PALM BEACH ILLUSTRATED: Old Miami Glamour at the New Four Seasons

In the 1930s, when The Surf Club was in its heyday, a wide cross section of the rich and famous ranging from industrialists to entertainment royalty converged in tiny Surfside to soak in the sunshine and glittering company that included names such as Churchill, Hope, Sinatra, and Coward. The blink-and-you-miss-it town just north of Miami was the perfect place to fly under the radar while engaging in a bit of debauchery. Prohibition? What Prohibition?

Though that altar to pleasure is no more, its glamorous legacy lives on in its reincarnation as the Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club. The hotel and its adjacent residences, realized by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Richard Meier and Parisian interior designer Joseph Dirand, wrap around the original club, a Mizner-inspired masterpiece by architect Russell Pancoast. A cool mix of modernity and history, the new Four Seasons lures travelers with nine oceanfront acres, 72 airy tower rooms that open up to sea and sky, day and overnight cabanas, a glorious iteration of Amalfi Coast landmark Le Sirenuse, and a holistic spa with global offerings, including a hammam.

 

The cabana culture is, perhaps, the biggest draw. Back in the day, “Cabana Row” was where it all happened: aristocrats sipping Mangarevas poolside, Winston Churchill painting seascapes, Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack cronies sashaying across the Row’s deck. The cabanas were once supremely ornate, recalling Moroccan palaces and French castles. Today’s version is light and bright, with rattan furnishings and white-on-white palettes accented by palm frond green. The day cabanas are sublime, but for the ultimate Surf Club experience, book one of five overnight cabanas and live like the legends of a faded era.

For wellness enthusiasts, Cabana Row also houses two spa cabanas. Melting into a massage while the surf crashes a few steps away is one way to find bliss. The other is in the spa itself, a marble sanctuary for the senses. Global-themed treatments like Abhyanga and Shirodhara, both Ayurvedic modalities, promote a sense of peace and balance, while the Turkish-style hammam is a sensual indulgence unlike any other. For the Tropical Hammam Experience, you spend 90 minutes in a private steam room being exfoliated, milk-bathed, massaged, and luxuriously hydrated. Expect to sweat—and feel like a million dollars after.

Le Sirenuse Miami Restaurant and Champagne Bar brings a touch of Positano to South Florida. Ensconced within the marvelous architecture of the Surf Club clubhouse, with its vaulted and stenciled ceilings, the restaurant offers classics from the mother ship and fare reimagined for the Miami milieu. The Fagotello Genovese, pasta purses stuffed with beef ragu and topped with mozzarella reduction and black truffle, is a dream, but save room for the frozen “lake” of pistachio gelato topped with crushed pistachios and edible flowers. It’s impossible to resist.

Later this year, Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame will open a signature restaurant at the property. The rumor is the cuisine will be inspired by the original social club—the celebratory spirit, glamour, and energy of a singular, unforgettable moment in time. (305-381-3333)

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