The Key to Key West? Ocean Key Resort and Spa
Boating with extended family and friends can be fun, but also frustrating. The key is finding overnight accommodations that everyone will love. And that key unlocks the door at Ocean Key Resort and Spa.
Most boat owners have experienced that awkward moment when non-boating friends or relatives invite themselves to be onboard guests. Taking them out for a day cruise is usually not a big deal. But overnights can be uncomfortable. Uncle Gene from Michigan is a night owl and Aunt Gertie sleeps until noon.
A better option is to meet in a destination that’s accessible by air, land, and sea has a lot of entertainment options and offers overnight accommodations that even the pickiest relatives will like. All those requirements and more can be satisfied in countless locations, but one of the most popular by far is Key West, Florida. Since Key West is also known as the Southernmost City in the continental United States, relatives get the added benefit of crossing it off their travel bucket list.
If you want to be close to where the action is, the best dockage is at A&B Marina in the heart of Old Town. The marina handles vessels up to 190-feet LOA with a max beam of 24 feet. Also, there are plenty of dining options at the marina and within a block or two. Plus, it’s only a couple blocks to Duval Street. Keep in mind: because of its location and popularity, slips fill up quickly. Check for availability as soon as your travel dates are firmed up.
The relatives will be happy at Ocean Key Resort and Spa located just two blocks away at the very end of Duval Street. It’s nearly impossible for them to get lost on their way from the marina. The resort is adjacent to Mallory Square, where street jugglers and musicians entertain visitors for tips and sunset is celebrated on a daily basis at the waterfront.
Ocean Key Resort and Spa’s Sunset Pier is widely known as the best seat in town to experience the daily sunset celebration—it was damaged during Hurricane Irma and is scheduled to reopen in early October 2018. But if your relatives prefer to watch the goings-on from a distance, all 100 rooms and suites at Ocean Key Resort and Spa have a private patio overlooking either the Gulf of Mexico, the Key West Harbor or Mallory Square, where the nightly sunset view from their own patio is sure to be one of their favorite Key West memories.
If your cousin Ginger just got engaged, Ocean Key Resort and Spa is also a great venue for her wedding. There’s an on-site wedding planning service to make the day perfect. Ginger and her attendants will enjoy pre-nuptial pampering at SpaTerre day spa with a wide selection of services, while her fiancé, Gerald, and his pals refresh themselves in the pool and at LIQUID, the pool bar. Then after the ceremony, the covered patio at Hot Tin Roof Restaurant can be closed off for their private reception with a stellar waterfront view, especially at sunset. (The name of the restaurant is a tribute to playwright Tennessee Williams, who was a frequent visitor to Key West.)
Once your relatives get settled in at the resort, it might be hard to get them to leave. There are plenty of information sources for what to see and do in Key West—it just depends on your interests, and there are too many options to include here.
But if you want to get an overview of some of the sights in Key West without getting blisters on your feet, the 90-minute Trolley Tour is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to see the most. There are 13 stops, and you can hop on and off all day—trolleys come about every 30 minutes—to explore the areas that are of particular interest. The trolley drivers are entertaining and knowledgeable about Key West.
If one of your trolley stops includes a tour of the Hemingway Museum, you may appreciate the fact that your Trolley Tours ticket also includes free admission to the Hemingway Rum Company Distillery, which is located on Front Street between A&B Marina and Ocean Key Resort and Spa. Guided tours explain the history of rum, the craft behind making Papa’s Pilar and offer a rum tasting of several varieties at the end of the tour.
The popularity of wine and spirit tourism has expanded to rum, and aficionados should not miss an opportunity to learn about and sample this artisan-crafted spirit that bears the name of an explorer the likes of Ernest Hemingway. Indeed, the fact that the company bears the name of his boat, Pilar, is reason enough for any boating enthusiast to visit. The fact that it’s named for one of the world’s most iconic storytellers and adventurers was reason enough for me.
By Liz Pasch, Southern Boating September 2018
Photos courtesy of Ocean Key Resort and Spa