Can a town affiliated with overly sweet pina coladas, tacky t-shirts, and kitschy Hemingway lure ever go upscale? Yes, if two new hotels in Key West, Florida - the southernmost point of the United States - have their say.
This April welcomes The Gates Hotel Key West to the island, a 100-room property adorned with original photography, reclaimed wood, and custom-made furnishings.
Sense of place touches include mini bars stocked with locally-made beverages and treats, and partnerships with area businesses such as the Martone Cycling Company (loaner bikes are on hand for free), Rodriguez Cigars (available in the hotel’s cigar bar), and First Legal Rum, served in drinks mixed with local flavours of key lime and coconut.
For food, find no restaurant but instead a funky option in the form of The Blind Pig: a food truck serving 'conch fusion' — a blend of Cuban, Caribbean, Bahamian and Floridian specialties.
The hotel can also help organise experiences, such as tours of the cigar factory and distillery, or recreational adventures including snorkelling and kayaking.
Beating The Gates to the punch as the first new property to open on the island in two decades is The Marker Key West, which threw wide its doors last winter.
Set amidst a lush tropical landscape, the hotel’s 96 guest rooms feature tranquil marine accents and marina views. Its restaurant, Cero Bodega, features Cali-Mex cuisine alongside a poolside bar.