At the Gardens Mall in Palm Beach
The air is electric – and I’m not referring to the sporadic lightning storms that occur during a typical Florida summer. The brilliant flashes that light up the sky simply serve to bring more heart-pounding excitement to this international stage. It’s summer in Palm Beach, and here, the action doesn’t stop. It intensifies. Especially if you are a fashion diva.
Something for Everyone?
Yes. The Gardens Mall offers the high-octane glam of classics like Jimmy Choo, Louis Vitton, Kate Spade, Tiffany & Co., Salvatore Ferragamo and a delicious collection of similar shining stars, with Nordstrom’s, Saks 5th Avenue and such as anchors. The great news is that this mall also caters to those of us on more modest budgets, with everyday favorites such as Chico’s, Banana Republic, Macy’s, Gap and Baby Gap, Bed Bath & Body Works, and Claire’s.
I latched onto a store called H&M. At first glance, it seemed to cater to the 20-something demographic, with some fairly wild, youthful styles. I am decades from 20, but I found a “ton” of age-appropriate clothes to flatter my small, 5-foot, 100-pound frame. Stumbling into another heretofore personal unknown, Arden B., I picked up a most gorgeous pair of black and poppy heels with zipper accents… at 65% off.
As my husband and I reconnoitered the mall, we couldn’t help but notice that nearly every store had huge sales in progress. Visiting the Gardens Mall in the summer affords a great shopping advantage, no matter how high or low your budget may be. At this time of year, the stores are clearing out summer merchandise to make way for fresh fall fashions. Even Jimmy Choo. Score! Timing is everything.
The blend of luxury and affordable is just one of the elements that positions the Gardens Mall in a class without equal; “class” being the operative word. We found no kiosks hawking cheesy wares, no advertisements, and no sign of roped-off areas with cars for show or sale.
Giving Back to the Community
Instead, the pleasantly airy corridors are graced with museum-quality art pieces and, during our visit, the “Can Struction” exhibit… a series of seven sculptures created entirely of canned food donations to raise awareness about families who are in need of food so their children don’t go hungry this summer.
The exhibit is part of the Gardens Mall’s “25 Years of Giving” celebration, a campaign showcasing strategic partnerships with 25 of Palm Beach County’s leading philanthropic organizations. It runs throughout the year with a series of stylish fund-raising events, including fashion shows, cocktail parties, culinary events, and more. The Mall is additionally offering contests, surprises and giveaways for shoppers.
“Our corporate culture is to give back in as many ways as we can,” said Michele Jacobs, Corporate Director of Marketing and Operations for The Forbes Company, owner and manager of The Gardens Mall. We had the honor of chatting with Michele and her colleague, Wendy Yallaly, over lunch at BRIO Tuscan Grille.
Taking Care of Tourists
As the manager of Guest Services and Tourism, Wendy heads up the mall’s new customized tourism program. She arranges meet and greets, group tours, spouse programs, personalized shopping experiences, and private events upon request. She also provides an array of printed information and shopping incentives for individuals or groups, including the signature “Shop. Dine. Save.” booklet, filled with savings, gift with purchase, complimentary services, and special offerings at department stores, boutiques, national retailers, and cafés and restaurants.
BRIO Tuscan Grille was an excellent choice for our meeting, with its subdued lighting, elegant ambiance and sophisticated menu. We shared a selection of Brio’s housemade bruschettas, including Roasted Red Pepper and Fresh Mozzarella with fresh basil, Parmagiano-Reggiano and a balsamic drizzle; and Sliced Steak Bruschetta with gorgonzola dolce, arugula, charred tomato, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Tuscan Italian dressing.
I savored their lobster bisque with shrimp and a touch of sherry, along with the BRIO Chopped Salad. It was difficult to choose from so many tantalizing lunch selections. BRIO also serves dinner and brunch daily, provides catering, and rewards repeat diners with discounts through their MyBRIO Rewards program and app.
Foodies might also enjoy mixing it up with some other dining venues at the mall; California Pizza Kitchen, P.F. Chang’s and cafés at Bloomingdales, Macy’s and Nordstrom’s. The food court proffers quick but tasty food fixes at Chick-fil-A, Chipolte Mexican Grill, Starbucks and more.
Alas, our time had come to an end for basking in the glory of Gardens Fashion. We bid farewell to our new friends and made the five-minute drive back to our home away from home, the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Resort & Spa.
The Atlantic Ocean was surprisingly temperate and ideal for one last refreshing dip at the resort. Our beautifully appointed two-bedroom suite afforded a luxurious respite from the swarms of visitors who had come here, as we did, to soak up both tropical sun and incredible sales.
Same Time Next Year
It’s an easy three-hour drive back to Sarasota, and we leave Palm Beach rejuvenated, with great tans and entirely new wardrobes. We will tend to these Gardens again.
Feature story by Lisa Codianne Fowler
Photo Credits: Gardens Mall; BRIO; Palm Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, and Patrick Fowler Photography