Ernest Hemingway once said, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
The journey to Key West provides a perfect example, with 100 shades of turquoise and emerald green water surrounding each side of the highway. A deep sense of relaxation washes over you and breathless adoration of our Floridian treasure begins – not the gold bar kind found on sunken ships, but the priceless one. After a sigh and revelation, your brain signals start to fire: Slow down, let go, deep breath, no stress allowed – this is Jimmy Buffet land!
Making this local journey after years of globetrotting, one easily forgets that just a few hours from home, we can be transported to paradise. A true cornucopia of water sports, dockside dining and drinking and memorable sunsets, all the Keys are unique, but there is only one Key West. It is rich in history – think Ponce de Leon 1513 – and a haven for fishermen, pirates, artists, writers, rum runners and treasure hunters. This magical melting pot has fostered a spirit of independence in the Conch Republic and has created a place full of cultural characters.
Set within an oasis in the midst of Key West chaos is a Keys-style, brand new boutique hotel, The Marker. Having just opened in December, this tucked-away gem is located in the heart of the Key West Historic Seaport, just a short walk from Mallory Square and the main drag of Duval Street in Old Town. I enjoyed the contemporary ambience and laid-back luxury – a fabulous fit for a Key West getaway. The hotel is unpretentious, and immerses guests in a tranquil hideaway with lushly landscaped tropical grounds, several pools and a state-of-the-art fitness center.
As I walked through the lobby and found a local map, the concierge jubilantly proclaimed, “Don’t forget, 6:08 sunset!” With The Marker’s close proximity to Mallory Square, I couldn’t resist this famous-yet-touristy sunset tradition mixed with magicians, jugglers, clowns, psychics, sword swallowers, artists and acrobats. This iconic celebration took off in the 1960s and hasn’t stopped since. My favorite act is “Catman Dominique” and his trained circus cats. Who knew that kitties could jump through hoops of fire, let alone be trained? Amazing.
Watching the spectacular sun dip into the Gulf of Mexico put me in a true Key West state of mind. Taking Hemingway’s advice, I celebrated the journey, and not just the destination.
Don’t Miss Foodie Tips and Treats
Cero Bodega: The Marker’s on-site restaurant. Start with a Hibiscus Mango Mojito along with the seared crispy yellowtail snapper served with seasonal succotash.
Glazed Donuts: Located at 420 Eaton, just off of Duval Street, the doughnut shop is total indulgence. Try the seasonal homemade special, Orange Dreamsickle.
Better Than Sex: A dessert-only restaurant providing mystery, romance and decadent sweets along with chocolate dipped wine glasses, Champagne and caramel rimmed beer glasses.
Snapper’s Key Largo: Located at Mile Marker 94.5, the restaurant is a perfect stop in the Upper Keys on your way to/from Key West. Try the Original Fish Sandwich made with fresh mahi.
IF YOU GO
The Marker Key West
200 William St., Key West