- The richest ZIP code in the US is Fisher Island, a members-only island off the coast of Miami where the average income of residents is $US2.2 million.
- Fisher Island has bought “thousands” of COVID-19 tests from the University of Miami Health System for all of its residents and staff, the Miami Herald reported on April 13.
- About 800 families live in almost 30 luxury condominium buildings on the 216-acre man-made island. The median home value is $US3 million.
- To become a member, you must pay a $US250,000 initial fee and $US22,256 in annual dues – and that’s on top of purchasing a multimillion-dollar condo.
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Fisher Island, a man-made island off the coast of Miami that turned 100 years old in 2019, is the richest ZIP code in the US, according to Bloomberg. The average income of the island’s residents is a whopping $US2.2 million.
Members of the Fisher Island Club get access to amenities like private beaches with sand imported from the Bahamas, a beach club, eight restaurants, a golf course, two deep-water marinas, a spa, and 18 tennis courts.
And now there’s a new perk to add to that list: Fisher Island has bought thousands of COVID-19 antibody test kits from the University of Miami Health System, the Miami Herald reported. The test is available to all the families who live there, as well as the staff, according to the Herald.
Lisa Worley, University of Miami Health System spokesperson, told the Herald, “It’s what the Fisher Island residents wanted.”
To become a member of the elite Fisher Island Club, you must pay a one-time $US250,000 equity contribution and $US22,256 in annual dues. And that’s after residents have bought one of the condos on the island, which cost an average of $US3.2 million. About 800 families live on Fisher Island in almost 30 luxury condominium buildings.
Residents of the island include real-estate developers, high-powered litigation attorneys, CEOs, people in the finance industry, and some who are simply “old money,” according to Dora Puig, the top-ranked real-estate broker in Miami-Dade County by sales volume in 2018.
In 2019, I got the chance to take a tour of Fisher Island. Here’s a look inside the superexclusive community.
Fisher Island, a 216-acre members-only island off the coast of Miami, is the richest ZIP code in the US.
The average income of the island’s residents is $US2.2 million, according to Bloomberg.
Fisher Island is a man-made island created by the government in 1906, when a canal was dug between South Beach and what is now the island to ease traffic in the area.
My journey started at the Miami Beach Marina, where a small private shuttle boat was waiting to take me to the island.
The boat is a private shuttle for prospective and current residents of Palazzo Del Sol and Palazzo Della Luna, two of the island’s newest and most luxurious condominium buildings.
The boat was small yet luxurious, with 11 leather seats in an enclosed interior.
It’s about a seven-minute boat ride from the Miami Beach Marina to Fisher Island.
As we sped out of the marina, I got an up-close view of some massive yachts.
This one is Helios, a 193-foot luxury yacht that belongs to the billionaire Lorenzo Fertitta, the former owner of UFC.
As we arrived at Fisher Island, I got my first look at the island’s Mediterranean-style residential buildings.
About 800 families live in the island’s 30 luxury condominium buildings, where units sell for an average of $US2.9 million.
Residents of the island include real-estate developers, high-powered litigation attorneys, CEOs, people in the finance industry, and some who are simply “old money,” Dora Puig, the top-ranked real-estate broker in Miami-Dade County by sales volume in 2018, told me.
Tech CEOs and hedge-fund managers from New York, Silicon Valley, and other high-tax areas are moving to Miami in droves, and Fisher Island is one of their top picks.
The island has two deep-water marinas that can accommodate luxury yachts up to 250 feet long.
The boat slips are “highly coveted” and will cost you a minimum of $US125,000 and potentially well into the millions, Lauren Marks, a publicist, told me.
I was picked up in a golf cart, which is the preferred mode of transportation on the island.
All the golf carts are individually owned, but at the island’s newest and most luxurious residences, Palazzo Del Sol (finished in 2016) and Palazzo Della Luna (completed in 2019), each resident is given a custom $US20,000 Garia golf cart.
As I was driven around the island, I was struck by how perfectly landscaped it was. In some places, the grass almost looked fake, and there didn’t seem to be a single palm leaf or flowering shrub out of place.
The speed limit on the island is a respectable 19 mph. Some residents bring their cars on the island via the ferry, but during my tour, I mainly saw people getting around by golf cart.
About 700 families live on Fisher Island, though only about 30% of those are year-round residents.
Notable residents include Hasbro Toys CEO Alan Hassenfeld, who bought an $US8.2 million condo in Palazzo del Sol; Yard House founder and former CEO Steele Platt; and the tennis player Caroline Wozniacki and her fiancé, former NBA centre David Lee, who paid $US13.5 million for a condo at Palazzo Del Sol.
Oprah Winfrey, Mel Brooks, and the tennis star Boris Becker have also owned homes on the island.
Puig told me people move to the island for three main reasons: privacy, security, and the amenities.
“They have everything on the island: eight places to dine, golf, tennis,” she said. “Probably one of the best tennis centres in the city. Two amazing marinas. So we cover a lot of ground.”
The island’s centrepiece is the historic Vanderbilt Mansion, built in the 1930s by William Vanderbilt, who acquired Fisher Island by trading his 250-foot yacht to Carl Fisher.
Fisher and his Alton Beach Realty Co. had bought the island in 1919 from Miami’s first black millionaire, Dana Dorsey, and expanded it with four times the land mass and deep-water docks.
The Mediterranean-style mansion, which can be rented out as a wedding venue, includes a 2,250-square-foot ballroom and a 6,800-square-foot terrace.
Vanderbilt built the mansion in the ’30s as his own private retreat, surrounding it with lush landscaping, guest homes, tennis courts, and swimming pools.
In addition to its multimillion-dollar condos, Fisher Island offers luxury hotel accommodations that include four historic cottages, six courtyard villas, and a guest house with five suites. Rates range from about $US625 to $US3,050 per night.
“If you’ve been to the island, it’s gorgeous,” Puig told me in February. “It feels like you’re in the Caribbean, yet you’re literally a three-minute boat ride to South Fifth Street to all the restaurants and a five-minute boat ride to Downtown Miami.”
Residents can choose to dine at eight restaurants on the island, including the Garwood Lounge within the Vanderbilt Mansion, a fine-dining establishment that serves grass-fed burgers, steaks, and fresh seafood in an oak-paneled dining room.
The dress code is “casual elegant attire for ladies” and “collared shirts and pants for gentlemen,” though “denim in good taste is permitted.”
Right next to the mansion is the poolside Beach Club, a collection of outdoor pavilions clustered around a swimming pool. There’s a cocktail bar and a sushi bar.
The Beach Club hosts themed events such as French Bistro Night, Full Moon Parties, Seafood Night, Clambakes, and Sunday Jazz Brunch.
Fisher Island’s professional tennis courts have been ranked No. 1 in the East Coast region of the US by Tennis magazine.
The island has 18 courts with three types of playing surfaces: two grass courts, two hard courts, and 14 Har-Tru clay courts.
“A breathtaking location, year-round outdoor play – day and night – and a choice of three surfaces makes Fisher Island popular with players of all levels, including pros seeking pre-tournament practice,” Tennis magazine said.
Fisher Island has its own full-service spa and wellness centre for residents called Spa Internazionale.
The spa’s services include personal training, group classes, facials, massages, and various “body excursions,” including a cellulite-sculpting body treatment and a coconut-milk and honey wrap.
For most services on the island, including the restaurants, members don’t pay with cash or credit card but instead just put the expense on their membership tab, according to Marks.
As there are no bridges between the mainland and Fisher Island, residents who want to bring their cars onto the island must do so via a 24-hour vehicle ferry that takes about seven minutes and leaves every 15 minutes.
The ferry is for residents only, but invited guests can board as long as they have prearranged security clearance.
The residents of Palazzo Del Sol and Palazzo Della Luna, however, have access to the same private shuttle boat that I took from the Miami Beach Marina.
“They love it because it’s like their own aqua-Uber,” Puig told me. “It takes them to South of Fifth. It takes them to Cipriani. It will take them to restaurants. It will take them and pick them up from someone’s house for dinner.”
Fisher Island has some of the most secluded beaches in Miami, with sand imported from the Bahamas.
I was told the sand is raked every single morning to keep it pristine.
Though only about 30% of Fisher Island’s residents live there year-round, the island has its own independent day school with students ranging from age 2 to seventh grade.
Some students come from off-island to attend the school, Marks said.
The island even has its own private aviary full of exotic birds.
The aviary staff adopts, rescues, and rehabilitates exotic birds.
In fact, beyond the aviary, I was surprised to find that I saw more wildlife than people on my tour of the island.
I saw several types of birds, including geese and what I think was a white ibis.
Most impressive were the free-roaming peacocks, whose calls could be heard echoing across the island.
If I closed my eyes to obscure the golf courts and the grass that was so perfectly manicured it almost looked fake, I could’ve imagined myself in a tropical oasis.
More than 600 employees work on Fisher Island, including the club workers, employees of the homeowner association, and property-management employees. I didn’t even notice this workforce: They had what I can only describe as an invisible impact on the perfectly manicured island.
Because most residents don’t live on Fisher Island year-round, there are often more employees on the island than residents, Marks said.
On April 13, the Miami Herald reported that Fisher Island had bought enough COVID-19 tests for every person on the island – including staff – to get tested for the coronavirus. The tests were purchased from the University of Miami Health System. The news comes as doctors and hospitals across the US continue to experience test shortages.
As I got back on my private shuttle boat back to the Miami Beach Marina, I tried to imagine what it would be like to live on Fisher Island.
The island felt like a pristine secluded oasis, but it’s also less than 10 minutes by boat from bustling South Beach.
As such, I can certainly see the appeal for upper-crust businesspeople and families looking for a quiet vacation home where they can golf, play tennis, and relax on private beaches with their fellow millionaires.
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