Celebrity Dining: Inside Miami’s Enviable Four Seasons Surf Club

Celebrity Dining: Inside Miami’s Enviable Four Seasons Surf Club

Celebrity Dining:

Beach at the Four Seasons Surf Club

Christian Horan

“Spectacular” is how the Surf Club was described by the Miami Herald even as far back as 1959. “The club itself makes no bones about what it is: an exclusive place to have FUN. There’s an aura of excitement about [it] – you never know what to expect next or which celebrity you may meet,” continued Betsy Buffington, then an effusive staff writer for the paper. 

An overnight success, The Surf Club opened at the northern end of Miami Beach on New Year’s Eve 1930. Founded and then owned by Harvey Firestone, of the tyre fame, the likes of Douglas Fairbanks Jr came to party alongside Gary Cooper and Elizabeth Taylor. Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner spent  their honeymoon here. Equally, there was no shortage of royalty and nobility, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Shah Mohamed Reza and Queen Soraya of Iran, all visited, as well as Henry Ford, John Harvey Kellogg and Winston Churchill, who used to paint from the beachside cabana he rented, basking in the promise of “sun, solitude, something to eat and perhaps something to drink”.

After a five-year overhaul, The Surf Club reopened in 2018 as the remarkable Four Seasons Surfside – part hotel, part condominiums and, of course,  still partially a private club. The original coral-stone clubhouse designed by Russell Pancoast remains intact, while a host of glorious photographs documenting former visiting habitués, royalty Hollywood and otherwise, line the hallway, known here as Peacock Alley. And Pritzker Prize-winning starchitect Richard Meier has brought the property into the 21st century with his host of newly appointed rooms. Marking a new era for the club.

Cabanas at Four Seasons Surf Club

Christian Horan

A marriage of old Florida glamour and modern luxury, the 12-storey tower rises out from what was the club’s courtyard and  marmalade-coloured tiled roof. The addition is home to 77 rooms, alongside a further 28 residences. Each room is entirely sublime, with every modern touch and material – marble, brass, golden wood and linen thread counts into the hundreds.  The subtle interiors were designed by Joseph Dirand, who previously was best-known for the fashionable boutiques he created, ranging from Balmain to Balenciaga, Chloé to Givenchy.  

Exterior at Four Seasons Surf Club

Christian Horan

Views are shown the respect they deserve courtesy of the floor-to-ceiling windows and glass balconies, which give off the impression one is floating above the cerulean sea. Inside each room there’s a remarkable interplay of textures ranging from the exquisite plaster moulding on the white walls, to the rattan coverings on the cupboard doors, to the pale green velvets and cottons interspersed throughout each room. Splurge if you can for an Oceanfront room or a city view stretching out across Biscayne Bay to mainland Miami, an ideal vantage from which to see the sunset. Each room is decked out with technology to the max, including a complimentary iPad giving guests access to over 200 newspapers, huge flatscreen TVs, and bronze spherical bluetooth speakers that can be connected to each guest’s phone. Although this property offers the ideal opportunity to mute the Taylor Swift and instead be serenaded by the lapping waves and ocean sounds. And for the ultimate decadence, the one bedroom suites are extraordry, feeling more like apartments, with their gargantuan kitchens, private elevators and clever floor plans.

Cabanas at Four Seasons Surf Club

Christian Horan

Part of the charm is the feeling of calm, as Surfside is away from the thrum of South Beach, located on a more secluded and uncrowded stretch of Miami Beach. With nine acres of its own private property, the Four Seasons makes the most of its surrounds, with the facilities including three swimming pools with cabanas – the same ones Churchill famously sketched and snoozed from – a white sandy beachfront, where sunbathers can order food and drinks and an impressive spa and wellness centre, robust enough to offer separate grassy lawns for outdoor yoga. 

The Surf Club Restaurant Lobster Thermidor

Deborah Jones

The Four Seasons may now be the most decorated hotel group the world over in terms of Michelin stars. And the Surf Club adds to that by including the impeccable Le Sirenuse restaurant, the first international offering from that of one-Michelin-starred Positano fame. With its palatial dark-wood ceiling, languorous potted plants and circling rooftop fans, it’s one of the most inviting bars and restaurants of any hotel the world over. Redolent of an earlier age, there’s an undefinable sense of glamorous and fun throughout. Service is beyond attentive at every bend, and the menu is a careening trip through Italian cuisine with a contemporary twist. Try the piquante tomato gazpacho with buffalo ricotta; the succulent beef tartare; the twice-cooked basil and cherry tomato risotto is celestial; and the rosemary-smoked filet mignon is hard to beat. To finish try a classic Italian hazelnut semifreddo cake or the Amalfi lemon. The restaurant also serves up a delightful Italianate breakfast each morning,  swap the expected avocado on toast for the baked eggs, mozzarella, tomato and basil. They’re divine. 

The Surf Club Restaurant by Thomas Keller

David Escalante

For an entirely different feel and cuisine, visit The Surf Club Restaurant by Thomas Keller. It’s the latest restaurant by the multi-Michelin-starred chef –  The French Laundry, Per Se, and Bouchon – and Keller is also named on The World’s 100 Best Restaurants list. Sultry and masculine, the wood-panelled dining room designed by Martin Brudnizki studios features accents of coral and blue, while hanging from the ceiling are a series of show-stopping art deco-era chandeliers. Leading the kitchen is chef de cuisine Manuel Echeverri, who previously worked at The Bazaar and Toscana Divino before joining Keller. The menu is split up into snacks, appetizers, seafood, pasta, and main plates. To start, try the table-side prepared caesar salad, roasted bone marrow and cyclopean crab cakes; while the sublime pasta options include classics like fettuccine alfredo and the braised beef lasagna. The large selection of steaks and sauces – say yes to the truffle butter and the red wine shallot sauce – round out the meal. And if you can’t finish- the restaurant will cleverly package your leftovers into a small box labelled “Midnight Snack” to take back to your room.

Lobby and Peacock Alley

Courtesy of The Four Seasons

Later in your stay and for extra relaxation, visit the discreet spa. Tucked into the back of the hotel, from its change rooms to the  relaxation pods to the hammam and sauna facilities, this is quite possibly the most exquisite spa in the world.  

An historical image from the orig