Turnberry Isle :
Turnberry Isle - Spacious “grande dame” Mediterranean living.
Recent luxury travel trends in South Florida have gravitated towards newly built condo-hotel extravaganzas and minimalist Deco retrofits. Few regional properties still resemble their original state. An exception is Aventura-developer Donald Sofer who in 1967 drew up on a cocktail napkin plans for turning 750 acres of North Miami Beach mangroves and swamps into a upscale town of stores, offices and residences. Today, hidden behind the renowned 300-store Aventura Mall, sprawls the 408-room Turnberry Isle Miami on 300 tropical acres with two Raymond Floyd designed golf courses, the elite Cañas Tennis Academy with four clay Hydocourts, a 25,000 sq. ft. Spa and fitness Center, Bourbon Steak, a Michael Mina restaurant, a 7,500 sq. ft. Laguna Pool with waterslide, lazy river and 18 private cabanas, Cascata Grill, a separate Beach Club overlooking the Atlantic ocean in nearby Sunny Isles, and a terrific 2.9 mile jogging trail that encircles the resort.
What is striking about Turnberry Isle Miami has been its ability to gracefully maintain the past while innovating behind its spacious “grande dame” Mediterranean facade. On arrival along their palm-lined driveway, after valet parking, a discreet reception area off the main entrance offers the tired traveler fresh fruit and a copy of the New York Times. Following registration, I walked past their main pool and massive banyan tree to my room (#1525) in the Jasmine Tower (also Hibiscus, Magnolia, and the newly renovated Orchid). French doors lead to a balcony overlooking the Miller golf course and a distant semi-circle of condos. My wide corner room displays a soothing butterscotch and taupe palette, plush wall-to-wall carpeting, a Phillips flat-screen (including bathroom mini-TV), high-speed internet, I-Home clock radio, an enormous marble twin-sink bathroom with separate toilet and bidet, a Jacuzzi-style bathtub and shower, Molton Brown toiletries, a nifty Keurig single serve brewer with Green Mountain coffee capsules, a mini-safe and an elegant wood closet with cabinetry. Guest services include: shuttle service to Aventura Mall and their Ocean Club, daily newspaper, golf bag storage, same-day laundry and pressing, babysitting, business center, in-room dining, and concierge.
Championship Golf - Pink Flamingos
Turnberry Isle Miami spoils its guest golfers with two lovely courses: Miller (north) and Sofer (south). In 2007, as part of a $150 million transformation, golf great Raymond Floyd raised their elevations, changed the contours of the fairways, added nearly $100,000 of tropical flora to each hole, and climaxed the Sofer’s last hole with the spectacular “Horseshoe Falls” adjacent to the island green. Designer Floyd, the 1976 Masters and 1986 U.S. Open champion, says: “Our goal was to provide a challenging and fair test to golfers of all skills and handicaps.” On the course’s deepest water hazard, Lake Julius, a “Flamingo Island” was built for the pink residents and their offspring. Floyd himself declares that the south course is for championship play since “the north’s greens don’t have as much undulation.” On the Sofer course watch out for #4 (parallel lagoon), #7 (tricky par-3), #11 (water and Australian pines), #14 (two-tiered green), and bring your camera on #18 for the “Horseshoe Falls”. Caddies are available during the winter season!
World CLass Dining
Food holds stage right at the resort. The 250-seat Bourbon Steak, a Michael Mina Restaurant, just off the hotel’s main entrance, is like a bold, brassy jazz riff echoing off the super comfy but staid hotel lobby and lounge. Mina, a James Beard award-winning chef with restaurants in Las Vegas (Stripsteak/Mandalay, American Fish/Aria, Bellagio), among others, has brought a sleek, dark contemporary look with designer Tony Chi’s glass-box entry, 12-foot ceilings, mirrored walls, and rows of glassed-in wine cases that handsomely support their extensive 7,000-bottle Wine Spectator awarded wine list. After some delicious duck fat fries (instead of bread) and dips, we started with big eye tuna sashimi, American wagyu beef tartare, and superb local “heirloom” tomatoes from Boynton Beach accented with burrata cheese, basil and banyuls, a French dessert wine. Prime cuts include a 32 oz. porterhouse ($89), a 24 oz. Kansas City strip ($79), a 12 oz. skirt steak ($29), and an 8 oz. Japanese wagyu (kobe) New York strip that goes for a mere $175. Other American classics provided are: Maine lobster pot pie, glazed beef short rib, truffled mac & cheese, and paprika dusted onion rings. For dessert try their beignets with the Macallan 18-year butterscotch pudding and a very decent “banana” tarte tatin. Prices aren’t cheap, but food, service and ambiance outmatch many comparable South Beach eateries.
Culinary Garden Tour
The next day I took a culinary garden tour with executive sous-chef Garette Gray next to the entrance to Laguna Pool. Jamaican-born chef Gray proudly pointed out his fresh tomatoes, capsicum, basil, mint, sage, rosemary, thyme, purslane, oregano, ....