The oh-so-New England White Elephant resort, a mainstay on Nantucket for decades, has opened a sister hotel on the glamorous, exclusive island of Palm Beach, Fla. Say what? We wondered: Does a giant pink flamingo replace the iconic white elephant statue that stands in front of the Nantucket landmark? Will the gray and white colors of Nantucket’s arguably favorite waterfront resort be replaced by Floridian pinks and greens? How does White Elephant Nantucket’s laid back, barefoot, luxury approach work in somewhat stuffy and swanky Palm Beach?
We made a quick trip to take a look and were pleasantly surprised. First, there was no giant flamingo. Instead, guests are welcomed to the property by a 7-foot-tall white elephant statue, a sister to the one that stands in front of the White Elephant in Nantucket. The four-story, 32-room hotel, housed in the former Bradley Park Hotel, built in 1924, is sleek and modern inside and out. While the bones of the original structure and façade remain, the Boston-based and nationally known company of Elkus Manfredi Architects has transformed the old hotel into a relaxed, contemporary hotspot in prim Palm Beach.
The exterior is painted white with classic black-and-white striped awnings, terracotta roof tiles, and black trim — no bright pinks and greens in sight! The cozy lobby feels like an art-filled collector’s home. In fact, the hotel has 120 original art pieces on display throughout the public areas and rooms. Featured artists include Robert Rauschenberg, whose early creations in the 1950s pioneered the pop art movement. Several pieces by internationally renowned painter Kenzo Okada are on display, along with works by Donald Baechler, part of the East Village, New York, 1980s art movement. A 54-inch round acrylic work by Orit Fuchs was specifically created for the hotel and is a focal point of the lobby, and six prints by Yinka Shonibare can be found on the second-floor corridor. Doodle Boy, a 10-year-old British artist, was commissioned to create 30 exclusive pieces for the powder rooms. Using clean black lines hand drawn with a thick marker, he incorporated a hidden signature elephant in each of his drawings.
Spacious rooms are crisp and light-filled, with custom furnishings and marble-tiled baths with walk-in showers. We liked the bronze elephant door knockers on the rooms — nice touch.
The heart of the property is the center courtyard which houses a small pool area, intimate bar, and the Lola 41 restaurant, another Nantucket transplant. Judging from the bustling crowd of diners, Lola 41 Palm Beach has already made a significant mark on the upscale culinary scene here.
Guests can use the complimentary Priority cruiser bikes to tool around the island, sneaking peeks behind hedges and fences to see the mansions of the sequestered rich and famous. Of course, there are parks and museums to visit, too, and shopping on aptly named Worth Avenue, considered one of the finest shopping districts in the world. Guests also have complimentary use of the hotel’s fleet of BMW 7 series cars for further exploring.
It’s tough to be luxurious and unpretentious, historic and contemporary, and to break into one of the wealthiest, private ZIP codes in America. White Elephant Palm Beach blends it well. www.whiteelephantpalmbeach.com, room rates start at $650.
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at email@example.com