Key West has long been a utopia of openness and diversity for travelers from around the world. With a welcoming community, a landscape of incomparable beauty, as well as exciting art, culture, nightlife, and delectable culinary experiences, Key West provides visitors all they need for the perfect getaway. Come with us and discover some of the highlights of what’s new in this fascinating, one-of-a-kind destination that’s “close to perfect, far from normal.”
Here are some highlights of what’s new in the keys:
The acclaimed 27-room Marquesa Hotel has expanded with a new sister property, the 14-room Marquesa 4-1-4 that opened Oct 20. Marquesa 4-1-4 includes a newly built Bahama House, with eight rooms and private porches set around a swimming pool and granite wall fountain. The property also includes the renovation of two historic buildings, the William Kerr and Pilothouses. Marquesa 4-1-4’s lobby retains original hand-stenciled ceiling panels, Dade County pine walls, and original curved-glass windows. The new rooms are priced under a single 41-room Marquesa rate structure. Complimentary Wi-Fi, a welcome glass of wine, newspapers, morning coffee, afternoon iced tea, and parking are included. Marquesa 4-1-4 is located at 414 Simonton St
In addition, the 311-room Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort offers seaplane service from its beach, billed as the island city’s largest private beach, for aerial sightseeing trips to Dry Tortugas National Park. The seaplane service includes a Champagne toast or signature cocktail, with rates priced from $3,500 roundtrip for four for a narrated 80-minute experience at just 500 feet over water. Casa Marina’s beach concierge service offers smoothies and chilled eucalyptus towels every 90 minutes. Poolside packages in cabanas include a TV a mini-fridge with nonalcoholic beverages and, a fruit platter, priced at $175 per cabana per day. Cabanas can fit up to four adults. Casa Marina is located at 1500 Reynolds St. www.casamarinaresort.com
Key West has a new $4 million Truman Waterfront Park Amphitheater with 500 seats and a 2,400-square-foot band shell, located at 21 Quay Road in Truman Waterfront Park. The park borders Truman Annex and the entrance to Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. The venue, with total capacity for 2,500, features an exterior covered with panels made of Alucobond, an aluminum composite material. The amphitheater is gearing up to fully open in November. Events booked for 2018 at the new city-operated venue include the Krewe of Key West Costume Ball set for Saturday, Feb. 3, and the Americana Folk Country Music Festival scheduled Wednesday through February 7-10.
The new complimentary hop-on, hop-off Duval Loop bus service makes it easy to travel around the island’s historic Seaport and downtown Duval Street districts without a car. The route includes 16 stops, allowing riders to get on and off near Key West attractions, hotels, museums, boutiques, and eateries. Designed to reduce traffic and parking challenges, the recently launched service is a project of Car-Free Key West. The city campaign promotes healthier, eco-friendly alternatives to driving such as walking, bicycling, and public transit. Duval Loop’s colorful pink and blue buses run every half-hour from 6 to 10 AM. After 10 AM, the buses run every 15 minutes until midnight. The service operates daily December through April. From May through November, Duval Loop runs Thursday through Sunday. Visit carfreekeywest.com
The Key West Attractions Association, one of Key West’s oldest business associations, is to celebrate its 35th anniversary in December by unveiling a new 2018 Vacation Pass, priced at $49, plus $6 shipping and handling, per person. The 2017 pass offered more than $1,100 in savings with 25 value-added enhancements for visitors. The association’s 80 members include Key West attractions, tours, water activities companies, charters, hotels and resorts, restaurants and bars, sunset charters, and other businesses. Member Key West Aquarium, one of Key West’s oldest attractions, opened on Feb. 18, 1935, and promotes itself as the first aquarium to use an “open-air concept” in its design.
Today, the aquarium’s interior is air-conditioned. Visit www.keywestattractions.org or www.keywestvacationpass.com or call 305-293-7249
A new Room Escape team-building activity is offered at Casa Antigua, 314 Simonton St, a private residence built in 1919 that originally was one of Key West’s first hotels. The escaperoom experience, “Escape the Study,” is offered for groups of two to eight. The 60-minute activity requires participants to communicate and work together to escape the room by figuring out clues and solving puzzles in a fun, themed environment. Two more rooms, called Jail Break Havana and Pirate Treasure Hunt, are soon to be unveiled. Author Ernest Hemingway and his wife Pauline stayed at the building once known as the Trev-Mor Hotel in the late 1920s while waiting for an automobile to be delivered. Key West Room Escape is open daily and available for groups. Visit keywestroomescape.com or call 305-916-5517 (The Key West Business Guild’s)
Gay Key West Visitor Center has relocated to 808 Duval St, just steps from Duval Street’s four rainbow crosswalks in the heart of the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender entertainment district. The new location is within Key West’s famed “Pink Triangle,” with its cluster of LGBT bars, clubs, and stores around the 700 and 800 blocks of Duval. For the last 15 years, the guild was based at 513 Truman Ave “Recognizing that all people are created equal, Key West is renowned for its welcoming and accepting attitude,” said Matt Hon, executive director of the Key West Business Guild. The guild, acclaimed as one of America’s leading gay business associations, was launched in 1978 to support Key West’s gay community. Key West attracts more than 225,000 LGBT visitors annually. Visit gaykeywestfl.com