Bungalows Key Largo is a close-to home escape that feels world’s away.
The Florida Keys are having a moment. Maybe it’s the island atmosphere and stunning water or the ease of getting there in the face of passport renewal delays and ever-changing travel restrictions for farther-flung destinations. Regardless, a belated celebration for my mom’s birthday made a visit to the adults-only, all-inclusive Bungalows Key Largo the perfect excuse for a mother-daughter getaway.
A scenic hour-long drive from the Miami airport brought us to the resort, tucked behind an unassuming gate on Florida’s northernmost Key. We checked in, and a uniformed porter whisked us away in a cute golf cart, trimmed in the resort’s signature teal and white stripes. Each of the 135 rooms are free-standing miniresidences, and our bungalow made a charming impression with its bougainvillea-perfumed private veranda and Adirondack chairs. The breezy coastal design marries old Florida elements with modern conveniences. Ours featured a pillowtopped king bed, indoor sitting area and a private outdoor garden with a shower and deep kiddie-pool-sized soaking tub. Each room includes a pair of custom turquoise bicycles. Though the property is easily navigated on foot, the bikes were a fun way to explore.
Eager to soak up as much sun-induced vitamin D as possible during our three days, we found a spot on the small sand beach by the main pool. The resort has 1,000 feet of shoreline, but regular visitors to the Florida Keys know that the coastline is rocky. No matter: There are steps into the warm, clear waters, perfect for cooling off.
We’d heard that the best vantage point for the most spectacular sunset viewing was aboard the resort’s 55- foot catamaran, Lady B. We joined a handful of other guests as a captain and two skippers hoisted the sails. As we sipped glasses of Sauvignon Blanc and snacked on tacos, we sailed around the crystalline waters, relishing the salt-scented breeze. It felt like nature knew what we were after because as the sun dipped toward the horizon, the sky exploded in an ever-changing array of yellow, pink, orange, red and violet. Our charmed evening was confirmed as our captain pointed out what looked like a star next to the moon. It is the same rare phenomenon referenced in the Grateful Dead song “Terrapin Station,” which says, “The spiral light of Venus…from the northwest corner of a brand-new crescent moon.” We felt lucky to see it firsthand.
The undisputed highlight of the resort’s dining scene is Bogie and Bacall’s, inspired by the 1948 film Key Largo. We started with craft cocktails at the Hemingway Bar (my Guavalajara was made with silver tequila, Ancho Reyes chili liqueur and guava puree) before settling in for a multi-course, a la carte fine dining experience that included bone marrow with wild mushrooms, impossibly rich French onion soup, petite filet mignon au poivre and an elevated interpretation of a classic Key lime pie.
Longing for a Caribbean destination without the hassles of international travel might have been what drew us here initially, but we soon realized the truth: Bungalows Key Largo is a worthy destination in its own right.
BUNGALOWS KEY LARGO
Senior Contributing Editor and Beauty Columnist at Simply Buckhead. Travel, Food and Design Writer and Author.