Visiting The Boca Raton After Its $200m Renovation
Having been visiting The Boca Raton for many, many years and hosting our wedding at the resort in 2015, Joe and I recently traveled back down to Boca for a week away to experience the new resort.
The hotel was purchased by MSD Partners in 2019 and is currently amidst a huge $200 million renovation (much of the hotel is already completed, but there are still a few projects finishing up). While there are still understandably a few kinks to be smoothed out with the transition, overall we had a fantastic trip (as always)!
After lots of questions about our stay, I wanted to share some candid thoughts about our experience; what we loved, what we didn't and a few must-do's outside of the hotel property.
What we loved
The familiar feel - While there have been major renovations to parts of the hotel, you still get a similar overall feel to the original resort in terms of layout.
The pool renovation - The pool renovation was our favorite upgrade (2 pools to 4 with the addition of a lazy river and 2 waterslides which was so fun without feeling waterpark-ish). The (temporary) downside is the walk to the pool. While construction in the Tower is being finished, guests have to exit out the main entrance and walk all the way down to the first entry booth in order to get to the pool area.
The new Palm Court bar - What was once the Palm Court (an open lounge area with daily breakfast and open-concept seating), is now a beautiful open bar area with light bites. We missed having breakfast there but the bar is an upgrade for sure and has a very 'Gatsby' vibe to it.
Continued Beach Club access - All hotel guests have the same easy access to the Beach Club by shuttle or water taxi which is a beautiful change of scenery with 2 great restaurants.
What we didn't
I want to preface this with this: having been coming to The Boca Raton for 30+ years, we always have very high expectations! The transition of the hotel is very apparent and while renovations are not complete, there were some areas that fell short regardless. Definitely hopeful that things will improve over time as the new staff settles in.
Our favorite restaurants are no longer - Morimoto and Lucca were two fantastic restaurants that we looked forward to eating at every time we visited. The 2 restaurants replacing them have not opened yet, but I can only imagine the food is going to be hard to top!
The menus - The current menus at the main hotel were a little boring and while there were some things we really enjoyed, nothing wow-ed and really felt like 5-star food. We also felt there could have been a wider range of options.
The staff - With new owners, all of the prior staff was let go and had to re-interview and from what we found, 90%+ of the staff was brand new. There were a lot of miscommunications and a lack of overall knowledge of the resort (which we hope will get better with time). With my family being club members for 40+ years, Member Services really fell short and was the staff we were most disappointed with.
Member/guest policies - Having been club members for many years, there's a certain familiarity of policies and procedures that you become very accustomed to. With new management, many of those policies have changed which was disappointing. At times, the overall experience didn't feel as ‘exclusive’ as it used to.
What not to miss in Boca
I am and will always be all for resort life. If you have all of your amenities - restaurants, pools, concierge, etc. - in one place, why leave?! The Boca Raton is one of those places that feels both large enough and well-equipped with enough variety that you certainly don't have to leave if you don't want to. That said, having been traveling to Boca for many years, we also have some favorites around town if you feel like venturing out!
Mizner Park - Mizner is packed with shopping and eating, and just a mile away from The Boca Raton. You can bikeride or walk there in under 20 minutes. Some of our favorite Mizner spots are Sloans ice cream (the BEST homemade ice cream), Max's Grille (modern American bistro and a fun, upbeat atmosphere with live music), Calaveras for margaritas (our servers recommended this to us as having the best spicy marg in town and it definitely delivered), and IPIC (this theatre will change your view on movie experiences!).
Oceans234 - Only 2 miles from the hotel is this beautiful oceanfront restaurant, situated right on the beach. We had our favorite food of the trip at this restaurant! Make sure to make a reservation, as it can get crowded, and request an oceanfront table outside.
All in all we had another fantastic trip. While there are undoubtedly some improvements to be made as the renovations finish up and the new staff settles in, we're already looking at our calendar to see when we can travel back to Boca.