Onsite Review: High-End Comes to Key Largo

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With the opening of the new 144-room Playa Largo Resort & Spa, an Autograph Collection property, it’s evident that “high-end has come to Key Largo,” as Mark Calibo, the property’s director of sales and marketing, describes it over lunch on a recent Saturday afternoon. The property opened its doors in October and we were there to partake in the grand opening celebration, as well as check out all this stunning property has on offer.

One foot in the lobby and you know this baby has completely upped the ante when it comes to Florida Keys properties. This gateway to the grand resort offers a posh, albeit laid-back, setting, done up with cozy nooks with stylish hanging hammock chairs and elegant fresh floral decor, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the blue ocean dancing across the horizon. One of my favorite spots in the lobby is the hip Las Olas Ceviche Bar, one of several dining venues.

Although, if I had to choose my favorite restaurant, it would be very tough. My meals included a lobster club at the poolside Sand Bar, lobster bisque at La Marea, and a delicious lobster salad at Sol by the Sea, which features stunning views of the ocean and live acoustic by local artist Leah Sutter. At the aforementioned ceviche bar, which is open until 1 a.m. and is ideal for a nightcap, I enjoyed a ceviche feast and drinks before heading out to dinner.

There are other treats awaiting guests at the onsite Ocean Spa, which offers plenty of treatments to choose from, all with a take-home gift. For my Key Largo Signature Massage, which incorporated the use of hot stones and tropical-scented oils, I was welcomed with a cool, mint-infused towel and as a parting gift, I was sent home with a pouch of a few small stones to re-create a state of Zen. One unique option we kept hearing about during our stay was the Sea Mud Manicure/Pedicure, which infuses mud taken from the sea into the treatment; after this treatment, guests get to take a bottle of their polish home as a gift.

It’s for the Parents, Really!
The property’s kids’ club is “a reverse club,” as Calibo describes it. “We didn’t build it for the kids, we built it for the parents.” Playa Kids is a place where parents can spend time with their kids, watch movies, and participate in educational games and crafts. But for those parents who need a little adult time, the property offers the Kids’ Camp (for ages 5-12). The camp activities are education focused, where the kids go out with vision tubes to identify animals; take the Nature Trail to identify indigenous species shown on their iPad, and much more. The Kids’ Camp will soon be adding a culinary component to the program during which kids will be able to make their own lunch with a chef.

During the property’s Kid’s Night Out, kids ages 5-12 enjoy games, pizza, popcorn, movies, and crafts (priced at $74 per child including dinner). Star Party Camp is another fun activity for kids to take part in as they join the activities team for a couple of hours of roasting marshmallows, stargazing and adopting their own star ($50 per child). Teens can also join in on a little group fun with planned activities such as s’mores by
the fireplace.

Sleep In
The property offers a variety of accommodation categories (128 are currently available for booking). Guests can choose from the 432-sq.-ft. standard guestroom, the King Corner Suite ($359-$789), the Presidential Suite ($1,500) and 10 Bungalows ($889) that sleep four. There’s also an onsite Beach House complete with its own private pool and beach access. The Beach House and all of the Bungalows are expected to be open for booking by the end of this month; five of the Bungalow accommodations opened late last month. The Beach House starts at $3,500 per night with a 2-night minimum Monday-Thursday, and $4,500 per night with a 2-night minimum Friday-Sunday. Families can also opt for the connecting King Corner Suite with a Standard Bay View ($668) or the Presidential Suite connecting to a Bay Front Suite ($2,100). Standard room rates start at $249 per night.

Sun-Drenched Fun
There is plenty for guests to do when the sun drapes across the Florida Keys, whether it’s relaxing in a cozy hammock by the ocean or partaking in one of the many watersports—paddleboarding, kayaking, snorkeling, diving, parasailing, fishing, boating and sailing—right from the property. One recommended activity is the Sunset Sail with a Champagne toast, or the Eco-Tour ($65-75 pp for up to six passengers), which takes guests on a Zodiac boat tour from Playa Largo to the Everglades to explore the national park’s wildlife and fauna. For guests who want to pack as much into their vacation as they can, suggest a day trip to Key West, which is about a 2-hour drive, or Miami, about an hour away. “There are scheduled pick-ups with Keys Shuttle, or we give them recommendations of where to go or what to see if they have a rental car,” says Calibo. “These are customized at our concierge desk and can include a picnic basket or soft cooler of beverages. Day trips visit South Beach and tour Little Havana or Downtown Mary Brickell Village, and there are evening trips to local restaurants and nightclubs.” Per person prices start at $150 excluding venue and activities.