Key West is one of my favorite destinations in the United States. It’s a “come as you are” location where being yourself, totally honest, and unapologetically open is the norm. I’ve been traveling to The Keys and Key West about 3 times a year since I moved to Florida in 2013. Making the 4-hour drive down from Fort Lauderdale is an integral part of the journey for me. Yes they have an airport and it’s an easy flight, I just love the drive. Once in The Keys, you’ll experience a level of relaxation that you have not experienced before.
Did I set the stage well enough? Well, let’s change it all without changing a thing. Let’s check into the Island House Key West.
Now, I am not a fan of pomposity, so calling your lodging venue “The Best Gay Resort in the World” and using it on all of your marketing, my first response to that claim by Island House has always been a non-subtle eye-roll.
But when I had one free slot of time this past fall, the weekend before Thanksgiving, I realized it was time to see if my eye-roll was warranted. The reservation was made for a 4-night stay at Island House.
I’ve known about the Island House for years, but never had visited. All I knew was that it was one of the clothing optional gay men’s resorts in town. There are other gay, LGBT, LGBT-friendly resorts on the island, but Island House is the best on the island, and in the world, so, let’s check out the best.
The only research I did before checking in was finding the address and asking about parking. Arriving at 1129 Fleming St, Key West, FL 33040, I was fortunate enough to grab one of the few parking spots on the property. Key West parking is always a fun experiment, but the fact that I scored a spot, I knew it would be a great weekend.
When checking into Island House, I was given a tour of the property where I was excited to see the great care, design, comfort of all the spaces. Viewing the health club, sauna, video area, pool area, bar and cafe, and my room, I realized this was a much bigger place than I imagined. I’ve visited many different resorts, guest homes, real homes across Key West and it was clear there was great care and upkeep in the resort. In talks with the staff, I learned that the resort went through a quarter of a million dollar renovation that was completed this past September.
I wasn’t sure if someone else was going to join me so my room had two queen beds and a private bath. Check out their room selections from one bed and shared baths to 2-bedroom apartments with dedicated parking, kitchen, living room, and so much more. I had my parking, my room, and now it was time for a drink and the pool.
Now the whole resort is clothing optional and I am just not that kind of guy/gay. To each their own and party as you want to. I’ve seen it all and then some so it didn’t worry or bother me one way or the other. I’m also not as much of a sexual being as others. It’s been a millennium of days since I’ve done the deed or even kissed another guy, so what the hell was I doing at a clothing optional resort with 4 channels of porn in the guest rooms and a communal video area where, well, things can happen? It takes all kinds to make the world go ’round and I am one of those odd kinds.
There were many kinds of men there with me at Island House. Remember, above, I was rolling my eyes at the “Best in the World” tag line? I also roll my eyes at the gay resorts or bars that just use “the pretty boys” in their advertisements. Don’t put Island House in that grouping for they will never get an eye-roll from me for that. If you go to its “News-Videos” page (https://islandhousekeywest.com/news-videos/), you’ll see that there’s a variety of men present in the videos, at the resort, and to that I say BRAVO! Advertise honestly what you have, who is there, what kind of experiences you provide, and they will come. The videos also show that yes, there’s more to the resort than the men. What Island House provides is a lot more than a place to be nude and hook up, which is often the feeling I get when I go to other clothing optional resorts.
The Island House is a resort by name and practice. It is not just a guest house or a lodging venue. Doing no research before arriving, I was amazed to learn the cafe was open 24 hours a day, guests staying at the hotel can enjoy 4 free drinks at happy hour, poolside massages are available, free Starbucks and Tazo, free wifi, the health club is included, and all of this and more with no resort fees, where as other Key West resorts have resort fees alone ranging from $19 to $39 a day per room. With a built in savings of $100+ a day, staying at Island House includes a great monetary advantage above others, even before you check in.
Let me get back to the cafe. I had some great food at the Island House cafe. Do you hear the shock in my voice? I did not expect such great food to come out of that kitchen behind the bar. There were two meals that I always need to try and work into my Key West schedule, but besides those two, you found me right back at Island House to try more of its menu.
It’s no wonder people come here for an amazing happy hour at the bar and around the pool, but they are also showing up for the great food coming out of the cafe.
If you want to ask me more about Island House, please do so (firstname.lastname@example.org). I would be more than happy to answer any questions. But if you visit Island House’s website, you will be pleasantly surprised that the resort’s videos answer just about every one of your questions. Whomever is in charge of the marketing and the website and videos … kudos for you really capture the Island House very well.
Before I wrote this up, I started watching some of the videos on the Island House site. One that had me nodding and saying “YUP!” out loud was the site’s Fifty Shades of Gratitude video. I met Jeff from Island House (the voice in this video and many others) so it was good to hear his voice again, but also, it was great to be in agreement with the men that shared their “gratitude” in the clip.
Gay men, nudity, spectacular food, plentiful drinks, plethora of perks, unbeatable location, ultimate relaxation, poolside massages … the list could go on and on why Island House is a must. But there’s one entity I left off the list. Best for last? Indeed!
The Staff. Island House would be a great resort with a great staff, but they don’t have a great staff. The men who work there are phenomenal. I did not ask all of them their backgrounds or skills, but if I needed to list off their top three traits they would be attention to quality, listening, and caring. They were there for every guest. Your happiness was their main goal. You can tell when people are caring because it is their job. The Island House staff cared because they cared. These men represented their employer so well and embodied the Key West hospitality and then some that they are on top of the pile of reasons to return. The employees are just as big a part of the entire experience as is the food, the room, the pool, seriously.
I can easily take the description of Key West I shared above and apply it to Island House –
It’s a “come as you are” location where being yourself, totally honest, and unapologetically open is the norm.
So is the longest owned and operated gay resort in the world the best one in the world? Are my eyes still rolling? No, and they never will when I read that claim of Island House being the best. I have not been to all of the gay resorts in the world, but after visiting Island House, the rest of the resorts in the world have a high level of excellence to try and match. Let us know when you think you have it. In the mean time, we will be on the road, driving back to Key West and loving our return to the Island House.
As usual, I’ll finish by sharing some of the other pics I took during my trip.