Babes in Bocaland
-Melina Gerosa Bellows
I LOVE Florida! The fist time I visited I was so excited that I jumped up and down on my hostess’ bed until I threw up. (I was in first grade and had eaten an entire 10-pack of Lifesavers on the plane.)
So when I got the opportunity to take my preschoolers Chase and Mackenzie to the Boca Beach Club & Resort I leapt on the invitation with the same reckless abandon that I did on that 1970s pink quilted bedspread.
“We’re going to Florida! We’re going to Florida!” they cheered from the minute I told them to when the plane hit the tarmac.
At the Ft. Lauderdale airport, a black super stretch limousine rolls up with our name on it, courtesy of the hotel. My kids, ages 3 and 4, think the car is hilarious.
“Look! There’s a TV inside the car!!” Chase says. This makes Mackenzie laugh uncontrollably as I fasten her in the limo’s booster seats.
Then we get the resort, which has recently undergone a gazillion dollar renovation. All I can say is Oh. My. Gawd.
The super sleek lobby looks like a boutique New York hotel. Our room, a study in taupes and citrines with foot-thick white duvets, makes me feel as if we’re visiting rich cousins in the Hamptons.
We throw on our suits and hit the zero entrée pool immediately. As soon as we hit the deck, I realize that we’re pathetically underdressed. Tory Burch, Juicy Couture, Lily Pulitzer. And this is what the kids are wearing.
The Moms, or Bocahantases, as Marley & Me writer John Grogan dubbed them, wear sparkly Indian kaftan cover-ups with high heels. I feel like a fat grandma with a pair of ragamuffin urchins in comparison. I’m surprised no one drops coins into my empty smoothie cup to help us out.
That evening, I order up room service for the kids and babysitter and head out to dinner. My kids, supremely overtired, start protesting, despite the fact that they are watching flatscreen in bed, room service mac n’ cheese is on its way, and the sandman is about an hour away from bagging them.
“I’ll be home in two hours,” I say.
This makes my son cry even harder.
“I don’t want to go home,” he says. “I like it here!”
“Me, too!” pipes up Mackenzie, from beneath her fluffy white duvet.
That’s the spirit kids! Fly your I Love Florida flag!
My evening begins with sashimi at Morimoto’s Sushi Bar (of Iron Chef fame) before enjoying fine dining at Cielo by Angela Hartnett (Gordon Ramsay’s partner).
From the 27th floor, I enjoy lobster ravioli and Moroccan lamb shank. The place is packed, and I am riveted by the table of great grandmothers enjoying martinis. One of them is wearing my shirt, a cute black and white shift I got at Filene’s Basement. Note to Self: Retire rich, widowed, and with a posse cocktail cronies.
The following morning we hit the impressive breakfast buffet. I enjoy the wheat grass shooters and fresh fruit while Chase lords over a mango parfait, custom-cooked scrambled eggs and three mini croissants. Mackenzie, however, is not as impressed. She takes a bite of cheese and when it does not meet her satisfaction, she opens her mouth and simply allows the chewed piece to drop back on to the plate. I am horrified.
When Chase goes for a second box of Fruit Loops, the babysitter and I intervene. Look, I am a two-time Lifetime member of Weight Watchers, so I know that buffets are nothing short of perilous. Still, I am a Mom, and that means I have to set limits no matter how hard I personally find them.
This limit setting leads to a tantrum so spectacular that I am simultaneously paying the check and dragging my son out of the dining room. Things go from bad to worse, and our babysitter asks me to leave. Feeling humiliated, horrified and furious, I take Mackenzie back to the room.
I’m in the room, which is in another building altogether, and we can still hear Chase’s screeching. Mackenzie and I stand at the window looking in the general direction of the noise.
I watch as a couple enjoying a “relaxing breakfast” on the terrace stands up to see what the ruckus is. The ruckus of course is my out-of-control child.
“Uh, oh Mom,” says Mackenzie.
I consider jumping but remind myself that I am only on the second floor.
A half-hour later the episode is over, and I am sitting quietly with him on the couch.
“What was going on in that noggin of yours?” I ask him.
“I had a boo boo in my head,” he says. His eyes look weary and defeated. I realize that this is no fun for him either. This breaks my heart.
We spend the day at the pool. Mackenzie lurks by the stairs, making friends with the Jr. Bocahantases. Chase floats around the perimeter of the pool so blissfully that I wonder if he is part orca. But I’m still upset by the morning’s episode.
After a full day in the sun, we shower, get dressed up and take the shuttle bus over to the Cloister, which my kids call the “pink castle.” This original structure of the resort was built in 1926 by Addison Mizner, an eccentric who used to walk the grounds in silk pajamas with a parrot on one shoulder and a monkey on the other.
After we walk through the hidden gardens and throw pennies in the fountains, we head for dinner. Our destination is Serendipity 3, a satellite of the famous New York eatery where Marilyn Monroe used to show up in dark glasses, a trench coat and nothing else, and Andy Warhol used to trade his art work for meals.
We slide into a big orange booth and order up diner food, which we wash down with the signature drink, frrrozen hot chocolate, which is served in a goblet with four straws and a mountain of whipped cream. (True Story: Jacqueline Kennedy requested the recipe so that she could serve it in the White House.)
We’re too full to order dessert, so we must pass up the $1,000 dollar Golden Opulence Sundae, which is in the Guinness World Records Book as the most expensive sundae in the world.
Turns out this must be ordered 48 hours in advance. I’ll have to remember that for next time.
“Mom, can we come back?” asks Chase as we board the plane home.
“Yeah, I love Florida,” adds Mackenzie.
“Yes,” I tell my little Floridafiles. “Someday.”
Read Melina’s last blog: How to Look Good Fat