Kendall-Tamiami Airport has laid out a luxurious jetport for the rich and famous who don't want to be noticed when flying in to other more public airports.
Albert and Edward Sotero, who are brothers, hosted the grand opening of FalconTrust jetport Thursday night. The 22,000-square-foot structure, which houses and refuels corporate and private jets, boasts 18,000-square feet of amenities, including a gym and sauna, conference rooms and back entrance for celebs, who want to avoid the public front door.
But why West Kendall? Because the area is booming with businesses sprouting around the airport and a planned in-house runway expansion at the airport is on the way.
''If they're coming on a $35 million plane, the idea is that they walk into the same environment,'' Edward Sotero said. ''This is the first impression they get of Miami.''
To Albert Sotero, who has been flying out of the West Kendall airport since obtaining his pilot's license 15 years ago, there was nowhere else he wanted to put the 5-year-long project.
''This is home,'' he said.
The facility, a large salmon-colored building at 14150 SW 129th St., exudes the Cuban brothers' Caribbean heritage. Brown wicker chairs under large fans and umbrellas sit on balconies overlooking the airport's runways.
But what sets this facility apart from others in the country are the extras, which the Soteros said were inspired by their repeated travels across the country. Among them are a large weather room, located in the lobby behind large glass panels, and five private phone rooms equipped with Internet access and printers. FalconTrust also has an in-house car rental service, courtesy of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, as well as helicopters and limos available at a client's request.
According to the brothers, the Kendall-Tamiami runway expansion, which will allow visiting planes to take on more fuel for longer, direct flights, will help them, as well as the community. ''This will bring revenue into the county and the community,'' Albert Sotero said. ''It's a chain reaction.''
His brother agrees, echoing the theme of expansion supporters, who want neighbors to know longer runways won't mean bigger, louder planes.
''This facility is not geared for commercial travel,'' Edward Sotero said. ''It never will be.''
Now, planes are limited in the amount of fuel they can take on at Kendall-Tamiami so business goes to Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, experts said. Once planes begin to land in West Kendall, half the battle is over. Then they said they'll have to convince clients to spend money in West Kendall, instead of rushing to such destinations as South Beach or Brickell Avenue.