Santa Maria Suites Resort, Key West, FL ****

Q: What is it? A: A surprisingly good resort-style hotel with very spacious suites located very near the painted concrete buoy in the very southernmost corner of Key West (that claims to be but is obviously not the most southernmost point of the United States).

Santa Maria Resort, Key West, Florida, USA –  the exterior with neon sign
What you look for when you are arriving at night. The sign. The chunk of concrete advertised as the Southernmost Point of the United States is a mere block away (something that is not entirely true – which the nearby Truman Annex at the Air Naval Station proves).

Santa Maria Resort, Key West, Florida, USA – the bedroom
As long as you don’t expect spectacular design you’ll be very happy here. This suite had two of these bedrooms on the upper floor. Comfy beds, TV-screen on the wall and their own private bathrooms. Sorry, I take that back. It should read: stupendously comfy beds.

Santa Maria Resort, Key West, Florida, USA –  the bathroom
How about a rather small-ish bathroom? Well, I will tell you this: It’s not too bad since we are talking about your own private area. My good friend had an identical space in his room mirroring this. Plus; I think the Santa Maria Resort also set a new standard in the discipline they call Let’s Provide Guests With Many Towels. Not a minus.

Santa Maria Resort, Key West, Florida, USA –  the kitchen
Where you will eat cupcakes and prepare your morning coffee or mix drinks and eat unhealthy snacks or just ignore, as you want to head out for a decent dinner (or buy souvenir cups in those weird Hemingway-themed hangars where Lynyrd Skynyrd-songs are falling victims to musical rape).

Santa Maria Resort, Key West, Florida, USA –  pool area – reverse view
Sorry for not having counted but, I think that less that 30% of the hotels reviewed on this website come with pools. The Santa Maria Resort will even up the score with two pools in the courtyard area.

Santa Maria Resort, Key West, Florida, USA –  outdoor pools
Somewhere on the 2nd floor… yes, over there, to the left… you’ll find the suite that was at our disposal for only one night. The good part: They had a surprisingly nice price offer, making this a v-e-r-y attractive place to stay.

The name was slightly off-putting, but…
Call me sensitive, but a place with the word ‘resort’ in its name will have to start uphill. The word itself oozes lazy people who will not move too many feet away from their sunbed until they check out. So, it was with some hesitation I pressed ‘Book this room’ a few days earlier. Of course, the #4 of 44-rating on TripAdvisor helped a bit. Out of 994 reviews 817 says Excellent! I’m glad to say, there are good reasons for it.

I may just look like I’m lost.
”…Can I help you?” She asks, and with that the love affair begins. Karina manning the front desk is a gem. I mean truly a gem. She delivers a quick overview of what to do and what to avoid in Key West. She goes through a few of the better restaurants with you and while she does it she takes care of other guests and answers the phone and has the capacity to make all of us feel very well taken care of. Phew! I don’t know how she does it, but she does. With a smile.

Rooms… lots of them!
My room is not a room. It’s a two-storey apartment with dual bedrooms with private bathrooms. There are TV-screens in both bedrooms AND in the living room. There are stairs. There’s a surprisingly well equipped kitchen. As you can see above, it’s well maintained to the level of immaculateness and the standard is better than you’d expect. I’d call this suite ideal for a family with kids or for two couples traveling together. In reality there are only a few suites. 35. Yep. Thirty-five. A modest number, so book well ahead. Also, keep in mind that this hotel doesn’t have its own restaurant. So the kitchen will come in handy. As will the recommendations from front desk (there are quite a few alternatives only a souvenir cup’s throw from the resort… ahem, hotel).

It’s within walking distance of most things…
Not sure that everyone would agree but I found it very convenient. It’s 1.4 miles (2.2 kilometers) from Mallory Square. Which means that you will easily walk there, if you are used to use your feet. I stayed there during the Parrothead Festival which… Stop. No. Let’s not get stuck on that one. Read about it at the bottom of this page. It’s Key West in a souvenir cup.

Final word: Free parking!
You already get the idea, right? This is a very good hotel, especially for families. They’ve got free parking. I repeat; free parking. It may not sound like much, but you’ll appreciate it. Parking in Key West can be a lottery.

Santa Maria Suites Resort
1401 Simonton Street
Key West, FL 33040
United States

+1-305-296-5678

BONUS INFO: When to go or not to go.
I was visiting during a spectacle known as the Parrothead Festival  – or MOTM, the Meeting Of The Minds. In clear writing this means that hordes of (mostly) senior people come into town to buy drinks in huge souvenir cups, drive around in golf cars (with cupholders for their gargantuan-sized souvenir cups) and worship a country singer who is well-known for the song ”Cheeseburgers in Paradise”. Yaa, these are Jimmy Buffett fans and they will let you know it with souvenir cups in their hands.
Says Wikipedia: ”…is an American singer–songwriter, author, actor, and business person. He is best known for his music, which often portrays an “island escapism” lifestyle, and the often humorous things he has experienced throughout his life”. The guy was born in 1946, which is an indicator for in which demographic cluster to find his fans.
Key West is a town where festivals are common. As it’s a tiny town, your stay will be affected. Here you can see what is about to happen.
And the next Meeting Of The Minds will go down between November 4 and November 8, 2015. You have now, officially, been warned.

Addional note: In 1985 Jimmy Buffett opened his first Margaritaville Restaurant on 500 Duval Street. Today’s the chain comprises of close to 30 locations. And it keeps expanding…

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