When someone mentioned to Miami real estate developer Don Soffer that they had 750 acres of swamp land in South Florida for sale, he took them up on their offer. He took this land and transformed it into an upscale, planned residential and commercial area. Who knew that 55 years later that the basic concepts he drew on a cocktail napkin would actually become the city of Aventura?
Aventura is Spanish for “adventure’ and closely describes this vibrant city with the Turnberry Isle Resort as its centerpiece. It all started with the Aventura Club in 1970, which underwent a name change to Turnberry Isle Resort & Club. In 1983, the Aventura Mall opened at less than half of its current size. Today, it is the 4th largest mall in the country and does about $1.8 billion in retail sales each year. In the 1990s, Porto Vita’s luxury townhomes, mid-rises and condos were launched, and other nearby residential projects followed.
The Turnberry Isle Resort has been through its share of renovations, redevelopment and expansion. In 1989, an $80 million expansion created the basis of the architecture you see today: classical pillars, arched promenades and terra cotta roofs. Guest rooms and suites were added as were restaurants, lounges and a conference center.
In 2001, the 25,000 square-foot state-or-the-art Spa & Fitness Center opened. After several changes in ownership, the Soffer family reacquired the property in 2006, and shortly thereafter Turnberry Isle Miami underwent a $150 million renovation, ushering in the new era of luxury travel. All guest rooms, spa facilities, conference center, Beach Club, tennis center, restaurant, pools and resort common areas were transformed into the standards befitting a premier, luxury resort. Both golf courses, originally designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. were re-invented by Raymond Floyd to the tune of $45 million. Over $100,000 per hole was spent on landscaping.
Turnberry Isle Miami features spacious and beautifully appointed guest rooms and magnificent vistas of tropical foliage, soothing water features, numerous species of birds and wildlife and unparalleled recreational opportunities providing an experience for guests that is enriching and exceeds all expectations.
Dining – Corsair
Turnberry Isle has several dining options including Bourbon Steakhouse and Corsair. Bourbon Steak by Michael Mina features all of the top cuts of beef including Angus and Japanese and American Waygu.
I was privileged to have both lunch and dinner at Corsair. The Blackened Snapper Sandwich, served with shredded lettuce, tomato and a cherry pepper aioli sauce all on a rich potato bun was tasty and satisfying. The Classic burger is just that – classic! A large meat patty cooked however you want it and served with lettuce, tomato and onion with your choice of cheese, on a potato bun. All sandwiches are served with a side of herbed fries which are delicious or a mixed green salad.
At dinner, we sampled quite a few dishes. Sous Chef Able and his staff created some outstanding dishes, not only in taste but in aesthetics as well. Presentation may be everything but the proof is in the pudding as they say and these folks have it down. We started off with a couple of appetizers – grilled octopus and Cobia Crudo. My wife is not one to sample “odd” dishes so there was more for me. Thankfully, they were sampler size!
The Cobia Crudo is raw pieces of Cobia served with blood orange and a Sicilian Pistachio. It was very tasty and the pistachio sauce added a bit of nutty flavor. I had never tried grilled octopus and was surprised by the taste. It didn’t have a real fishy taste to it and the fingerling potatoes, capers and olives served with it offset what little fishiness there was.
Next up were a couple of pasta dishes. Those of you who are familiar with Scott Conant know that his flair for pasta has made him what he is today. The Squid Ink Campanelle combines pieces of squid, baby clams, mussels and calamari and had an interesting taste. The Paccheri was served with a pork ragu and caciocavallo cheese and was absolutely delicious. The sauce was on the thick side and when combined with the tender pieces of pork, produced a taste that is hard to describe – in a good way!
Now on to the main course where we sampled Roasted Halibut and Spice Roasted Filet Mignon. The halibut was served atop white beans and plated with broccoli rabe, pancetta and pickled Cipollini onions and gremolata. The halibut is pan-fried in olive oil, creating a crunchy outer layer while the inside remains flaky. The white beans and broccoli rabe created a plate that was visually appealing. The filet was rubbed with a combination of spices that produced a slightly smoky flavor. It was plated with smoked eggplant and concentrated tomato and served with a splash of au jus. On its own, this would have been enough of a meal.
Lastly was dessert, my wife’s favorite part of any meal and she was not the least bit disappointed. As a gourmet of anything ice cream, she was thrilled when they presented her with the Corsair Ice Cream Sundae. It consisted of peanut butter and smoked vanilla ice cream (who knew you could smoke ice cream). Mixed in were peanut butter blondies, chocolate cookie crumbs, caramelized bananas, whipped cream and salted peanuts and topped with a raspberry sauce. It not only looked great but the taste was out of this world. By far her favorite part of the night!
The staff was incredibly hospitable. From our server, Oleg to the manager Ilija and the entire staff, it was a memorable meal and a restaurant I would highly recommend, whether you are staying at the resort or not.
All in all, I cannot think of any better resort that combines gourmet dining, great golf and a myriad of activities for both adults and children. The Laguna pool is one of a kind in South Florida. It features a 180 foot waterslide and a 1,600 foot lazy river with both single and double tubes, perfect for lounging around in after a round of golf. The Cascata Pool lies at the heart of the resort and is more relaxed. It seemed to be more of an adult pool, with plush lounge chairs and a tiki bar specializing in frozen fruity cocktails.
For more information, or to book a vacation to Turnberry Isle, give them a call at 305-932-6200 or visit them online at www.turmberryislemiami.com.