|By Doreen Hemlock, Sun Sentinel, Fort
Lauderdale, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
September 2, 2009 --The Omphoy Ocean Resort , the first new beachfront hotel on Palm Beach in 19 years, has opened for business, with introductory rates from $149 a night.
The 134-room hotel features Asian-inspired design, a restaurant led by celebrated Miami chef Michelle Bernstein, and a branch of New York-based Exhale Spa. It brings hip and youthful South Beach style to a destination often seen as patrician, said developers from the Obadon Hotel Group of West Palm Beach.
Developers planned the luxury Omphoy, at the site of the former Palm Beach Hilton, in 2006 when the economy was healthier.
But analysts say the resort should fare well once business improves next year -- if only it can hold out financially and meet loan payments until then. Boutique hotels are popular, Palm Beach commands premium prices, and the resort has no South Beach-style rivals in the neighborhood.
The Omphoy welcomed its first guests this past weekend, months behind schedule because of a "logistical issue," a spokeswoman said.
For the peak winter season, the hotel hopes for rates similar to luxury resorts nearby such as The Breakers, starting around $400 a night.
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