Just a few miles from Key West, Oceans Edge is the smart choice for travelers seeking a big dose of luxury for a rather small price. It's got plenty of conch character with gingerbread moldings, a clapboard facade with shutters, and picket fences, yet in the midst of its take-it-slow surroundings you'll find plenty of modern conveniences for today's connected world. And, every room (yes, every room) boasts an ocean view.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Although it has "Key West" in its name, the resort is on Stock Island, about 5.5 miles from famous Duval Street.
Is your room side A or B? You may be familiar with this type of set up, where two rooms share an indoor foyer. Just pray that your neighbors won't be noisily coming and going at all hours. However, once you're in your unit, all worries melt away. Suites provide a separate living and bedroom area, both spacious, with Chinese porcelain and colonial-style furniture. The crisp white and cobalt blue decor hits all the wow factors. A mini fridge (perfect for leftovers) is hidden in the bar area. Just down the hall is your bedroom, where you'll that beckoning ocean view and a large balcony from which to enjoy it from. Plush white bedding, exotic textures, and designer blackout drapes add to the grand yet homey feel. Rumor has it that the decor is meant to give a glimpse into how successful wrecking families from yesteryear would have decorated their homes from prized cargo salvaged from ships.
YOU SHOULD KNOW As a 100% smoke-free resort, smoking is only allowed in designated areas--and your balcony isn't one of them.
White on white, elegant and modern, this spa-like bathroom and its subway tile is awesome. It's spacious, has all the little goodies that ladies love (lotion/shampoo/conditioner/shower gel), a flattering backlit mirror, and quality towels. The large glass shower is enhanced by the Speakman massaging shower head and good water pressure.
Pull into the circular, brick paver driveway, lined by lush tropical foliage, and you'll see the white clapboard-covered building that houses the lobby. On the porch, custom rockers for relaxing; on the inside, the lobby could double as an art museum with fantastic oil paintings and sculptures (admire the wooden coat rack, umbrella, and hat carved from Cirmiolo wood - a type of Italian pine). The floors are made from holly and teak, it's like artwork under your feet! At the reception counter, prepare to put your initials beside lots of legal paragraphs about fines for smoking, damage to units, pets, late check out, and more. Then, you'll be on your way.
Pay attention when they give you directions to your room--the property is huge.
Each of the six pools (more than any other resort in the area) has plenty of posh, Italian-made loungers, limestone flooring, and lounging areas complete with comfy outdoor sofas and pergola shading. The bright cobalt and white theme continues with the lounge pillows and umbrellas. Kids love the dancing water features, especially at night, as they change colors. No matter which pool you choose, you can't escape the ocean views--not that you'd want to. Pool towels are in your room.
You can get food and drink service poolside at the main pool (Pool A), by the restaurant.
There is a fitness room near the lobby by Building #2, but it's small. If four people are in there at once, it's crowded. You'll find two treadmills, two fitness bikes, and some free weights. Your room key gives you entry.
Yellowfin Bar & Grill overlooks the marina and three of the pools. You can ask to be seated at the bar, at a table on the pool deck or in the open air restaurant. It's open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The atmosphere is casual with a hint of industrial, and the humidity is palpable. As far as the menu, it's Florida-seafood-meets-Caribbean-flavors. For starters, try the conch chowder (pronounced "konk"). It's $8 a bowl, but worth it. Dinner entrees are a bit pricey but you can get a fresh fish sandwich for about $15.
They automatically add an 18% gratuity to the check so be careful not to double-tip.
Take a seat on a handcrafted barstool at the onsite Yellowfin Bar & Grille. You can start early and finish late since they're open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Drinks are not cheap here, especially if you ask for a name brand/call liquor.
If you like the water, you'll love your activity options. Of course, there's paddle board rentals and kayaks from Oceans Edge Paddle Sports, but the main attraction is fishing. With Oceanside Marina onsite, you can do everything from offshore sport fishing for gamefish to backcountry fishing for the elusive bonefish. Diving and snorkel charters can also be arranged.
Oceanside Marina has more International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world records than any other marina in the world. They know fishing.
If you're going to Key West, you won't want to drive because parking is near impossible. City View Trolley gives free rides from Oceans Edge to Front Street in Key West each morning at 8:30 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. Return trolley is at 5 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. Taxi service is also available.
Hogfish Bar & Grill (5-minute drive) is a big tiki hut on the water and they're pretty famous in these parts for their fish sandwiches and seafood. Louie's Backyard in Key West (15-minute drive) is a upscale dining experience, reservations required. To get your jerk fix, head to Yahman's Authentic Jamaican Jerk Shack (4-minute drive).
Under the big tiki at Hogfish Bar & Grill (5-minute drive), you can sit with locals and swap fish tales. Hemingway fans will want a cocktail at Sloppy Joe's (19-minute drive) on Duval Street in Key West. Hog's Breath Saloon (19-minute drive) is another famous must-experience Key West bar. Live bands, lots of people, and you never know who'll hop on stage, maybe Kenny Chesney, again.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Who doesn't love affordable luxury? Sure, their rates in season will go way up, but in the off season, this place is a bargain. The rooms are plush, the decor is lovely, parking is easy, and you can sit on your balcony and watch the sky turn every shade of pastel at sunrise and sunset.