Little Palm Island

by Bernard McCormick The Keys Feb 2014 Also on Digital Edition

Celebrating a 50th anniversary in the Keys.

Little Palm Island

If you are wondering where to escape for a few days when your next 50th wedding anniversary comes up, you can do worse than Little Palm Island Resort & Spa. As the name suggests, this is an island, is little and has a lot of palms. It is off Little Torch Key in the Florida Keys, about 30 miles up from Key West. Unlike most of the numerous islands in the Keys, which are largely mangrove-covered, this one has so much tropical foliage it could pass for the South Pacific. In fact, it did, back in 1963 when it was selected for the film, “PT 109,” the saga about President John F. Kennedy’s heroics in World War II.

The foliage is not native. Decades back an original owner brought in the palms and numerous other plants, which over the years have grown to give it a distinctively lush appearance. It is also famous for the Key deer who roam the island, fellows about the size of large dogs who think they own the place and sometimes have to be shooed off when they try to snatch stuff from your plate when outdoor dining takes place. There is always an attendant nearby to do the shooing. If it sounds nice, it is about $750 a night nice (depending on the season, it can be more) and that doesn’t include martinis.

It is obviously one of the country’s most exclusive hideaways, and it is a hideaway. Everything, including the 100 staffers, comes over daily by boat, a 10-minute ride from the mainland. Of course, you can fly in, providing your plane floats. There is nothing east of Little Palm but ocean. Pricey yes, but it is hard to argue with such quality, especially when it is an anniversary present from your kids. The dense growth is constantly manicured and the trails are raked daily. There are only 30 units, spaced along trails through the 5 1/2 acre island, each one rustic luxury. The draped four-poster beds are so high you need a pole vault to get there. The attention to detail, such as personalized stationery, is everywhere. Wherever we wandered for four days, people wished us a happy anniversary. We even got a shout out on the menu. The pleasures are not limited to guests. The public can come over for a few hours to dine, although restaurant visitors are restricted to the dining area. One of those day hoppers was a couple we had not seen for several years when they were regulars on Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard.

It is also a hot spot for weddings. We saw a nice one on our stay. Nothing like exchanging vows on a beach as the sun sinks to the west. The other guests were surprisingly young. They enjoyed the water sports, such as snorkeling and riding those motorized skateboards that seem fun to drive – if you are under 60. We did take a sunset cruise to watch the sun disappear. Only a few hundred bucks. It would have been cheaper had we not been the only people aboard. We sensed a few honeymooners, cooing in strange tongues in the tree-shaded pool, but there was one fellow of upper middle age who was celebrating his first wedding anniversary. Somehow we don’t think it was his first marriage. Note: No kids under 16. No TV. Noble House, which owns the place (and a number of other first-class resorts) wants people to forget there is a real world. It is not hard to do.