The former Vanderbilt estate on 200-acre Fisher Island in Biscayne Bay has been transformed into an exclusive, mostly residential retreat more Portofino than Miami. Those who merely want to experience the island before shelling out seven figures for a condo can book one of the dozen historic cottages or a posh suite or villa and tool around the island on a golf cart.
A world of its own, Fisher Island encompasses a 9-hole P.B. Dye golf course, one of the country's most beautifully designed tennis centers (with 18 hard, clay, red clay, and grass courts), an elegant spa, and state-of-the-art fitness center overlooking the bay from the Vanderbilt's former seaplane hangar. There is also a beach, marina, several restaurants, and even a small grocery, dry cleaner, and a pizzeria. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent on major upgrades to the historic Vanderbilt Mansion, the cottages, villas, suites, landscaping, the golf course, the Racquet Club, and private marina as well as the construction of a new beach club. Nothing in Miami comes close, but it won't work for those who find it unbearably inconvenient to hop a car ferry or boat (or helicopter) every time they want to ogle the parade of models, actors, and wannabes from a table at the trendy News Cafe or gorge on succulent crustaceans at Joe's Stone Crab.
Pro Shop: 305-535-6010
Tennis Staff. Paolo Barros presides over this handsomely designed complex. A top-ranked junior in his native Brazil, he went on to play for Hampton University, helping it to three conference titles and three NCAA nationals appearances. He and his staff offer private lessons and weekly clinics, while also matching guests who want to play with appropriate opponents.
Court Complex. There are 18 courts altogether, grouped around a central patio with decorative chairs and a clubhouse in ivory-colored stucco and bordered by a landscape of subdued pink pots of magenta bougainvillea and ferns and palm trees surrounded by flowers. Terracotta walkways connect the courts—nine Har-Tru (all with lights), five red clay, two hard, and two grass—which are framed by stucco pillars, rather than metal posts, and anchored by red-tile-roofed gazebos. It is, unquestionably, a beautiful place to play.
Beach. The island has a small, postage-stamp of a beach.
Golf Courses. There is one P.B. Dye golf course on the island.
If you like Fisher Island's elegant lodging and multiple dimensions, also check out:
Fisher Island Club
1 Fisher Island Dr.
Seasons. Year-round though hot and humid in July and August.
General Tourist Information. For information about travel to this region of Florida contact the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, 701 Brickell Avenue, Suite 2700, Miami, FL 33131; phone 305-539-3000 or toll-free 800-933-8448 or visit their website.