The Keys Getaway Thats Like a Private Bubble

Imagine relaxing somewhere warm with the sun on your face, in a private outdoor space that’s not your backyard. Somewhere care-free. Somewhere you can get post-vaccine R&R.

You can find it and then some in Key Largo, Florida, at a little oasis of a place called Bungalows Key Largo.

Key Largo’s only all-inclusive, adults-only property is a little slice of heaven in the Sunshine State, where you can spend time outdoors and, when in need of a UV break, retreat to your own bungalow that looks as if it should be tucked away on a Caribbean island.

There are many reasons to choose Key Largo for an epic, welcome-back-to-the-world vacation. First of all, it’s paradise, and that’s no secret. But this particular key has its benefits: it’s not swarming like Key West to the south or Miami to the north, and it’s more laid back. Think less “party in the streets” and more “wasting away again in Margaritaville,” and it’s just an hour-and-half drive from Miami International Airport.

The resort itself is also relatively low-risk. It’s easy to distance yourself in one of the 135 stand-alone bungalows—no hallways, no elevators, and very few shared spaces. Even the restaurants and bars have open-air options.

From the moment you pass the gates lined with lush foliage, you can feel the privacy of your vacation bubble.  From here on out, almost everything is included, and there are ample activities available only to resort guests.

You’re whisked away to your bungalow by golf cart to a chic cabin. While the light and airy interiors are comfort to the nines, the real joy is spending time on your outdoor veranda complete with plush seating and a rain shower.  This is outdoor living at its finest. Good luck ever leaving your outdoor bathtub, facing either palms and dense foliage (in a Garden Bungalow) or the Buttonwood Sound (in a Waterfront Bungalow).

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If you can draw yourself away, grab a drink from the outdoor tiki bar and lounge by the pool or sit down for a bite to eat at one of the three indoor-outdoor restaurants overlooking the water (or, for a fee, order the food to your room if you’re more comfortable there).

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INSIDER TIPIf you’re concerned about the safety of staying in a hotel room, you can take comfort in the fact that cleaning practices here have been amplified and, if you prefer, you can tell the cleaning staff to skip your room. The staff all wears masks indoors, and both the spa and open-air fitness room are operating at limited capacity as a safety precaution.

All drinks and food are included here exclusive of tips, except for Bogie and Bacall’s, the elegant steak restaurant on the property (it’s a $300 fee per two-person reservation–what all-inclusive doesn’t have a catch?). But for many, it’s worth indulging in for the wine pairing, excellent service, and superior food. Plus, the adjacent Hemingway Bar serves a mean Old Fashioned.

During the day, you choose your own adventure. The resort equally draws wellness vacationers—those who want to indulge in spa treatments and lounge at the Zen Garden Spa, drink green smoothies, and greet dawn with a yoga session–and the all-inclusive party crowd who drink long after the sun goes down and lounge by the bar. Regardless of where you fall, almost everyone enjoys the outdoor activities on the property.

Along Bungalow’s 1,000 feet of waterfront shoreline–right off the edge of the property–you can kayak and snorkel to your heart’s content, at no charge. You can bike along the palm-lined paths. You can sip a sundowner as you glide across the water on a tiki boat (yes, now you’ve seen everything) or lounge on the pier, spying manatees as they float to the surface to say an adorable hello.

The ultimate experience at Bungalows, though, is the sunset cruise aboard the resort’s private catamaran (you’ll want to book in advance). There’s plenty of room to space out on deck as you sail into the sunset, wind in your hair, clinking champagne glasses, and noshing on canapés with your friendly crew as the sun sinks over the water. Many gladly pay the additional $125 fee to have their worries melt away.

There’s so much to do on property that you don’t need to leave (and why would you, since so much is already included?), but if you’d like to venture out, the hotel is centrally located to all of Key Largo’s treasures. You’re less than five miles away from the state’s most epic snorkeling in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, where you can spot colorful fish in the reef or dive deep to the Christ of the Deep statue.

You’re also about 11 miles from Marker 88, Islamorada’s idyllic waterfront spot for drinks or dinner on one of the only actual sand beaches in the Keys (sand beaches are few and far between in these parts). And of course, you haven’t officially been to the Keys until you’ve tried a key lime pie on a stick from Key Largo Chocolates, a key lime-drenched muffin from Harriette’s, or a key lime colada from Snook’s.

Whatever you do, do it on or near the water with an icy cocktail in hand. Once shades of tangerine and watermelon saturate the sky at sunset, you’ll be exhaling as deeply as you have in more than a year.

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