If money is cool, then hip can't be far behind for Palm Beach. The aptly named Worth Avenue is a cross between Miami's Shops at Bal Harbour and Lincoln Road, with virtually every luxe brand available. Off Worth are the "vias," cooler and more affordable, particularly Via Bice (where the excellent Italian chain sits). On the mainland, a new mall called CityPlace has great shops and restaurants in an outdoor setting. Across the street, the $60 million Kravis Center for the Performing Arts attests to the strength of the arts and entertainment community here.
A number of great hotels are in walking distance of Worth Avenue, including the Chesterfield, Brazilian Court and Heart of Palm Beach. A short drive away is the Breakers, perhaps Florida's pre-eminent hotel after a recent renovation and expansion. A building dedicated to family dining, child care and game rooms makes the sophisticated dining rooms in the main hotel that much more appealing for adults. And for those who want a little more privacy but crave elegance, the Four Seasons neighbors the manicured lawns of massive bay-to-ocean mansions, and the chef will charter a boat to obtain the preferred catch of the day.
Next stop for the fashionistas: sleepy south Siesta Key. For years Fandango's has been the key's only spot for dining and live music away from the Village. Now David Mitchell, who bought the restaurant this summer, plans to change it into a sleek lounge named blu1266. Mitchell, who grew up in the bar business, has transformed the new nightspot, with built-in couches nestled into the VIP space and a marble bar. The space's biggest achievement will be creating a club atmosphere while satisfying the stringent noise ordinances of Siesta Key. With its new VIP lounge opening in November, the throngs are moving over the bridge to dance and rave. 1266 Old Stickney Point Road, 346-1711.
If you've been willing to make the trek down Longboat Key for Tommy Klauber's innovative food and high-energy wine dinners at Pattigeorge's, here's good news. After years of requests, Tommy and wife Jaymie are taking their show on the road with the new Fete Boutique Catering. The couple promises to deliver hip, fun and affordable food with the same professionalism and attention to detail that have made another family operation-the Michael's On East catering business of Tommy's brother Michael and his partner Phil Mancini-so successful. Already Tommy's pan-world cuisine is turning up at private parties, intimate gatherings and full-blast events. Vegetarian-friendly choices, too. Contact Jaymie at 383-3884 (4120 Gulf of Mexico Drive) for more info or go to www.pattigeorges.com.
With three groups talking about building a new museum in Sarasota, the AIA Florida GulfCoast Chapter has scheduled a timely event: an exhibit of theoretical museum designs by local architects. Entitled NoBrakes2, it follows last year's residential design exhibit, NoBrakes. This one will focus on programming and conceptual design for a museum of contemporary art to be located on either of the two sites identified in the City of Sarasota's proposed Cultural District Master Plan. More than 20 architects and interns will participate in the exhibit, which will take place this spring in and around progressive art venues. For more information, call 362-9786 or visit www.aiafla-gulfcoast.org.
If Sarasota were Manhattan, then the young realtors would be our bond brokers. They work hard, play hard, and make way too much money for their age. Out in front is the newly minted Sky Realty, founded by ex-Michael Saunders realtors Brandyn Herbold and Chad Roffers, With their Blackberry-enabled phones, cool marketing, sexy office and matching Mercs, the pair and their staff are flying high. Sky targets young professionals and families who are trading up and want to be west of the Trail or near downtown. Their sweet spots are Laurel Park, Oyster Bay and Indian Beach, where they partner with developer Affinity Homes. The company had combined sales totaling more than $100 million in 2004, plus they just received local designation as the Sotheby's Realtor, which will make all of their listings Sotheby's listings. 1237 N. Gulfstream Ave., Suite B, 366-9777.
Sarasota may be wealthy, but it loves a bargain. You'll get that along with down-to-earth honesty and personalized service from Thomas Morgan, manager of Wine Warehouse. "Never Pay Retail Again" is the company's official mission statement, and Morgan never loses sight of that. Previously located in a deceptively unglamorous strip mall, the shop just moved into an expanded, new indoor/outdoor space next to the Phillippi Mansion off the South Trail. Morgan and his wife, Emily, keep customers in the know with newsletters and updates on the Wine Warehouse Web site on cool new wine events, including spring's annual Myakka State Park tasting under a full moon. Best of all, Morgan does private wine tasting for special events. 1919 Southwood St. (old Bavarian Bread building), 922-8216.
Thoroughly Modern Martie
The catalog of cool, Wallpaper Magazine, covered Sarasota and its architecture in its October issue of 2004. More importantly, the story documented the state of preservation among Sarasota modern architectural masterpieces. Behind the story was realtor Martie Lieberman, chair of the Sarasota Architectural Foundation. She's taking the message of preservation to the nation with her adept promotion of works for sale or at risk of demolition. As if coverage in Wallpaper and the New York Times weren't enough, Martie and co-chair Tom Luzier were recently honored at the state AIA convention for their work preserving architecture and educating the public. Visit www.modernsarasota.com for Martie's listings and the best driving tour of the moderns in town; or call her at 724-1118.