By Cathleen K. Bode
With the world reopening from last year’s lockdown, millions of Americans have been itching to travel again and are understandably eager to get away from the busy demands of everyday life. Fortunately for those of us in Florida, we can experience that stress free getaway without ever setting a foot outside of the sunshine state. In fact, with direct flights conveniently available from Orlando International, Sanford International and Tampa International airports, all it takes is a few days off and a desire to wind down and embrace a new, laid back way of life.
Key West is Florida’s southernmost point which means this subtropical paradise is actually located closer to Cuba than to Miami. The vibrant area boasts a unique confluence of history, climate, natural beauty, cultural diversity, architecture and unabashed romantic appeal. With a number of award-winning accommodations to choose from, it might be overwhelming for first-time visitors to make a decision, but after my phenomenal stay at The Marker Key West Harbor Resort, I am now one of the many wanderlust travelers who will never have to think twice about accommodations for my next trip.
The magnificent Marker Key West Harbor Resort is set on two acres of lush, tropical gardens overlooking the Key West harbor. Upon my arrival to the 96-room luxury hotel, I was struck by the exquisite attention to detail at every corner and a warm-welcoming staff that greeted me. The resort grounds boast three pristine pools, relaxed on-site dining, panoramic views and spacious suites suitable for visitors of all ages. I stayed in a fresh and inviting ocean-inspired room with luxury amenities, an oversized soaking tub and striking accents of blue that complimented the extraordinary pool view visible below my sliding glass doors. From my private balcony I could also see everything from dazzling sunsets that took my breath away to the famous Key West Harbor located off the pristine shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean.
When hunger struck, Starboard Restaurant & Bar offered me al fresco dining experience mixed with hearty and healthy dishes that pair perfectly with the island climate. From fresh seafood to signature pizzas, Starboard brought true variety to their menu of first-rate offerings. That being said, most days I was equally content joining dozens of other guests in sipping hand-crafted cocktails under the sun and enjoying light, locally-sourced bites provided by The Marker Starboard Bar’s poolside service. With a drink in my hand, my feet in the refreshing water, and a cool breeze in my hair, lounging by the pool was an experience that I could’ve easily partook in all day if not for the exciting array of other activities and unique Key West experiences also situated nearby.
The Marker’s fabulous on-site offerings were reason enough for me to return to this property again one day, but anyone who needs yet another reason will quickly find it in the hotel’s prime location. Upon stepping out the front entrance of the property, guests are instantly at the Old Harbor and subsequently a short walking distance away from all its many amenities, restaurants, bars, shops, and more. The Old Town Trolley Tours were a fantastic way to see all the many sites via narrated excursions on charming trolleys that I could hop on or off at my leisure. The Trolley Tour offered unlimited reboarding with more than 100 points of interest and also included free admission to the Sails to Rails Museum. The very popular Ghost & Gravestones Frightseeing Tour was my personal favorite with spooky explorations of some of Key West’s most haunted sites. Meanwhile, the Conch Tour Train has been in operation since 1958 and delights guests with marvelous sights, stories, and entertainment throughout the route which makes a full loop through Old Town Key West. All the trolley tours offered open-air sightseeing perfect for taking pictures and enjoying the refreshing Key West air.
While you’re out and about enjoying that tropical air, do yourself a favor as I did and stop by the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. It is a sight to behold and a true delight for the whole family with stunning butterflies all around you in an amazing experience you will need to see to believe. Although Key West offers family friendly fun at just about every turn, you may want to leave the kids back at the hotel at some point because we all know that drinking good rum is a must when it comes to island living and I was pleased to learn that Key West is no exception. Much to my delight, I tried one of the best rums I have ever tasted during a free rum tasting with Hemingway Rum Co., the makers of Papa’s Pilar Rum. If you’re in the mood for more killer drinks after your tasting, just walk five minutes around the corner to find the Key West Hard Rock Cafe with classic Hard Rock flair, food, music, fun and desserts as big as your head, like the Hot Fudge Brownie with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge on a fresh homemade brownie, topped with chopped walnuts, chocolate sprinkles, fresh whipped cream and a cherry, need I say more? The Hard Rock Cafe is family-friendly, so, do bring the whole family!
All that being said, I couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate way to wrap up my trip than with Fury Water Adventures. From snorkeling excursions to a sunset cruise, their offerings were provided in a relaxed and unhurried atmosphere that perfectly complemented the unwinding leisure of island living. The sunset cruise was truly a party like no other with music, dancing, food, beer and wine that brought a bittersweet end to what had become an unforgettable trip. Named for the famous Mile Marker 0 which depicts the ‘end of the road’ for US Highway 1, The Marker was truly a seamless blend of eclectic local charm in a luxury resort experience, but rather than calling it the end of the road, I say it’s just the beginning. It was my first stop on a journey that I am already eager to relive and re-explore. The resort’s proximity to numerous Key West gems allowed me to fill my days with laid-back island living and my nights with numerous, vibrant adventures in wanderlust that awakened every sense. The Marker connects guests to the Florida Keys in unique ways that forever leaves you wanting more.
The Marker Key West
200 William Street
Key West, Florida 33040