I had an equally memorable dinner at Elia, the newest addition to the Bal Harbour Shops. In fact, the food was a real highlight of the Shops. I spent an evening in a "cooking class" at Cookworks. Actually, it was not so much a class as an evening spent with your famous chef friend in which you get to taste everything. We sat at bistro tables draped in white cloths sipping a New Zealand chardonnay while our "teacher" worked hard to produce appetizers for our culinary pleasure. To celebrate my gastronomical accomplishments, I selected an assortment of imported chocolates to savor for dessert.Cool Pasttimes
There was quite a bit for men to enjoy at the Shops as well. Shops that cater to men include Giorgio Armani, Galtrucco, Brooks Brothers and Valentino. My friend Oleg named as his favorite a shop called The Art of Shaving, where he received an old-fashioned shave. Think of it as a sort of manly facial with hot towels and a scalp massage.
The mall is open-air and lush, with trees, fountains and ponds with fish and turtles. Now, I'm from the South, and the last thing we usually want to do is shop outdoors in the summer. Shopping is something you do in air conditioning to get away from the summer heat. But at Bal Harbour, part of the "high-rent" part of this mall is the shops have to keep their doors open and air-condition this little heavenly part of south Florida. I tell you, it was quite pleasant. And when the inevitable afternoon summer rain began to fall, the covered walkways kept shoppers dry.Everyone's Happy
Returning to your hotel was as easy as walking across the street if you are staying in one of the only two hotels in Bal Harbour proper, the Sheraton Bal Harbour Beach Resort and the Sea View Hotel. Besides being convenient, the location makes it easy to leave kids with supervised activities at the Kids Club and your spouse at the lagoon-like pool or the beach. Meet up in the evenings for a gourmet meal at a Bal Harbour restaurant, or drive a few minutes to the South Beach nightlife.
And when you get right down to it, that's really my favorite thing about a weekend getaway -- convenience.