Florida Chic Retreats

Aventura Miami Florida
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The organic vegetable and herb garden at The Palms Hotel and Spa has six beds of growing space.
The organic vegetable and herb garden at The Palms Hotel and Spa has six beds of growing space.

Embracing Florida’s natural settings is a snap at these two posh retreats.

Key Largo in March will welcome its first new hotel in over 20 years. That’s right, because of strict building codes, new hotels don’t just pop up in the Keys every day, but we think this one will be well worth the wait. Playa Largo will be about an hour’s drive from Miami and will sit on more than 14 acres of waterfront property. This hotel, which began construction in early 2014, will be a part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection and will boast 167 rooms and suites, 10 private bungalows and a three-bedroom beach house. However, the waterfront location and the room selection are not what we are most excited about. Luxury Travel Advisor was told that Playa Largo plans to fully embrace its surroundings (situated between the Everglades National Park and North America’s only living coral barrier reef). To start, the rooms will have clear views of Florida Bay, and the Bungalows will be nestled in the vegetation for peace and quiet. The two-story beach house will have a private lawn and beach. We like the idea of relaxing in this three-bedroom, four-bath hideaway with our closet families and friends. Nice Touch: This accommodation also has an elevator for more luxury and ease. We also heard that since the lawn will come with a private gazebo this is an excellent place for a small wedding ceremony.

It won’t just be the rooms that are surrounded by nature, since the hotel is dedicating $300,000 to environmental preservation, guests will see countless birds and butterfly species, including the Monarch butterfly. And sunset lovers will like a kind of ritual, which will happen every night with a bell to announce the sinking sun. Then after dusk, look to the sky again for a starlight show (there will be very little light pollution). The eco-friendly effort will continue throughout the hotel’s life, as Playa Largo also invested in a liquid composter, which the hotel hopes to eventually use as fertilizer.

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Playa Largo, set to become Key Largo’s first hotel in 20 years, will sit on more than 14 acres of waterfront property.
Playa Largo, set to become Key Largo’s first hotel in 20 years, will sit on more than 14 acres of waterfront property.

As for getting to this tropical resort, it is possible to arrive at the private marina or to make an entrance with a seaplane. No matter, which way you decide to come, the whole family is welcome, and there will be special family touches like movies at the zero-entry pool. Contact Mark Calibo ([email protected]) to book a special stay.

The Essensia Restaurant at The Palms Hotel and Spa serves dishes that are made with locally sourced produce.
 
The Essensia Restaurant at The Palms Hotel and Spa serves dishes that are made with locally sourced produce.

Miami has always been a top-notch getaway in Florida, and while going there to connect with the environment may not be the most popular idea, there are hotels that are trying to change that. The Palms Hotel and Spa, which is part of Preferred Hotel and Resorts, has 251 guest rooms with city and ocean views just minutes from South Beach. However, the property sets a more relaxing tone than a party vibe. One step inside the Aveda spa proves that. The 5,000-square-foot spa uses products that are made from 90 percent natural ingredients. For state-of-the-art treatments and privacy try the HydroCapsule, which is a personal chamber that includes aroma steam, a Vichy shower and hydro-color light therapy. There is also an indoor/outdoor relaxation area, and guests can even get their treatments poolside — there won’t be any loud pool goers, trust us. If by the pool doesn’t sound like the place you want to go for your fusion stone massage, ask for one of the tiki cabanas in the garden. The hotel actually has more than an acre of gardens that are for guests to use for relaxation. Here, there are a variety of tropical plants like orchids and palms. There are even exotic birds (two resident parrots call the gardens home). And if that doesn’t help you forget that you are in Miami, there are also hammocks and an organic herb and vegetable garden. The organic treats picked here are used in the resort’s cuisine, which can be enjoyed at Essensia Restaurant. All of the dishes are made with locally sourced produce. We suggest sitting on the terrace for dinner. And then for after-hour drinks, head over to Essensia Lounge. This hot spot is adjacent to the restaurant and is known for its signature cocktails. We recently tasted the drink “Grass Clippings,” which, like its name suggests, looks natural. It is made with Dobel tequila, cucumbers, culantro leaf, black lava salt and some extras, though we must urge you to order the “Garden Essentials.” This is like a light, playful Bloody Mary, and is made with Campari tomato, Crop vodka, lemon juice and a few more ingredients. It is topped with an orange peel garnish, which makes it almost too beautiful to drink. To plan a customized stay, contact Erwin Quianzon ([email protected]), reservations manager. 

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