Island Insights

In an island where everyone knows your name and the sun shines all year round, there’s one thing that everyone with a connection to Key Biscayne has in common: a love for the island that has meant so much to so many generations.
Words by Jorge Arauz | April 30, 2019 | Lifestyle

I was sitting at a restaurant on the Dalmatian Coast enjoying a glass of wine at sunset pondering my dinner options when a gentleman and his wife pulled up a seat next to me and smiled. “Have we met?” they asked. “I don’t believe so, but I’m sure we’re about to,” I quipped. After a few minutes of chatting, we quickly realized that we had in fact crossed paths before, somewhere halfway across the world, almost exactly two years prior, at a magical place called Key Biscayne. We had shared a table at an engagement party in The Ocean Club. A few years later, after I had found my own Mrs. Right, while in England for the Royal Wedding, our barman looked at me and asked “Have we met?”. Without hesitation, I said “Key Biscayne?!” And just like that, we began texting all of our mutual friends on the island and posting selfies. Similar stories abound all over the island, and everyone’s got their favorite to share.

One such uniquely Key Biscayne tale is that of the Blanco-Herrera family, who famously owned Cuba’s original brewery and oldest beer brand, Cervecita La Tropical. Shortly after arriving to the U.S. in 1960, the Blanco-Herrera clan settled in Key Biscayne and put down new roots. “Growing up, not knowing any better, I took for granted how lucky I was to grow up in such a beautiful place where I could ride my bike to the beach and come home to an unlocked house,” says Moncy Blanco-Herrera. “It’s a place where everyone knew who I was and cared about my well-being; it’s a place where all my best friends are from.” But the serendipity does not end there. While in NYC, he met Sarah, a Key Rat whose connection to The Key went all the way back to her great-grandmother who owned a vacation home on the island. The two would eventually marry during a sunset wedding at Key Biscayne Yacht Club. “Even though we had grown up in Key Biscayne our entire lives, we had never met because we were a few years apart in school,” he says. “Within a few minutes, we started piecing the people we mutually knew, later reconnected on the island and eventually fell in love!” To date, four generations of Moncy’s family and three generations of Sarah’s family have called Key Biscayne home. “The truth is that every part of this island and this community has shaped the person that I am today,” he says. “I can only hope that it can provide my children the same form of pride, confidence and refuge that it has provided me.”

Jennifer Held, the youngest of the acclaimed Held, Held & Held New York-based legal juggernauts, was introduced to Key Biscayne while studying at the University of Miami. Her family invested in an oceanview unit at the Grand Bay that was later acquired and converted into the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne. “We are part of a select group of owners and residents of the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, and one of just a handful still remaining of the original residents,” she says. “Key Biscayne has always served as a retreat for my family, and now my husband and I are enjoying bringing our son, Spencer, to savor the sunny island living. The memories we have made here — and will continue to make — are simply magical.”

Many longtime residents have even decided to open up their own businesses on the island. One such Key Biscayner is Christina Termine, owner of Diamonds On The Key, the only full-service jeweler on the island. “Combine a small-town, neighborly atmosphere with beach chic style and close proximity to the mega playground of glamorous Miami and you get Key Biscayne,” she says. After more than a decade working and living on the island, Termine says she has met some of the most interesting people she’s ever known — some which have called the island home for more than 50 years! “I recently repaired a gold and diamond brooch for a woman in her 80s and created engagement rings for a young pizza maker and a waiter at my favorite Key Biscayne restaurant, each in their 20s,” she says. “It means the world to me when people entrust me with such important moments that bring so much joy and happiness to their lives.”

Beautiful Crandon Park Beach located in Key Biscayne in Miami, Florida, USA

Estrellita S. Sibila, JD, LLM, partner with leading real estate law firm Sibila Lage who has worked with multiple generations of Key Biscayners and several businesses on the island throughout the years, believes that Key Biscayne is one of Miami’s most treasured anchor communities. “The Key Biscayne lifestyle has a certain magnetism that is impossible to replicate elsewhere in the world,” she says. “The privacy, safety, architecture, water access, proximity to the mainland, community feel, award-winning beaches and international flair add to the beauty of this world-class neighborhood — but what really makes the island special is the vast and varied diversity of its residents and the reach of the Key Biscayne name as an internationally recognized brand that yields visions of sun, fun and deal-making. Say ‘Key Biscayne’ to anyone anywhere around the world and watch their eyes instantly light up!”