GOING BANANAS AT HAVANA CABANA KEY WEST.

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Last month, my family and I were invited to spend a couple of days at Havana Cabana Resort in Key West. Believe it or not, I’ve only been to Key West once in my Floridian life, and that was ten years ago. I know, I know. The quick island paradise is a mere three hours away and I hadn’t taken full advantage of it. That’s going to change, though, thanks to our recent visit to this waterfront, family fun destination less than two miles from the bustling center of Key West. Since we were traveling with the kids, for me, the kid-friendly factor was huge. There aren’t many hotels in Key West that cater to kids, and that’s one of the pros of Havana Cabana- they do- starting with the rooms. Our room was spacious and bright, and the bonus was the bunk bed. The kids went nuts. They built huts, played with their tablets and toys on their bed, while we watched TV and lounged. We even had a small dining area!

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photo provided by Havana Cabana.

The Havana-inspired hotel is inviting, relaxing, and above all, vibrant in its decor and ambiance. These are things I look for when I travel. You can easily plop yourself with a good book or a mojito on one of the rattan chairs or mamey-colored sofas located in the hotel lobby, and while you’re at it, snap a few pics because it’s definitely instagrammable! I couldn’t miss an opportunity to snap a photo on the staircase!

The customer service was amazing. Everyone was very helpful and friendly, and when you have two rambunctious little ones, that feedback goes a long way! The concierge was also very knowledgeable on all things Key West and gave us some great insight on things to do around the island with the kids.

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Like I mentioned earlier, the hotel is located less than two miles from the heart of town, but that doesn’t mean you are left stranded without getting a chance to explore! On the contrary, the hotel not only offers a shuttle that continuously runs to and from town, but if requested, you can even take out one of the vintage cars out for a spin! Talk about getting the whole Havana-esque experience! The hotel also offers bicycles and mopeds at no cost if you prefer a different set of wheels to venture into Key West.

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Let’s move on to the bread and butter of the hotel, it’s kick ass pool, which also happens to be the largest pool in Key West. This was the selling point for my kiddos- a large pool where they can play with their float toys and jump around to their heart’s delight!

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There is so much space around the pool area to lounge and take in the sun. We spent most of our two days hanging by the pool. Our plan was to kick back and relax and this pool was the ideal backdrop. It was such a lush oasis with its remarkable palm trees and blue skies. You couldn’t ask for a better Key West Experience.

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Never leaving this pool. PHOTO from Havana Cabana
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Grab a table or a chair and order from the pool bar’s delicious menu. PHOTO: Havana Cabana
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The most insane French Toast from the Floridita Food Truck. PHOTO: from Havana Cabana 

There are definitely more activities to partake in besides the pool. The hotel also has an airstream on premises serving breakfast (like this amazing french toast we indulged in), and lunch. The pool bar serves an array of different mojitos and cocktail all day long (try the coconut mojito), and there are games throughout the pool area to keep the whole family entertained; think foosball, corn holes, ping-pong, and even dominoes!

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You know I couldn’t miss an opportunity to do a photo shoot around the pool area! Did I mention there are hammocks strategically placed in the most oh-so-perfect spots around the pool? Always under a shady palm or by the hot tub. I could not resist! I wanted to blend in with the aesthetic at Havana Cabana Key West resort!

After spending the day poolside, I wanted to explore the town! Accompanied by local photographer and Key West lover, Barbara Wilson, we spent a couple of hours taking photos and checking out some sites, starting with a few back streets of the main Key West drags like Duval Street. I fell in love with so many colorful beach cottages and couldn’t say no to a good photo op!

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Some of the other things we did……

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Stop for some fresh Coco.

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Visit the iconic Sloppy Joe’s, where Ernest Hemingway frequented when he lived in Key West and the bar also happens to be a KW institution. It moved to this location in 1937, but it’s spirit has been around since 1933, the year Prohibition was repealed.

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Ironically, we happen to be in Key West during the annual Hemingway Festival, and caught some of the Ernest Hemingway look-alike competition at Sloppy Joe’s! Guess who we were rooting for (PAPA WICK)!?

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After a little sightseeing with the kids, we sent them packing back to the hotel with grandma, so daddy and mommy could have some adult fun on Duval! That included a trip to the Papa Pilar Rum Distillery  to sample the rums inspired by the adventurous spirit of Papa Hemingway and the flavors of Key West. If you haven’t taken a tour of the distillery, this is a must on your next Key West Visit! It was such a learning experience not only on how the rum was made and packaged (the rum bottles resemble war canteens because Hemingway served in the war), but also an inside look into Hemingway’s life. There is a plethora of memorabilia that only enhances the storytelling experience at the Distillery.

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Now if you’re wondering if I packed any other clothes besides this banana print set, I hardly did. I really went with the ‘less is more’ mantra…way less. I switched out of my Forever 21 Banana Print button down and wore the banana print skirt with my black one piece bathing suit (the same suit I would be using the next day for the pool)!  I even had the perfect acrylic banana earrings from local designer, Mercedes Salazar, available at Shopbop. When it came to the perfect Key West outfit, this banana print set was a no brainer!

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Latitudes Bar, Credit James Lenon, 2017

Latitudes CU, Credit James Lenon, 2017

When we recount our Key West adventure to friends and family and anyone asking us for restaurants to check out while in Key West, without skipping a beat we both scream, LATITUDES! Latitudes on Sunset Key is by far one of the most romantic and delicious dining experience both Coco and I have ever had, and we go out to eat..a lot. No wonder it’s been voted one of the 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America! Just getting to the Sunset Key Cottages, where the restaurant is located, is a romantic adventure all in itself! A private ferry located in the marina by the Margaritaville Resort, is available to take you to the island, where you can only access if you have a reservation.

Once you arrive, an island paradise with the most sweeping and breathtaking views of the Gulf awaits. We opted for outdoor dining because how do you not take in the most glorious Key West sunsets with these front row seats?! Surrounded by the sounds of ocean waves crashing, palm trees swaying, and ambiance music (the cliche is true), there was no better way to sample the island cuisine and enjoy a nice dinner for two al fresco.

I have a confession. I have no food photos to share (mea culpa). The food was outstanding and we were so into it and ate it so quickly that we forgot to take photos. I do remember what we ate, though! The Tuna Tataki and Carpaccio of Beef appetizers were out of this world, and for our entrees, we had the Butter Roasted Florida Lobster Tail, and the Rosemary Pan Roasted Cobia. I promise I’m not lying when I tell you I still think about that lobster tail. It was unforgettable!

We had every intention to hit up some bar recommendations after dinner, but we were pooped. We aren’t spring chickens anymore, but really, we just wanted to get back to the hotel and melt away in that King bed!

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It was time to head back to Miami, but not before enjoying the hotel pool a little more. We spent  a few hours hanging out with the kids in the pool, lounging on the hammocks, playing, and saying hello to those Iguana guests we grew to love!

We made a promise to make it down to Key West more often, we had no excuse! Now that we found the perfect family-friendly hotel in Havana Cabana Resort, vacationing just got a whole lot easier- and chic-er!

Have you booked your Havana Cabana vacation yet?!

In Style,

Kathy