I suppose you could replace the saying “turning lemons into lemonade” with “turning limes into Key Lime Pie” with my latest group adventure. A group of travel buddies had planned a wonderful fall getaway to Nantucket and just as all the bags had been packed with sweaters and jackets preparing for the nice cool fall weather, a jumbo-sized Northeaster hit the entire northeastern shore with Nantucket being in the center. Our flights were all cancelled, and the much-anticipated trip came to a sudden halt.
This group had carefully planned and taken off work schedules, regretted to meetings and parties, hired transfers to the airport and back, and had everything lined up for a long weekend of pure fun. You can only imagine what everyone was feeling after getting the bad news. Then, the texts started flowing- so from whose house are we going to watch the Bulldogs and Braves play and what can we do to make up for this? It was too late to get the required covid testing and travel approvals for the islands we quickly had considering switching to and everyone wanted to take advantage of the time we had allotted for the trip…. so, the most obvious choice…. the Florida Keys!
After doing a quick search of availability in Key West it was obvious that SOMETHING was happening there. Most hotels were fully committed and there were only around 10 seats remaining on the flight leaving the next morning. I decided to check availability of a newer property in Marathon that I had been sending customers to recently that had fabulous reviews. BINGO! Not only were they available but had a 20% off sale running that week. The next problem was that there were no rental vans available from Key West to get there because of some massive event that was being held there…so how would we get to Marathon from the Key West airport? Marathon is approximately an hour or so from Key West. It is around three hours from Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Isabelle, being the resourceful gal that she is, decided to call our hotel to see if their concierge could recommend a van service for our group to transport us. This was quickly arranged, and all the flights were booked, and everyone’s luggage was emptied of the sweaters and coats and replaced with shorts and bathing suits.
FAST FORWARD- the next day we all arrive at the Atlanta airport early the next morning and were shocked to see that the CLEAR line was longer than the regular check-in line…. oh well! We head to the Delta Sky Club lounge to grab a few bites before our flight and meet some other passengers that are headed to Key West on our same flight. That is where we found out why all the hotels were booked there for that week. It just happened to be FANTASY WEEK that is the most attended event in Key West of the entire year! Have you ever heard of Fantasy Week that is held each year the week of Halloween? Well…. I will just say that if you enjoy parades of people that replace costumes with body paint – that is the week you need to go!
Upon arrival in Marathon, we checked in to our FABULOUS resort, the Isla Bella, and were immediately served champagne and had our luggage sent off to our rooms. We were taken next door for a nice lunch at the Sunset Grill to satisfy our fresh stone crab claw cravings. Once back at the resort we began to take in the warm sun and great libations! The manager invited us to a hosted cocktail reception to get to know them for the first night. It is there that I had one of the best martini’s I have ever had, the Key Lime Martini!
The Isla Bella is a five-star spa resort that is very uncommon for the area that is known for being a fishing town. The accommodations are very modern with very elegant décor. You can choose to have a higher floor with a balcony or a ground floor with a porch leading out to the beach. They have a large main pool and two other smaller pools located in front of the rooms. They have a nice restaurant on property that offers indoor and outdoor seating. They offer breakfast, lunch and dinner there. They also have an alternate “Marketplace” that offers coffee, muffins, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, along with a nice selection of clothes, jewelry, and upscale accessories. It is there that you can choose from a large complimentary selection of bicycles to ride. We took advantage of that each morning! Also, to leave the property the taxis in Marathon only charge $7 a ride! Side note- the production crew of Jersey Shore was staying on the property for the week shooting their next show.
One DIVE of a restaurant/bar that we had lunch almost every day that has incredible stone crab claws was the Keys Fishery! The main reason to visit Marathon is to either stay at the Isla Bella for pure relaxation or to charter a fishing boat each day, snorkel or dive. Then there is always the KEY LIME PIE that each restaurant claims as being the best in the world…so our group did make the best of our situation and had a blast after all!
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