Turnberry Isle Miami: An Oasis in the Heart of the City

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Turnberry Isle Miami Golf

Located at the northern reaches of Miami Beach, about 30 minutes from Miami Int’l Airport, the 408-room Turnberry Isle Miami is surprising in scope when you see it from the penthouse hospitality suites. We visited recently for a breakfast event there, and you really need to see the view to appreciate it.

If ever the term “resort oasis” were applicable, this is it.

You would never know it from the road, but the hidden resort encompasses two championship golf courses just minutes from the beach within a largely residential setting. It is thickly landscaped with deep palm tree landscaping, paspalum grass, rolling greens and clever doglegs originally designed by Robert Trent Jones St. and updated by Raymond Floyd.

The spa is set to undergo a multimillion dollar refurbishment, and the beach club hosts events up to 500 people. We like chef Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak restaurant because of dishes like whole-fried organic chicken with truffle mac ’n cheese. Two private dining areas seat 14 and 30.

“We’re a destination within a destination,” says James Gelfand, director of sales/marketing. We spoke with Gelfand to learn more about what makes this resort ideal for groups visiting sunny South Florida.

Prevue: What are the benefits of having two golf courses?

James Gelfand: Diversity. You can play one course on Tuesday and the other one on Wednesday and not get bored. One course is 7,200 yards and is a little bit more challenging than the other. The other one is 6,400 yards. They’re both impeccable in terms of course layout, design and condition.

What kind of events can take place on the golf course?

Beyond the normal golf event, we also have teambuilding and evening events out there. We can do glow-in-the-dark golf, longest drive competitions, or putting contests with glow-in-the-dark golf balls and sticks. We can do 144 people per shotgun so you can literally do 288 at one time on both golf courses. For evening events we can easily do 500-600 people.

In addition we have the Magnolia Court area that seats more than 350 people and that is magnificent because you’re surrounded by this beautiful 64-ft waterfall and you can see the signature 18-hole island green. You can do some specialty golf events off of 17, or on the island green, and that’s a little bit more intimate.

We have a phenomenal catering team for our events that’s led by one of 66 certified master chefs in the world. Derin Moore joined us about eight weeks ago. The food and beverage that he’s creating and that Turnberry is producing is just phenomenal.

And what kinds of events can be organized at Turnberry’s beach club?

You can enjoy sun, sand, sea, beach Olympics, team activities and evening events that are very private and right on the beach, right down to the water’s edge. We have a fabulous relationship with Sunny Isles and we get an awful lot of flexibility.

There are some noise ordinances after 11 pm. But what you can do is you play at the beach club and then come back and enjoy the ambiance around Cascada Pool and have a wonderful time until 1 or 2 am. The beach club holds up to 600 people.

BOURBON Couple Dinning

We hear the spa is undergoing renovations soon. Can you dish out a few details?

Ownership is looking into spending a couple million dollars to renovate the first and second floors of the spa. We’ll have new equipment, new design and the architectural plans are being laid out right now. We will enhance the treatment rooms and have a few couples-only rooms, too. We’re improving upon our water therapy facilities and it’s really going to be terrific.

The spa will be 25,000 sf after renovations and will include a fitness center. There will be a whole new component around that, as well. It’s going to be second to none. We’ve got some really great partners identified.

Can the golf course, spa and beach club be combined for full-day group events?

Absolutely! You can play a round of golf in the morning and then spend the afternoon in the spa and have a wonderful oceanside group event in the evening at the beach club. That’s one way you can do it. Or you can spend the day at the spa and hang out at the beach in the afternoon and then play golf.

This is great for incentive groups because of the ease of access to where we’re located. We have two international airports within 18 miles of us. More flights fly into those two combined than anywhere else in the country. The weather is phenomenal and I really think we’re a destination within a destination. We have 408 magnificent and large guestrooms, a great conference center and all of the amenities that you could possibly hope for. In addition, we have Aventura Mall across the street, which is one of the finest shopping destinations in the country.

One of my favorite days was when I got off an elevator with a guest and the guest was with a bellman whose cart was filled top-to-bottom with every shopping bag from the mall that you can think of. I tell him, ‘You had a great day today!’ and he said to me, ‘Not me, my wife.’ I asked him what he had done that day and he told me he had played 18 holes of golf in the morning and spent the afternoon in the spa. He says to me, ‘I had a wonderful day.’

What else are you currently working on at the hotel?

There are several niche markets that we’re looking at and one is kosher events, because of our kosher capabilities. We have our own kosher catering kitchen now. There’s a growing demand for kosher convention-type business. We’re starting to see more and more international guests starting to develop. We believe there’s a future there as well.

We have so many fun, unique and specialized components that make up our destination. Some of the things that we’re looking at in the short-term future—golf, tennis, spa—we’ve got some great things in store that we’re not ready to share yet but I can tell you that our ownership group is working very hard to make this something above and beyond your wildest dream.

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