Q: What is it? A: Don’t get fooled by the first impression! A pretty nondescript hotel on the outside. Inside, it’s one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed in!
Expectations weren’t that high.
I made a left turn heading for 136 Madeira Road. I thought; “This just can’t be it.” so I called the hotel. I then learned that ”A really small sign plus a big concrete… thing will greet you at the front of the hotel.” Concrete… thing. Small sign. OK. I’m here. Reluctantly I had to face the fact. I was looking at the Casa Morada and the Casa Morada sure looked like a motel in the low-budget category. It would be a good filming location if the plot called for a place where drug deals were to be made. At best it resembled a spot where young, fertile people would go to test condoms. Disappointment.
A stylish front desk. A new hope.
Still with low expectations I head for the front desk… and, what is this? An Eames La Chaise? A green garden? A more than alert reception greeting you (and sounding like they really mean it)? In an instant, any feeling of disappointment was gone.
”It’s part of the trick” says hotelier Lauren Abrams. ”We don’t really want to advertise that we’re here. Our guests will find us anyway.”
It’s like entering a private garden. Enough green stuff to make each of the 16 suites a secluded place with outdoor showers or outdoor jacuzzis.
The Casa Morada starts to excel.
A small bridge leads to a tiny island with a pool, a terrace with a bar and a sundeck. Now, the Casa Morada really starts to excel: Table games. Magazines that you’d gladly pay for. A bartender catering to your needs.
In the suites you’ll find similar things. They are well stocked with DVDs. The minibar is complimentary, except for the alcohol. Bicycles are rented out for zero dollars if you want to access neighbouring restaurants pedal-style. Kayaks are available on the same terms.
Every morning, Wednesday to Sunday, there’s a poolside yoga session. Complimentary. The breakfast? Complimentary. I didn’t expect to find that in Florida.
You pay a price – and then not much more.
You pay a price and then you don’t pay much more, except for the stuff you order in the bar. It’s clever. It’s a nice attitude. Casa Morada is a novelty; a well designed, well-managed hotel that will go more than the extra mile to take care of their guests. This is a hidden gem. A tranquil heaven of peace and quiet. It’s five stars. Hands down. No question.
Later I’m checking the hotel website out. There, I find one sentence that describes the idea of this hotel very accurately: “We welcome friendly dogs.”
136 Madeira Road
Islamorada, FL 33036