Luxury Gets Real

A beach house for new-economy nouveau riche and nouveau poor alike.

New-economy nouveau riche and nouveau poor alike will appreciate a few days' rest at the Beach House Bal Harbour, in Surfside, Florida. Firmly rejecting both the chandeliered-lobby aesthetic of old-school luxury hotels (too much like stuffy country clubs) and the sensibility of hipper-than-thou spas (where most of us feel poorer, less attractive, and generally less fabulous than the other guests), 30-year-old hotelier Jennifer Rubell and interior designer Scott Sanders, 37, have hit upon an attitude-free version of the "great getaway." More like a friend's cottage on Nantucket, the Beach House — one of three Florida hotels owned by Rubell, her brother, and their parents — is all about relaxed pampering. The furnishings are comfortable and meant to be spilled on. The Pantry, a 24-hour snack shop, invites guests to come in anytime they need an ice-cream fix, or some Pepto-Bismol. "This place is designed for creative types who are accustomed to luxury but don't like the pretentiousness of it," explains Rubell, who learned a bit about the luxe life as a concierge at New York's Royalton, one of her late uncle Steve's creations. "Most people get a kick out of the good-night notes we leave in their rooms, or the label, say, on the shower-cap box [Classic Ugly Hotel Shower Cap]. It's all about being real, kind of unpolished, and intensely human."

Bonnie Schwartz (bonnie9878@aol.com) is a freelance writer based in New York. Visit the Beach House Bal Harbour on the Web (www.rubellhotels.com).

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