Overall Score: B
The Amara Cay Resort in Islamorada is a relatively new hotel, located in the Florida Keys. Clean lines and modern decor represent the design of the hotel; natural colors and elements also add to the hotel’s atmosphere. Simple, yet modern, the Amara Cay Resort stands out among the mid-price hotels in the Keys. A newly renovated hotel, the Amara Cay is an elegant renewal of an old hotel. However, in some places, the age of the building is noticeable. After redecorating, sometimes small details are overlooked (like air vents or drains) and showcase the building’s age, albeit slightly.
The lobby itself is spacious with whimsical wicker hanging chairs. Every guest seems to enjoy hanging out in these fun chairs. There is a lobby bar, a welcoming sitting space, and a small dining area. There is even a small boutique gift shop just off the lobby.
ROOM- Our room itself was comfortable and spacious. I noticed a slight musty odor upon entering the room, but I blamed that on the tropical environment of the Keys. It was still a little off-putting, but opening the sliding glass door to the patio/balcony helped. Eventually, we learned that the lock on the outside patio door turned out not to work. After thinking we locked ourselves out of our room, we realized that our lock was broken. Not usually a concern, but since we were staying on the ground floor, it was a little disquieting.
Our linens were clean and crisp, but the bed seemed to be only on a squeaky bed frame. Just sitting on the bed resulted in plenty of squeaks. We also noticed that the walls in the hotel are very thin. Unfortunately, we could easily hear guests in other rooms.
The room came equipped with a high-definition tv, wi-fi, refrigerator, and a Starbucks Verismo coffee machine. Everything else in the room seemed to work properly and we had no other issues.
The bathroom only had a shower (no tub), with a detachable hand-held shower head. Toiletries were provided, as well as a blow dryer and robes. I did notice what seemed to be a constant slight clicking noise coming from the bathroom. I’m not sure if it was the ventilation system, but it seemed to be coming from within the walls.
We were very pleased that the management left my husband and I a bottle of red wine in our room, as we were celebrating an anniversary. A very nice touch, courtesy of Amara Cay. They even left us a bottle opener. 🙂
HOTEL & GROUNDS – There is a private dock on the property as well as an adjacent dive shop. The hotel features a raised beach, complete with beach chairs, hammocks, and playground. There is a ladder to descend into the shallow water from the beach. The water and air temperature were a bit too cold for me to go in but I could see schools of small fish and plenty of coral in the area.
All of the staff that I encountered during my stay were friendly and helpful. I cannot rate the service or food offered because we didn’t eat on property. When we finally arrived Friday night around 10:30, we were disappointed to learn that the hotel bar closed at 10:00 pm; we were told that places often close early in the Keys.
Onsite is Oltremare Ristorante and Sparrows Rum Bar, which is poolside. Oltremare Ristorante serves breakfast and dinner Italian style, with a tropical twist. Prices were slightly too high for my taste and menu options were limited for me (as a vegetarian) so we elected to eat elsewhere. Sparrows Rum Bar offers traditional American cuisine with plenty of cocktails and drinks.
Keep in mind there is a $28 resort fee which provides guests high-speed internet, parking, beach chairs, pool towels (although I never saw any, but I never used the pool), and a van that will shuttle guests within four miles of the hotel. Supposed to be outfitted with a fitness center, the Amara Cay Resort had a locked room on the ground floor with a note that read “Fitness Room – Coming Soon.”
Overall, the Amara Cay offers a modern, renovated hotel in a beautifully landscaped setting. Despite the few downsides with the room, I would stay here again. If you are looking for a mid-priced hotel in beautiful Islamorada, the Amara Cay Resort might be right for you.