Checking In: Fairmont Turnberry Isle a haven for golfers, and birds

Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort

19999 W. Country Club Drive, Aventura;; 305-932-6200

Back story: A sketch on a cocktail napkin began the transformation of what was originally 785 acres of Dade County swampland into what is now the Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort. The brainchild of shopping-mall mogul Don Soffer, the resort debuted in 1970, then was sold in 1993. Soffer reacquired the property in 2005, and after a $100 million transformation, reopened in December of 2006 under the Fairmont flag.

A golfer's haven, the resort features two Raymond Floyd-redesigned championship golf courses with a brook and thundering waterfall at the 1st hole of the South, and a 64-foot faux-rock waterfall at the 18th. "Flamingo Island," built within the largest and deepest body of water on property, is just a part of the resort's Audubon sanctioned bird refuge, home to resident flamingoes as well as hundreds of other birds.

Gorgeous landscaping has turned the resort into a tropical wonderland in which guests can view Koi ponds, a chef's garden, and an abundance of lush foliage including a 100 year-old Banyan tree.

Just for fun: Recreational activities abound at Turnberry Isle. Enjoy the lazy river and waterslide at the Laguna pool or partake in watersports and volleyball at the Ocean Club. Get your buzz on every Saturday, when the resort's coffee experts teach a complimentary class on making Cuban favorites such as café con leche and cortaditos, or take a tour (also complimentary) of the on-site chef's garden. Rich with a variety of fruit trees, vegetables and herbs, the garden provides ingredients for dishes at the Cascata Grill, as well as herbal infusions for special spa treatments.

Sleep well: There are 392 guest rooms and suites in the resort, featuring French doors that open onto private terraces. Fabulous golf, garden and pool views complement the rooms' luxurious linens, comfortable bedroom carpeting, fine furnishings and art. In-room amenities include French presses for coffee, kettles for specialty teas, I-home, waffle cloth robes and slippers.

Going green: Launched in 1990, Fairmont's Green Partnership Program is leaps and bounds ahead of most. Highlights include energy and water conservation, extensive recycling, green cuisine and the golf courses "Greening Our Greens" program, as well as partnering with local organizations such as Feeding South Florida, Women in Distress, and others. Through the Eco-Meet program, meeting planners can utilize the four points of Eco-Accommodations, Eco-Cuisine, Eco-Service and Eco-Programming to minimize the ecological footprint of meetings and events.

Eat, drink and be merry: Check out celebrity Chef Michael Mina's restaurant, Bourbon Steak. Here you can catch Bourbon and Blues night, gourmet wine dinners, Raise Your Spirits happy hour, with half-priced signature cocktails, and Wine Travels with the sommelier. The Italian-American fare at Cascata Grille can be enjoyed along with a stunning view of the Miller golf course's cascading waterfall.

Attractions: Sports enthusiasts will love the proximity to venues such as Dolphin Stadium, the American Airlines Arena, Gulfstream Park and Calder Race Course. The 280 shops and stores of the Aventura Mall are within walking distance, or take the free shuttle. The natural beauty of Oleta State Park and Crandon Park are just minutes away.

Celebrity cache: James Caan and George Hamilton are regulars at Turnbery, as are many NFL players who train with top performance coach Pete Bommarito and health expert Dr. Matthew Cooper. Guests enjoy perusing the photos on the celebrity "Wall of Fame" at the Cascata Grill.

Prices: Rates range from $159 to $5,900 per night. Through Sept. 10 room rates start at $119 for double occupancy and include a free round of golf per night, for every person in the room, excluding cart fees.

Copyright © 2019, The Virginia Gazette