The sleepy seaside village of Vero Beach has a secret. This Florida beach town, known for its year-round cultural arts scene, is home to another hidden jewel, a place where summer romance sizzles to a Latin beat.
Far from the bright lights of Miami, the luxurious Costa d'Este Beach Resort is nestled halfway between West Palm Beach and Merritt Island. The resort boasts elegant one-bedroom suites, a signature bar known for its mojitos and an infinity-edge swimming pool that disappears into the nearby crashing waves.
While this may be the first time you've heard of the resort, I'm certain you'll be familiar with its famous owners. Vero Beach has long been known for attracting creative types and artists, so it's no wonder superstar recording artist Gloria Estefan chose this seaside village to develop her $50 million luxury boutique resort. The international singer and her husband, Grammy Award-winning producer Emilio Estefan, opened Costa d'Este in 2008 and transformed it into a world-class hotel, worthy of its AAA Four-Diamond distinction.
"We chose to develop a resort here because we wanted to invest in Vero Beach and think it's a quiet beach community and is the perfect distance for a weekend getaway from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach and Orlando," the singer, who owns a home in Vero Beach, told TCPalm.com.
The Estefans discovered Vero Beach about 11 years ago and immediately fell in love with the community and the people. "Once we began spending time in our home we came to appreciate the many natural attractions in the area," Estefan said to TCPalm.com.
Almost 150 miles south in Miami Beach, the couple owns an authentic Cuban restaurant, Larios on the Beach, as well as the sophisticated and art deco-themed Cardozo Hotel on Ocean Drive. Each of their properties, including Costa d'Este, exudes the famous duo's Latin flair and lavish taste.
"The Costa d'Este is one of my favorite places to visit," said Lou Guida, former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles and retired Senior Vice President of Merrill Lynch. Guida travels with his family to the resort several times a year.
What does he love most about Costa d'Este? The laid-back atmosphere, personal touches and high level of comfort the resort provides for his entire family, he said.
"The friendly staff anticipates every detail of your vacation," he said. "One of the features everybody appreciates is the perfectly brewed complimentary coffee offered every day."
The resort can accommodate large groups for special events, weddings or corporate meetings. Lou's son, Mark Guida, resides in Vero Beach and planned a family and friends get-together at Costa d'Este.
"We had around 30 people come to the reunion and they had a spectacular time," the younger Guida said. "We enjoyed ourselves so much that many of us extended our stay."
Not only is the resort great for families because of its cozy boutique feel, it's also known for its elegant destination weddings and romantic ambiance. The Queen of Latin Pop designed the resort for guests who desire the perfect combination of tropical days and steamy nights.
With all this in mind, my husband and I set off for a couple's getaway to Costa d'Este. As the Entertainment & Luxury Insider for VISIT FLORIDA, I have had the opportunity to stay in some of the best resorts the Sunshine State has to offer, so I was excited to check out this jewel on Florida's Treasure Coast.
I was immediately impressed with the architecture of the resort – modern and chic with eye-catching geometrical designs and original artwork. It was clear to me the Estefans spared no expense on quality and attention to detail.
The rooms have smooth marble flooring and custom-designed furnishings. The limestone bathrooms are spacious and decked out with one of my favorite luxury amenities – rain showerheads. I easily could have kicked back with a good book in bed all day, pampered by tons of large fluffy pillows and Egyptian-cotton bed linens.
Instead, we pulled up a stool at the poolside bar and enjoyed complementary welcome mojitos, an amenity offered to every resort guest. It's always a good idea to start a relaxing getaway with a cold concoction of lime, sugar, mint and rum, and we found it was easy to get lost in the spectacular ocean view from the pool deck, the center of the resort's activity.
Like the Guida family, I was impressed with the friendliness of the staff. Seven days a week, Manager Ed Riley makes his rounds throughout the resort. He introduces himself to every guest and will stop at nothing to ensure that each detail of your stay exceeds expectations.
"He adds that personal touch that makes you feel welcome and important," Guida said. "If you have a special request tell Ed and he will make it happen."
We asked Ed for dinner recommendations. He suggested The Wave Kitchen and Wine Bar and went out of his way to book our reservation, and hostess Robin Miller seated us at the best table in the house. It was picture-perfect. We sipped wine and listened to live music underneath the light of a full moon.
I'll be honest; I'm not always impressed with hotel food, but this was not your average hotel dining experience. Chef Antonio designed a seasonal menu featuring fresh ceviche, traditional American fare and, of course, Cuban cuisine. After a mouth-watering three-course meal, the chef brought out an incredible trio of desserts on a slab of marble. Every detail of the evening was magical.
Oh, and did I mention the view? Words cannot describe it, so you'll have to check it out for yourself.
What: Costa d'Este Beach Resort
Where: 3244 Ocean Drive, Vero Beach
Cost: Room prices start at $195
Reservations: Book your vacation at Costa d'Este online at costadeste.com or call 877-562-9919.