When a puffball cloud hovers above the terracotta roof, with a blue sky above and a luxuriously tranquil swimming pool below, a sun-starved Northerner knows she has found her slice of heaven on earth.

Everything is a sensory experience at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, a Forbes Five-Star property located on the barrier island of Manalapan, Florida. From entering the resort, where guests are enfolded in dreamy interiors and fragrant fresh flowers, to the spa, where an expert massage therapist’s hands knead away post-flight stress, we are encouraged to revel in a decadent “self-centered” stay. Eventually thoughts center on dinner to come: perhaps a plate of expertly prepared local fish and fresh greens, served with a glass of good, cold white wine.

From the start, your only task at Eau Palm Beach is to drop your bags, clear your mind, and start building fresh, happy memories. Service is abundant, skilled, and delivered in a warm, welcoming manner.

It’s no wonder that many of Eau Palm Beach’s guests return year after year. A group of young women in the spa, wrapped in white robes and sipping champagne, were there for a bridal party. A mother and daughter had traveled from New Jersey to relax and catch up, as they do every year.

We’re all here to rejuvenate and refresh; but the way to that special state of well-being is very individual.

At Eau Palm Beach, with tennis courts, a gym (with chef-made cupcakes!) and equipment for paddleboarding, surfing, and snorkeling – plus two large 86-degree swimming pools – visitors can be as active as they choose.

Quieter pursuits are a joy: admiring the color-splashed flower gardens, gazing at a formation of pelicans overhead, relaxing with a book in your Jonathan Adler-designed suite (the fabrics are exquisite), or simply lounging in an oceanfront cabana to watch the waves.

Guests seeking a truly personalized experience may visit the Eau Club, on the fourth floor, accessible by special arrangement.

Eau Spa – measuring 42,000 square feet and one of just 51 Forbes Five-Star spas in the country – is a destination in itself for many guests, with enough treatments and experiences to return again and again. In the women’s spa, water is the center of the experience, with a sauna, a whirlpool bath surrounded by heated stone loungers, and a steam room with personalized body polishes. (Men have their own spa.)

The women’s spa is anchored by a palm-lined courtyard, with pools, fountains, and the soothing soft sounds of lapping water. It is best experienced at leisure, perhaps with a glass of champagne, offered upon arrival at the spa, or a bite of food from Savor, the spa’s cafe.  

Spa treatments begin with a personalizing session: You choose your scent, color, and music, depending on your mood. Beyond spa treatments are places to embrace the moment, including a delightful pool with swing chairs that let your feet move lazily through a shallow pool.

Eau Palm Beach is large enough to accommodate singles, couples, and families in their own environments. Children have their own pool at the Teens & Kids Club. Now and then, a guest is walking the halls with a dog in arms, obviously a bone fide family member; dogs are welcome here with no additional charge. (Eau Palm Beach supports the nearby Big Dog Ranch Rescue, as well as Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Jupiter.)

If the inward traveler urges you to see a bit more of the Palm Beach area, plentiful cultural and culinary adventures await you, all within a 30-minute drive from Eau Palm Beach. The Henry Morrison Flagler Museum stands as an opulent gesture to the Gilded Age, a 75-room mansion called Whitehall, which – along with Flager’s extension of the railroad to Palm Beach – ushered in Palm Beach as a winter getaway for high society in the early 1900s. If you’re hungry, you’re in luck. Shortly down Cocoanut Row is Café Boulud, a haven of fine French food in plush, art-filled surroundings.

Norton Museum of Art

Shoulder-to-shoulder with Palm Beach Island is The Palm Beaches, a collection of communities that shine in their own way with museums, gardens, and good food. The Norton Museum in West Palm Beach offers a collection of beautifully curated art, including an outdoor sculpture garden. Also in West Palm Beach is Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County, a hidden gem with 25 display gardens and more than 7,000 species of tropical and subtropical plants.

Back at Eau Palm Beach, it’s almost time for dinner, and we mull the menus from six unique restaurants, each with excellent food and always-attentive service. At your dinner table, the pristine attention to detail may relax you as much as did your spa visit. Eau Palm Beach staff are plentiful and always helpful, kind, and filled with good suggestions. All you have to do is ask. As an Eau Palm Beach staff member said, “It really is all about you.”