Skip the lines to man-made haunted houses this year, and instead, book a trip to Key West where history-made spooks are plentiful.
I was wrapped in a cocoon of towels and heating pads, lying in what yogis call “corpse pose.” The masseuse at Top Spa in Key West had asked if I was claustrophobic before configuring me like so. We were at the end of my Rejuvenating Noni Body Glow treatment, which included a raw sugar cane scrub, body masque and scalp massage, and I was running through all of my favorite moments the way you do before you add another to the list.
The masseuse hit a button that lifted the top half of the table like a hospital bed, and my eyes met a view of where the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico merge just past the panoramic window. Top Spa at La Concha Hotel offers the highest view accessible to the public in Key West, a 2- by 4-mile island (depending on water levels) that’s only 90 miles from Cuba. The hotel, which is at the center of the infamous Duval Street, celebrates its 90th birthday this year. According to spa director Alicia Howell, in 1926 when the hotel first opened, the rooms went for $3 a night, but spend an extra 30 cents and you’d also get a steak dinner.
Key West is perhaps the most eclectic, character-bearing pocket of Florida with a likelihood of finding fishermen, drag performers and bachelorette parties all in the same vicinity. It can be guessed a historic landmark property like La Concha has seen a lot between its days offering bargain stays in the ’20s and premier spa treatments in the 2000. After experiencing the spa, spending the afternoon parasailing and then having dinner by Mallory Square with a view of the sunset, my friend and I sat across from La Concha’s lobby bartender as he shared tales about the building—particularly, its ghost stories.
The first was about a man who’d sat at the bar and ordered a glass of Chardonnay. After quickly downing the pour, he found the roof and jumped off. Another incident involved a housekeeper working on the 5th floor who hit the elevator button and when the doors opened, he routinely backed in pulling his carrier. However, the elevator cart hadn’t come down from the 6th floor, so he fell to his death. Both men are said to haunt the hotel, with guests claiming to hear faint screams during elevator rides or have their Chardonnay vanish from their hands.
We didn’t experience much in the realm of supernatural occurrences during our stay, except for one night when we returned to a dark room and both swore we hadn’t dialed down the lights or switched off the TV. Perhaps we were psyching ourselves out, or we were visited by a ghost who is also a conservationist.
Take a ghost tour during your visit to discover the rest of the island’s eerie history. Additionally during October, La Concha Hotel & Spa will offer a “Go Pink Pedicure” that includes a sugar scrub, hydrating foot mask and massage followed by a pink polish for $50. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys, which financially assists patients in cancer treatment.
La Concha Hotel & Spa / 430 Duval St., Key West / 305.296.2991 / laconchakeywest.com