Hawks Cay Resort, Florida Keys

Driving down into the Florida Keys, you tend to forget that it’s 10 years into the 21st century. Time, as busy New Yorkers, Miamians, or Chicagoans know it, just doesn’t exist in this southern tip of the U.S. It’s almost as if Father Time had found a nice patch of waterfront land and decided to take a nap along with everyone else.

In the Florida Keys, it’s all about having the luxury to sit back and enjoy the ocean-scented breeze, the sunsets, the conch fritters, the Key Lime pies, the catch of the day, the snorkeling, the jet skiing…those tiny delights that make life sweet. And one of our favorite places for delighting in all of these pursuits is located on mile marker 61—Hawks Cay Resort, a landmark, high-end Keys property.

Here, the best of the Florida Keys’ traditional laid-back style commingles delightfully with exemplary service, all framed by the stunning Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

enjoying the good life One of the first things we noticed upon our arrival at Hawks Cay Resort is that everyone is always smiling, including, and perhaps most especially and importantly, the staff—never a rude tone to be heard. And that genuinely happy mood creates the signature for one’s stay here. Checking in at the chic West Indies-styled lobby—where there’s always someone to help you quickly and efficiently at one of three check-in kiosks—is just the precursor to what you know will be a delightful stay. The lobby is a hub of activity as it opens up to the main resort pools and lagoon area, where there’s always something going on—but we’ll get to those activities later.

It’s easy to settle into the accommodations here—whether it’s the resort rooms and suites, or one of the more than 100 2-, 3- or 4-bedroom villas lining Duck Key.

There are 177 resort rooms and suites—from the standard guestrooms to the Premium Lanai Guestrooms, as well as a 1,460-sq.-ft. presidential suite. All offer rich wood furnishings complemented by a palette of soft colors, modern amenities and a cozy, “at home” feel. For those who want to step out of their room or suite and practically plunge right into the main pools and restaurants, these are the accommodations to book (recommend the lanai rooms that feature private sundecks and porches).

Then there are the villas that are scattered throughout the key. Villas—done up in classic West Indies or modern Caribbean decor—are divvied up into the Sunset Village, tucked away on the ocean’s edge and ideal for couples and small families; the Marina Village, set waterside along Hawks Cay Marina; Harbor Village, with a harbor-front boardwalk and perfect for sea-lovers; and the Sanctuary Village, with homes that boast their own private pool, open verandah and roomy backyard. There are also specialty villas as well as vacation rentals for budget-conscious families.

During our visit we made ourselves right at home in a 2-bedroom villa in the Marina Village. It offered an expansive living room, a fully equipped kitchen done up in contemporary decor with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops, and a cozy dining room, as well as two well-outfitted bedrooms, including a master bedroom with its own bathroom, and another large bathroom. Our favorite part of the accommodations, though, had to be the oversized, screened-in deck, which, in our case looked out over the resort’s marina and some of the most gorgeous sunsets we’ve ever had the privilege of feasting our eyes on. Speaking of feast, the deck is a great place to have breakfast, lunch or dinner, and tell clients to take advantage of the fully equipped kitchen to cook up those meals—it’s a money-saver and the kids will have some fond memories of mom and dad cooking up a “grand slam breakfast.” The marina has a small dockside store where clients can find essentials, including butter, milk, and juice (as well as liquor and other vacation “must-haves”), but there’s a larger grocery store about 15 minutes away.

At first, it seems like it will be a long hike getting from the separate villages to the main resort area, but once you’ve got the lay of the land, you realize it’s a nice short stroll from the accommodations to most of the main spots. Or, guests can opt to rent a bike (or bring one with them) next to the Indies Club as there are bike posts scattered throughout the resort.