Manalapan is more than just the setting for the William Hurt/Kathleen Turner classicBody Heat. It is also the former residence of (in)famous boxing promoter Don King, as well as New Age music megaproducer Yanni! With credentials like these, I challenge anyone to resist the lure of Manalapan.
Admittedly, there isn’t all that much to Manalapan. The population of the town is just over 350 people, but its location in Palm Beach county makes it close to a lot of exciting South Florida action. On top of that, Manalapan is also the site of a Ritz-Carlton Resort – a resort that attracts people of all stripes, and has retained its Mobil 5-star and AAA 5-diamond ratings for quite an impressive amount of time.
The Ritz-Carlton Manalapan has exquisite interiors, decorated in an opulently baroque style. Ornate chandeliers shine onto rich wood furnishings, definitely giving the impression of the palace of a bygone era. The rooms and suites are all fantastic, but I think the best part about the resort is the restaurants and lounges included in the complex (as well as the entertainment provided in these establishments).
The Lobby Lounge is an exquisitely decorated locale that offers high tea and light meals during the day, and great drinks and expensive appetizers at night. The evening feature live music, either a small jazz combo or a single pianist, and the quality of these acts are generally above average (for hotel bar fare).
The Ritz-Carlton in Manalapan has quite a few offerings for fine or casual dining, depending on what you are feeling like. The Grill is my personal favorite, mainly because of it’s prodigious wine list, but also for dishes like their roasted veal tenderloin. Desserts are delicious and inventive, such as the bittersweet chocolate millefeuille, which is absolutely delicious. For a more casual dining experience, try Soleil, which has a fantastic view, though the food isn’t as good as the Grill.
Everyone at the Ritz-Carlton in Manalapan is knowledgeable and friendly, and the meals and drinks are quite reasonable. The reviews for the resort are definitely quite good, and it’s one of my favorite resorts in Florida (and the surrounding area).
While I was there, I enjoyed a walk along the gorgeous Mediterranean coastline, and I interviewed a few of the folks who were there to see my translator and me. One gentleman knew a lot about Manalapan, and explained a few things to me, which I am putting down here in this interview.
Manalapan is only a about an hour and a half’s drive north of Miami, and you can get there quickly by car. The Ritz-Carlton in Manalapan has a North Shore location, which is ideal for people who work in the nearby Ft. Lauderdale area (e.g., lots of Cuban and Mexican import shops, mango farms, etc.). The Manalapan Ritz-Carlton’s property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and between the late 1970’s and mid 1980’s, it was operated by a corporation licensed to practice a profession that included gambling. The license expired in August 1984, and the property was purchased by a new corporation in August 1985. Even though the gambling thing is long gone, the Ritz-Carlton in Manalapan has a new and very extensive 3,000 square foot spa facility on the top floor.
I interviewed one of the maintenance workers there, who has been working there virtually untaxed for close to 15 years. This fellow is retired, and whenever he feels like sitting down and chatting (for 60 minutes or so) about his life, he rarely has to move from his apartment. He seldom if ever has a dry cleaning service. The last time I checked, the guy was still there; he was just doing some light administrative work that the property manager didn’t schedule him for. The manager did tell me they were looking for a secretary, and maybe, a waitress. Those kinds of positions are great, because someone can look after the property, while the property manager has the office. If you want to work on the lawn, or in the beauty shop, or in the restaurant, or in the bank, or in any of the many other places that the Ritz-Carlton has to offer, you know where to find you.
So my friend says, “life is good” because he hasn’t had to make a lot of new friends.