From Fantasy Island to Forever
They never sweat the Small Stuff
From the moment they met en route to a singles resort in the mid-1990s, Lisa and Mitch Berliner began to fall in love, eventually getting married and setting roots in Katonah.
Photo Douglas Foulke
Lisa Berliner describes Club Med in the 1980s and ’90s—where she met her husband, Mitch—“like Fantasy Island for single people.” For them, it was also like “The Love Boat.”
Both unattached, both flying from New York to Club Med Turkoise in the spring of 1995, they met in the arrival lounge of the Turks and Caicos airport. Mitch mentioned that he had no roommate for his stay, and Lisa had met a nice pharmacist fellow on the airplane ride down, so she set about hooking them up as roomies.
“My take-charge girl was already taking charge,” says Mitch. “From the first day, she started running things.”
He didn’t mind.
“When we got to Club Med, we started talking, and from then on, we were inseparable,” says Lisa. They ate their meals together, spent quiet times on a beach blanket with a Sony Walkman and a speaker.
“We fell in like and have been together every minute since,” adds Mitch.
It was all good until the last evening of the trip. That night, instead of hanging out, Lisa stayed in her room to pack her bags. “Already, within seven days, she was testing the relationship,” Mitch recalls. “The good news is that even after seven days, I was already committed.”
They sat together on the flight home, but when they disembarked the plane and Lisa asked if he wanted to come to the city to hang out, he demured. “I wanted to get home to my dog,” he admits. “I did tell her I would come see her in a few days, but that I was going to come topless.”
That made her nervous. In a way, she started thinking, I barely know this guy. Maybe he’s a complete weirdo.
She felt better when he showed up in a convertible red Porsche with a golden retriever in tow.
Their relationship blossomed and soon, they moved in together. Lisa, who was 31, started dreaming about marriage. Not just dreaming about it, but talking about it. And leaving hints. And talking about it some more.
Mitch, 29, got the message. He proposed to Lisa in 1996 at Lexington Square Cafe in Mount Kisco. He arranged with the manager to have a special dessert menu printed, with an option called “Until Death With Mitch,” a play on the classic Death by Chocolate dessert.
When the server handed them the dessert menus, Mitch got down on one knee and held out the ring. Lisa, who had been babbling about weddings the entire meal, thought Mitch was on the floor because he dropped his napkin. Then she realized the whole restaurant was looking at her, and there were glasses of Champagne with raspberries on the table.
“She said ‘Yes,’” Mitch says with a smile. “But we didn’t have dessert because she had to get home to call every living person in this hemisphere!”
The couple put down roots by moving to Katonah, and they started second careers that help others plant roots in the area, too. Lisa is a real estate agent in Katonah, and Mitch owns Certa Pro Painters in Bedford Hills. “We are the Starsky and Hutch of the painting and real estate world,” says Lisa. “We are both in local service businesses that can play off each other. ”
Their compatible careers also help keep dinner table conversation interesting. “It gives us separate lives, but we understand the pressures of each other’s work. We are on the same playing field,” says Lisa.
In fact, talking to each other is exactly what the couple says keeps them together. “Mitch taught me how to communicate,” Lisa explains.
“In my family, we talked, we were vulnerable, we were out there,” recalls Mitch. “Getting her over that hump—to communicate and communicate meaningfully—has been the secret.”
They also never go to sleep mad, or “sweat the small stuff.”
Rather, they enjoy the peace and tranquility of their life together in Katonah with their two sons, Dylan and Ben, helping other couples create their dream lives, not on Fantasy Island but right here in the real world.
Lisa and Mitch were married in former Broadway theater in Times Square, where they danced on the stage and cut their cake in one of the balcony boxes.