In 2021, according to Expedia’s annual Travel Trends Report, travelers are planning to “get back out there.” And, in particular, they’re searching island escapes more than ever, everything from The Maldives to Maui and Oahu, proving the world is craving retreats to far-flung remote destinations.
Yet, not everyone is quite ready for the long-distance travel that comes with it.
So what if we told you that there’s a way to achieve that same sense of sneaking away to a far-flung island retreat…without having to embark on the actual “far-flung” part? That’s precisely the beauty of a stay at Sunset Key Cottages. Because while this resort destination has all the characteristics of a remote island – think sugar-white sand on a private beach, hissing palms that look like they’re doing a lazy boogie-woogie in the salty breeze, and a daily sunset over Caribbean-blue-colored water – this particular 27-acre island is actually no more than a meager 160 miles from Miami, Florida, off the coast of Key West. But it sure feels like it could be 1,600. Here’s why.
For Starters, You Have to Take a Ferry to Access It
But it’s not like you’re about to embark on a long journey across the sea. The small shuttle boat that departs from the western edge of the island of Key West from the waterfront sister property, Opal Key Resort & Marina, travels just a mere 500 yards away – no more than a seven-minute ride – to the dock at Sunset Key Cottages. Still, once you step foot on that covered wooden dock that leads right to the main building housing check-in (and the resort’s award-winning restaurant, Latitudes), the sounds of Duval Street instantly become a distant memory.
You’re Not Staying in Just Another Hotel Room
While there’s one main building – home to the concierge, The Spa at Sunset Key, and the restaurant – all 40 of the accommodations come in the form of one-to-four bedroom to two-to-four bedroom (one-bedrooms are an exception) stand-alone cottages. But a series of no-frills beachside bungalows these are not. With pastel-colored wood finishings, authentic Victorian-style tin roofs, fully-equipped kitchens, and impeccably appointed interiors renovated in 2018, these cottages are a stunning study in relaxing luxury. Not to mention, many come with their own bougainvillea-draped porches complete with rocking chairs and some even with a private plunge pool.
The Island-Wide Tropical Vibe Truly Transports
Perhaps one of the best parts of this island is its private stretch of beach – something you won’t find in Key West proper. We’re talking a perfect crescent of white sand – that only guests of the resort can access – studded with lounge chairs and tiki hut umbrellas. Never want to leave this spot? Food and beverage service provided by Latitudes makes it so that you don’t have to. Between dips in the turquoise-blue water and snoozing beneath the palms, the only thing reminding you that you are still in the US might just be the buzzing of your cell phone alerting you to today’s headlines (but we suggest you go ahead and silence that).
Your Meals Are Fresh, Flavorful Marine-Inspired Masterpieces
The food on Sunset Key is all about locally sourced fresh fish and tropical fruit based on what is in season. In fact, thanks to an ever-evolving “work of art” menu, it’s no wonder that Latitudes has earned scores of accolades like both OpenTable’s “Best Overall Restaurant in Key West” and “100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America” and – most recently – a nomination for “Best Restaurant” in Condé Nast Traveler 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards. And the perfect place here to relish a meal of Key West pink shrimp carbonara or pan-roasted Caribbean lobster tail might just be on the outdoor patio. Offering both seating under the building’s extended eaves or right on the sand – surrounded by low hedges, palm trees, Tiki torches, and a breathtaking backdrop of the Gulf – come sunset, this spot never fails to elicit a steady stream of “oohs” and “aahs.”
Time Simply Slows Down Here, So You Can Actually Enjoy the Little Things
It’s not always easy to put into words, but there’s something about the resort’s attention to the littlest details that guests seem to remember most about their stay. Unique personal touches greet you around every corner, like how the restaurant will cook up your catch from your day’s angling adventures and the lush tropical vegetation is landscaped to perfection daily. There’s even an island ice cream bike dubbed “the conch cruiser” that delivers frozen treats to guests throughout the property and the full-service spa offers an outdoor thatched-roof cabana right on the far edge of the beach for private treatments narrated by the sound of quietly crashing waves. So, no, you may not be on a remote island that is hundreds of miles from other landforms, but whenever you’re here, you’re always able to sign onto island time in order to be truly transported somewhere very far, far away.
Where to Stay Sunset Key Cottages