When it comes to generating visitor interest, Florida continues to be one of the top three states in the continental U.S. So says MMGY Global in its 2019-2020 Portrait of American Travelers. The Portrait also indicates that the Florida Keys is the number-one U.S. city / region travelers are “interested in visiting during the next two years.” So we’ll start there and work our way north as we look at some recent developments on the Sunshine State’s tourism front.
A best-kept secret for U.S. presidents and celebrities, Little Palm Island Resort & Spa will begin welcoming guests on March 1. A 20-minute boat ride off the coast of Little Torch Key, on a lush private island, the resort — part of the Noble House Hotels & Resorts collection — has been re-imagined following a two-and-a-half-year closure as a result of Hurricane Irma. Each of the 30 redesigned thatched-roof suites provides ocean views and plush, all-new interiors.
Private cabanas have been added to the oceanfront pool area, and the popular Palapa Bar will be returning. Crushed seashell paths wind through the resort’s 5.5 acres, enabling guests to spot countless bird species, endangered Key deer, green iguanas and playful dolphins. Many exclusive activities are available, from seaplane tours to reef snorkels, and the resort will maintain its tradition of keeping TVs and phones out of the guestrooms and public areas.
The adults-only Bungalows Key Largo reopened in December following a restoration necessitated by a fire in May. The first-ever all-inclusive in the Keys, this year-old, upscale, boutique, waterfront resort comprises 135 private bungalows dotted across 12 acres. Each bungalow has its own bougainvillea-laden veranda with an oversized soaking tub in which to luxuriate, as well as an outdoor garden shower.
Active, lifestyle-focused travelers can take advantage of two Huffy bicycles provided with each bungalow, a Fitness Tiki Hut with Peloton equipment, daily morning yoga and an array of aquatic activities such as snorkeling and paddleboarding. Electric Duffy boats, a 38-foot sailing catamaran and a 40-foot Intrepid powerboat are available for private charters and fishing expeditions. Dining option include Bogie & Bacall (fine dining and wine pairings), the beachside Sea Señor (Mexican fare) and Fish Tales (seafood).
NP International is preparing the launch of THesis Hotels with their first property set to open in Coral Gables in March. THesis Hotel Miami, part of the Paseo de la Riviera mixed use development, directly across the street from the University of Miami, will have 245 guestrooms and a wide range of community-inspired events and experiences.
James Beard Award-nominated chef Niven Patel will lead two restaurants: Orno, a New American restaurant focused on fresh, locally sourced ingredients and Mamey Gastrobar, which will serve fruit forward cocktails and the exotic flavors of island-inspired cuisine. Hotel guests will also have access to a rooftop pool, 6,500 square feet of meetings and events space, complimentary Wi-Fi and community-inspired programming.
Within the next few months, the quaint, boutique White Elephant Palm Beach will open 32 rooms, including two Penthouse suites with rooftop terraces and coastal views. The historic property, with its contemporary interpretation of Mediterranean-revival architecture design, originally opened in the 1920s as the Bradley Park Hotel. Amenities at the iconic, harborside hotel include a full-service restaurant, courtyard and pool area with outdoor seating.
The property’s layout takes advantage of outdoor spaces, including a U-shaped outdoor courtyard, which will be the social heart of the hotel and the setting for an inviting pool environment with outdoor seating. Signature restaurant Lola 41° will serve globally inspired cuisine and cocktails.
Amrit Ocean Resort & Residences has an outdoor spa, a meditation garden and outdoor yoga studios.
Amrit Ocean Resort & Residences on Singer Island is set to welcome guests who are seeking a luxury, unplug-and-recharge wellness getaway. Developed in partnership with ESPA and the Himalayan Institute, Amrit (which means “elixir of life” in Sanskrit) merges Eastern traditions and inner science with Western luxury, enhanced through modern technologies and personalized programming. A 100,000-sqaure-foot space contains an outdoor spa and wellness amenities, including a meditation garden and outdoor yoga studios.
The 153 guestrooms and 34 grand luxury wellness suites include ocean-view terraces, circadian rhythm lighting and freestanding bathtubs wherein guests can enjoy a personalized aromatherapy bath, compliments of a Bath Concierge.
Through March 31, the seven Disney Springs Resort area hotels in Central Florida are offering discounted “Escape the Cold” rates. The hotels provide shuttle transportation approximately every 30 minutes to all four Walt Disney World theme parks, including Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where guests can experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, a whole new land where they can live an adventure in a galaxy far, far away. Among the attractions there are Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run and the just-opened thrill-ride, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. In addition, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will open at Hollywood Studios on March 4.
In Winter Haven, Legoland Florida Resort’s newest Lego pirate-themed accommodation, Pirate Island Hotel, is slated to open on April 17. Connected to the existing Legoland Hotel and next to Lake Eloise, Pirate Island will be the resort’s third on-site hotel. Close to the main entrance of the theme park, it will have 150 rooms, a pool and pool deck, hundreds of Lego models and numerous character experiences.he new five-story hotel will also house a pirate-themed restaurant, an entertainment area for kid-friendly nightly programming, Lego play pits and a lobby bar. Also, with every hotel reservation, guests will get a free family-style breakfast. Inside the rooms, kids can fully explore their separate side of the room complete with their own TV, daily in-room Lego treasure chests, Lego pirate décor, treasure map headboards and boat-shaped bunkbeds in the suites.
One of the oldest homes in South Florida and a popular tourist destination for locals and worldwide visitors alike, the fanciful 35-acre Bonnet House Museum & Gardens in east Fort Lauderdale is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020. A part of Florida’s history, the home was built in 1920 as the winter retreat of the Birch / Bartlett family, and is a blend of art, architecture, history and ecology. A property of the Florida Trust, the 35-acre subtropical estate and historic house museum preserves the natural setting of South Florida on what is one of the last examples of a native barrier island habitat in the region.
Bonnet House Museum & Gardens in east Fort Lauderdale is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020.
The 100th Anniversary celebrations include Bonnet House’s Concerts Under the Stars presented by The Haller Foundation, an annual series of live music performances from a diverse set of talent. Upcoming dates include February 13, and March 12 and 26.
The International Orchid & Garden Festival, April 4-5, is a signature Bonnet House event that draws enthusiasts from near and far and features beautiful varieties from locations such as Thailand and Ecuador. The 100th Anniversary season also includes a variety of programs, workshops, tours and classes. Options include watercolor, calligraphy and drawing workshops; art, music, holiday cheer, birding, orchid care classes, and other activities.