Travel Thursday: Isla Bella – Perfect Luxury Staycation In Marathon, Florida.

I definitely know when it’s time to relax and when it’s time to crank up the relaxation several notches.  After having house guests for two solid months, the choice was to abandon my humble abode and enjoy an overdue respite and crank up the pampering to eleven, a break from it all that was to be a little more special than sitting on my own back patio. Living in Southern Florida, I often look toward The Keys to help regenerate my spirit and mind and I knew just the place to bring myself to make this rejuvenation a little more special than the norm, Isla Bella Beach Resort, Marathon, Florida.

Yes, that was going to be my home for the next three sun-kissed days and two luxurious nights. Arriving at the resort, located just at the southern end of Marathon and just before the 7-mile Bridge, I knew I was in for a special treat.  With a greeter/security at the gate and a driveway that made me think I was arriving at Fantasy Island, my smile and massive exhale told the staff that I was ready to have them help me shed the stress.

You might wonder where the lush, winding drive is taking you. Through a canopy of native plants, trees, and tropical greenery until you get to Isla Bella Beach Resort and an inviting porch. And then you know, you’ve arrived. By the time you reach the end of the road your journey has begun, everything is long behind you. You’ve been transported.

Moving my bathing suit, sandals, and casual wear into my room, I was greeted by an ocean view and an impressive fruit bowl, making me need to phone a friend to identify some of juicy treats. 

Yes, I saw the apple, but I had to be reassured about the lychee, passion fruit, and dragon fruit.

My journey that day was a perfect and short 2-hour drive south of Miami.  Key West was an hour drive further down Route 1, but I had decided long before arriving at the resort that my rump was going to remain in Marathon for the weekend and I was to enjoy what Isla Bella had to provide, with the first item being dinner at IL Postino.

Just a little red in preparation for my tenderloin. The view of the restaurant from my corner seat allowed me to watch the smooth flow of the service, food delivery, and the other patrons as the sun descended down past the horizon.

I would dine at IL Postino for the two nights I was there, enjoying the restaurant’s ambiance with some of the best palate pleasing offerings I’ve had in a while. Appetizers I devoured were the Line Caught Yellowfin Tuna Tartare and the Eggplant Rollatini. Entrees included the very filling Bucatini Pomodoro (Pomodoro Sauce, Bucatini, Pecorino, Parsley, Meatballs) and cuts-like-butter Grilled Beef Tenderloin. Honestly, maybe the best prepared tenderloin I have ever had. Of course, Key Lime Pie made it to my table one night for dessert, but no more could have been eaten the second night.

Line Caught Yellowfin Tuna Tartare (Watercress, Chives, Lemon Zest, EVOO, Parmigiano-Reggiano Shavings)

I did return one day for lunch at IL Postino and was fortunate enough to enjoy a fresh-made pizza by pizzaiolo Roberto Caporuscio, he showed me how IL Postino’s pizza oven can cook a Neapolitan pizza in 1.5 minutes.  With my pizza, and the amazing view of the ocean, I was also  presented with another item coming soon to the menu, a soft mouth watering burrata.

Neapolitan pizza made just for me with a burrata on the side. And with that view!

With all of this decadent food from IL Postino, Neapolitan-style Italian Restaurant, one of the four eateries at Isla Bella, a walk around the 24+acre property to explore everything this relaxing heaven had to offer.

Isla Bella at-a-glance.

  • One mile of waterfront
  • Sandy beach
  • 5 oceanfront pools including a 4,500 square foot pool
  • Multiple dining options including a world-class Neapolitan traditional Italian restaurant with wood-fired pizza ovens, classic Keys seafood, beach bar, poolside food and beverage service, family style burger grill, café, and grab and go
  • Marina with water sports including fishing charters, jet ski tours, harbor cruises, and kayak, snorkeling and scuba diving trips
  • 4,000 square-foot spa with 5 treatment rooms, a relaxation room with steam, and a selection of services
  • 4,000 square foot conference center for groups and events from 25 to 300
  • 1,000 Square foot state-of-the-art fitness center
There’s nothing like kayaking in The Keys.

What I enjoyed about the Isla Bella Beach Resort is that the resort can satisfy so many demands there on property, from kayaking, fishing, snorkeling, diving, to spa treatments, to the 5 seaside pools, but the concierge service is also able to expand your stay to other keys and even other nations. Yes, excursions like a trip to the Dry Tortugas, sunset cruises, Old City helicopter rides, and Havana, Cuba day trips on your own private plane are all options. I stuck with using the kayaks the resort supplied its guests.

Would I recommend Isla Bella Beach Resort? With the resort fully completed, the spa and the Marketplace fully operational, I would say yes and book me again. Pricing is comparable to a Key West Luxury resort, with it being a little less than some of the ones we have stayed at in the past.  Guests can choose to stay on property for their whole stay and relax or take advantage of the great location and explore. I did feel special there, removed from it all. And part of that feeling special was the amazing staff.  I think I may have met everyone that works there.  I even met the developer that lives on property, right next to the housing that is provided to much of the staff. The commitment from all players, from the top down and back up again was so visible. That speaks volumes to me and it is a place that I feel deserves my well-spent money that goes to all the staff and the owner.  Great job TEAM!

The next time I drive down to Key West and depart Marathon and start to head over the 7-mile bridge and pass Isla Bella Beach Resort, I will have that smile again on my face and I may even let out that stress-relieving sigh as I remember my weekend in paradise. 

As always, I’ll include more pictures of my stay, but before I do, I want to share two other great spots in Marathon that deserve a visit and some of your time. 

 

On my previous trips down The Keys, I’ve always stopped in Marathon not just to break up the journey but also to enjoy a little education at The Turtle Hospital and food at Burdines.

It’s highly recommended to call ahead and make a reservation for the 90-minute Turtle Hospital tour ($22.00 for adults). The tour is always uplifting as well as sad.  You’re seeing turtles at different stages of diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.  Just be respectful of the hospital’s wishes and rules, especially if you want to keep your fingers and keep the turtles healthy (305-743-2552, 2396 Overseas Highway, Marathon, FL 33050).

Some of the patients at the Turtle Hospital.

Burdines Waterfront Chiki Tiki Bar and Grill (1015 15th Street Ocean, Marathon, FL 33050) is a spot I need to experience every time my wheels hit Marathon.  When it’s hot in The Keys, which is always, having a cold beer and great food on the deck of the stilted tiki hut cannot be beat.

Another one of my favorite haunts, the deck at Burdines looking up a shipping canal.

And here are the other pics, as mentioned.

Yes, I wrinkled the bed before I took this pic. It was a great place for a great night’s sleep and a couple of naps, too.
I had one of the rooms on the 3rd floor down at the end of the resort. It was very quiet, great breeze, and I could see the colors of the sky change from both sides of my room.
The foliage wrapped you in comfort as you walked across the resort.
Even at night, the mood was “romantical.”
Eggplant Rollatini (Prosciutto, Provolone, Basil, Tomato Compote, Aged Balsamic, Herb Oil).
Grilled Beef Tenderloin (Parmesan Whipped Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus, Garlic Tomato Butter).
Pizzaiolo Roberto Caporuscio took very good care of me and my stomach. IL Postino’s oven is usually between 850 and 900 degrees.
Hello burrata. I will eat you again!
Guests had the choice of a smaller continental breakfast or an all -encompassing breakfast which included the buffet and allowed ordering from a breakfast menu. As I was eating breakfast one day, a school of flying fish “swam” by. Eating on the beach with this view will be hard to forget.
it is clear that Isla Bella has so much to offer. This sign alone shows several options.
Arial view of the beach bar.
Sunset beginning over the 7-mile bride.

What do you think?