Tuesday, September 24 (right, Pam?)
15 miles (really)
Last full day at the Ranch. This is definitely one place that I don’t want to leave. I believe a week would be the perfect amount of time to spend here (unless, of course, you owned one of the units…). I feel like I am just now really into the rhythm of the place. Since I only had 5 days, I felt like I had to squeeze in as much as possible. It would be nice to play it a little more relaxed next time. Not complaining, just musing.
I really debated whether to take any classes at all today or to just sleep in a bit and then head to my next destination. I will be going to the Biltmore Hotel for one night only and want to make the most of it as well. However, if you know me then you know that I bit the bullet and sweated my way through a couple more classes.
Pre-breakfast of coffee and a vintage scone was enjoyed in my room whilst catching up on work (blog). I kept my eye out my window on the TRX station (next to the pool) and noticed when the instructor was setting it up. Off I went for one last torture session.
Today’s TRX instructor was Wally from Egypt. He is so buff that you can hardly stand to look at him. It helps that he is also very, very sweet. We have almost a full class this morning – 6 participants. TRX is outside and the time I did it previously the weather was good. It has actually been pretty dry here for my stay and has been extremely pleasant. That is not the case today. I knew when I looked out my windows and they were “sweating” that it was going to be very humid.
OMG – I don’t remember when I have sweated this much. During one point in class, I appointed myself the “towel runner” and went into the Ocean Studio to swipe towels for everyone. (actually, I just needed a break…) The class was grueling, but is only as tough as you make it. TRX allows everyone to work at their own level simply by where you place your feet/body in relation to the ropes. Fantastic workout.
After TRX I don’t even bother to change into my swimming suit to jump into the pool – I dive right in wearing my workout wear! Who cares? Nobody. Feels amazing.
After dragging myself up to my room, showering and changing clothes it is finally time for breakfast (10:30). As usual, I have the dining room to myself. Today’s breakfast is an omelet with mushrooms, spinach, onions, tomatoes and green peppers. It is accompanied by house made chicken sausage (great!) and roasted rosemary potatoes (even greater!). Fresh fruit and toast w/jams round out the meal along with my beloved Capuccino. I sit and relax for at least an hour and eat it ALL.
Ok. I have time for one more wierdo class I could have simply and eaily packed up and been happy, but I was dying to know what this class was about. – Ki Paz:
I don’t really know much about this hotel except that it was built in the 1920’s and has housed some very famous and infamous celebs. It is absolutely old school Florida. Gorgeous. Unbelievably beautiful.
Check in is smooth and I am given a Jr. Suite. There seems to be a snafu regarding upgrading so I decide to go ahead, check into my first room and have the front desk call me if there is an upgrade available. I also decide to self-park thereby saving a cool $25. I really appreciate it when hotels don’t force you to valet park. I like to have the choice.
Around every corner are such intricate details that I can’t stop snapping photos:
My room is very nice, thhowever, it is the view that sends it over the top. When the front desk phones me to tell me I can be upgraded to a Terrace Suite, but that the view is over the front of the property (instead of over the pool and golf course like mine) I decline. This view is worth sacrificing a few square feet.
As I look down at the pool and see that it is empty (in keeping with the theme of the “empty resort”) I know my next step. However, before heading to the pool I need to secure my dinner reservations for tonight. The signature restaurant – Palme D’Or – is supposed to be stellar. When I call to inquire about reservations for this evening, the gentleman on the phone is very accommodating. When he figures out that I want a table for one, he tells me not to worry that they will entertain me! Perfect – I can’t wait!
Time to get ready for dinner at Palme D’Or. It is kind of a fancy-schmancy place so I get as dolled up as possible. It is a bit early for my reservation and I had gotten wind that one of the lounges was having a Champagne of the Month Happy Hour – $6/glass. I have no problem finding the Cellar Lounge.
The Cellar Club is very masculine with leather and dark woods. A wonderfully talented jazz pianist is playing and there are several guests at the bar. I enjoy my glass of Champagne and chat with a very nice lady who lives nearby and belongs to the social club at the Biltmore. When 8pm rolls around I am ready for my table at the Palme.
The gentleman who greets me is the same one I spoke to one the phone. He immediately makes me feel welcome and shows me a lovely table already set for one. It is a great perch from which I can watch all the goings on in the dining room. This restaurant is certainly NOT empty!
From looking online, I know that the Palme has a very special tasting menu. My lovely server – Valeria – tells me that it is perfect and the portions are just right (not huge). She talks me through the courses and I make my selections.
I settle on the following: (you can read the descriptions above)
Chocolate Mousse with Salted Caramel and Popcorn Ice Cream (!)
There is also an optional wine pairing for every course. I know from experience that it will be way too much wine to even enjoy the food. Valeria sends over the sommelier to assist me. I tell Jose that I would like to have only 2 glasses of wine. Jose tells me he is perplexed because the courses I have chosen are so different. He suggests that I might need to have 3 glasses – Champagne with the Urchin and Foie, Pinot Noir with the Lobster and a Cabernet with the Oxtail. I suggest that I have Champagne carry me all the way through the Lobster and then have a glass of a big red with the Oxtail and dessert. He likes that suggestion and comes back with a bottle of Veuve Cliquot Rose Campagne and pours me a glass. Perfect.
The Urchin is outstanding and immediately reminds me of the first time I tried it at Les Halles in Lyon, France with Janel.
I am taking my time and enjoying every bite. The moment any plate is finished, it is whisked away by a stealth employee! People watching is good and I try to see what everyone else has ordered. Time for a change of wine – bring on the red.
I don’t know anything about this wine except that it is French and it is delicious!
Valeria was correct – the portion sizes are just right. I am satisfied, but not stuffed. Of course there is always space for chocolate. A pre-dessert of chocolate/raspberry parfait is presented first and then my Chocolate/Salted Caramel/Popcorn Ice Cream confection arrives.
I was informed that this was just put on the menu today. It is wonderful. The chocolate! The Caramel! And even the Popcorn Ice Cream is great! (Janel, I know you remember that horrible Popcorn Ice Cream we had in Spain…)
It has been a wonderful evening. The only way it could have been better is if Rich were here to share it with me. I hope the guys are doing great – can’t wait to see them tomorrow (after golf, of course)!