From the moment it first opened its doors on New Year’s Eve 1930, The Surf Club in Miami has hosted history. It is an institution whose reputation looms large in the imagination of so many more people than can ever have visited it, let alone been members. When tire tycoon Harvey Firestone first had the idea of a new type of social club, on board his yacht the Marybelle, he could never have imagined how enduring the appeal would be of what he would soon create.
On this same 9-acre stretch of oceanfront in Surfside, Florida, located in the northern beaches of Miami, Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club today comprises 77 guestrooms, a selection of hotel residences, Le Sirenuse Restaurant and Champagne Bar, three pools, a pristine beach, and Spa and Wellness Center.
“The Surf Club’s success has always been determined by quality, passion and relaxed precision and that remains our priority today; being intuitive, exceeding our guests’ every expectation and creating memories that will last a lifetime,” says General Manager Reed Kandalaft.
The Mediterranean Revival building and beachside cabanas that made up The Surf Club were designed by Russell T. Pancoast. They formed elegant backdrops that would frame the beach and sea, and cradle the crowd from the outside world at the same time. It quickly became a magnet for members that crossed industry, culture and class. It was a home away from home for people who shared provenance, privilege and a preference for pleasure.
Archive photos show poolside fashion shows directed by Elizabeth Arden, Shah Mohamed Reza of Iran on the tennis court, his wife on water skis and Winston Churchill painting in his cabana. There was booze on the beach during prohibition, kayaks in the swimming pool, black tie boxing dinners and lavish themed galas, one time with elephants, another with 300 tables made of ice. It was a place of myth, legend and endless laughter. The names that rolled up were pioneers of the good life: Noel Coward, Douglas Fairbanks Jnr. and Elizabeth Taylor, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Frank Sinatra, Tennessee Williams, Joan Crawford, Liberace.
Some of today’s greatest creative minds were commissioned to write the next chapter of The Surf Club’s story. Pritzker-prize winning architect Richard Meier has designed three buildings that frame and flank the original clubhouse. They are an exercise in discrete classical modernism, simultaneously reflecting and disappearing into the changing sky, the beach and the sea.
Parisian interior architect Joseph Dirand has been tasked with designing the interiors of the public areas and bedrooms of the hotel, together with the cabanas. Renowned for his ability to bring atmosphere, rich narrative and quiet drama to life through space, materials, furniture and details, Dirand has created a series of rooms that evoke a sense of the past with a feeling of the present and a hint of the future. Five Cabana Studios are Dirand’s homage to The Surf Club’s unique cabana culture, situated on the original Cabana Row.
Le Sirenuse will open its first restaurant and champagne bar away from its famed Positano home on Italy’s Southern coast. Led by Chef de Cuisine Antonio Mermolia and restaurant General Manager Luciano Sportiello, Le Sirenuse Miami presents a menu that includes both classic dishes from the Positano resort’s Michelin-starred restaurant made with ingredients flown direct from Italy, as well as new dishes debuting at this location. Playing on shades of faded magnolia, beachcomber green and mahogany, Joseph Dirand’s design combined with the oceanfront view evokes the same spirit that has been enjoyed for generations at Le Sirenuse Positano.
At The Spa, a light dappled sanctuary designed by Joseph Dirand with crisp hues of white and blue, wellness services blend time-honoured traditions from around the globe with cutting edge technology and internationally acclaimed skin care lines to provide a completely tailor-made experience. The steam, sauna and showers, as well as the mixed traditional hammam, offer a perfect pre- and post-spa experience, while a tea lounge and relaxations room with private alcoves overlook the ocean and gardens. Eight treatment rooms are bright and airy, with two Spa Cabana Suites offering absolute privacy.
Also within The Surf Club’s historic building, artist Michele Oka Doner has created a large, site-specific installation that tells the story of The Surf Club’s legacy inspired by a wealth of source material from its past.
Outside, pool experiences include quiet and family options; and a future cabana pool to accompany 40 day-use cabanas featuring fully-air conditioned indoor furnished spaces with full bathrooms. On the pristine beach, guests can take part in an array of non-motorised water sports. Younger guests are also welcomed at the fully-supervised Kids for All Seasons studio.
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