Turnberry Isle Miami
Review by Ron Bernthal
Spending a weekend at Turnberry Isle was like stepping back 50 years in time, to a period in Miami’s history when several large, Mediterranean-style resorts welcomed northern families laden with a dozen suitcases, golf bags, wooden tennis rackets, and a nanny for the kids.
The entry driveway at this iconic resort is still lined with palm trees, the main building is still centered around the original, sprawling banyan tree, and part of the property’s 300 tropical acres include a chef’s garden filled with mango, pomegranate and avocado trees, as well as sweet smelling herbs like chocolate mint, oregano, Chinese chives and fennel.
When the resort was constructed in 1967 this region of north Miami Beach was mostly sand, mangrove trees and swampland, but today, with the proliferation of nearby condominiums and upscale shopping centers, Turnberry Isle is truly an oasis of calm and timelessness just 20 minutes from downtown Miami.
Upon arrival a valet driver swooped in to take my car, a porter grabbed my one, small bag, and staff at the front desk provided a room key, offered ice water and lemon, and escorted me to my room in the Magnolia Wing (there are four clusters of accommodations, including the Hibiscus, Orchid, and Jasmine Wings). My room on the 4th floor was spacious, with hardwood floors at the entrance and plush carpeting inside. A marble bathroom offered a a small, flat screen television and a third dual-lined telephone, separate bathtub and glass shower stall with a rainfall shower head. In the room was a flat screen TV, Keurig coffee system, free Wi-Fi, and a balcony that overlooked part of the Soffer golf course and the resort’s signature 18th-hole Island Green and 64-foot waterfall.
During my visit I had an opportunity to have dinner at Bourbon Steak, the resort’s fine dining venue, where noted chef and restaurateur Michael Mina has established a nicely designed steak house that is popular with guests as well as Miami residents. Famous for its American Wagyu and 40-day, dry-age steaks (which can cost as much as $90 per steak), my smaller 8-ounce filet mignon was tender and delicious.
Turnberry has 408 guest rooms, and enough activities to keep families or business groups busy without leaving the property. The Laguna pool is family-friendly, with a water slide and other kid attractions. My only disappointment of the weekend came at this pool, when I attempted to use the water slide in the morning, before I had to leave the property, only to find out that the slide wouldn’t open for another hour. Much like a six year-old, I was devastated. The Cascata pool is adults only, and remains quiet throughout the day. The two-story Spa and Fitness Center offers treatment rooms, sauna and steam facilities, and a large cardio fitness area. Although the resort is not on the ocean, a shuttle service transports guests a short distance to a private section of beachfront equipped with a seaside grill, beach chairs, cabanas, and other amenities.
Breakfast at Turnberry Isle is served in the Cascata Grille, a two-minute walk from the lobby and next to the Miller course, the resort’s second 18-hole professional golf course. This is a casual restaurant with a nice outdoor terrace, and serves lunch and dinner as well as a lovely buffet breakfast. One wall near the entrance is covered with dozens of framed, black and white photographs showing former guests, including Frank Sinatra, Andy Warhol, Sugar Ray Leonard, Princess Caroline, Joe DiMaggio, Muhammad Ali, and Bill Cosby.
Many of the 1960’s and 70’s- era celebrities in the photos are shown embracing Turnberry Isle founder Donald Soffer, who not only created the resort but the nearby Aventura Mall, and many of the residential and commercial buildings that now form the upscale suburb of Aventura. The Soffer family still owns the property, another sign that this historic and enduring south Florida resort will continue to provide a Miami vacation experience that exempflies the impeccable, service, glamour, and style that has almost disappeared from today’s resort properties.
Turnberry Isle Miami
19999 West Country Club Drive
Aventura, FL 33180