Are you thinking of getting married or renewing your vows and want something exotic? Are you looking for a romantic getaway that caters to various lifestyles? What if you don’t have a passport? The Florida Keys is a destination for every type of traveler. I’ve been there with a kid, and without. I even spent a week there, just checking out hotels and resorts to see if they are places I would recommend to my readers.
Here are some of my top romantic resorts in the Florida Keys (or Conch Republic, as it is called).
1. Little Palm Island Resort and Spa – This one has to be at the top of the list. It is a private island tucked away off the shore of Little Torch Key and crushed gravel pathways lead you to your secluded bungalow. There are beaches, piers, hidden hammocks, and no stress. Cell phones are not permitted and the only television is in one of the common areas. The onsite SpaTerre is a tree house of relaxation and Zen. I enjoyed exploring this luxurious island retreat, listening to the waves lap the shore. It is quite possibly one of the most romantic places I’ve ever visited. Children under the age of 16 are not permitted on the island. It isn’t easy on the pocketbook, but if you can save up, you won’t be disappointed. For those that can’t afford an overnight stay on Little Palm Island, you can still enjoy a fantastic waterside meal.
2. Casa Morada – My favorite moment at this Islamorada property was sipping Champagne on the Sea view Terrace with Lauren Abrams and the other ladies of Casa Morada. It is a 16 suite property with hidden areas for couples to soak in the atmosphere of this bay-side resort. The décor is contemporary Caribbean and I must say that I felt like I was at an exclusive club and I was the most important person there. That’s how Casa Morada makes every guest feel. Pets are welcome too.
3. Cheeca Lodge – I’ve been to this property twice. Once was for a work breakfast, but that visit was enough to entice me for a second visit with my daughter. It is a family friendly resort, but whether a couple brings the kids or leaves them at home, romance can still be found. The beach is true Keys style, with a bit of rockiness. Couples have their own part of the property, but those with children should take advantage of Camp Cheeca. My daughter checked it out for one day and then begged to go back the second day. Couples can take this private time and enjoy a couple’s massage or just lay out at the adult-only pool. Currently this property is closed for renovations after a New Years Eve fire, but should be opening back up soon.
4.The Moorings Village Resort and Spa – Ever wanted to be a Victoria’s Secret or Sports Illustrated swimsuit model? Well, this is where many of the shoots take place. It is a photographer and movie directors dream. It is actually situated right next door to Cheeca Lodge but offers the white sand beach people look for. The cottages are laid out around the property and there is an onsite spa. Scenes from many movies have been filmed here, including “I Love You Philip Morris” starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor.
5. Reach Resort – This Waldorf-Astoria property was my first introduction to the Keys. It has one of the best beaches in Key West and is perfect for enjoying a cigar and glass of wine. I didn’t see any kiddos at this place and the only noise came from me and my traveling partners. There is a restaurant onsite, The Strip House, which is definitely adult only. There are silhouettes of strippers all over, even on the wallpaper. It was a fun setting and the food was delicious too. The rooms here are condo style with balconies. Great place near the action of Duvall Street.
6. Tranquility Bay – This property is like a little neighborhood of beach houses that all have an ocean view. I enjoyed watching the sun set with sand between my toes and an ice cold drink in my left hand. Great for families. Great for couples. Great for a group of friends seeking a place to relax and chill but still have the comforts of home (like a kitchen and laundry appliances in your unit). The beach bar makes killer drinks and serves munchies. An adult pool is available for those that want to stay far away from the little ones.
7. Sunset Key Island – Cottages in varying sizes are dotted around this private island that is part of the Westin chain. I ate THE BEST stuffed French toast for breakfast there. It is family friendly, but the property is large enough that couples can find some quiet areas. There are special packages, even a Girlfriend Getaway package where a drag queen will come in and do makeovers and then take the group out on the town in Key West.
8. Dove Creek Lodge – This property does not have a beach, but it is definitely the place to stay if you like fishing. The property has an atmosphere of a luxurious fishing camp with all the amenities. They had me at “hello” when I was handed a CD to enjoy in condo and what was on it? The love of my life, Kenny Chesney. Got to give kudos to a place when they know good music.
9. The Southernmost House – One word: Haunting. This place isn’t just the southernmost place to stay in the US, but it is also rumored to be haunted. Funky décor and ocean view pool. More of a bed & breakfast/inn style than a hotel. Super cool.
10. Key West Marriott Beachside – I didn’t stay overnight here, just took a look-see to tell you about it. If I had to get a room here, it would be the ones in the main building with the balconies. The beach here is amazing and I even had a bit of time to hang out in a nearby hammock. That’s what you’re supposed to do in The Keys, right?
If you want to tour all of The Keys, I suggest flying into Key West Airport and renting a car. Visit all of The Keys by starting with a few days in Key West, and then meander your way north towards Miami so that you can get a feel of each Key. They are all different and have their own personalities. Key West is the busiest of all, with Duvall Street being like a beach version of the French Quarter at night. There is so much to do in Key West. The rest of your drive will bring you to the relaxation you may need before dropping the rental car off in Miami and flying home. Be careful though. Many people have visited The Keys and failed to catch the flight back home. For more information, visit The Florida Keys Official Tourism Site.
Here’s a taste of Sam Brown’s recent visit to The Keys, which airs Saturday on The Travel Channel.