If you visit Palm Beach in March and April, a trip to the Palm Beach International Polo Club is a must. Polo matches are played there every Sunday, including a number of prestigious championships. You can reserve tables for brunch that serve an impressive gourmet buffet with over 80 selections, including everything from sushi to roast lamb. One of the top-drawer options for the event is a ticket to Veuve Clicquot’s Airstream Lounge which sits in its own VIP section and includes a bottle of the beautiful bubbly.
Our ride for the occasion was the incredible Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT Roadster, and of course we were accorded a VIP parking spot adjacent to the Veuve Clicquot Airstream, a gorgeous 1971 classic airstream refitted as a luxurious Champagne lounge. Luxury Swiss watchmaker Piaget, official timekeeper of the International Polo Club Palm Beach, was sponsoring the hotly contested Piaget USPA Gold Cup for the seventh consecutive year. This season the Valiente team, owned by mining mogul Robert P. Jornayvaz, III, edged out Audi to take on Alegria in the Gold Cup final, with Valiente triumphing in a fast-paced match, according to all accounts one of the most exciting of the year.
Valiente, led by star player Adolfo Cambiaso, was ahead 7 to 3 by half time but in the fifth chukker, Alegria went on a scoring rush and tied the game 9-9. Then in the final chukker with only two minutes to spare, Valiente returned to win the match 11 to 10. We enjoyed the gourmet goodies in the Veuve Clicquot section, washed down by a bottle of the famed Yellow Label bubbly, for the first half of the heart-pounding match. It was Lilly Pulitzer Day, which made for lots of extremely colorful outfits. We tried our best in bright yellow pants and a patchwork madras Ralph Lauren blazer in the spirit of Palm Beach style. An older gentleman in pink and green Lilly pants had us beat though.
At half time everyone tramped onto the field to help replace divots, and we crossed over to the member’s clubhouse. There you can get very affordable bleacher seats, while Polo Club members have private boxes above and their own exclusive lounge called the 7th Chukker decked out with rich dark wood and comfortable leather chairs. This is where true Palm Beach society spends its Sundays, with the wealthiest denizens keeping stables of ponies and fielding polo teams of their own. Outside was a phalanx of new Maseratis—the Italian marque also sponsors a tournament—as well as a few Ferraris and another SLS AMG.
On one of the club terraces the Gold Cup was being guarded, awaiting presentation to the winning team. While the Veuve Clicquot brunch was amazing, we preferred the view of the polo action from the member’s boxes. Of course there were plenty of bars dispensing Champagne and other libations everywhere. The Palm Beach International Polo Club offers diversion for members beyond the polo field. There’s a full spa and fitness center with an infinity pool as well as tennis courts, a croquet lawn and well-stocked polo library. Many well-heeled Palm Beach residents use it as a social hub in addition to its sporting facilities. We saw Nic Roldan, star player and Ralph Lauren model, a Palm Beach native, and Neil Hirsch, billionaire owner of the Black Watch polo team and co-founder of the Bridgehampton Polo Club, on the member’s side. They were getting plenty of admiring looks from a gaggle of women who’d obviously done their research.
At the prize-giving ceremony, everyone converged on a stage set up midfield. Cambiaso, one of the world’s top players, had his own fan club in attendance. There was lots of well-bred cheering as the gold cup was bestowed by Piaget North America president Larry Boland, looking appropriately preppy in blue blazer and pink tie, while the runners up received handsome bronze trophies as well. An after-party got underway in the spectator’s tent but we were all partied out after an afternoon of sunshine, Champagne (over 8,000 bottles are consumed each season), and high goal polo. Next year we plan to return, armed with some acid pop pink Lilly Pulitzer pants of our own.