Checking-in: Right after your clients check-in at Little Palm Island Resort & Spa’s welcome center, located along the main highway that stretches through the Florida Keys, they’ll be whisked away on an enjoyable 15-minute boat ride. Waiting for them will be the ultra-luxe Little Palm Island, located on an isolated and utterly romantic island that’s home to adorable Key deer, which guests are asked not to feed, and where cell phone usage is frowned upon.
The Setting: Spanning only 5.5 acres, the island that’s home to the Little Palm resort is completely covered in towering Jamaica palms and dense foliage crisscrossed by crushed seashell pathways that provide access to 15 thatched-roof rustic bungalows encompassing a total of 30 individual 1-bedroom suites. Guests are welcomed to their suite by personalized nameplates on the door, and each suite offers a private sundeck, outdoor shower and relaxing ocean views. The suites are elegantly furnished in a traditional West Indies style with separate bedroom and living room areas and luxuriously tiled bathrooms, most with jacuzzis. Each suite is named after a local bird species and guests are encouraged to enjoy the natural beauty of their surroundings with the binoculars and birding chart thoughtfully provided. The individualized guest experience is carried through with personalized stationery in the room as well as a favorite cocktail. At 550 sq. ft., the suites are spacious yet comfortably cozy with no phones, TV or alarm clocks to distract. For those guests who simply can’t bear to be out of touch, a single TV is located in the library, which is furnished in the style of a tropical club room with comfy armchairs and sofas.
A casual exploration of the minute island reveals several charming sitting or lounging areas tucked away in the foliage, as well as hammocks hanging along the water’s edge. A compact beach area is located near the pool, and nearby, the more adventurous guest can take a kayak for a paddle through the mangroves, visit neighboring islands on one of the small motor boats, or go snorkeling.
The Vibe: The emphasis at Little Palm is isolated relaxation in a luxurious environment that wholly embraces its natural surroundings. The staff goes out of its way to anticipate guests’ needs and, in fact, while I lounged oceanside, a passing staff member noticed I had no shade in my secluded area. He returned shortly armed with an electric drill equipped to make holes in the hard packed sand and within minutes had erected a cooling umbrella specifically for my needs.
A unique touch, and one that shows how well the resort embraces the environment, is the contingent of delightful and diminutive Key deer that wander aimlessly throughout the island. Guests may very well find an inquisitive pair on their patio or receive a gentle nuzzling while lounging or dining on the beach.
Relax: The 2-story, rustic-style Spa Terre is surrounded by island foliage and offers a full menu of body treatments, massages, and facials, as well as bath experiences in a traditional Japanese soaking tub. There is also a fitness center offering personal training as well as yoga and meditation classes.
Dine Out: After a busy day of doing as little as possible, guests can look forward to an outstanding dining experience. As the sun goes down over Little Palm, the tiny island is enveloped in unparalleled romance where the silver moon reflects in the calm ocean waters and the stars above compete only with the far-off twinkling lights from the mainland.
The soothing strains of a live musical trio beckon guests to the terrace of the main dining room for a pre-dinner cocktail. There is a choice of dining venues, either inside the main dining room, outside on the terrace, or, for the complete romantics, one of the many candlelit tables set up directly on the beach. Chef Roly Cruz-Taura prepares an outstanding culinary experience replete with local and pan-Latin ingredients with French techniques. The food is rich and superb, and, in fact, the entire dining experience is one of the most memorable aspects of a Little Palm visit.
Book It: With nightly suite rates in the $700 to $1,200 range, Little Palm is a perfect retreat for high-end clients seeking exquisite solitude and wanting to de-stress, recharge and reinvigorate in a rustic but luxurious environment. There are numerous packages available that can include seaplane excursions to Key West, sailing trips, or an in-room rose petal bathtub experience with Champagne thrown in for good measure.
Obviously, Little Palm is a popular honeymoon destination. A variety of package options are offered, including an exotic Honeymoon program that includes 6-night accommodations, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, car service from Key West airport, Champagne on arrival, $200 spa credit pp, a sunset sail on the resort’s catamaran, a snorkeling trip and a half-day fishing excursions; rates vary according to time of year.
Little Palm also provides an ideal backdrop for an island destination wedding. There is an onsite wedding coordinator to arrange individual needs and activities.