Conversations in (Pink) Paradise with Sarah Wetenhall

It’s not every day that you get to sit down with the mastermind behind one of the most iconic and successful institutions in your community.

This month, we’re giving you guys a real treat.

 We’re thrilled to share an exclusive interview with Sarah Wetenhall, President and Co-Owner of The Colony Hotel, aka The Pink Paradise.

Sarah and her husband Andrew have breathed new life into the hotel since their takeover just six short years ago, and with that, supported a Palm Beach revival at large.

But don’t take our word for it – Just last year, Wetenhall was named one of Hotels Magazine’s top 10 independent hoteliers globally in the Lifestyle Operator category.

Locals, seasonal residents, and tourists alike flock to the iconic destination to experience the magic and charm The Colony provides – that perfect balance of, “One foot in the sand, one foot on Worth Avenue”.

Cocktails and live music by the pool are a weekend highlight; dinner at Swifty’s is a must.

Monday night trivia? You’ll find us there!

Outside of the regulars, you’re sure to have noticed an impressive roster of designers and brands throwing events, shooting campaigns, hosting dinners…Ferragamo, Gucci and Valentino, to name a few.

And though when asked how she creates that magic, Sarah will humbly tell you that, “The magic was there all along – it was just about finding a way to bottle it and present it,” – We think she deserves a lot more credit than that.

So we’re here today to celebrate the female leader, her successes, and the exciting developments on the horizon for The Pink Paradise.

Delightful and insightful, without further ado – our conversation with Sarah.

To re-establish a historic venue takes decades of know-how in the hospitality industry, right?

Not if you’re using Sarah Wetenhall as an example.

Her experience, far from the world of concierge, valet, and room service, sits instead in a deep-rooted fashion marketing background. 

She describes taking on the endeavor as “very much blind, with a lot of hopes and dreams but very few expectations”.

Though certainly a career leap, the decision was driven from a place of longstanding admiration, experience, and more than anything, family ties.

Previously owned (and lived in) by her father-in-law, Sarah and her husband have been vacationing together at The Colony since the 90s.

Once the two settled down to start a family, the Palm Beach ties only grew stronger.

“It’s in our family’s lifeblood,” shared Sarah.

“Palm Beach has very much been part of our family’s story,” she continued. “The Colony is where my children spent every Christmas, every Easter, every family milestone and holiday.”

“It’s luxury, fine dining and shopping, all steps from one the most beautiful beaches in the entire country,” she added.

 When the opportunity presented itself, it took just a few brief words of wisdom from her father-in-law to convince them to make the leap:

“The best years of my life were the years that I was at the helm of The Colony – and if you can make this happen, it will change your lives”, Sarah recalls him sharing.

“I feel like the project picked us,” she quipped. “We were fated to do this.”

With a racked-up list of what Wetenhall describes fondly as, “If Only’s”, from her time as a guest at The Colony (“If only we could have cocktails by the pool! If only a buggy would take me to the beach!”) she quickly got to work enacting change.

Sarah credits much of the establishment’s success to its pre-existing foundation; though the work she has done over the past few years is hard to overlook.

“There’s this sense of legacy, this sense of history you get when you walk through the doors of The Colony,” she said.

“We didn’t want to touch that feeling of, almost passing through time. It feels like a very special place, and that we felt was sacrosanct,” she added.

 One of her first undertakings was getting the property landmarked to solidify the historical significance and what Sarah describes as Palm Beach’s “whimsical ethos”.

Her next focus was creating a hospitality experience that was singular and unique on the island of Palm Beach.

“Right away, we set out to evolve the level of hospitality offered,” Sarah explained.

“What we envisioned for The Colony was a very high-touch, very personal level of luxury that you wouldn’t be able to find at other hotels on the island.”

 As one of the largest employers on Palm Beach, and a female leader in hospitality- a true rarity- the responsibility is not lost on Sarah. 

“One of my more important roles is being a local business owner in a small town. At the end of the day, we’re operating in a community – and there’s a responsibility that comes with that. I take that very seriously,” she shared.

“Almost as important as owning The Colony itself is recognizing the role of The Colony in the community,” she added.

 So what’s next on the list of milestones?

Well, that happens to be the grand finale of this article and we are so excited to share more.

The Kemble Interiors team, who also worked on The Living Room, ballroom and pool projects at The Colony, will be once again joining Sarah for a historic renovation of the guestrooms.

As you might have heard, The Colony will be closed thru the end of September – but we promise, it will be well worth the wait!

Sarah expects the rooms to be, “the epitome of Palm Beach style: luxurious, whimsical and doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Led by Mimi McMakin, expect a lot of color, playful unexpected elements and nods to the great Floridian outdoors.

“We’re taking that Palm Beach aesthetic and boiling it down to the most essential elements. That’s where Mimi and her team are just fabulous – and fun, too!”

With plans and partnerships still very much in the works, we’ve got to keep some things under wraps. But stay tuned for more in the months to come!

We may be leaving you with a cliffhanger on those details – but as a consolation, we’ll leave you with some perfectly inspirational words from Sarah.

“I’m the mother of two young daughters. So when I think about being a female business owner, particularly in the hospitality industry, largely dominated by men, I think a lot about the legacy I leave and the example I give to them.

“This for me was the ultimate career pivot…after retiring for a decade and raising my babies, I dove back in.

Change is good, and if you want to make a change in your life – by gosh, do it!”

 Words we can truly get behind.

Get ready for your return to The Colony at 155 Hammon Ave, Palm Beach, FL 33480; visit them online for details at

Written by TSG Contributing Editor, Kate Rowan
Photos provided by Nick Mele Photography and The Colony Palm Beach