Fisher Island Club and Hotel

Review of Fisher Island Club and Hotel review by Varun Sharma

Situated on what was once the private winter estate of the Vanderbilt family, Fisher Island Club Hotel & Resort offers 15 luxurious cottages, villas and suites built close to the original Vanderbilt Mansion, a private hideaway around 30 minutes from Miami Beach.

Facilities are as extensive as you might imagine for a former Vanderbilt bolt hole and contemporary luxury enclave - a private full-service beach club and sandy beach; an award-winning P B Dye championship golf course; a theatre, world-class tennis facilities; a spacious spa and wellness facility with a fitness centre and beauty salon; two deep-water marinas; six restaurants, lounges and bars; a helipad; a full-service observatory and an aviary.

Miami offers two of the finest luxury ultra-boutique hotels in the USA – one being Fisher Island Club Hotel & Resort and the other, the ten suite Villa Casa Casuarina at the former Versace Mansion (review to follow).

Fisher Island Club is featured on the list of The Best Luxury Hotels In Miami

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Fisher Island Club Hotel & Resort is situated within an affluent residential community on the private 216-acre (80-hectare) Fisher Island, a private island oasis just south of South Beach off the Miami coastline.

As there are no bridges or causeways connecting Fisher Island to the mainland, the island is only accessible by yacht or private 24-hour passenger vehicle ferry service which departs from Terminal Island Road just off Miami Beach’s MacArthur Causeway. To board the ferry, hotel guests require pre-arranged security clearance, guaranteeing securing and exclusivity.

A fleet of four ferry boats services the island 24/7. The ferry transfer takes around seven minutes in duration and ferries leave every 10 - 15 minutes.

Miami International Airport is 19 kilometres (12 miles away) with a drive time to the resort of about 20 minutes. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is 56 kilometres (35 miles) away. The Port of Miami is just five minutes away.

Helicopter transfers are easily arranged through the hotel reception desk.



Fisher Island Club Hotel & Resort was built around the original 1925 Vanderbilt mansion with the clustered white cottages having the feel of a Mediterranean village with views over either the gardens or Biscayne Bay. Guests are allocated a golf buggy to travel around the island and explore.

The elegant accommodation includes six courtyard villas, three cottages and one-, two- and three-bedroom suites. Accessible suites are also available. Each guest room includes minibar, flat screen televisions with cable and DVD players, safes that are big enough for laptops, iPhone docks and luxury amenities. Most stylish of all, there is a Champagne greeting at check-in.

The Guesthouse suites have a contemporary theme mixing both modern and traditional styles with neutral tones highlighted with blue tones. The Italian Frette bedlinens, the pillow menu, limestone floors, rugs and fabrics combine to offer a very comfortable, luxurious feel. The Courtyard Villas by way of contrast offer a more private space with a private courtyard with lush, tropical landscaping, sun loungers and a hot tub. 

The historic and award-winning 1930s-era cottages have a charm all to themselves – classic, old-world style with every modern comfort and private walled landscaped gardens with a private jacuzzi. The Vanderbilt South and North cottages both have two bedrooms, with the latter offering slightly more space. Each offers a spacious living area, a kitchenette and luxurious marble bathrooms. Rosemary’s Cottage, built and named for the Vanderbilt’s daughter, features three bedrooms and bathrooms with a spacious living area and a kitchenette.

Service & Facilities


Fisher Island Club Hotel & Resort is renowned for the scale of the facilities it offers its guests.

For lovers of the racket, Fisher Island’s Racquet Club features 17 floodlit tennis courts (two grass, three Deco Cushion hard, five European red clay and seven Har-Tru clay) plus four pickleball courts. (Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in America. It is a high-energy paddleball sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis.)

Lessons at the Racquet Club are available daily for those wishing to refine their tennis and pickleball skills. Clinics are also offered alongside children’s programmes and holiday camps throughout the year. There is also a Pro Shop.

For golfers, the Links Golf Course is a P B Dye-designed nine-hole, 2,835 metre / 3,100 yard long, par-35 course which was designed to create the most memorable time on the links. Each hole is distinctive and several play around sculpted bunkers or over lagoons and lakes. One of the most memorable is the 357-metre/390-yard, par-four seventh that plays along Miami’s shipping channel where yachts and cruise ships sail. The Club offers a range of golf instruction with the focus being on player development, a practice range, short game area, and Club House along with a Golf Shop.

The Beach Club enjoys stunning views, sugar white sand and glistening waters with shade provided by the airy, elegant seaside pavilions along a long stretch of private beach. The beach – Florida’s only private powdery, white sand beach - enjoys butler service along with a restaurant, bar, sun loungers and parasols. The original saltwater Vanderbilt Mansion pool enjoys a view of the beach beyond and a collection of mega-yachts at the marina.

Fisher Island Club’s contemporary Spa Internazionale is a spacious full-service spa and wellness centre sited close to the Vanderbilt Mansion and accessible only to hotel guests and the residents of Fisher Island. The Fitness Centre has top of the range equipment, exercise classes, a spin studio and an indoor lap pool with aqua classes. There are also whirlpools, sauna and steam rooms. The Salone di Bellezza beauty salon meanwhile offers a full range of services from hairdressing to makeup, facials to mani-pedis – everything you need to look your best from top to toe.

There are two state-of-the-art marinas offering over 100 boat slips, normally full of multi-million-dollar vessels, as well as one of the few existing deep-water marinas in Miami which can accommodate yachts over 250 feet long.

The Vanderbilt Theatre is a venue for every type of entertainment and is the centre of activity at the Club. This state-of-the-art venue, which hosts an annual Fisher Island Music Festival amongst other high-profile events, is a 177 square metre (1,900 square foot) cinema, performance and event space with plush seating and a retractable stage.

The Fisher Island Aviary is a unique bird enclosure that is home to over 15 exotic birds. Tropical birds were a passion of Vanderbilt who stocked Fisher Island with a vibrant array of elegant birds and the spirit of this vision continues on today. There are cockatoos, cockatiels, macaws, Amazons and conures, many of whom interact with their visitors. Some come in need of help and are rescued, adopted and rehabilitated into this safe haven. Outside the aviary, the island is home to peacocks, egrets, ducks, falcons, geese, herons, ibis and hawks.

The Victor Arsidi Observatory, completed in 1990, is a custom-made Ash Dome with a range of professional level telescopes for a complete view of the planets and deep sky objects such as galaxies, nebulas and double stars. It is one of the only facilities of its kind at a resort in North America and is in operation from November to March.

The Cove Club offers a wonderful children’s programme within a dedicated space for those aged from four to twelve to enjoy hands-on, artistically enriching and stimulating programmes.



It is said that William K Vanderbilt II traded his 265-foot yacht and US$1 for seven acres on Fisher Island in 1927, thus starting his association with the island. By 1936, architect Maurice Fatio had designed an elegant Mediterranean-style winter estate for the family, the bones of which form the centrepiece for the hotel today.

Fisher Island started as a private escape for a wealthy family which has been restored, expanded and enhanced to form today’s private island estate, thus retaining a piece of Miami’s illustrious history and reinterpreting it for today’s affluent clientele. It reopened as Fisher Island Club, a member’s only residential community with one of the wealthiest zip codes in the US. The key to its success - then as always -  privacy and exclusivity.

Restaurants & Bars


The wide range of restaurants and bars will offer something for everyone from jazz-age lounges to modern Mediterranean-inspired spaces.

For relaxed breakfast and lunches, The Beach Club is the perfect fit serving casual fare with a hint of Mediterranean chic. Come sunset, the beach-side Sunset Bar is perfect for cocktails, fine wines and premium drinks.

Porto Cervo offers a delightful Italian culinary experience reflecting classic Italian and Mediterranean dishes whilst La Trattoria is part of the European piazza-style Town Centre, facing the Main Marina and offering homemade pizzas, pastas and the freshest of salads for lunch and dinner.

For those in search of a great steak, Garwood Lounge & Piano Bar fits the bill. Tucked away within the historic Vanderbilt Mansion, the restored 1930’s panelling and décor creates a timeless elegance for a more formal occasion.

The City View & Library is also located within the Mansion, with either al fresco dining with a view over the Miami skyline at City View or elegant dining in the classic walnut-panelled Mansion Library. The menu includes oysters, fresh fish fillets, steaks and house specialities.

Fisher Island has residential properties – albeit multi-million dollar condominiums and villas. There is a Fisher Island Market where guests of the hotel can purchase fresh food and drinks. Although a small bar of chocolate may require a second mortgage, it is a useful place to pick up necessary items.


Fisher Island Club has a long-term strategy for a more sustainable future including waste reduction, energy conservation and community engagement. Lighting throughout the Club has been updated with sensors and controls to save on energy and costs and they are working on a Frequency Drive Project which will prevent air-conditioning systems from running at 100% all night. Rainwater sensors have been installed in The Links Golf Course to detect rainfall and prevent the irrigation system from running during a rain event. The Club is also a member of Clean the World soap and amenity recycling programme. The hotel also offers a Linen and Towel reuse option too.

Fisher Island Club recycles its cooking oil into renewable diesel and is working on a project to reduce food waste by implementing food composting in their food and beverage venues. They are also hoping to eliminate all single use plastics from the Island.

What We Love

  • The Victor Arsidi Observatory. Sadly open only between November to March – its one of the most amazing spots to star gaze in America. The light pollution from Miami is an issue but that aside, the Observatory experience is unique.
  • Miami is an intense 24-hour city. Fisher Island is an oasis from the crazy world that makes Miami one of my favourite cities in the world.
  • The Fisher Island Club Hotel & Resort is so small you feel that you are staying with friends on their private estate. No cars are allowed on the island so expect to see golf buggies dressed up as Bentleys and Ferraris. A visit to Fisher Island is unforgettable in so many ways.

    Varun Sharma

What They Love

  • Fisher Island attracts families around the world who are drawn to its security, privacy, and active resort lifestyle. Today the Club is experiencing a new wave of guests - who are enjoying the great outdoors as never before. There is a new generation discovering the wonders of golf and tennis…

  • The island is trending towards younger families – looking for a very special lifestyle that is safe & serene – yet moments from the very best of art, culture, dining and shopping that Miami has to offer.

  • What makes Fisher Island is those who come to visit and stay… who come from all walks of life from CEOs to tech whiz kids – to entrepreneurs and entertainers. They are an eclectic mix of people all wanting the very best for their families in a refined casual island elegant lifestyle.

    Bernard Lackner
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