Boca Raton Resort & Club

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The spirit of a dedicated employee still serves the resort’s guests.

The spirit of the founding owner is a jovial,
protective presence creating a welcoming aura.




The Boca Raton Resort and Club is truly a glorious resort, that rivals the hotels in Palm Beach. It is made up of four different hotels, and offers two golf courses, three swimming pools, nine restaurants, a private beach, and many planned activities for a variety of ages. Besides providing a grand place for special holidays, or for people to invest money in private memberships, the resort excels in taking care of its guests/members, anticipating the wants and desires of its guests, ensuring a loyal clientele.

The Resort started out as the grand dream of a talented architect by the name of Addison Mizner, who gained recognition in Florida and elsewhere for his beautiful homes/resorts for the well-to-do. He also designed churches and community centers.

In the 1920s, during the time of Florida’s land development era, Addison fell in love with the Boca Raton area, and was inspired to create the city of Boca Raton. To help draw the wealthy away from Palm Beach, he planned to build a large ritzy hotel right on the beach, to be called The Castillo del Rey. It was part of his plan to create “the world’s most architecturally beautiful playground” with miles of “paved and landscaped streets, golf courses, polo fields, elegant shopping vistas, and luxurious mansions for the crème de la crème of world society.”

Along with his brother, Addison formed The Mizner Land Development Company, which included such investors as T. Coleman du Pont, Elizabeth Arden, William K. and Harold Vanderbilt, Clarence H. Geist, Irving Berlin, the Duchess of Sutherland, and Paris Singe.

The Ritz-Carlton group was brought on board to run the Castillo del Ray, but more exacting standards were needed, so the planned resort hotel had to be redesigned. In 1925, Addison built a smaller, 100-room resort hotel on the west bank of Lake Boca Raton, calling it The Cloister Inn. Meanwhile financial worries due to conditions beyond his control were creeping in. Despite this, he pushed ahead constructing the homes, administration buildings, and miles of streets for the new city. In his Cloister Inn, he had furniture specially made in-house and put his own antiques in the public areas, to save money, and add his personal touch.

Built in the Mediterranean Revival style, with glorious decor and landscaping, complete with gardens and courtyards, The Cloister Inn opened on Christmas Eve of 1925, with a dinner party, hosted by Addison and his brother. Dinner guests and critics alike fell in love with his dream hotel. “The Cloister was simple to severity in its whole yet rich in delights.” Another critic asked: “What could make forms of wood, or stone, or stucco so beautiful that they trouble the imagination?”


Besides offering a gloriously beautiful hotel, Addison started the tradition of having a high standard of service, by anticipating the amenities and comforts of the hotel’s guests. All service employees were carefully picked and trained. They were given the title of associates, and given nice living quarters in one of Addison’s housing developments, called Old Floresta.

One such employee, who was outstanding in her service to the guests and was close like a mother to Addison, was Esmeralda, who was loved by guests and deeply appreciated by Addison himself. Sometime in 1926, she suffered a fatal accident at her home in Old Floresta. She fell asleep, sitting up in her rocker before she had turned off the fire in her stove. The wind blew the curtains onto the stove and started a fire. She died before she woke up.

In 1927 the real estate bubble burst in Florida, causing a depression. Addison was forced to sell The Cloister Inn via auction to utility millionaire Clarence H Geist, who embraced Addison’s vision of a high quality resort hotel. Geist built upon Addison’s efforts, doubling the size of The Cloister Inn and constructing the Cabana Club, which was used as officer’s quarters during World War 2.

Through the years, owners of this resort built on Addison’s plans, adding their own improvements, and always keeping service to guests as a priority.

The Schine family, owners of the Biltmore and McAllister hotels, purchased the hotel in 1944, renaming it the Boca Hotel and Club.

Arthur Vining Davis and his Arvida Corp. modernized The Cloister Hotel, and built The Boca Raton Club Tower in 1969. At 300 feet tall, it has 27 floors, and is painted a lovely pink color. In 1980, Davis and his Arvida Corporation built the resort’s large Beach Club Hotel on the prime oceanfront property, on the same spot Addison had planned to build Castillo del Ray.

In 1983 the hotel resort was bought by VMS Realty.

In 2006, The Cloister and the Boca Raton Club Tower rooms got a face lift. In February, 2009, Davis’ Beach Club Hotel celebrated the completion of a 120 million dollar renovation, just in time for its sale to the Waldorf Astoria Collection Corp.



The hauntings take place in the oldest part of the resort, Addison’s Cloister Hotel.

Esmerelda died suddenly in an accidental fire, long before she was ready to leave this world. She was a dedicated employee, who lived to take care of the guests and Addison. She loved her job, found fulfillment in her service and didn’t want to cross over just yet. People who have unexpected deaths, or die with unfinished desires or work to do, aren’t ready to move to the other side, and often choose to stay and continue with their favorite work or activity.

Addison was the owner of his beloved resort inn for a very short time, before it was sold in an auction. He must be euphorically happy, in that his dream resort has expanded in size, and kept the original architecture of his special Cloister Inn. The larger hotel on the beach front property that he’d planned has been built, and most importantly, the current owners have kept up the tradition of anticipating the wants and needs of guests, and continue to offer top-notch service and activities for everyone.

In other stories on, former residents and owners of homes and businesses are happily spending their afterlives in their favorite places on earth.



The Entity Addison

His jovial, friendly presence has been noticed walking down the hallways, dressed in his blue silk pajamas, carrying either a monkey or a parrot.

His caring presence has been given credit for keeping away unpleasant entities. The welcoming aura of this building in fact is attributed to his spirit.

Addison is sometimes spotted by the living, looking out to sea from the jetty across the Boca Baton inlet. Perhaps he is still a little disappointed that his plans for the large resort hotel weren’t used.

The Entity Esmerelda

Fondly thought of by staff and guests, considered by many to be the mascot of the Boca Raton Resort.

She has been given the credit when guests find freshly cut flowers that have been mysteriously brought to their rooms

Her unseen presence is noticed via the scent of roses and a cool, comforting breeze which suddenly fills the hallways, lobby and museum area of Addison’s artifacts.

Her milky apparition has been seen walking down the hallways.


Probably so, according to eyewitness accounts of guests and staff, though I couldn’t find any hard evidence published online by paranormal investigation groups. I don’t think this resort would allow such an investigation, as the entities here are friendly, and part of the family. They are protective of their guests and members, and probably of their ghosts as well. If they did allow an investigation, they probably wouldn’t give permission for public disclosure.




501 East Camino Real
Boca Raton, Florida 33432
(561) 447-3000

The Boca Raton Resort and Club can be found on East Camino Real, between South 3rd Street and Royal Palm Way, a main drag through the posh areas of Boca Raton. East Camino Real is off of South Federal Hwy (route 1) and runs through an expensive neighborhood that surrounds the resort. The resort’s large Beach Club Hotel, with its three swimming pools and private beach, is just down the hill, close to the beach, on prime ocean front property. The tower and Yacht Club are also along the beach.


  • Florida’s Ghostly Legends and Haunted Folklore, Vol. 1: South and Central Florida
    by Greg Jenkins
    Pineapple Press, Inc. – 2005
  • Boca Raton Resort Wikipedia page
  • Boca Raton History Museum home page

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Haunts in Florida