The Surf Club used to be Miami’s most glamorous address. Four Seasons Hotel makes it so again

A shining star in Surfside, Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club is Miami's oasis of elegance.
A shining star in Surfside, Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club is Miami's oasis of elegance.

Four Seasons Surf Club Brings Glamour Back to Miami, a Forbes headline recently trumpeted.

Four Seasons Surf Club Evokes Miami’s Former Glamour, CNN chimed in.

Clearly, something about this months-old property was inspiring liberal use of the G-word among visiting media. What was all the fuss about, we wondered? Could a new hotel be that special in a town where new hotels seem to sprout overnight in the sand?

We checked in on a Saturday afternoon; before dinner that evening I had already been googling synonyms of glamour. Because I didn’t want to use that word again, but gosh it’s hard to find a more fitting descriptor of the kind of vibe this place gives off.

Four Seasons Surfside
Poolside vibes at Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club.

Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club, opened this year, encompasses three striking towers of glistening glass, designed by Richard Meier, that surround the original 1930 clubhouse. The new buildings house 72 guest rooms and private residences, while the historic Surf Club structure is home to public areas like the serene lobby, Le Sirenuse Restaurant and Champagne Bar, and — coming next year — a restaurant by famed chef Thomas Keller.

A Miami backyard getaway 

There’s something transportive about the whole place. The marriage of new and old — of glass towers and wood beams, of unblemished iPads and polished silver teapots, of air-conditioned cabanas on the beach and fan-circulated subtropical air at breakfast — is so seamless and subtle, your brain stutters to remember you’re in Miami and not the Amalfi Coast or French Riviera.   

Four Seasons
Polished service is a Four Seasons standard.

That’s not to say the new Four Seasons doesn’t display a sense of place. South Florida is showcased in the hundreds of native trees that local landscape architect Fernando Wong meticulously placed throughout the 9-acre property. And the palette of blue ocean and downtown skyline — both in full view from our south- and east-facing wraparound balcony — is unmistakably Miami. 

Spacious and state-of-the-art guest rooms, designed by Joseph Dirand, are tranquil in color and minimalist in decor, but amenities await discovery in every nook. Open drapes and dim lights with the touch of a bedside tablet, mix cocktails atop a green-marble bar, and rest your phone in style on a smartly placed design pedestal in the bathroom.

Four Seasons Surf Club
A guest room's wraparound balcony offers views of the ocean and downtown.

Hospitality throughout leaves no question that this is a Four Seasons. Doors are opened with a smile, pool toys for kids are delivered at water’s edge on a platter, and fingerprint smudges on elevator buttons or any surface are wiped on sight.

Decadence at every corner

The hotel brought in Four Seasons veterans from other properties to ensure The Surf Club hit the ground running. A massage therapist at the phenomenal Spa — who gave the kind of deep-tissue treatment that’s so relaxing you could fall right asleep, but you don’t because you don’t want to miss any of it — told me she came here from the Four Seasons Orlando. Executive chef Jose Gamez, who was most recently at Four Seasons Miami’s Edge Steak and Bar, oversees menus with enough variety that you’d be hard-pressed to find a reason to leave the property to eat.

Four Seasons Surf Club
Fixing a cocktail at the Champagne Bar outside Le Sirenuse.

One reason to stay is Le Sirenuse, where Italian chef de cuisine Antonio Mermolia is reinventing and re-creating Southern Italian classics. A dinner appetizer of buffalo mozzarella, ubiquitous in Miami Italian restaurants, here is served warm — an eye-opening technique twist — with acidic-sweet pops of peeled grape tomatoes. At breakfast, that mozzarella makes a reprise as small dots covering a bowl of eggs poached in tomato sauce: an Italian version of Israeli shakshuka, with the decadence level cranked to 11.

Four Seasons Surf Club
Room designs that feel like an urban loft transported to a tropical paradise.

As refreshed as this short stay left us, we also felt the familiar pang of end-of-vacation malaise when it came time to check out. A really, really good cure for that: two scoops of mint-chip ice cream from Serendipity Creamery, located a few blocks from the hotel in downtown Surfside. Our car pointed back home to Coral Gables, ice cream in our bellies and a kiss of sun on our skin, the malaise was replaced with memories of a successful staycation and anticipation of a rapid return. 

Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club, 9101 Collins Avenue, Surfside; 305-381-3333;

Did you know?

The original Le Sirenuse resort opened in 1951 when four Neapolitan brothers turned their summer house on the Amalfi Coast into a charming hotel that overlooks the bay of Positano.

A fresh pasta dish at Le Sirenuse.

Photography by Christian Horan