But Fisher Island’s reputation had taken a bit of a hit over the past few years amid disagreements over control between club members and developers. Most facilities, including the mansion, had not received an upgrade since 1987. Last year The New York Times published a peculiar, much-circulated travel piece in which the author equally shellacked the quality of service in the hotel and the behavior of her own daughter.
While calling the Times piece unfair, the club’s leadership, in control of most of the island since reaching an agreement with the developers in 2006, brought in a new CEO to revamp the operation and guide the master plan for the mansion’s restoration and other improvements, which had been launched in 2007, to a conclusion.
‘QUITE A CHANGE’
“It’s quite a change. We intend with the renovation to make a statement. We are completely rejuvenated, refreshed,’’ said the new CEO, Bernard Lackner, who scaled back the hotel to a 15-room boutique operation to keep quality high. The guest cottages and servants’ quarters, also recently restored, are part of the hotel.
At the Vanderbilt house, the project meant extending the pool deck, reopening spaces in an entry loggia that had been blocked off years ago to create office space, refinishing millwork and wrought iron and, perhaps most dramatically, completely refurbishing the second story, which long served as a club within a club, open only to equity members. Once a dark, closed-in space, the expansive “snooker room,’’ formerly Rosamund’s bedroom, is now a bright, cozy lounge.
The only surviving piece of the Vanderbilts’ furniture, Rosamund’s vanity, sits in the room.
But Heisenbottle says the restored mansion is the crown jewel that sets the Fisher Island apart.
“It is unique, especially for Miami,’’ he said. “The Vanderbilts’ time here was limited, but he left a tremendous impact on Fisher Island.”