Sunday, February 7, 2010
Historic Notes: The Duke and Dutchess of Windsor and The Colony
"The Duke and Duchess of Windsor ... enjoyed coming to Florida to visit their friends and enjoy a good Polo match. They would usually spend their stay as guests at friends’ homes, however one year, in the early 60’s, they decided to reside at the Colony Hotel.
"It was so funny, romantic elderly ladies would shyly inquire if they could sit in the Lobby, in the hope of catching a glimpse of the couple as they walked by. Discretely holding a magazine, they could eventually see a very assertive Wallis Simpson walking a few steps ahead of her husband, the former King of the British Empire.
"Wallis Simpson loved tuberoses. The Vice Regal penthouse, which was located on the top floor, was filled with such roses, and as you know, they have an appallingly pungent smell. When you opened the doors, their scent could positively knock you down. But she was a very friendly lady and except for a strong difference of opinion with the Chef, everything went on beautifully.
"In hindsight, the incident was quite amusing. In keeping up with the Colony Hotel’s reputation for it’s excellent cuisine, the Chef had prepared a delightfully tasteful menu. The guests of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were to enjoy not only the taste and appearance of the banquet, but also delight in its irresistible aroma. The Duchess had ideas of her own. She had decided to put a long arrangement of gardenias as the centerpiece of the table. Naturally gardenias and delicate gastronomical aromas do not match, so after long debates, it was decided that the gardenias, placed on a 3 level dais, would make a triumphant entrance in unison with the flaming jubilee dessert..."
- an interview with Jim Ponce, General Manager 1950 - 1968, The Colony Hotel, Palm Beach
Hostess's notes: In the preceding years, the Vice Regal suite was renamed in honor of these high profile guests and is now The Duke of Windsor Penthouse. The Colony, the more old guard of the Palm Beach hotels, has hosted literally hundreds of foreign dignitaries and celebrities, and in recent years, President Clinton and President Bush, 41. Aside from that, if you had a bit too much champagne the evening before, the Colony will serve you a lovely burger in the shade by the pool. Don't ask how I know things. I just do.