A latest beach club is opening on Governor’s Island — and its owner is shipping in 350 tons of sand in an ambitious bid to create a tropical paradise in the midst of Recent York Harbor.
Gitano Island — a seasonal restaurant and beach club based on the enduring Gitano restaurant and bar in Tulum, Mexico — is slated to open next month with greater than 500 tropical plants and palm trees on the premises, including fire brush and hibiscus.
“Logistically, it’s pretty complex. We’re shipping in 12 truckloads of sand in on a ferry and a barge,” said James Gardner, founder and CEO of Grupo Gitano.
“At the top of the season, we’re donating the plants and trees to the island or local schools,” he added.
The sand, nonetheless, will stay. Gitano Island has signed a five-year contract to run from Memorial Day to the top of October.
“The chance presented itself and all of it happened in a short time,” said Gardner.
The restaurant and beach club might be elevated, by the water, with stunning views of the Manhattan skyline — and outdoor showers to rinse off. Still, there won’t be any swimming as the town fences off access to the water.
“We’re considering that is more of a dress up beach club than a dress down, bikini club, but we’ll see what happens,” Gardner said.
The 27,000-square-foot beach club can have 600 seats, including private cabanas.
This primary season for Gitano Island follows 4 successful summers of “Gitano, Garden of Love,” in between Tribeca and Soho, where diners like Maisie Williams, Paris and Nicky Hilton and Honey Dijon kicked off their shoes to feel the sand through their toes. But the positioning — an empty lot at Canal and Varick that Gitano transformed each summer right into a magical piece of Tulum — was not available.
The Soho pop-up was 400 seats over 24,000 square feet, but Gitano Island might be 600 seats over 27,000 square feet.
“I’ve lived in Recent York for greater than 20 years but had never been to Governors Island. I fell in love with the magic of the island, as if I used to be transported out East, after a five-minute ferry ride,” Gardner said.
While Gardner is taking a likelihood on Governors Island, he says the 173-acre preserve’s proximity to Casa Cipriani, the private club and hotel at 10 South Street, helped seal the deal.
Gardner shipped in 350 tons of sand and tropical plants, including fire brush and hibiscus, to re-create a slice of Tulum paradise in Recent York Harbor.
“The Casa Cipriani crowd is already aware of Gitano,” Gardner said, adding that he hopes it can be a neater lift to get them to Governors Island, since they’re already almost there — a mere 800 yards away.
Gitano Island beckons only a transient boat ride from lower Manhattan on the historic Battery Maritime Constructing, a Beaux Arts-style ferry terminal that dates to 1906, which also houses Casa Cipriani.
“I’m hoping there might be synergy with Casa Cipriani members, as a lot of them are also aware of Gitano in Tulum, and getting them to take a four-minute ferry ride will not be as difficult,” he said.
Together with the $4 ferry ride — from the Battery or Brooklyn, which is even closer — there’s also BoatrideNYC, a non-public service using ‘rigid hull inflatable boats’ from Pier 25 in Tribeca that can charge $650 for as much as six people “who need to arrive in style,” a spokeswoman added.
Gitano signature dishes will include guacamole, watermelon salad, crab tostada and branzino in banana leaf.
Waiting for the beachgoers in nonetheless way they arrive might be cabanas and a few chairs. Some might be for normal diners while an inner sanctum of lounges and cabanas might be for beach club members, who can have access to reservations and personal events as well.
There will even be a large disco ball reflecting the water from Recent York Harbor, a tented stage with local and international DJs, and live artist performances. Membership will include preferred access and reservations together with special event invites, said Gardner.
The decor features a black dining tent with a marble bar, twin dining pergolas, and an open-fired kitchen. The menu will feature Gitano classics — Mezcal cocktails and a contemporary Mexican menu — from Grupo Gitano executive chef Antonio Maldonado.
Signature dishes will include guacamole, watermelon salad, crab tostada and branzino in banana leaf, with latest additions like a Mexican lobster roll and a latest taco and frozen margarita bar.
The beach club on Governors Island is positioned just a brief ferry ride from Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, and offers stunning views of the skyline.
Gitano Island is a component of a Governors Island reboot to bring more people to its shores. A luxury Italian spa, QCNY Spa, opened in March.
This summer, there might be 17 food and beverage vendors. Recent spots include Tokyo Drumstick — a latest concept from the owners of Brooklyn’s Kimchi Taco — and Carreau Club, currently positioned in Industry City.
The island will even offer a walk-in pétanque club, with food by Court Street Grocers. As well as, there’s a latest partnership with the Recent York Food Truck Association, which is able to usher in a rotating slate of food trucks, added a spokesperson for The Trust for Governors Island.
Island “glamping” can be going strong, due to Collective Retreats, which launched in 2018 and likewise has glamping sites in Hill Country, Tex., and Vail, Colo. A tent for 2 over Memorial Day weekend on Governors Island will cost anywhere from around $350 an evening to $1,200 an evening, said Vanessa Vitale, the Collective’s chief hospitality officer, adding that a community lottery system also opens up tents for $75 an evening.
James Gardner, founder and CEO of Gitano Grupo, has run successful pop-up locations near Soho the past 4 years before signing five-year deal on Governors Island.
“The island has such vast, open spaces, and has at all times been an incredible destination for Recent Yorkers,” Vitale said, adding that the Collective has grown together with the island over the previous few years.
Restaurateur James Mallios, of Civetta Hospitality’s Juniper, Bar Marseille, Amali and Calissa, ran food and beverage for Collective Retreats for several years.
“Governors Island keeps recuperating every yr,” he says. “Town is attempting to amp it up. The staycations are great for city goers, and the red tape [security clearances for restaurant food deliveries on the ferry] can be easing up.”
The island will even showcase special events, just like the Pride Island Music Festival, with performances by Lil’ Kim and Kim Petras on June 25 and 26, hosted by NYC Pride. There are also programs to showcase artists and their work.
“As Governors Island continues its growth, we’re proud to grow our community of small businesses and vendors providing amenities to our visitors,” said Clare Newman, President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island.