A Different Kind of Florida

Have you always wanted that dream vacation where you feel like it is only you on that beach and there are no high rises to be seen? Well Miami cannot offer that, but the Florida Keys can.

I have been going down to the Keys for 40 years now and it has not changed all that much. There have never been any 5 star brands like the Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton, especially in the upper and middle Keys which covers Key Largo down to Marathon. And then I rediscovered Cheeca Lodge and Spa. This beautiful property is on Islamorada, only 1 hour and 40 minutes from MIA.

It feels like you could be in the Bahamas with its influence of colonial décor. Fans and wood floors welcome you as you pass through the atrium. Greeted at reception with a chilled glass of bubbly, you can see that the beach is just within reach. Rooms are spacious and large. I had a king suite that had a Jacuzzi on the balcony, a nice romantic touch for a weekend away. Then there is a golf course and that may sound flippant but in the Florida Keys where space is at such a premium you don’t see this as often as you do in the rest of Florida.

Once checked in you simply kick off your shoes, put on shorts and a T-shirt and watch the sunset over the Cheeca Lodge’s pier and beach. I found this location at the Tiki Hut, it was perfect with a nice rum runner and some Key West peel and eat shrimp. Humid air with a breeze and I could smell Florida again. I am one that loves the burning heat and June in the Keys will definitely offer you that.

Next up, what impressed me was the amount of restaurants at the resort:
Atlantic Edge – has breakfast, lunch and dinner and had seating inside or out. Boasting a 4 Diamond Award you had a great choice of meat and seafood.
Limoncelle – offers dinner. That’s formal attire with a Tuscan fare.
Tiki Bar – boasts a holiday feel and is open until 11pm.
Nikai Sushi bar and Restaurant on – is about great views. I did not manage to try it. Next time.
There is also a coffee and lobby bar as well.

What’s good about eating in the resort is that restaurants in the Keys change hands often. They have busy times and quiet times and tend to cope badly with the rush in main tourist season. So for me to have the consistency of a 4 Diamond Award restaurant in the Keys is a big bonus.

All in all this is a great vacation spot for couples and families. You can paddle board and even take yoga on the resort. Out of the resort, there is not much going on. You will find the Keys well … very low key.
You can swim with dolphins. Visit Theater of the Sea up the road in Key Largo, take out a charter boat and fish. Snorkel on the reef but above all, take it easy and chill.

This is not a dressed up Miami vacation with fine dining and shopping. It is really quality time with whomever you go with. Even the slow pace drive down to the Keys will offer you talk time with the family. There is an unmistakable feeling as you drive past Florida City (by the way it is part of the everglades and not city at all, just a long single road down with nothing but greenery). When you drive over the first bridge and the car vibrates a little, a smell of the keys comes into the car and you know you are there.

Daniel - Living GreenDaniel Green, the Model Cook is a Celebrity Chef known for his healthy approach to food and living  well. With TV, books, magazines and live appearances, Daniel spends his time helping fans to cook better, feel better and live better. He’s also an avid traveler and a self-confessed Foodie.

To contact Daniel or learn more visit www.themodelcook.com or follow on Twitter  and Facebook.

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