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Month: June 2020

Hotel Review: Little Palm Island

Hotel Review

Little Palm Island

The only private island resort in the United States

Little Palm Island, the only private island resort in the United States, is newly renovated with nautical elegance reminiscent of the Ernest Hemingway era and quintessentially Floridian.

Perfect For: Boutique Hotel Lovers | Romantic Getaways | Honeymoons & Anniversaries


Little Palm Island

Little Palm Island Location:Lower Florida Keys, 28 miles north of Key West and 133 miles south of Miami International Airport

Little Palm Island Location: Lower Florida Keys, 28 miles north of Key West and 133 miles south of Miami International Airport

  • Little Palm Island 4

  • Little Palm Island Beach

Vibe: Little Palm Island, the only private island resort in the United States, is newly renovated with nautical elegance reminiscent of the Ernest Hemingway era and quintessentially Floridian. You can arrive by car, in which case they transport guests on a small wooden vessel named Truman, another nod and step back in time to the golden age. You can arrive by mega-yacht, or at least be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one docked gleamingly in front of the island. Or you can arrive by sea-plane. No matter how you arrive, it will be in style and you’ll feel like a glamorous movie star stepping down onto your own private island resort. Little Palm Island is truly an oasis with hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.

History: The five-acre island had its first inhabitant, Newton Munson, over 65 years ago who was responsible for planting an abundance of over 28 varieties of palm trees. He also built the original “Storm House” shelter to protect again hurricane-force winds. The island became known as Sheriff’s Island when it was purchased by then state senator and county sheriff, John Spottswood. A friend of the Trumans, the President and his wife would spend winters there and invite many notables as guests. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the state of Florida ran electric and water lines to the island. In 1995, Mr. Patrick Colee purchased the island and the combination of his creative vision and financial investment has made the island into what you will find there today.

Accommodations: 30 private luxury bungalows. Inspired by nature, each thatched-roof bungalow is aptly named after the island residents like Owl, Green Heron, and Ibis.

Food & Beverage: The Dining Room at Little Palm Island was recognized as Florida’s Best Hotel Dining Experience in the restaurant’s earlier days. Private dining experiences can also be set up in different locations throughout the island, including the beach to watch the sunset over the ocean, or the dock.

Wellness: SpaTerre, the signature brand of Noble House Hotels & Resorts, provides a wellness retreat within a retreat. While the bungalows dot the perimeter of Little Palm Island, the common areas make up the center. The spa is a two-story building and utilizes the cult- and personal favorite Biologique Recherche for facial treatments.

Activities: The Florida Keys have not truly been seen until you’ve experienced them from the water. Whatever might float your boat, whether it’s fishing, sailing, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, Hobie cats, scuba diving or snorkeling, the point is, you’ll want to get out on the water. They have Boston Whalers that you can drive out on your own to snorkel at the reef. During our stay, another adventurous couple was going out to sky dive and back within a couple of hours, elated about their experience. Little Palm Island also offers backcountry island hopping, a day trip to Dry Tortugas by seaplane, wakeboarding, dolphin encounters and eco-tours. The gym on Little Palm Island is particularly large for a small island with only 30 rooms, and offers a locker room for changing as the resort welcomes you to stay on-island past check-out time to make the most of the day. What you won’t find are televisions, loud music, night life, or kids – and I’m not mad about that.

What  Sets  It  Apart:    Little Palm Island is literally the only private island resort in the country, so that is the biggest feature that sets this exclusive resort apart.  With only 30 villas, you could literally go a week without seeing anyone if you wish, which offers the ultimate privacy for those that want to get away from it all.

Diego  Travel  Loves:  The ease and accessibility, yet the remoteness and feeling of being a million miles away. You can fly private into Marathon, or it’s just a 2 hour drive from Miami International Airport or a short drive from Key West International Airport. It feels like you are being transported back in time, while having all the modern luxury amenities at your fingertips. 

Extras You’ll Get with Diego Travel: 

  • $100 resort credit

  • $50 per person daily breakfast credit

  • Upgrade at time of check-in, subject to availability

  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Insider Tip:

Within three miles of the island, you’ll find Loggerhead Key, once home to over 2000 Rhesus monkeys and Looe Key Reef, named for the ship that sank there in 1744 and has since created a world-renowned snorkeler’s haven.  

Summary of Our Stay:

Our visit to Little Palm Island was our first opportunity to break away from our children for a weekend escape after the period of crisis that we all experienced in the first quarter of 2020.  I had heard great things about the private island, but was especially excited to see the results of the complete renovation they underwent for years following the destruction of Hurricane Irma.

My parents have lived in Islamorada for nearly 15 years, which is a little over an hour north of Little Palm Island.  Our experience of the Florida Keys had been pretty limited to the Northern Keys and days exploring the ocean by boat were endless.  In a sense, my kids had a small part of their childhood in the Keys, and if you ask anyone who grows up there, the way you spend your time is out on the water.

Little Palm Island is no different.  From the moment you drive up to the lobby, you feel like you’re stepping into a time machine that transports you into a golden era of the past.  The lobby is a stand-alone building and pristinely landscaped, purposefully done to hide the space where you’ll leave your car for your journey by boat.  The Truman, the elegantly old-fashioned, yet sparkling new wooden boat whisks you away while the friendly captain and skipper outline the lay of the land for you.

I’m not sure which was more notable – the sparkling island with its stretch of sand bar peeking out from the shallow sea or the gleaming white mega-yacht stationed at the dock.  As we were greeted by a cheerful concierge hostess who showed us around the island, she casually explained that mega-yachts and celebrities are the norm, not the exception.  The island, after all, is the only private island resort in the entire country.  And now more than ever with travel restrictions limiting people’s ability to travel, those who can afford the luxury of exclusivity are looking for places such as Little Palm Island.

The interior of the island houses all the communal amenities like the gorgeous 2 story spa, an impressive fitness center, and a boutique whose merchandise rivaled the chicest boutique in St. Barths.  Seriously, I need a return trip just to shop!  The perimeter of the island is reserved for the 30 bungalows, each with an idyllic view of the sea and sunrise or sunset.

Just as we were finishing up with our guided tour, a sea plane landed at the special dock made just for sea planes that greets passengers coming in from all over South Florida.  So whether you arrive by private plane, private yacht, or by car, you are sure to have a VIP welcome here on the island.  With the guided tour over, we didn’t waste any time and got out on the water by stand up paddle board.  While the ocean was like glass, the current was extremely strong, so we didn’t get very far – but it made for a great photo op!

Dinner was fresh yellowtail caught that day with a side of gorgeous sunset views.  After dinner we walked the beach lined with tiki torches and found two private Adirondack chairs on the dock to talk until the sun went down.  It was the first time in months that we had uninterrupted conversation where we could dream of where we’ll travel to next.  This seems to be a favorite conversation topic whenever we are on vacation.  The life of a travel advisor!

Parting was truly such sweet sorrow from Little Palm Island and I would have been happy staying an extra night or two.  From reconnecting with my husband to finishing the book that had been collecting dust on my nightstand for the last two months, I was in heaven.  Chatting with the friendly people at the pool – from a distance of course! – was also a highlight as I love meeting people from all over the world.

When you plan your trip, reach out to us and we will take care of all the details while getting you all the added amenities.

Design My Trip!

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Hotel Review: Blackberry Farm

Hotel Review

Blackberry Farm

Luxury Retreat in The Great Smoky Mountains

Situated on a 4,200-acre estate in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, Blackberry Farm is one of America’s most celebrated intimate luxury hotels, offering discerning guests an ideal escape from the stresses of modern-day life.

Perfect For: Epicurean Adventures | Traditional Family Gatherings | Romantic Getaways

  • 35.6955,-83.8488

    Blackberry Farm

    Blackberry  Farm Location:  4,200  acre  estate  on  the  Great  Smoky  Mountains,  30  minutes  outside  of  Knoxville, Tennessee. 

  • 35.8096,-83.9966

    Mc Ghee Tyson Airport (TYS)

    Blackberry Farm is easy to get to with direct flights to Knoxville from more than 25 cities and a 25 minute drive fromMc Ghee Tyson Airport (TYS) airport.

Blackberry Farm Location: Blackberry Farm is easy to get to with direct flights to Knoxville from more than 25 cities and a 25 minute drive from TYS airport.

Vibe:  Blackberry  Farm  has  a  long,  rich  history  full  of  heart  and  soul,  being  one  of  America’s leading  luxury  hotels  and  a  favored  destination  for  our  most  discerning  travelers.   

Accommodations: 80  accommodations  range  from  estate  rooms  to  private  homes,  each uniquely  appointed  and  varying  locations  throughout  the  property.    We  have  had  a  sneak  peek into  most  of  them,  so  will  be  happy  to  guide  you  toward  the  one  that  is  just  right  for  you.

  • Blackberry Farm Room

  • Blackberry Farm Room Exterior

  • Blackberry Farm Room

  • Blackberry Farm Room

Food  &  Beverage:  The  Main  House  dining  room,  The  Dogwood,  and  The  Barn  (James  Beard Award-winning  wine  and  dining  experience).    A  private  dining  experience  can  be  arranged  in  the wine  cellar  at  the  Barn,  along  with  a  private  guided  tour.

Wellness:  The  Wellhouse  at  Blackberry  Farm  is  a  welcoming,  cozy  two-story  farmhouse  spa that  invites  you  to  get  cozy  and  stay  all  day.    Their  wellness  focus  is  on  re-centering  the  mind, body  and  spirit.

Activities:  9  miles  of  hiking  trails,  cycling,  music  events  with  celebrated  artists,  inspired  wine  and food  events,  photography,  garden  experiences,  horseback  riding,  boating,  water  and  paddle sports,  fly-fishing,  bird-watching,  sporting  clays,  carriage  rides,  and  archery.

What  Sets  It  Apart:    The  people!    The  staff  at  Blackberry  Farm  are  genuinely  interested  in getting  to  know  you  and  ensuring  your  stay  exceeds  your  expectations.    It  truly  is  a  family-run business  and  you  feel  that  in  the  warmth  of  the  staff,  who  take  pride  in  how  long  they  have  been at  the  property.   

Diego  Travel  Loves:  The  Carriage  House  at  Blackberry  Farm  is  a  preferred  accommodation  for its  preferential  view  over  the  famous  pond  and  Smoky  Mountain  backdrop.    You  can’t  miss  doing the  Farmstead  Tour,  which  involves  a  stop  to  see  the  truffle  puppies.    If  you’re  curious,  the  wait list  to  buy  one  is  6  years.   

Extras You’ll Get with Diego Travel: 

  • 5% off published rates
  • $50 spa credit, upgrade  at  time  of  check-in, subject to availability, early check-in, late check-out, subject to availability 

Insider Tip: Blackberry  Farm  is  the  ideal  destination  for  large  family  reunions,  girlfriend  getaways,  or  multifamily  gatherings.    When  you  book  with  us,  we  arrange  the  activities  for  all  of  your  guests,  and coordinate  with  the  hotel  for  private  meals  when  you’re  a  group  of  15  or  more.   

Summary  of  Our  Stay:

I  planned  a  2-night  getaway  girls  trip  to  Blackberry Farm  for  a  group  of  my  closest  mom  friends.   From  the  moment  we  arrived  to  the  Knoxville  airport,  our  driver  was  waiting  to  whisk  us  off  in  a shiny  new  van,  perfect  for  the  15  of  us. Arrival  was  smooth  and  easy  –  and  my  friends  were thrilled  to  receive  their  $100  spa  credit  and  suite  upgrades.

We had  decided  to  go  glam  for  our  private  dinner  in  the  wine  cellar  at  The  Barn,  so  dress  up  we did!    Sequins,  leather  and  lace  met  up  around  the  fireside  lounge  at  The  Barn  for  a  round  of glamorous  pre-dinner  cocktails,  with  a  lot  of  oohing  and  awing  over  the  insane  beauty  of  the property.    This  was  literally  the  first  girls  trip  I  had  ever  done  for  myself,  so  I  was  happy  to  pull out  all  the  stops  for  my  friends,  and  nobody  could  have  done  it  better  than  the  team  at Blackberry  Farm.

After  lots  of  uninterrupted  dinner  conversation  (Yay!    No  kids!),  the  sommelier  gave  us  a  private guided  tour  of  the  extensive  wine  collection  and  envious  display  of  Jamón  Serrano.    Some ladies  lingered  late  into  the  night,  but  I  personally  could  not  wait  to  head  back  to  my  Holly  Glade Cottage  to  take  a  luxurious  bath  in  a  bathtub  fit  for  a  queen  with  an  herbal  soak  made  straight from  the  farm.

The  following  day  was  a  semi-guided  flow  of  a  few  activities  that  the  ladies  could  opt  in  or  opt out.    We  all  seemed  to  gather  for  the  Farmstead  tour,  which  I  highly  recommend  to  thoroughly enjoy  and  see  the  entire  property.    The  beauty  of  using  a  travel  advisor  to  set  up  your  group  trip is  that  you  leave  the  logistics  and  details  in  the  hands  of  a  professional,  so  that  you’re  left  with  a curated  itinerary  where  everyone  can  just  show  up  and  have  fun!

Our  final  dinner  was  in  the  main  dining  room  of  the  Barn,  and  let  me  tell  you,  we  shut  the  place down.    Endless  conversation  among  girlfriends  is  apparently  what  we  all  needed,  and  not  one, but  two  women  who  were  not  a  part  of  our  group  stopped  to  linger  at  our  table  and  join  in  on  the chatter.    It  may  sound  cliché,  but  Blackberry  Farm  is  truly  the  perfect  setting  to  reconnect  and relish  in  conversation.  

In  the  afternoon,  the  friendly  and  bubbly  sales  manager  whisked  me  around  on  a  golf  cart  to show  me  every  possible  category  of  room  and  meeting  space.    Yes,  I  know  them  all.      So  if you’re  unsure  of  where  to  stay  on  Blackberry  Farm,  you  can  reach  out  for  an  unbiased  opinion and  an  analysis  of  what  will  work  best  for  you.    The  meeting  spaces  are  perfectly  suited  for  that corporate  or  incentive  trip  you’ve  been  planning  for  your  business,  or  the  wedding  of  your dreams.    I  truly  couldn’t  think  of  a  more  magical  place  for  a  large  group  to  gather.

When  the  time  drew  near  to  collect  our  bags  and  reluctantly  head  home,  the  unexpected happened  which  made  me  fall  in  love  with  Blackberry  Farm  even  more.    Our  flight  was  delayed!   Not  once,  but  three  times.    And  guess  what?    The  whole  team  bent  over  backwards  to accommodate  us  like  royalty.    God  forbid  we  would  have  to  wait  in  the  airport.    Our  luggage  was loaded  so  that  we  didn’t  have  to  lift  a  pinky,  and  our  driver  patiently  waited  for  us  as  we  lounged in  the  Farmstead,  shopping  the  boutique,  assembling  the  amazing  Stave  puzzles,  and  laughing as the movie, Magic Mike, played on the tv while we waited.  It was truly bittersweet to have come to an end, but it was the perfect refresh button we all needed as mamas and a time to spoil ourselves and reconnect our friendships.  If you haven’t done this for yourself, what are you waiting for?  Call us to see how we can get started by putting together the perfect stay for you and those you love at Blackberry Farm.

Design My Trip!

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