Born from a conversation among friends on tire magnate Harvey Firestone’s yacht, The Surf Club has been attracting beautiful and influential people to its nine-acre site in Miami Beach’s Surfside since it its foundation in 1930. Winston Churchill painted here, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner honeymooned here, the Shah of Iran, Liz Taylor, Noel Coward and many others came here to kick back and relax, aided and abetted by the Club’s signature Mangareva cocktail.
With its Mediterranean revival architecture, the original Surf Club villa, by society architect Russel Pancoast, evoked the leisured sprezzatura of an Italian summer resort. It’s the same spirit that has long been embodied by Le Sirenuse, an Amalfi Coast hospitality landmark. Dominating the bay of Positano from its lofty site, this “first-class hotel, spotless and cool” as John Steinbeck described it in 1953, has evolved to become a symbol of Italy’s new dolce vita, without ever losing the warmth and intimacy of its origins as the home of its owners, the Sersale family.
Alongside 58 breezily elegant rooms, Le Sirenuse encompasses the Michelin-starred La Sponda restaurant, a stylish al fresco Champagne Bar and a Gae-Aulenti-designed spa. It has also become something of an insider lifestyle brand, with its Emporio Sirenuse fashion and swimwear line and Eau d’Italie fragrance and skincare range.
Now, in a Surf Club which has been saved from neglect and boldly re-imagined for the 21st century by US architect Richard Meier, a meeting of minds, and moods, is about to take place. Pancoast’s painstakingly restored 1930 clubhouse, which centres on an ornately decorated loggia that club members once dubbed ‘Peacock Alley’, will play host to the Le Sirenuse Restaurant and Champagne Bar, the Positano hotel’s first permanent foray beyond its Amalfi Coast base.
Le Sirenuse at The Surf Club will bring to Surfside all the Mediterranean magic, genuine southern Italian cuisine and high service standards that generations of guests have learned to associate with the celebrated Amalfi Coast hotel. Seated at tables laid with fine linens and gleaming silver cutlery, those who dine at Le Sirenuse will be tended to by smartly liveried staff trained in the best old-school Italian service traditions. Both chef Antonio Mermolia and restaurant manager Luciano Sportiello have spent long months honing their craft at the hotel Le Sirenuse, ensuring continuity and that special, light Positano touch. And as in Positano, Champagne Bar drinks will be served in chic Venetian glasses hand-made by Carlo Moretti.
Playing on shades of faded magnolia, beachcomber green and mahogany, talented young Parisian designer Joseph Dirand’s design for the new restaurant respects the eclectic Mediterranean-revival framework of the villa’s interiors while bringing a breath of fresh air to the textures and hues of the Champagne Bar, Restaurant and 12-cover private dining room. Le Sirenuse, Positano verdant pot plants will be a key part of the ambience of a space that spills out onto a cool, pergola-shaded terrace with sweeping Atlantic views.
Developed by Nadam Ashi’s Fort Partners, the Surf Club reboot will also feature a 77-room Four Seasons Hotel, 30 hotel residences and 121 private residential apartments in three twelve-story towers designed by Meier, that act as a shimmering, transparent Modernist backdrop to the restored clubhouse.