Hi Insiders - Over the Christmas holiday I'm going to be using the Vinoy in St. Petersburg as a base and heading down to Key West for two or three days. I know that there are three Marriott properties there - the Fairfield Inn, the Courtyard, and the Marriott beach side.
Have any of you Insiders stayed at any of them? Do you have any recommendations/comments that I should keep in mind? Any suggestions from my fellow Insiders travelers would be greatly appreciated. I'm planning on making the reservations this week, but realized that making them "blind" might not be the best idea!
By the way I love NH, stay in Concord at the FF, and enjoy driving to Littleton. There I enjoy the Littleton Inn, and Littleton Diner, especially in the Fall.
Now to assist you with your plans to Key West, you have picked one of my favorite places to go. Having stayed at all three of the properties, you can't go wrong. A lot depends on your budget. Obviously, the Marriott resort is the nicest, but do your best to get the best rate at any of these properties. The FF is closest to town, but here are a few suggestions:
If you drive, Be careful and take your time. It is a fantastic drive, but the road is one of the most dangerous in the US.
When you get there, the hotels have shuttle service to downtown, use it. There is also a "Trolley", that is very inexpensive that is nice as well. Parking is a problem, and the less driving/parking you have to do the better.
Make sure you have a chance to spend at Mallory Square before sunset. You will see cruise ships there and it is very memorable.
Take your cell phone to The Hog's Breath Inn, and call someone in NH, and have them go online and see you there. They have a mini-cam and you can call them and wave.
Try to make it to: The end of US 1, The Southern Most Point in the US (Get your picture there), The Lighthouse is breathtaking, Hemmingway's home.
Dine/Drink at: Sloppy Joe's, across the street from Hog's Breath (Duval Street), One nice meal or drink at sunset, Louis Backyard (upscale). Best Fish sandwich, BO's Shack, Short walk from Sloppy Joe's. If you want Italian, Two Guys is moderate but very good as well. One great seafood place is Seven Fish, small, and you will want to make reservations. Best value, where the local's dine, Rusty Anchor. One place that I personally enjoy is Jimmy Buffets, it is a great value, on Duval Street. Here are a few pictures: Have a great time, if I can assist with anything else, let me know!
Jerry - Thank you so much for your advice. It is most appreciated. I will print out your response and keep it for reference.
I've been at the Concord FF and the Littleton Inn. They are really good places to stay.
By the way, if you send me a short message via the Insiders e-mail with your number, I'll call you when I'm at the Hogs Breath!
I'm looking forward to the trip and your suggestions will make it even better.
Sent you the information you requested! I have a lot of great memories from NH, likewise a whole lot from Key West.
One thing I have always wanted to do, but never have, is take the high speed boat from Ft. Meyers to Key West and back. It takes a few hours but would be a neat way to avoid the drive, if you have done it before.
One more thing before I show you some other pictures if you are going fishing while in Key West. You may want to go to the charter boat area and discuss your desires with one of the charter mates or captains and get details about the fishing. I usually do this two days before I want to go out and it usually works out well. By the way, La Trattoria, was very nice, had my Birthday dinner of pasta there and it was nice, it's right on Duval Street.
Great pics. Just like NH, I was thinking of taking my family to Key West, too, prompting a question: when searching hotels on Marriott using "Beach" in the criteria, only the Marriott Beachside is listed for KW, FL. Does this mean it is actually "on the beach" and the other two properties are a short walk (perhaps across the street) to get on the beach? Or are all three so close to any beach that it really doesn't matter at all?
Key West does not have a true "Beach", it is rough rocks. You can go and enjoy the water and sun but it is not like Panama City or real beach sand, it is like the Med. Sea.
Secondly, be prepared for an "Adult" atmosphere. While walking down Duval Street, or about anywhere in Key West, there will be windows full of T-Shirts that will be on the "Wild" side. It is a great drive for the family to get there, but prepare yourself for the "Adult" atmosphere.
I have stayed and written about the Marriott Beachside several times. It's one of the best places I've ever checked into because the property was originally built as a timeshare but was never converted over. This means that most rooms are one and two bedrooms with full kitchens and living rooms. The hotel may be pricy at times, but it's really, really nice.
As far as the beach is concerned, there's a little patch of sand along the shoreline. I wouldn't consider it a real beach but to each his own.
Whenever I'm in Key West I always make it a point to have dinner at Cafe Sole. I've been going there since 1996 and haven't had a single bad meal there yet. It's a very small, cozy place with outstanding dishes.
I'm hoping you can answer a question!! I'm excited to see the good remarks on the Beachside as I've got 2 of the 3 bedroom suites booked for the end of Feb due to my son's wedding...... I'm hoping to host a cocktail greet and meet there and am wondering how many folks do you think one of these rooms could hold for something like this? Also ANY recommendations for a reasonable place to hold a rehearsal dinner?? My budget is stretched so I'm hoping we can find something nice but not too pricey.
You may want to consider where the locals go, Rusty Anchor. It is on the North side of Key West. Has plenty of room for a group and is not fancy, but prices are very reasonable. You may want to go by or call them, I do not know if they have a web-site. You will see a picture of The Rusty Anchor in one of my posts. The one with the swordfish.
OK. First, Key West does have a very nice sand beach. It is at Fort Zackary Taylor State Park which is on the very southwest tip of the island. Not only is there a nice beach suitable for snorkeling, but an old fort worth seeing. Secondly, no trip to KW is complete without a visit to Kermit's Key Lime shop in Old Town. It is memorable.
NH ... it's a bit difficult to add much to the comprehensive info above. We did a tour of Florida last year and drove down to Key West ... we stopped off at the Marriott in Key Largo on the way down ... it's a bit far for a Brit to drive in one day! We stayed at the Marriott Beachside in Key West and were treated extremely well ... great upgrade. As jerry suggests ... the Hog's Breath Inn is a must ... I still frequently wear my polo shirt from there. Everywhere we find a Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville ... we have to go in and have a ... guess what!?
The view from the lighthouse was well worth the climb ... piccy from the top is below ... and that low white building is Hemingway's house ... fascinating place, we learnt a lot there. There are lots of cats there that are supposedly descendants from the original Hemingway six-toed cats.
Another place that we really enjoyed on our journey was the Edison and Ford Winter Estates at Fort Myers. It may be on your way from St Petersburg. Have a great time, wherever you decide to stay!
First of all, none of the properties are downtown but all will offer shuttle service pretty much on the hour. They are all three on the north side of the Key but nothing is more than 10 minutes away. Bikes and or scooter rentals are also plentiful but parking anything is a challenge downtown. If you're going with family the Marriott Beachside offers nice 1,2 & 3 BR suites and there is a Publix nearby for cold drinks and other incidentals. The "beachside" part of the name is a bit misleading - there is a small patch of sand, but it's a reach to call it a beach - ditto for the Courtyard. The Fairfield is on the opposite side of the street so there is no real beach access there but a nice pool. Really it comes down to budget and room preference as none offer a real in-town experience. The Marriott is the newest (built in 2007 as a time share but sold to Marriott in 2008 when the market fell) - the others were built in the 60s and 80s and none were originally built as Marriotts so they're a little quirky. I would recommend the Marriott beachside if you can get a competitive rate. Be sure to go to Mallory Square just before sunset - there are usually lots of street entertainers around that time and it's pretty much one big party. Enjoy your visit.