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The luxury hotel that is part of a unique island ‘kingdom’

Flamingos at Fisher Island…

Flamingos at Fisher Island…

Yet more birds for the gal on her jaunt around luxury hotels in the Miami area. Here are flamingos at Fisher Island.  The Queen has pink flamingos, and there are thousands of pink flamingos at Lake Nakuru in the Rift Valley of Kenya, but have you ever seen any this colour?  The hue is supposed to come from the algae they eat so goodness only knows what goodness is here at Fisher Island (is it good for humans, too?). Fisher Island is unique. It is literally an island, cut off from the southern end of Miami Beach by big developers in the early 1900s who wanted to create a channel to start building the Port of Miami. Fisher Island today has its own zip-code, reputed to have the highest per capita income of any in the Great USA.

Bentley and Rolls, Fisher Island residences to right, Miami downtown in distance

Bentley and Rolls, Fisher Island residences to right, Miami downtown in distance

Being insular, the only way you can drive to Fisher Island is by car ferry, which fortunately runs 24/7 on a regular ten to 15-minute schedule (and when-needed, at night).  My little rental car was surrounded by brand-new Rolls-Royces and other designer cars on the seven-minute journey, and at the other end Omer, from Cuba, thoughtfully waited with a hotel golf-cart to direct me to the hotel.  He then took me on a tour of the island, 216 acres in all, 2.5 miles around, home to some 650 families living in apartments in six-to-seven floor colonial blocks with lots of terraces and tiled roofs.  Yes, you can see downtown Miami in the distance, from some points, but it seems like another, and less attractive, world.

The back yard of Portofino

The back yard of Portofino

My little world at the 15-villa Fisher Island Club hotel was idyllic. All villas come with their own golf buggy and I had a bicycle, too (thank you Omer!). Villa 1402, Portofino, was colonial inside, with a tall four-post bed and a big bathroom and an absolutely private rear yard with heated jacuzzi tub.  I could have whiled away days there. The challenge is there is so much to do – hotel guests can play golf, use one of the 18 (sic) tennis courts, shop at the supermarket or post office, go to the first-class spa or, above it, the big airy Technogym that looks out over the larger – 96-slip – marina.

Breakfast at the Beach Club, 7am

Breakfast at the Beach Club, 7am

The king of the island is Bernard Lackner, who heads everything from the ferries to the entire estate and skilfully managing the different nationalities of residents, many of whom have ownership in Fisher Island Club which owns the entire caboose. Only the owners (‘equity holders’) can make use of some of the rooms in the original two-floor Vanderbilt House, built by William K Vanderbilt in 1925 when he swapped his yacht for this island, then owned by entrepreneur Carl Fisher, who of course gave his name to it.  Equity holders also have a privilege line for boarding the ferry. But any resident, and any hotel guest, can dine in any of the some-inside, some-outside restaurants.  Anyone can have the joy of breakfasting, as the sun comes up, at the Beach Club.

Ready for a wedding (note specially-hung chandeliers)

Ready for a wedding (note specially-hung chandeliers)

There are also lots of special events.  The night I left, a wedding for 300 was taking place in the hotel’s courtyard and its massive central tree already had Swarovski-type chandeliers hanging from it.  On February 14th, 2014, the Three Florida Tenors will be singing.  Nearly all February, there are men’s tennis singles tournaments.  Every day, there are regular 55-minute fitness classes, including hatha flow, a well-being yoga. Any time of daylight, you see residents cycling round the estate on a variety of not-serious bicycles – that is to say no gears, and non-pneumatic tyres.  Often there are tiny dogs in the bikes’ baskets.  Sum up the whole Miami Beach area, today, by the way and high fashion is the tiniest pooch you can find, ideally worn with the shortest pair of shorts imaginable, as long as the body can cope.

More birds, surveying the golf course

More birds, surveying the golf course

This is an idyllic life.  Apparently Marc Anthony is besotted by it but in the main celebrities are anonymous here, and certainly, at the luxury hotel – yet another Leading Hotel of the World – you never know who else is staying as residents and guests are all alike, in public areas.  It is really very agreeable, here at Bernard Lackner’s unique kingdom.