In Key Largo, the Bungalows resort is an oasis whose time has come. It’s an adults-only, all-inclusive retreat for the world-weary—the largest of its kind in the U.S.
With 12 sandy acres on Buttonwood Bay, it’s quietly sequestered away from the hurly-burly of tourists hustling up and down U.S. Highway 1.
The Bungalows are nestled inside a place that’s in no hurry at all. “They’re very safe and secure, and it’s quite a nice experience,” says Chad Bustos, spokesperson for the resort. “You kind of lose yourself—there’s a private, tranquil feeling.”
Part of that’s because of a sumptuous landscape strategically planted with native vegetation. Part of it’s because this is a bike-friendly, pedestrian resort—no cars are allowed on its sandy walkways. And part of it’s because each of its 135 freestanding bungalows—31 waterfront and 104 surrounded by gardens—is a sanctuary unto itself.
Each takes up a tidy 1,100 square feet, 650 of that under roof. The rest is outside, landscaped and fenced in, with shower, bathtub, deck, and seating area. “‘Florida Understated’ is the term I would use to describe it,” Bustos says about the layout and decor. “Even inside, the color palette is grays, beiges, and whites.”
The units were manufactured in nearby Okeechobee, three hours north. Built of wood and resting on a concrete foundation, they’re raised to accommodate electricity and plumbing underneath. “That’s because we’re in an area that experiences weather at times, so they’re hurricane-rated to a 108 miles-per-hour code,” says Bustos.
No architect was involved in their design. Instead, the owner executed his own vision, from extensive excursions around the world. “He secured the property and took a look around in his travels to create an experience inspired by places like Mexico and the Amalfi Coast,” he says.
That means two pools, and an abundance of non-motorized water sports—in essence, it’s a water playground, with kayaks, paddleboards, snorkel gear, and pedal-driven water trikes. “The water is five feet to 30 feet deep as you go across the bay, and it ebbs and flows with the tide,” he says. “Typically it’s very tranquil and calm to be on the water, as opposed to the ocean.”
A 55-foot catamaran is available for sunset cruises, and two tiki boats—basically a pair of floating lounges—are reserved for happy hour. And Buttonwood Bay isn’t reserved just for guests at the resort. Because it bridges the Everglades and it’s a protected estuary, native wildlife seeks it out as a prime environment for raising its young.
Open now for just a few months, the resort anticipates guests from the Northeast and Midwest, all seeking extended escapes from winter’s inclement weather. “The length of stay is running at least five days, with people wanting to get away for a week at a time,” he says.
A West Coast clientele, and even an international one, isn’t far behind. “It’s only an hour from Miami International Airport,” he says.
But it’s lightyears away in terms of solitude.