By Sara Liss
Oh the Keys. Land of laid-back living, salty fish shacks and island adventure. Hawks Cay Resort has long been synonymous with the Key’s version of "barefoot luxury." Located on Duck Key about two hours south of Miami, the idyllic resort occupies a 60-acre swath of the private island. The classic resort recently underwent a $35 million facelift with an expanded pool, two new restaurants, a spacious lobby featuring Bali-esque dark wood furniture and renovated rooms with flatscreen TVs and posh bathrooms.
The concept: The "Hamptons of the Keys," Hawk’s Cay has always been the nautical resort of choice for the polo-wearing set. With a plethora of water-based activities available such as parasailing and jet-skiing, the resort is the ideal getaway for families and honeymooning couples looking for a swanky spot in the Keys.
The rooms: The redesigned rooms are tastefully appointed with West Indies-style furniture. Think mahogany 4-post beds covered in white linens, beige stone floors and shadow-box artwork. Nightly turn-down service includes a sample-size Essence of Vali "sleep" essence made of lavender, marjoram, cedarwood and ylang-ylang plant extracts.
The amenities: Fulfill your Flipper fantasies at the resort’s Dolphin Discovery, where you’ll get to interact with one of the resort’s five bottlenose dolphins. Boating enthusiasts will revel in the options available at hotel, from renting a charter fishing boat for the day to learning to sale with the Offshore Sailing School to exploring the waters via kayaks. Oceanic adventure is the name of the game. A poolside communal firepit also provides a cozy nightcap spot where guests gather to socialize.
The eats: With five restaurants to choose from, there’s little need to leave the resort. New on the property is San Francisco chef Johhny Alamilla’s Alma, serving Nuevo Latin cuisine. The innovative fare includes offerings likes pan-seared duck breast with ancho chili blackberry sauce and grouper ceviche with grapefruit and green chilis. Also new is Rum Bar, where vintage rums and Latin-inspired cocktails are served up along with live music. The Beach Grill features "barefoot dining." Guests are encouraged to kick their shoes off and enjoy decadent American comfort food like lobster mac and cheese, Yukon potato and Gruyere cheese gratin and Caesar salad with pancetta crisps. Don’t miss out on the "hook and cook" option at Tom’s Harbor House where chef Tony Glitz will cook up your fresh catch of the day (providing, of course, that you catch something).
The pampering: The resort’s 7,000-square-foot Calm Waters Spa now features organic products and island-inspired treatments. Go for the Maritime Manicure and Pedicure, a "facial" for your hands and feet consisting of a sea salt soak, exfoliation and mask and massage.
The bottom line: Rooms start from $225 per night. From now until November the hotel is also offering special rates of $175 per night.
61 Hawks Cay Blvd. Duck Key, 305-743-7000; www.hawkscay.com