While my colleagues were flying back from partying in the sun at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival I was getting on a plane headed for one of Florida’s less hip cities: Boca Raton. I’d always associated Boca with over-sunned old ladies and never had much reason to tack the town onto my must-visit list. But I was going to attend the annual Personal Care Products Conference–a who’s who of the beauty, fragrance and skincare world–held the Boca Raton Resort & Club, which recently underwent a fab makeover from a stellar team of designers: Thierry Despont, Alexandra Champalimaud and Tony Chi.

While the weather in Boca was a letdown (windy and a chilly 40 degrees!) the food was an unexpected surprise. Last summer Gordon Ramsay partner and Michelin-star rated chef Angela Hartnett opened her first stateside restaurant, Cielo, on the 27th floor of the resort. The space, designed by Bentel and Bentel (the team responsible for the Modern), evokes Miami style with its onyx bar, illluminated glass floor and intimate, alcoved banquettes lined with furry white pillows. Hartnett’s Italian-influenced menu includes knockout dishes like a rustic, homemade tagliatelle Bolognese and risotto with quail two ways (pan roasted breast and confit). I found myself sneaking back late at night (despite my 4 a.m. wake-up call) for more of the addictive snacks on her tapas menu. Exquisite Parma ham, spicy chorizo and shrimp and perfectly fried Parmesan arancini were worth staying up for!