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22.03.2017. Le Sirenuse
Over the years, Le Sirenuse has had several courtiers, keen to persuade the Sersale family that they should – as the business manuals would have it – ‘grow the brand’ by entering into new deals designed to celebrate the core values of the hotel far beyond its home on the Amalfi Coast. But old-fashioned Neapolitan families don’t like to rush into things. It took 65 years for just the right opportunity to come along, one that reflected the heritage, the values and the ambience of a place that, in essence, has changed little since John Steinbeck came to visit in 1953 and described it as a “first-class hotel, spotless and cool”.
That opportunity came thanks to a unique stellar allignment: dynamic Miami-based property developer Nadim Ashi of Fort Partners, Pritzker-Prize winning architect Richard Meier, world-class hospitality brand Four Seasons, and historic Miami Beach glitterati hangout The Surf Club.
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. Now, in a Surf Club reimagined by Nadim Ashi and Fort Partners for the 21st century, the original waterside clubhouse villa is embraced by 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 carefully-restored original buidling.
There’s a definite overlap in the Venn diagram of Miami and Positano habitués, as the Financial Times’ How to Spend It magazine recently pointed out in an article on our new adventure: “Positano and Miami may be separated by roughly 8,500km, but from a social standpoint there’s more that unites them than meets the eye, with each playing host to a formidable roster of tastemakers during their respective seasons”.
Designed by society architect Russel Pancoast in a Mediterranean revival style that evoked the leisured sprezzatura of an Italian summer resort, The Surf Club’s original villa and clubhouse is a chapter in the history of seaside elegance that has much in common with Le Sirenuse’s own trajectory. So we were delighted to be able to enter into a licensing agreement that celebrates the marriage of two lifestyle icons, American and Italian, a marriage celebrated on 24 March when Le Sirenuse Restaurant & Champagne Bar At The Surf Club, Miami, opened inside Pancoast’s gloriously restored Jazz-age pavilion. Our aim is quite simple: to bring to the reborn Surf Club all the Mediterannean warmth, elegant yet relaxed ambience, and high standards of service that Le Sirenuse strives to offer in Positano. Not to mention a southern-Italian-influenced cuisine that makes a virtue out of simplicity.
Playing on shades of faded magnolia, beachcomber green and mahogany, talented young Parisian designer Joseph Dirand’s design for the new venue pays homage to the eclectic Mediterranean-revival framework of the clubhouse’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. As in Le Sirenuse, Positano, verdant pot plants and intimate lighting are a key part of the ambience of a space that spills out onto a cool, pergola-shaded terrace with sweeping Atlantic views.
Chef de cuisine Antonio Marmolia has spent long months honing his craft at Le Sirenuse, ensuring continuity and that special, light Positano touch. One of Italy’s brightest gastronomic talents, 32-year-old Mermolia discovered his metier at his family’s boutique hotel in Calabria and honed his craft in Sicily before moving to New York in 2012. His mission is to capture the “richness and depth that can be found in the simplest Southern Italian recipes”. At Le Sirenuse Miami, he will present dishes that exalt Italy’s farm-to-table and fresh fish and seafood traditions. Carefully-sourced ingredients will include heirloom varieties such as the succulent Pomodorino di Piennolo tomatoes cultivated on the lower slopes of Mount Vesuvius, or the prized Carnarolo and Arborio risotto rice harvested in the Po Valley plain.
Meanwhile, the Champagne Bar & Lounge will offer, alongside Miami’s largest selection of fine champagnes, familiar signature cocktails like the Positano or Le Sirenuse, alongside others that harken back to The Surf Club’s gilded past, and a dedicated bar menu of light Mediterranean dishes, from eggplant parmigiana to tuna salad. And as in Positano, Champagne Bar drinks will be served in chic Venetian glasses hand-made by Carlo Moretti.
Because if there’s one thing we’ve learnt in 65 years, it’s that great ventures rest on small details.
Photo credit: © Christian Horan Photography