Brett Davis Photo/Courtesy of Briland Club
The idea for Briland Club came about when real estate developer Michael Wiener was traveling by boat through the Bahamas with his wife; the Californians are longtime fans of the laid-back speed of the palm-dotted, turquoise-soaked islands.
“I was sitting at a bar and I saw an opportunity to purchase a marina with a bar on a tropical island and to merge my love of the Bahamas, my love of working, my love of boating, and working with family into one place,” Wiener told Travel + Leisure. His daughter, Mélanie, serves as CEO of Briland Club. “I acquired the marina and from that point forward, it evolved into what it’s becoming.”
What it’s becoming is a stunning marina, club, and collection of residences. Private, pristine, and dotted with pink-sand beaches, Harbour Island — voted one of the best islands in the Bahamas by T+L readers — is a refined pocket of paradise within a paradise.
“The idea was to create a space on Harbour Island that raised the bar in terms of service, amenities, and quality of infrastructure,” Wiener explains. “What it is evolving into is a very high-end, elegant, understated, beautiful marina that offers the best of every feature that can be offered in a marina in a subtle way; the same is true for the upland that is now being focused on.”
Located on the southern part of Harbour Island, which is less developed than the northern part, the 27-acre Briland Club property offers a peaceful elegance duplicated nowhere else on the island plus on-site amenities, activities (including stand-up paddleboards, 18-foot Boston Whalers, and four pickleball courts), and dining venues.
“We believe that it is a superior location because it’s more quiet, and that is the experience that we want to offer,” Wiener explains. You won’t be in the center of the Harbour Island action, but for guests seeking a truly relaxing, refined getaway, that’s no con.
It’s also the only property on the island that touches both ocean and harbor. In addition to the harbor-side marina, which has top-notch amenities for boaters and megayachts and is in operation now, Briland Club will offer beach chairs and bar service at the beachfront portion of their property this season; the construction of a beach club is a few years out, but in the plans. Mélanie and her mom also recently attended fashion weeks in Europe to merchandise for the marina’s high-end gift shop.
While interested parties can purchase residences, which come with an electric golf cart to get around the island, the community requires owners to put their property into a rental pool when they’re not using it, so the general public can book short-term stays, too. By early 2023, eight units will be available, but Briland Club is permitted for as many as 93 residences over the next three to five years. A spa and pool attached to the Haunted House, which is on the historical register in the Bahamas and will be restored to serve as the clubhouse, are also on the horizon, as is a commissary that will be equipped to serve over 400 meals a day, ideal for events and weddings as the property gets built out.
Bar 480, the club’s bar and grill on the marina, is named for the fact that Briland Club sports the only marina on the island with 480-volt power at every pedestal — a big deal for big boats, as this allows them to keep more of their appliances on simultaneously.
“It is, by most people’s expressions, the best food on the island, but it is not fine dining,” Wiener says of Bar 480. “You will not get a tablecloth, but you will get the best service and the best food in an outdoor grill setting [that’s] quite spectacular.” Plus, inspired by the Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel — which is a block away from Wiener’s home — the bar “will stay open until the last customer leaves.”
According to Wiener, Briland Club is poised to be one of the plushest offerings in the Bahamas. “We approached the development and the selection of materials and quality from the point of view of it being our personal residence,” Wiener says. “I keep my boats at the marina; I will eventually have a residence at the property. We didn’t want to try to cut corners to make more money.”
Harbour Island is a short boat ride away from North Eleuthera Airport (ELH), which is serviced by both commercial and private flights. Flight time from Miami is about half an hour, while New Yorkers can hop down in just over two hours; from Los Angeles, the flight time is about four and a half hours. Briland Club is taking reservations now.