With back to school right around the corner, there’s no better place to fit in some family time than at Fisher Island Club. Relax and indulge at the former Vanderbilt property that now serves as a landmark centerpiece of a sprawling and secure 45-room boutique hotel dotted with the charming villas and cottages perfect for families.
Named after Miami Beach founder, Carl Fisher, the island was once the home of William K. Vanderbilt II, when he traded his coveted 250-foot luxury yacht for Fisher Island. Today’s Fisher Island is equally exclusive and represents one of the wealthiest zip codes in the nation. Accessible only by auto-ferry or yacht, the private residential island community is set against views of the Atlantic Ocean, the iconic Miami skyline, and is located off-shore, just minutes from the U.S. mainland and South Miami Beach.
And with the near-completion of a $60 million island-wide restoration underway, there is no better time to explore this iconic landmark that consistently meets the demanding standards of today’s discriminating families. I checked out the exclusive property and found it ideal for our haute families, especially those requiring top notch security. With 216 acres of private beach, a 9-hole professional golf course, tennis center, marina, seven dining options, over 4,000 square feet of meetings space and a full-service spa, parents, kids, grandparents, aunts and uncles will love this exclusive resort. Here are the aspects of the island that stood out to me.
Hotel & Resort
Fisher Island offers a variety of accommodation options for families. The hotel’s cottages, villas and suites have been fully renovated, with the selection of new interiors, finishes and furnishings, lush outdoor landscaping, and a redesigned hotel porte-cochere arrival – all intended to pay homage to the historic Vanderbilt architectural character throughout the island. But for those seeking the best of the best, this famed, luxury boutique hotels offers an exquisite, 2,050 square foot three-bedroom ocean view residence. I visited the property with my friend who often commented the villas would make for a perfect honeymoon suite. And the best feature: individual golf carts provided for transportation around the island.
The Links at Fisher Island
It’s not every day you get to tee off and see the Miami skyline. Upgrades to Fisher Island’s nine hole, par 35 championship golf course include new paspalum supreme grass, laser-leveled tees, new cart paths and rebuilt bunkers. All renovations to “The Links at Fisher Island,” which has hosted several nationally televised PGA and Senior PGA shoot-outs, were supervised by the course’s original designer, P.B. Dye. Its 10,000 square-foot Golf Clubhouse, signature restaurant “The Grill,” pro shop and locker rooms have also been redesigned.
The Tennis Center
Time to get your Anna Kournikova on. Often used by visiting pros for pre-tournament practice, Fisher Island has restored its Racquet Club and 18 grass, Har-Tru clay and hard courts with an upgraded hydrogrid watering system, new landscaping and modern outdoor furnishings that include a courtyard fountain, and improved lighting for night play. The Tennis Center also features a refurbished center court where tournaments are staged, plus a terrace snack bar and redesigned pro-shop. The tennis center also provides a boardroom meeting facility, which has been newly updated and fitted with new furnishings and state-of-the-art technologies.
Eight dining options range from the casual to the elegant at the resort. Sunset Bar is located on the beach and serves a wide selection of fine wines and premium drinks. Café Porto Cervo serves Italian and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine (I recommend the scallops) and La Trattoria features casual Italian dining. The Garwood Lounge’s intimate piano bar is located within the historical 1920s-era Vanderbilt Mansion and the Courtyard Café features tapas style dining under the Island’s famous Banyan Tree.
Situated along a private beach in the Mansion Courtyard, the island’s new private beach club provides hotel guests with pool and beach facilities, lounge areas and cabanas. It also offers casual, indoor and outdoor dining inspired by creative Floridian cuisine. I enjoyed brunch at the Beach Club and recommend the French Toast (thick cut challah bread batter dipped and grilled with whipped butter, warm maple syrup and strawberries or blueberries) or the High Protein Mixed Grill (two organic eggs, petite filet mignon, apply wood smoked bacon, turkey or pork sausage and grilled tomato).
Upgrades to Fisher Island’s private marina include two deep-water, surge-proof marinas that provide 131 slips and accommodates vessels up to 250 feet and offer complete electrical, cable television, and phone connectivity, including new Brazilian Ipe hardwood decking and new power pedestals protected by weather-proof covers. The entire electrical infrastructure has also been inspected and rebuilt to ensure a safer and more secure facility.
No crowded beach here. Fisher Island boasts a mile and a half of private beach, with authentic Bahamian sand. “Blending a celebrated storybook history, with unparalleled privacy, relaxation and easy access to the South Beach scene, Fisher Island offers a superlative vacation experience to those who want the exclusivity and access without the crowds,” stated Larry Brown, CEO of Fisher Island Club.
I have to admit, I’m sort of obsessed with wedding venues these days. Set against sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and the iconic Miami skyline, Fisher Island Hotel & Resort is the ideal location for the couple who dreams of a luxurious wedding at an exclusive destination. Guests are transported to another era as they enter the historic 1920′s Mediterranean-style Vanderbilt Mansion, which provides a unique and picturesque location for ceremonies and receptions. The bride and groom can exchange vows beneath the Mansion courtyard’s famous towering banyan tree for an unforgettable, romantic experience, while the 2,250 square-foot ballroom provides ample space for dining and dancing.
Overall, I found the historic Fisher Island Club to be a top pick for discriminating families to rejuvenate, relax and play. The island is isolated from the world, making it one of Miami’s best kept secrets and ideal for families requiring security of the highest degree. According to Hotel Director David Smiley, because the resort and its accommodations lend itself to families and affluent travelers, generations of families continually turn to Fisher Island. Personalization is key here, with staff making a point to know guests by first name. “It’s reassuring to see family values are still here,” said Smiley. “There are a lot of tightly-knit parents and kids here.”
Fisher Island Club is located at One Fisher Island Drive, Fisher Island; For reservations call 800.537.3708 and visit www.fisherislandclub.com for more information.