UPDATE: The Sheraton Suites Resort in Key West is now the Barbary Beach House. Apparently, hotels in Key West can do just as well without paying the fee for the chain affiliation. A few things have changed since I wrote the review below. If you check their web site, you’ll se that they’ve added a few things — a striking porte cochere at the entrance and a covered outdoor tiki that I’m guessing is used for special events. The key things remain the same, however. The same great management team remains in place, so the food and service remain top notch. Indeed, the Barbary Beach House is a nominee for a USA Today 10 Best Award. So it’s even better than when we stayed there last year, which is saying something. Read the original review below, and start planning your trip.
The Blog has been focusing on food, of course, but it occurs to our large professional staff that you might be interested in great places to stay, as well. That revelation came because in our after-Christmas trip to Key West, we stayed in a really nice place — so nice that it inspired me to start writing up hotels when Nancy and I stay at exceptional places.
The inspirational hotel was the Sheraton Suites Resort. It’s a mile or two away from Duval Street, and right across from Smathers Beach, the biggest, the best, and the only natural beach on Key West. I had visited their website, and it looked pretty good. Once we arrived, I found a completely redecorated hotel. You get a sense of what a good job they did when you walk into the lobby. It’s very big, very light, very open, very Florida. And it’s as comfortable as it is good looking.
This isn’t your grandfather’s Sheraton — more of a Westin-W mix.
The lobby eases into the indoor dining area,
which in turn eases into the outdoor dining area — where Nancy and I ate breakfast every morning.
Let’s talk for a minute about breakfast. The service is very good, very friendly, and casual but efficient. We had the buffet every morning. It had the usual coffee and juice, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, fruit, cereals, breads, and pastries. They also had some cured meats, such as Genoa salami, sopressata, and prosciutto. (The hotel attracts a good number of European guests.) Eating prosciutto and melon is a great way to start the day. The food on the buffet is refreshed frequently, so if the eggs are over-or under-cooked according to your standards, just wait a minute and they’ll bring you just what you want.
The hotel is very well run, especially considering it’s a recently renovated hotel; and even more so for a hotel in a location as quirky and island-relaxed as Key West. I think one reason is the constant attention of the manager, Milos Davidovich, who spends more time in the common areas, maintaining a friendly and relaxed but watchful presence, than any other hotel manager I’ve ever seen. Likewise, the food and beverage director, Batu Pektas, is omnipresent at meals and in the pool area, speaking to the guests, making sure the buffet is refreshed, and assisting the servers. The upshot is that no one seems to be in a hurry, but if you want something, you don’t have to wait: efficiency without stress.
Back to the hotel and grounds. The outdoor dining area overlooks the swimming pool. There are standard poolside chaise lounges, and, for even greater comfort, some large, cushioned “beds” that attract bathing beauties.
Service at the pool is attentive. Should you desire a cool beverage or a bite to eat, a smiling face appears to help you. They bring by complimentary non-acoholic frozen drinks — Piña Coladas, etc., and popsicles at 2:00. These get you ready for free cookies and coffee in the lobby from 3:00 to 6 or 7.
The pool is flanked by lush areas with meandering walks, quiet sitting areas, and some corn hole and other games, as well as a large covered event area.
Inside, each suite has a small kitchen with a stylish refrigerator that’s large enough to be really useful, a wet bar, a microwave, and a stand-up serving counter. The suite is physically divided between a good sized sitting room with a large flat screen TV; a large bathroom — two sinks, a large shower, and a separate toilet; and a bedroom with another equally large flat screen TV. Everything is clean, white, and new, and there’s plenty of room to store clothes, etc.
And this is nice. there are a serious of stations with industrial strength Keurig coffeemakers, bags of ice, and fruit. You can see the apples and oranges. They also have lemons and limes for those who want to make a drink. Apparently, a lot of people made drinks the night before I took this picture. This is Key West, after all.
Also nice: you never have to wait more the a few seconds for an elevator.
The hotel also has a free shuttle to and from the airport, as well as a free shuttle to the Duval Street area, a mile or so away — and you can rent a bike for a pleasant ride. I suppose you may want to be ultra-close to Duval Street if you’re in your early 20s. If you’re older, well, Duval Street can get out of hand — the Hangover Hospital does a good business making house calls with 45-minute IV. So a little distance is a good thing if you’re of a certain age. And Key West is overrun with Uber and Lyft drivers. A ride is always nearby and fares are light.
There are a lot of reasons to go to Key West, of which you’ll be able to read more in coming posts. Go, and try staying at the Sheraton Suites. Oops. I mean the Barbary Beach House.
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