But, the bright side is that the flood started a sort of total renovation of Key West's buildings, gardens and pools, and we all got new cars! The results are stunning, and people will try to tell you that Key West has lost its funky charm. But, tell that to the handsome rooster strutting down Duval Street or to the fine folks sharing a beer and a belly laugh at The Green Parrot...you can even tell the Elvis impersonator at The Bull (just don't step on his blue suede shoes).
It really is the best of both worlds; Key West is still as loose as a goose, but everywhere you go...you get eye candy. On the east side of the island, the renovation of our classic hotel, The Casa Marina, is breathtaking...with a sweeping promenade to the ocean bordered on both sides with long narrow pools; the view meets the ocean seamlessly and appears to go on forever. The Reach has also been updated with a gorgeous new restaurant all done in jewel box red velvet with vintage strippers on the walls. (I should clarify the photos are vintage not the strippers!) It's aptly named The Strip House. (The best steak I have ever eaten in a restaurant!) The Reach's white lobby with Callalillys and bowls of green apples are a lovely contrast. The entrance of the old Santa Maria hotel has been redone to great effect with fanciful huge white mobiles and fountains. My favorite sushi restaurant is in this lobby; it's called Ambrosia, and it is.
On the west, facing sunset, the Hyatt has just completed a fantastic renovation...Included a new Spa and relaxing pool area with white cabanas for snuggling. The Hyatt received the green designation for its eco-friendly changes as did the exclusive Gardens hotels on Angela St. The Pier House has added new super deluxe suites that jut out over the blue Gulf of Mexico. On the North end of the island, the old Holiday Inn has been completely redone and will be flying the Marriott flag. This gorgeous property is called Beachside. But, I suppose my favorite of all is a little boutique hotel in Old Town called The Marquesa; it hasn't changed too much because it was perfect to begin with; it has a one-of-a-kind Key West charm and is also home to one of my favorite restaurants - Cafe Marquesa - a wonderful tiny restaurant full of smiling friendly faces and superb cuisine.
There are so many wonderful hotels and guest houses here, I can't list them all in this little note; I'll tell you more when I write again. In the meantime, summertime is VALUE time in the Keys and Key West! All over the island people are spiffing up and rolling out the red carpets. The rates are great, a warm ocean is waiting, and everything is in full bloom. Just watch out for the iguanas…. they're everywhere!!! FUNKY!