and I'll get into a bit of detail about where we stayed while in Florida as well as a couple of places we ate.

We wanted the trip to be cheap, so we booked cheap flights for the four of us (including Nat's 14 year-old sister Charlotte). We flew into MIA on Friday night, January 13. Our flight was delayed a bit so we didn't get to MIA until about midnight. We spent the first night at a Hilton in downtown Miami (using Hilton points) and the remaining 3 nights we stayed at the Palm Beach Shores resort about an hour and a half north of Miami. PBSR is a timeshare property and we paid for our stay there using Disney Vacation Club points.

We wanted to go to southern Florida to escape the New York January chill. Turns out it had actually been a very mild January, And while we were in Florida the weather was chillier than usual - not really beach or pool weather. Still, it was warmer than New York, it was a nice relaxing trip and it's always a treat to stay someplace right on the beach.

Restaurants: While in Palm Beach we had 3 memorable meals. Everyone in my family are vegetarians (except me) and Natalie is a Vegan. So, we had to find places that cater to vegetarians. For our first night in Palm Beach we went to Ta-boo, which is apparently a fairly well known. It is in a very upscale shopping district in Palm Beach. It's a fun place with a retro tiki-style decor. The food was good, though their vegetarian selection was limited. We also felt a bit under-dressed, though nobody else seemed to care. Funny thing, there was a party next to us with a gentleman that Nat commented looked like a heavier version of Al Gore. After our meal I was waiting at the valet for our car and I heard "Al Gore" apologize to the others in his party for the "lousy food". After that we joked that we liked Ta-boo, though Al Gore didn't.

The next night we went to Seasons 52 which was right up the street from our hotel. We loved this place. So much so that we came back the next night. The name of the restaurant comes from the fact that they have a seasonal menu that changes weekly. The decor is very nice - elegant and contemporary with wonderful views of the inter-coastal waterway. The food was very good, and much to the delight of the others in the party they not only had a separate vegetarian menu, they even had a vegan menu. I would highly recommend Seasons 53 - and it should be noted they have several locations.

Palm Beach Shores Resort: PBSR is a timeshare resort with about 275 (by my estimate) one and two bedroom villa suites. For those of you unfamiliar with timeshares, one big different in the rooms is that they pretty much always have separate bedrooms as well as full kitchens. The rooms at PBSR are not an exemption.

Overview: PBSR is a pleasant property with a great beach location. It's a bit "tired" (as an Australian gentleman on the elevator said), but well maintained and fairly well appointed. It has a small gym (which we did not use - although I did go out for a very pleasant and long walk one morning), a spa (which we also did not use) a restaurant (where we did have lunch one day) and a nice pool with a pool-side bar and a Jacuzzi. I would rate all the amenities as average with the exception of the restaurant which was well below average.

One thing we noticed was that there were a LOT of timeshare tours coming through. And I mean a LOT. There were always folks in the lobby or touring the property accompanied by a sales person. They also take every chance they can to get you into a presentation. As an example, when you check in you have to take your parking voucher to another desk to get your parking permit. Here they try to sell you on a sales tour by offering free lunch and a $55 coupon you can spend at the resort. We simply declined.

 Overall I would give the resort 3 stars out of 5.

Rooms: We had a one bedroom suite. As is typical of timeshare properties this was a true suite with a separate bedroom and a full kitchen. The room was pretty spacious and tastefully decorated. The bed was unusually comfortable for a hotel. The one complaint I would have about the room was the bathroom which was... odd. Partly resulting from the room layout, the bath was bigger than it needed to be. This allowed for a separate bath and shower. This is usually a good thing - except the bathtub was just a plain and simple tub. Not a Jacuzzi, not a soaker, just the same sort of tub you would expect in your typical hotel with a shower/tub combination.

Location: This is where the resort really shines. It's location right on the beach is absolutely spectacular. This was especially true of our unit. We were very fortunate to have an end unit - room 501. These units are right on the beach and have fantastic views. If you stay at PBSR try to get an end unit - from what I could tell these would be room numbers ending with 01, 02, 49 or 50. On the other hand, Palm Beach itself was not a location we were crazy about. If you're in to golf or high-end shopping - neither of which we are - then I suppose it's a terrific spot. It just wasn't really our cup of tea. Given that, I give the location 4 out of 5 stars - I would give it 5 if you like Palm Beach.

That's it. hope you enjoyed the post.

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