In a nutshell: A truly private beachfront enclave which fits everything from bustling family areas to blissed-out palm-tree hammock retreats into a single resort.
Price point: $$$
If you want to feel like you’ve stepped onto the Instagram grid of your favorite love-to-hate influencer, look no further. A new resort on the jaw-dropping highway between the mainland and Key West, the main hotel building is a three-story accommodation complex which stretches right along the waterfront.
From the shore, your eyes wander into the endless distance of a bright blue ocean that dazzles from the brightness of the sun and white sand. Tucked well off the main highway, a foliage-lined road brings you to an airy reception building overlooking the resort’s crescent-beach. It’s a resort with a family-friendly vibe, but there are enough tucked-away areas for a couple’s getaway.
We arrived two hours early but were offered use of the pool while we awaited our room. Check-in was pretty fast, with clear directions to the room and an explanation of the resort’s offerings. A concierge texts each day with updates on jet-ski availability, kids club activities, and more.
Bed and bath:
The room features a crisp, beachy color scheme of deep blues and bright whites, with geometric-patterned carpets, oversized white lamps flanking the king-size bed, eye-catching driftwood ornaments on shelves, and an aquatic print curtain that opens out onto a balcony that overlooks the sea.
In your ocean-facing room, your balcony will be bathed in sun in the morning, and cooler later in the day when the Florida sun is at its most roasting. Our room was on a corner which overlooked the outdoor bar area, giving way to a light hubbub of noise throughout the day, but the bar winds down at around 11pm so sleep was never disturbed.
The bathroom was a real star, here. Bright white subway-style tiles cover a spacious retreat featuring large shower, a deep soaking tub, double sinks, and plenty of towels.
A trio of Molton Brown shampoo, conditioner and body wash are in the shower (I’m a fan of local toiletries where possible in hotels, so UK-brands are always a surprise to see). But as they’re fixed into holders in the shower it means there were no toiletries at hand for the tub.
Food and drink:
A beachfront restaurant Il Postino is the main food draw here, where tables of families sit alongside candlelit dinners for two. We both took $12 veal, sausage and ricotta meatballs, followed by the grilled beef tenderloin with mashed potatoes, asparagus, garlic-tomato butter, and a red wine sauce ($44). Unspectacular, but solid. Key lime pie, a local favorite, followed and rounded out the evening quite nicely.
We ordered room service a few times and it always arrived rapidly. Although one night we were told that they weren’t allowed to send alcohol to the rooms, which was rather baffling after successfully ordering booze on room service the previous night.
And while the Caesar salad featured fresh-roasted chicken, I was let down by a packet of store-bought dressing (it shattered the luxury resort ambience a bit). The sushi was a winner, though, with chunks of fresh tuna, and the burgers were sensational.
Pools, spas and public areas:
The main area for seaside lounging and splashing was pretty small and we never woke up early enough to secure one of the coveted chairs, however were delighted to discover open hammocks amongst the palm trees a few feet away. This is where we spent a good majority of our days, and was definitely a highlight.
There’s a main pool plus several smaller ones scattered around the resort, so if you don’t bag a seat in the main bay, there’s always a backup option.
Nuts and bolts
Room count: There are a total of 199 units (includes over 100 two-five bedroom suites)
Internet access: Resort-wide WIFI for guests
Parking: Overnight Parking: $20 + tax. Visitor Parking: $10 + tax. Valet Parking: $50 + tax
Accessibility: Isla Bella is compliant in accordance with the construction statutes of the Department of Justice 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design and welcomes guests of all abilities. You can find additional information here.
Starting room rate: Rooms start at $399 but in season range from $899 to $1999
Pet policy: Isla Bella welcomes service animals but non-service animals are not allowed (Room type restrictions apply).
Best thing: Because the resort sits on over a mile of waterfront, every guest room has an incredible ocean view. Ours was breathtaking — and sitting on the balcony among the palm trees felt like true paradise.
Worst thing: The size of the beachfront sitting area was disappointing, and even though we had great ocean views from the bar area, our balcony, and even from reception, it would have been nice to have been able to grab one of the coveted beach loungers before they were taken.
Perfect for: A relaxing family break, that still offers a taste of luxury. Alternatively, it makes a great two-night pitstop while doing the epic road-trip from mainland Florida down to Key West.
Not right for: Those looking to get out and explore the town by foot (though once you get a glimpse of the white sands outside your room, you likely won’t want — or need — to leave the hotel’s expansive 24 acre property)
Instagram from: The grove of palm trees (for an extra flex, snap your pic from a cozy hammock) and at the end of the nearby dock for a background of never-ending ocean.
For more information and to book, click here.