3 Ways to Get Access to a Super-Private Island in the Florida Keys

by  Karen Gardiner | Jul 1, 2014
Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida / Meinzahn/iStock

One of Florida's most exclusive islands lies just 500 yards off Key West, yet most visitors only catch a glimpse of it while watching the sunset from Mallory Square.

The 27-acre Sunset Key is privately held by residents lucky enough to own multi-million dollar homes there, but the rest of us can get a taste, even if just for a few hours. There are only three ways you can board the free shuttle boat to the island from Key West (from the marina in front of the Westin Key West Resort). You can spend the night at one of the Westin's Sunset Key cottages, have a reservation at their restaurant, or book a service at their spa.

Stay at the Sunset Key Guest Cottages
Run by Westin, the Sunset Key Guest Cottages cover seven acres of the island and are made up of 40 one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom cottages. The luxury-focused cottages have earned accolades, but they come at a hefty price. Summer rates at the cottages start at $605 per night and go up to $2,685. In winter, rates can go as high as $3,385.

Various promotions and packages throughout the year can help soften the blow to your wallet. Current offers include a "two-for-one" deal where you receive a two-bedroom Gardenview Cottage for the price of a one-bedroom (valid for stays through December 22, 2014). Or, when you pay regular rates for one night, you'll receive a second at 40 percent off (valid for Saturday-Wednesday arrivals; a three-night stay is required).

Eat at Latitudes
Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Latitudes has a menu that is focused on fresh, locally sourced seafood and tropical fruit. You can dine indoors in their Hemingway Room, on the patio, or on the beach. Dinner favorites include the yellowtail snapper ($34), wagyu beef skirt steak ($39), and lobster bisque ($10). As an apéritif, we highly recommend the Key lime colada, complete with graham cracker encrusted rim on the glass.

Indulge in the Spa
Although the Sunset Key Guest Cottages spa has only three treatment rooms, each one is spacious with full bathrooms and fully stocked sundries, as well as private patios where you can relax with a complimentary drink or snack following your treatment. Therapeutic treatments start at $80 for 25 minute reflexology session and go up to $200 for an "absolute restorative" facial.

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