Beguiled by Turnberry Isle Miami

September 5th, 2013

by Merilee Kern

Nestled in the lush and luxurious North Miami Beach Aventura neighborhood sits the award-winning, AAA 4 diamond-rated Turnberry Isle Miami—a quiet beach, golf, tennis and spa retreat sprawled over 300 perfectly manicured tropical replete with 100 different varieties of plants and 50 bird species. Immediately upon setting foot in the lush location, I was overwhelmed with the desire to relax, recharge, and revel in downtime fun under the South Florida sun. Not surprising given this coveted property’s rich history spanning nearly four decades, attracting a veritable who’s who of celebrity guests..

According to Paige Koerbel, Managing Director of Turnberry Isle Miami, the resort has hosted a litany of A-listers, including the likes of Elton John, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, Jack Nicholson, Michael J. Fox, President Bill Clinton, Billy Crystal, Oprah Winfrey, Brandy, Michael Bolton, Tina Turner, and Whitney Houston, to name a few. It also served as the backdrop for Demi Moore’s movie “Striptease” and Matt Damon’s “Stuck on You.”

Conveniently situated between Fort Lauderdale International Airport and downtown Miami, Turnberry Isle is a venerated Mediterranean marvel that is sophisticated and chic but not ostentatious. Designed with guest comfort well in mind, the resort’s spacious 408 guest rooms and suites are replete with interiors and features that feel like home, including wood-floor entries, carpeted bedrooms, plush linens, fine art, elegant furniture and French doors that open onto private terraces that face the gardens, pools, or world-renowned golf courses. Each room boasts all of the expected modern bells and whistles, such as two- flat screen televisions, i-home audio player, three dual-line telephones, wireless Internet and a Keurig coffeemaker. Additional in-room features include an umbrella, stocked refrigerator, safe, robes and slippers.

For those who prefer more space, the property’s splendidly appointed suite options include the One Bedroom Suite, Apartment Suite, Tower Suites, Presidential Suite and Grand Presidential Suite. Spanning more than 1,700 square feet, the Presidential Suite is highlighted by a dramatic foyer, exquisite wood floors, multiple marble-accented bedrooms, a large living room with a sofa bed and three side chairs, a fireplace, fully appointed kitchen, a separate dining area that comfortably seats eight, a bar space, and a sweeping  terrace. The Grand Presidential Suite also offers an adjoining room options that expands the interior space to fully 2,400 square feet or 4,400 square feet when accounting for the balcony space and expansive terrace overlooking the driving range and gorgeous greens.

Speaking of the greens, Turnberry Isle offers an unrivaled golf experience with its two recently renovated Raymond Floyd-designed championship 18-hole golf courses that are brimming with natural wildlife, impeccable landscaping, and challenging play.  Golf is, in fact, Koerbel’s personal favorite feature of the resort, citing the two perennially green courses with their contoured fairways, doglegs and water features strategically placed throughout the 36 holes.

Beyond world-class golf, this venerable property also partners with the exclusive Cañas Tennis Academy,
directed by Guillermo Cañas.   The resort’s state-of-the-art tennis center has four clay HydroCourts for day and evening tennis, eight courts at the Turnberry Marina, and a tennis shop. There are daily clinics, private lessons and corporate packages available along with fantasy tennis camps and golf lessons.

For those who desire to spend their vacation period poolside, Turnberry Isle’s family-friendly Laguna Pool is the only one of its kind at a South Florida resort. This 7,500 square feet water paradise includes a 180-foot long, 35-foot high water slide, a splash pool supervised by a water safety attendant, an 800-linear-foot lazy river with single and double inner-tubes, a separate Jacuzzi, and a toddler wading pool. The lagoon-style
heated zero-entry swimming pool is surrounded by lounges and round, cushioned beds as well as 18 private cabanas that come with comfy furnishings, a 32-inch LCD flat screen television, a refrigerator, ceiling fan, locker, changing room and premier service with your own personal attendant. If you want ocean side
exclusivity, try the private Beach Club.Accessed by complimentary shuttle, this locale offers its own stunning pool, plush loungers, VIP cabana and special accommodations at the Atlantic beach located just a few steps away.

At Turnberry Isle, it’s all too easy to maintain—or start—a fitness regime with nearly three miles of jogging trails as well as an impressive 25,000 square-foot Mediterranean-style spa and fitness center. Comprised of three floors connected by a grand spiral staircase accented by ornamental iron, a fountain and massive glass dome skylight, from the moment you enter the space it’s clear it was planned with your pleasure in mind. The spa has21 treatment rooms where you can take your pick from an extensive treatment menu. The newly renovated fitness center is impressive even by resort standards, with an aerobics and spin cycle studio, weight and cardio rooms, and tailored wellness programs with available personal fitness instruction. There’s also a spa café to enjoy smoothies, protein shakes, juice blends and more.

Property-wide, Turnberry Isle’s  team of dedicated, multilingual staff aims to please with services designed to make each guest’s stay as comfortable as possible, including babysitting service, concierge, a dock master for charters and se cruises, foreign currency exchange, same-day laundry and pressing service, meeting planner, business center, 24-hour dining, valet, turn down service, and limo and car rental service. Koerbel underscores the locations commitment to staff excellence, noting, “Turnberry Isle Miami is legendary for its service. Our team of dedicated service professionals is committed to providing our guests with enriching experiences that are inspiring and memorable.”

Guests who have had their fill of the copious on-site activities also enjoy a complimentary shuttle to the
neighboring Aventura Mall, one of the most lauded shopping venues in South Florida. And, while Miami is rife with fine dining options, Turnberry Isle guests benefit from having one of the city’s most revered steakhouses on site: Bourbon Steak. This contemporary American steakhouse from famed Chef Michael Mina is situated just off the main lobby, offering a menu reminiscent of Mina’s Las Vegas hot spot, Stripsteak at Mandalay Bay. The elegant though unpretentious eatery, where a sophisticated décor is juxtaposed with rock and pop music, focuses on fine meat, including Waygu rib-eye and filet entrées, and fresh and compelling seafood dishes such as the Maine lobster pot pie in a rich bourbon cream. Of course,
Chef Mina’s famous beef tartar appetizer, assembled table-side, is simply not to be missed.

Also on site at Turnberry Isle is Cascata Grill, a Mediterranean-style restaurant with ingredients from the chef’s garden visible on the grounds, which is filled with fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruit trees; the Harry Soffer Room, a richly appointed private club area and dining room for members that overlooks the golf course and offers a full menu and place to play cards; the Laguna Grill, an outdoor tropical terrace restaurant located next to the lagoon pool; and the Beach Club Grill, a seaside restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining at the private beach club with fare for grownup and kids. When in the mood for a libation, there are five bars and lounges to choose from, including the Lobby Lounge, the Bourbon Steak Bar, the Cascata Grill Bar, the Cascata Pool Bar and the Beach Club Bar. Each feature their own eats and drinks, so it’s worth trying them all.

Extraordinary kid friendly, Turnberry Isle offers an array of family-oriented amenities, including Kids’ Connection—a nicely executed kids’ club designed to keep the young ones entertained with games, sports and fitness, pool activities, special exercise classes, and arts and crafts. The club is offered
as a half-day and full-day option. “We must not forget our heritage,” says Koerbel. “We have guests who fondly remember visiting Turnberry Isle Miami as kids over 30 years ago and now bring their own children to the resort. Our guests return time and again for the personal, authentic experiences, which are all part of the Turnberry spirit and legacy.”

For those seeking an ideal spot for a meeting, conference, private party, or wedding, Turnberry Isle is ideal with award-winning meeting and event facilities that can cater to any and all occasions with multiple venues and a seasoned staff of planners.

When asked what are some of the resort’s long and short term goals and how it will continue to maintain its stellar ratings, Koerbel replied, “My long and short term goal for Turnberry Isle Miami is to continue to serve as one of the world’s premier properties and to attract repeat business. We will achieve this by celebrating our legacy through the introduction of new experiences including the first-ever Turnberry Miami Concours, a Pan American event in April 2014 and with the ongoing training of our service professionals to exceed our guests’ expectations.”

With all of this said, in my estimation Turnberry Isle is a must for those who prefer to forgo cookie-cutter resort accommodations in favor of staying at guest service-driven properties that have a distinct personality and a boutique sensibility notwithstanding a remarkable breadth and caliber of offerings.

Images courtesy of Turnberry Isle Miamai

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“The Luxe List” Executive Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Submissions are accepted at www.LuxeListReviews.com. Follow her on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/LuxeListEditor and Facebook here: www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***




One Aldwych is One Good Choice for Luxe London Stay

August 29th, 2013

by Janice Nieder

At the end of a flight many airlines have the pilot get on the speaker to extend  a “thank you” to travelers with the oft repeated tag line “We know you have a choice of airlines so we appreciate that you’ve chosen to fly with us today.”

The same holds true for hotels. Nowadays any major city has a wide variety of accommodations from which to choose. Two key factors that influence your choice are usually location and budget. If you’re lucky enough to be looking in the luxury category, the criteria might expand to include service, style, and additional amenities.

After a recent three-week trip to the UK, which included a wonderful ramble through the Lake District, my sis and I wanted to spend our final night in London in style. After hours of research, we decided on the bespoke property, One Aldwych, leading us to the conclusion that should we ever be confined to house arrest, please, let it be here. One Aldwych ticks off every requirement above plus several unique ones that I hadn’t previously considered.

Location:

One Adwich is in Covent Garden, London’s sweet spot, with no end of theaters, boutiques, galleries and restaurants just a short walk away.

Service:

From the minute we were warmly greeted at the front desk by Isabella and Spencer the dog, we received stellar service from everyone we encountered. When I called because our room was too warm, I had barely hung up the phone before there was an engineer knocking on the door, who not only fixed the air-con but also sweetly showed me how to connect to the complimentary Wi-Fi on both my phone and i-Pad.

Sound sleeps

The standard rooms are not enormous but are exceedingly comfy and thoughtfully laid out, particularly for a girlfriend getaway. We loved the bathroom- complete with double sinks, power shower, natural bath products from PlanTation, mist free mirrors and a mini-TV. They even include a clear plastic zip-bag for your carry-on toiletries when you leave, and how civilized to have fresh flowers, fruit and a newspaper delivered daily, as well as complimentary shoe shining.

Lobby Bar

Probably one of the most welcoming hotel bars I’ve ever encountered, with super high ceilings, gargantuan windows, dramatic flower arrangements, bright colors, jazzy artwork… a look that many other design hotels strive to get right, One Aldwich seems to achieve naturally.  It’s no wonder that it was named one of the top five hotel bars in the world by The Sunday Telegraph. Whether you stop in for high tea, cocktail hour or a nightcap, the place is buzzing.

Next time I think I’ll rent a kid to join me for their scrumdiddlyumptious Afternoon Tea inspired by Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. Treats include an adorable selection of cotton candy, rainbow colored puds and lollipops.

Axis at One Aldwych

Far from being just a hotel accommodation, Axis is truly a destination restaurant.

Executive Chef Dominic Teague’s is the poster child for Modern British cooking. His impeccably presented food bursts with bright, clean flavors, allowing the finest local ingredients (including foraged foods and a tempting line-up of artisanal cheeses) to shine in their own right.

Highlights include Roast Orkney scallops with a sea purslane terrine, and a simple but sublime Pot-roasted Cotswold chicken with the lightest herb jus. Almost any dessert on the menu is a winner but if I had to pick one, even though I’m not a big chocoholic, the Chocolate and caramel tart with buttermilk ice cream has it all going on.

After three winning wine pairings I say go with any of the sommelier’s recommendations.  Loris was one of the most unpretentious somms I’ve encountered and between him and our fabulous server, Michela; they added a huge dollop of joie de vivre to our meal.

This fall Axis will be starting another season of Film & Fizz, which sounds fantastic. Sip a glass of champagne, while watching a blockbuster film in the private screening room, followed by a three-course Axis dinner equals the perfect date night!

Keeping Fit

Even if you don’t splurge on a suite with a private gym you have many exercise options here, which made me very happy since I actually indulged in three desserts at Axis!

You can start with a work-out at gym (better equipped than the one I belong to at home, plus it’s open 24/7) with a personal trainer if you wish, followed by a few laps in the blue-on-blue, chlorine-free swimming pool, accompanied by soothing underwater music. If you’re a runner, you’ll find a basket of clean towels next to the front door with a card outlining three jogging paths labeled City Route, Green Route or a 6.5 mile Endurance route.

Afterwards you can retire to the full-service spa for a steam, sauna or a variety of tempting treatments.

Final proof that One Aldwych is special is the fact that it was awarded the Luxury Eco Certification Standard (LECS) in association with The Leading Hotels of the World. It is one of only six hotels to gain this independently assessed accreditation worldwide, and the first in the UK.

For reservations or more information, please see website
Tel: +44 (0)20 7300 0500
Email: reservations@onealdwych.com

 


Contemporary French Cuisine Impossibly Elevated at Addison San Diego

August 22nd, 2013

by Merilee Kern

As a seasoned food, wine, and travel writer (pardon the pun) with scores of restaurant stories to my credit, suffice it to say I’ve experienced my fair share of elegant, award-winning eateries. However, none compare to the experience I had at Addison—the signature restaurant of The Grand Del Mar in San Diego, California.

At this inimitable restaurant, Director and Executive Chef William Bradley’s seasonal locavore-driven approach, artisanal food sensibility, culinary prowess and apparent meticulous nature converge, elevating contemporary French cuisine to an impossibly high standard. This, coupled with impeccable, masterfully orchestrated front-of-the-house service, has rightfully entrenched Addison as one of the most revered fine dining establishments in Southern California if not the United States at large.

The restaurant is named after Addison Mizner, an architectural legend who defined the aesthetic of the Palm Beach and Boca Raton, Florida resort communities with his iconic style rife with Italian, Spanish, and Mediterranean inspirations.  Visiting Addison was a gratifying and nostalgic full circle for me, as I began my career working at the Mizner Park compound in Boca Raton.  From the impressive marble bar and flooring, massive limestone fireplace, intricate iron and glass doorways trimmed with 22-karat gold accents, 20-foot high pyramid ceilings and arched windows that frame stunning views of the golf course and mountains beyond, just to name a few interior design notables, guests are well aware of their uber-sophisticated surroundings, duly setting their epicurean expectations high in kind.

And, Chef Bradley does not merely deliver on these expectations—he blazes well beyond with a holistic fine dining experience that will not be forgotten. Certainly, being distinct and memorable is what Chef Bradley well intends. When asked what sets Addison apart from other high end eateries in the area, he noted, “Our Tasting Menu choices allow guests to select from three different fine dining experiences.” Addison guests can, in fact, opt for the Four-Course Experience ($98 per person)—a menu that changes seasonally or based on last-minute availability of the best, freshest products. Also available is a Seven-Course Carte Blanche Menu ($175 per person) designed for those sophisticated, adventurous diners who prefer the Chef to create a luxurious meal that is a surprise to them. Addison also offers Le Menu Gourmand ($235 per person) for those who desire a truly unforgettable and very extravagant 10-course dinner.

The evening of my visit, I and my guest reveled in the Four-Course Experience where each artfully prepared and plated dish implausibly outdid that prior.  Highlights from the Summer Menu included these first course selections: Kumamoto Oysters with preserved lemon, horseradish, and watercress; Kona Kampachi with uni, nori, and cucumber; and Langoustines “Croustillantes” with parmesan, baby romaine, and avocado mousseline. Stunning second course selections were the Porc Pressé with black kale, scallions, and dashi and Dover Sole “Amandine” with choufarci, crevettes, and sherry. Third course options included the Kobe Beef Short Rib with escargot gratin and potato croustillant and Salmon Au Beurre Salé with beets, apples, fennel, and sauce “trois gros.” And, a fourth course favorite was the Strawberries “Feuilles de Brick” with orange sherbet and candied orange.

Another distinct feature, according to Chef Bradley, is Addison’s eclectic, diverse extensive Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning wine list. He explained, “Our team of highly credentialed sommeliers is there to interact with guests according to the level of assistance and depth of knowledge that each guest requests or is comfortable with. In addition, our custom-produced, proprietary wines and champagnes are available only at Addison and The Grand Del Mar, making it possible for guests to be able to savor certain wines that are not available to them anywhere else.”

Also setting Addison well apart from the pack, Chef Bradley has established a rigorous training program for the entire front-of-the-house and in-the-kitchen staff, which he notes allows the restaurant to “execute a high level of service and a quality” and deliver a “memorable dining experience night after night.” When asked about his personal favorite aspect of the restaurant, he replied, “I love the culinary ‘ballet’ that takes place in our dining room and in my kitchen on a nightly basis. When everyone is doing his or her job brilliantly and our guests are obviously having a wonderful experience, I relish the synergy of the place.” And, synergistic it is, with the service team accurately described as moving “swiftly, yet discreetly, to ensure your experience is utterly seamless” and with the entire evening, course by course, “perfectly paced, like the tempo of any great symphony.”

Also appealing to the social set, the restaurant  holds various fun and educational culinary events that involve hands-on experiences for guests, including recent events like “The Beauty of Baking” and “Wine Tasting Party Secrets” spearheaded by Addison’s resident Wine Director, Elizabeth Huettinger.

Relative to the cuisine at Addison, itself, where “mastering simplicity with a keen focus on taste and technique” is the perennial precept, Chef Bradley’s artisanal methods and refined styling accentuate a California farm-to-table mandate bolstered by seasonal ingredients sourced close to the restaurant. Case in point, fully half of the produce served at Addison is procured from Crow’s Pass Farms in the neighboring city of Temecula.  Chef Bradley, a native San Diegan, has honed his distinct style and masterful skill set in an array of notable California kitchens where he’s cultivated a life-long love for the history of food, taste, and technique, including a successful stint at Azzura Point at Loews Coronado Bay Resort.

Today, under Chef Bradley’s close and calculated command, Addison has itself garnered impressive awards and accolades. Chef Bradley proudly asserts, “It’s San Diego’s first and only restaurant to win the coveted Five-Star Award from Forbes Travel Guide, 2009-2013.” Addison has also received Forbes Five-Star ratings and three stars from the Los Angeles Times—the highest review of a restaurant outside Los Angeles county. Addison was also named one of “America’s Best New Restaurants for 2007” by Esquire magazine and Gayot’s “Top 10 U.S. Hotel Restaurants.” Most impressively, Chef Bradley, himself, has been designated a Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef—one of only 162 chefs on five continents to hold this prestigious title, and the only member in San Diego county.  The Couteaux Review, an epicurean organization that promotes sustainable agriculture, also selected Bradley as a recipient of the 2011 Couteaux Review Sustainability Award. Prior to Addison, serving as Executive Chef at Vu restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona, Chef Bradley was a candidate for the coveted James Beard “Rising Star Chef” award for three consecutive years and named a “Rising Star Chef for 2006” by the Arizona Republic.

However, Chef Bradley is not one to rest on his laurels. He continues to be fueled by definitive goals to further enhance Addison’s culinary and service experience for patrons. “My long term goal is always to better what we are already doing so well by challenging ourselves to continue to create memorable menus highlighted by new and exciting ingredients, and by perfecting techniques of preparation and presentation,” he said. With a visceral understanding that an exceptional dining experience extends well beyond menu conception and execution, Chef Bradley emphasizes, “In addition, we are dedicated to providing the highest level of training, support, respect and mentorship for all of our team. We are also committed to offering resort guests and interested members of the community fun and interesting educational food and beverage experiences, including tastings, classes, and events.”

For those hungry for a restaurant exuding a graceful European ambiance, cultivated French cuisine from a true master, a second-to-none wine program and flawless service, Addison awaits.

Images courtesy of The Grand Del Mar
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“The Luxe List” Executive Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Submissions are accepted at www.LuxeListReviews.com. Follow her on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/LuxeListEditor and Facebook here: www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***


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