I asked a similar question a year or two ago (probably one of the old threads you saw) and was told that the Marriott on Key Largo is pretty nice, but the Marriott properties on Key West are ok but not great and don't have good beaches or any beach at all. Actually some commenters said that Key West really doesn't have great beaches, generally, which was news to me. We never did make it to Key West, but maybe someday. Also I have heard that driving to KW from Miami is a 7-8 hour bumper to bumper experience if you go during peak hours in the high season. If we do go, we will take the ferry from Marco Island ($120 a person) or charter a flight. You can charter from Marco for $1000 for a plane that seats 5 people.
I was surprised to read that the beaches in Key West are not what I expected. I thought there would be miles and miles of beaches. It is about 150 miles from Miami to Key West. I didn't dream it could be a 7-8 hour drive. We'll try to avoid that for sure. I looked up the current information on the ferry from Ft. Myers to Key West. It would be $288 RT for both of us. I will have to explore that some more. I imagine it is a beautiful flight, but we don't fly on small planes.
The 7 - 8 hour drive depends on the season, day of the week with Friday - Sunday being the worst, and the hours you're traveling. I avoid the bumper to bumper traffic. There are only 2 lanes much of the time and if there's a wreck, there's often no way around.
The ferry would be a good way to go, though. I've wanted to do that myself, but we've always stayed on Marathon Key and avoided Key West except on weekdays in the fall.
When my husband was working in Homestead, FL in the '90's; my son and I would visit him and drive over to the Keys in the spring. They stank at the time and I could hardly wait to leave. The smell wasn't noticed in the last several years, so I guess that was cleaned up. I know they greatly improved the roads since that time with passing lanes added every once in a while.
My husband and I stayed two days each at the Key Largo and Key West Marriotts. I would not stay at the Key Largo site again, I really thought it was a ripoff. Resort prices for a understaffed, undercared for aging property. However I loved the Key West Marriot that we stayed in and would return in a second if I could. Well maybe next winter. It was to die for. All good, room, food, staff, location.
My wife and I just spent our 25th Anniversary in Key West. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and drove the 155 miles to the Key West Fairfield Inn (newly renovated and gorgeous). It took us about 5 hours to do the trip along the keys and it was worth every mile. There is so much to take in. The Fairfield Inn on US 1/North Roosevelt is 2.5 miles from Duval Street, Mallory Square and the start of US 1 (mile marker 0). The hotel and staff were fantastic. The concierge helped us book the "Rum and Reggae" catamaran tour that included snorkeling, photo ops for the sunset and lots of rum, champagne, beer and great people to share it with. Stop in to "Sloppy Joes" and have the nachos. Drop into the original Margaritaville and have a beer. Higgs Beach on the south side of Key West is the nicest beach and you can rent Hobie cats, kayaks and paddle boards there. Have a ball, we did!
Did 6 days in the keys last spring and if you are traveling with kids I would suggest staying in Key Largo and making a day trip to Key West. The KL Marriot is nice and is not a massive resort like others found in Fl or AZ but since its located on a small island that is what I expected. there are great scuba, snorkeling and other water sports nearby plus dolphin adventures. Did the drive to KW mid-week and there was no traffic just a beautiful drive.
This is the best way to do this trip, based upon my experiences. The drive is beautiful and memorable. You can get better "Airfares" to FT. Lauderdale, than many other places.
Have a good trip, to anyone that desires to attempt to go to Key West. It is a wonderful place for "Adults"!
jerrycoin Our RT fare from New Orleans to Ft. Lauderdale was $232 each. We flew Delta and were upgraded to First Class on the New Orleans to Atlanta leg. We were upgraded to Comfort + on all the other legs. We had researched flying directly to Key West, but decided we wanted to experience the drive through the Keys which included the 7-mile bridge.
Do not be afraid of the drive to Key West, but as it has been mentioned most of the road is two lane and it can be very lengthy depending on the day, holiday time etc,. Flying into Key West (EYW) is a good option as Delta has a couple of flights a day as well as UA Express from a couple of Florida cities. We've talked about taking the Ft. Myers Express a number of times at least one way, but have yet to do it.
As for accommodations and since most do not visit Key West for the beach we've had fantastic stays at Key West Hotels | Island City House Hotel | 800.634.8230 in the Cigar House 1 BR Suite on the third floor. A wonderful spot that is very close everything in Key West and they have bicycles you can rent if walking is not your thing.
If you want beach then I'd recommend Marco Island Hotels | Marco Island Marriott as it may be one of the top Marriott properties with a huge beach in Florida. Easy to drive from RSW south on I-75, takes about 45 minutes.
I second IAHFLYR's recommendation for the Marco Island Marriott. It's much nicer than you'd expect for that brand, although they are converting to a JW in Jan. 2017. The facilities there are heavenly, as is the beach. There is a ferry called KeyWest Express (I think that's the name - it also takes off from Ft. Myers as indicated above) that will take you from Marco Island to Key West for about $100 per person, and it's a 3 hour trip each way. Or you can charter a plane from Marco to KW for $199 person for 5 people or $2000 total.
Just got back from Key West a couple of weeks ago. Second time staying at Key West Marriott Beachside. Would stay there forever if I could. You need a 1-bedroom suite overlooking the water to truly appreciate the property. As well, the restaurant is nothing less than fantastic. It should be noted that I am truly particular.
Relax and enjoy the drive. The scenery is beautiful. FLL to Key West is four hours. Duval Street is fantastic. Definitely worth the drive for that alone.
missgee We also enjoyed the Key West Marriott Beachside. The upgrade to the 1-BR suite was definitely appreciated. Duval Street reminded us so much of the French Quarter/Bourbon Street except that lots of people were in their swimsuits.
After just having returned from the Marriott Key West Beachside, I can say without hesitation, it was a wonderful place to stay. The staff were excellent, the room (1 bedroom suite) was very large, well decorated, clean, comfortable with a very nice private outdoor space. The pool area was very nice and relaxing, with good service. The entire resort was spotless and the shuttle service, into and out of town, was a great benefit. Highly recommend!
When I originally posted this thread, we had not decided on exactly where in Florida we were going. We ended up going to the Tampa/Clearwater/St. Pete area and had a wonderful trip.
Now.....we are thinking about Key West again. If you have any new recommendations, I would be excited to hear them.
If you stayed at the Marriott Key West Beachside Hotel, will you please elaborate on any benefits that Platinum members receive.
We visited Key West last October and stayed at the Beachside. Very nice hotel, nice staff and good breakfast buffet. As gold, we were upgraded to a large one bedroom suite with a balcony. Not the greatest view (on the side of the building), but we did have a partial canal few and the room was awesome.
There is a Publix (grocery) store about a 1/2 mile down the main road, where we picked up things for the room - wine. You know, the essentials.
Best dining experience and most romantic - Latitudes on Sunset Key. Make reservations. You are taken over to the restaurant on Sunset Key, by boat. Book a table about 30 minutes before sunset and ask for a table outside. Fabulous view and wonderful food.
Antonia's on Duval has great Italian food.
Great place for drinks and oysters at Sunset - Turtle Kraals Restaurant and Bar, upstairs. Inexpensive and a fantastic view.
Seven Fish on Olivia has exceptional seafood dishes. Reservation necessary.
Vino's on Duval, near Fleming is a classy little wine bar.
Glazed Donuts, around the corner, is a must visit, if you like donuts/sweets, but probably only once.
The Hemingway house is a nice tour, as is the Truman Little Whitehouse.
psudad Thank you so much for the recommendations. Is the breakfast buffet complimentary for Golds and Platinums?
If I recall, continental was included or you could add hot food for an upcharge - which is Marriott policy. We also had a full kitchen. So, if you wanted to, you could do your own thing. We had the hotel bring up a regular coffee maker and then got coffee and filters at the grocery store.
Totally agree with you! Great recommendations:
B.O.'s Fishwagon, just off of Duval, is a real favorite for fresh fish! Fun place as well!
Seven Fish, is small, but very nice for dinner! Daily Specials and a short walk from Duval St.!
Louis Backyard is always my favorite for dining and Sunset watching!
La Trattoria, on Duval, is upbeat and very nice Italian food!
You won't leave hungry with their pasta!
Their desserts are exceptional!
Have a great trip!
Key West is one my favorite places, but it is not a "Family Place"!
The drive from Ft. Lauderdale is one of my favorites in America, and I hope someday to do the Ft. Myers boat trip. Have never been to Ft. Myers.
The Marriott properties are all exceptional, and do use their shuttles. Parking is a problem in this small town!
Even the "Wild Birds" enjoy a cocktail in Key West!
Pockets of Duval are still a bit crazy, but it has also turned into pretty nice shopping - a bit tamer, though that would depend on when you are there. My wife and I were there just before Fantasy Fest - those participants were starting to flow in as we were wrapping up our stay.
We learned about it just prior to our trip, long after all was booked. Fortunately, we were leaving on the leading edge of their festivities. We were there 22nd through the 25th. Some of the folks coming for that event started trickling in around the 24th. But from what I am told, the week leading up to Halloween is the craziest. So, we weren't really impacted.
Another place as an alternative to Marriott's that we've stayed twice and will again later this year is the http://www.islandcityhouse.com/. We stay in the Cigar House on the 3rd floor, full kitchen overlooking the pool and very close to Duval as well as Mallory Square for sunsets.
We stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria "The Reach" resort which, I think, used to be Marriott's timeshares on Key West. At any rate, the location was perfect and this resort has the best beach on Key West. So I'd recommend if you have status at Hilton, perhaps due to a status match or maybe if you have HHonors points. None of the Marriott properties are convenient to Duvall, so Key West is the rare location where I intentionally choose another brand of hotel.
IAHFLYR I checked out this recommendation and it looked lovely. Unfortunately, they did not have a vacancy in our time frame.