Is Windsor the Most Un-Florida Place in Florida?

James Reginato, Town & Country, January 21, 2023

A hidden village near Palm Beach is a study in quiet elegance, boasting views of the Atlantic, a clubhouse by Alessandra Branca and a world-class polo field where Prince Charles once played.


About 90 minutes north of Palm Beach there is a sight that is rare in the state of Florida: an idyllic oasis safe from anything remotely flashy or tacky. There are few cars or cryptocrats, if any. There is only Windsor, a secluded village in Vero Beach cradled by a barrier island along the Atlantic coast.


Some 30 years ago a Canadian couple named Hilary and W. Galen Weston touched down on this spot, where subtropical and tropical climates collide, and acquired 472 acres of land.


Over the decades Hilary (who was born in Ireland and was once lieutenant governor of Ontario) and Galen (who spent decades steering the family food business, George Weston Limited, one of Canada’s largest conglomerates) commissioned a dream team of architects and designers to build a seaside Xanadu from the ground up. Drawing on design vernaculars from the South Carolina Lowcountry and the British West Indies, where houses feature large porches and courtyards, they fashioned an aesthetic they called Anglo-Caribbean. (Galen died in 2021.)


The tone was set by the casual yet elegant style of Windsor’s Beach Club, which was created by Jaquelin T. Robertson, a patrician Virginian who served as dean of the University of Virginia School of Architecture, and Naomi Leff, who is responsible for the influential interiors of Ralph Lauren’s flagship store on Madison Avenue. As with all good things, however, there comes a time to refresh.


Shortly before the pandemic, Hilary invited the Italian designer Alessandra Branca to reimagine the space, which, like most things at Windsor, had been oriented toward the community’s world class polo field, where Galen and his son played with the likes of Prince Charles, and its 18-hole, links-style championship golf course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.


In consultation with Hilary, a serious arts patron who has raised millions for the Royal Ontario Museum, Branca also brightened up the club with a collection of contemporary works by artists including Damien Hirst, Beatriz Milhazes, and Christopher Le Brun; there’seven a 2021 video installation in the lounge by the American multimediaartist Allison Janae Hamilton, whose work often examines the natural environment. “It was a real collaboration,” Branca says of working with Hilary.