Marriott Key Largo Bay Resort
This laidback tropical time machine treats guests to old-time Florida R&R.
Where Miami's beach hotels have a glam "put on your high-heeled sneakers" vibe, this relaxed resort, an hour's drive south, is all about kicking off your shoes. Since the lushly landscaped complex is located on the Gulf of Mexico side of the island, the "beach" in the name isn't an ocean beach, and, as is typical in the Keys, the stretch of sand is very small --- more for sunning and slurping margaritas than swimming. But there's a decent-sized pool, and the myriad other watersports offered by the resort's excellent PADI dive shop are tops: scuba and snorkeling trips plus dive instruction/certification, as well as parasailing, kayaking, sport fishing, sunset cruises or just hotdogging on wave runners or aqua cycles. There's also a 24-hour fitness center, and for those who prefer passive pampering, a day spa. Though many rooms could use paint touch-ups, they're spacious and well-equipped with amenities; many also have balconies and/or, on upper floors especially, gorgeous water views. In-house eateries are pretty pricey, but Key Largo and nearby Islamorada have no dearth of fine fish houses and other cheaper, tastier dining options.
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