Archive for the Key West News Category

Does Key West need (or want) to be ‘saved’ Aspen-style?

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I’m not bragging, but we’re just back from a couple of weeks in warmer climates, mostly Key West — sunshine, sand, temperatures in the 80s and the wracking decision of which T-shirt to wear with my shorts.

OK, I was bragging, but I’m done.

buffettIt was my first visit to Key West (clearly that’s nothing to brag about) and I was impressed by the similarities between that town and ours.

To begin on the most superficial level (where else?), these are two tourist towns, each with a celebrity author and celebrity singer-songwriter mascots.

Key West’s author is Ernest Hemingway — and the town has a serious Hemingway hangover. Having said that, I need to point to Aspen’s Hunter S. Thompson hangover — and those are two men who can very properly have hangover appended to their names.

Key West’s singer-songwriter is Jimmy Buffett. Aspen’s is John Denver.

I will leave the Mascots compare and contrast essay question for others.

There’s more of this amusing, shallow-comparison game, much more. But let’s dig deeper: Both towns can claim a wildly diverse social and cultural background.

A New York Times reporter summed up Key West’s historic “trove of unlikely characters” as “pirates, bootleggers, treasure hunters, fishermen, scoundrels, writers, artists, musicians, bohemians, Bahamians, Cubans, gays, rummies.” Key West even has an “official philosophy,” adopted by the town government: One Human Family.

I think most of us can see some clear Aspen parallels.

Except that Key West has gone much further than Aspen down the come one, come all, wide-open for tourism path.

You can see that in the intense T-shirt-shop-centric development of Duval Street, Key West’s main thoroughfare. You can see it in the mobs that waddle down that street during the day and the raucous throngs that fill the bars and spill out into that same street at night. Let’s just say that Key West draws a broader demographic than Aspen.

To be clear, there’s some damn good bars, damn good music and some damn good partying going on. We dived in and we loved it. And it’s definitely not Aspen.

That’s largely the result of decisions made and battles fought decades ago.

You know the decisions and battles I’m talking about: growth control, “saving Aspen.”

Way back when all that began — and people were a little less careful about how they phrased things — some local leaders said they didn’t want the “nickel and dimers” or the “hot-dog crowd” coming here. (They weren’t talking about hot-dog skiers, they were talking about people who bought hot dogs for dinner — instead of steak.)

After a lot of feuding and fussing (including some memorable contributions by the previously mentioned Thompson), Aspen made its decisions, passed its restrictions. And now, for better or worse — make that for better and worse — we are living with the results.

Just like that ill-fated Aspen Skiing Co. slogan, “Uncrowded by design,” Aspen is unaffordable by design.

That is, as noted, for better and worse.

And, for better and worse, Key West is sort of “Aspen un-saved.”

Our crowds are fitter. Our wallets are fatter. Our T-shirt shops are fewer. Our party bars are tamer. Much tamer.

Their colorful characters are much more colorful. Their edgy, marginal, creative crowd is, at the very least, edgier and more marginal.

And Key West is wrestling with the same issues of controlling growth that Aspen wrestled long ago — and wrestles still.

Recently, the island was embroiled in a battle over cruise ships.

Cruise ships pretty much epitomize the contrasts I have been highlighting callously. Every day in season, a cruise ship or two is docked in Key West. Throngs of passengers swarm Duval Street, eating and drinking and buying.

According an article in the Miami Herald, cruise ships bring about 800,000 tourists to Key West every year. And they spend an average of about $85 each. Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), that 85 bucks wouldn’t get anyone very far in Aspen.

The battle was over a proposal to dredge out the main channel in the Key West harbor to accommodate larger cruise ships.

The two sides in that battle were pretty much what you might imagine them to be. The Chamber of Commerce led the fight to approve the plan.

The New York Times quoted one city commissioner, the owner of several Duval Street bars, as saying, “There are a lot of people in this town who make a lot of money off of cruise ships. It’s a big boost to the economy.”

Another pro-cruise-ship campaigner in the article touched on the Aspen Dilemma: “There are comments that are a little intolerant about cruise-ship people who come from Middle America and get sunburned — that doesn’t sound like ‘One Human Family’ to me. What are we going to do, ask people to show their tax returns?”

On the anti-cruise-ship side, the New York Times quotes a prominent Key West artist. “There’s already too many people. Period. People are elbow to elbow. … All of this degrades the brand. … Key West is too important to sell to the lowest bidder.”

Last fall, the election was held and Key West voted — by a margin of 3 to 1 — to reject the proposal.

So, will Key West be “saved,” Aspen style?

Well, according to the Miami Herald, after the votes were counted, a spokeswoman for the Chamber of Commerce seemed to promise a very Aspen-style continuing battle. (Think entrance to Aspen.)

According to the Herald, “Chamber PAC spokeswoman Jennifer Hulse said the referendum is binding only on the current Key West City Commission.”

In other words: It ain’t over yet.

Does Aspen need to be deeply concerned about the fate of Key West? Well, looking at what’s happening there gives us a glimpse into what might have happened here, had Aspen remained wide-open and “un-saved.” And it reminds us that the battles fought here were both inevitable and worth the struggle.

And they’re not over yet. (Is the Hotel Aspen a Main Street cruise ship?)

But — for sure — we had a great time in Key West.

Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His email address is Original Article –


Key West Seaplanes® Fisher Island Seaplane Charter Flight to Benefit the American Cancer Society. The Fisher Island Seaplane Flight Will Benefit Local People with Cancer

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Key West Seaplanes® announces their donation of a Fisher Island seaplane private charter flight to benefit the American Cancer Society. The premier seaplane company supports the American Cancer Society Gala to be held on March 15, 2014 at the Marriott Beachside Resort, Key West.

Seaplane-Key West- Little Palm- All Florida- Bahamas-SeaplaneKey West Seaplanes® pilot Julie Ann Floyd excitedly shares, “We are happy to support such a great cause and look forward to attending the event ourselves. This will be the second year we have donated a private seaplane charter flight via seaplane to an exclusive destination such as Fisher Island…and we are thrilled to know this benefits people in our own community who are battling cancer.” The company offers seaplanes to Fisher Island service and seaplanes to all points on the mainland, The Florida Keys as well as Bahamas and Caribbean.

Floyd also adds, “Our private charter flights from Key West to Fisher Island via seaplane is a magnificent experience and the flight is just about an hour. We fly direct from Key West to Fisher Island so there is no driving, no traffic!” Key West Seaplanes® has been offering seaplane charters from Fisher Island and Miami for a number of years and is excited to team up with the American Cancer Society again to make this getaway happen for a lucky couple.

Key West Seaplanes® also offers seaplane charter service to all of the Florida mainland to Little Palm Island and Key West with popular routes being seaplane Miami to Key West, seaplane Naples to Key West, seaplane Ft. Myers to Key West and seaplane Ft. Lauderdale to Key West. The company also offers seaplane charters from Key West to The Bahamas as well as from all the mainland to The Bahamas.

The seaplane company has also found their local Seaplane Scenic Flights of Key West to be very popular with tourists and locals. Pilot Floyd says, “Many people arrive to Key West via cruise boat or make the long drive down from the mainland…and they see the gorgeous blue waters and want to explore it all from the air above. Of course, they also get to experience it with water landing and take offs. It’s really beautiful and very exciting.”

Key West Seaplanes® is based in Key West. The company formed in 2009 and is locally owned and operated by long-term local residents Julie Ann Floyd and Nikali Pontecorvo. The company has been featured numerous times in Florida Travel and Life, Water Flying Magazine, FLYING Magazine and has also appeared on The Travel Channel’s Trip Flip seaplane to Postcard Inn/Islamorada episode. The company is proud of their fleet that includes the Grand Champion Seaplane of Sun N Fun 2012 and the Reserve Grand Champion Seaplane of Sun N Fun 2013. These amazing members of the Key West Seaplanes® fleet possess every safety and performance modification known in the seaplane industry.

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Former Kenny Chesney Key West Estate and Beachfront Islamorada Mansion

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Luxury Florida Keys Real Estate Listed: Former Kenny Chesney Key West Estate and Beachfront Islamorada Mansion

The Sanchez Team at Century 21 Fine Homes and Estates is announcing the sale of Kenny Chesney’s former mansion located in downtown Key West as well as a beachfront mansion on Islamorada’s Millionaire’s Row.

Key West, FL (PRWEB) February 21, 2014

One of Key West’s most notable estates is now for sale. Located just minutes from Duval Street, this opulent six bedroom, eight bath estate was once the home of country music star, Kenny Chesney.

Kenny Chesney’s former estate on Caroline Street is a traditional conch style Key West home with spacious porches that overlook the carefully manicured grounds, swimming pool and two guesthouses. The estate is offered at $5,800,000. View Kenny Chesney’s former Key West property here.

The Islamorada beachfront mansion sits on 300 feet of ocean frontage with a private white sand beach, and personal lighthouse. The main house has nine bedrooms and nine bathrooms and an indoor pool with waterfalls and whirlpool bath. Other features include a deep water boat basin, salt water pond, and an outdoor pool as well. The property is offered at $9,000,000. View the Islamorada property here.

About the Sanchez Team

The Sanchez Team has been the leader in Florida Keys real estate for more than 35 years. The family run business specializes in fine homes and estates in the beautiful Florida Keys. They are also the leaders in commercial sales for hotel and residential developments.


Contact Information
Danny Sanchez
The Sanchez Team Century 21 Fine Homes and Estates All Key, Inc. 
+1 (305) 896-7253

Florida Keys have never looked so good

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Florida Keys have never looked so good

By: Andrea Guthmann

The arctic winds blowing through Chicago are making most of us long for a little sunshine on our shoulders. St. Bart’s or Aruba might be calling, but our own Caribbean, the Florida Keys, is a more affordable way to escape the cold, with no passport required.

Hit the road

kw2Fly into Miami or Fort Lauderdale, rent a car and head for the Overseas Highway. This one road connects the 113-mile-long string of islands, an engineering marvel that makes for a scenic family road trip. Since everything lies along the Overseas Highway, addresses in the Keys are all by the mile marker. So look for the MM signs throughout your drive.

The Florida Keys, particularly Key West, are known for their wild side. You’ll still find plenty of dive bars like Ernest Hemingway’s favorite, Sloppy Joe’s. Unless you want your kids to see a bunch of sloppy drunk patrons, you should probably take a pass.

Instead, let your kids experience the Keys’ other wild side, the natural treasures in which the dives involve snorkeling among colorful reefs and the party animals are dolphins.

Upper Keys

It’s just over an hour from Miami International Airport to Key Largo, the northernmost of the Florida Keys. If you’re only able to come for a long weekend, spending a few days in Key Largo and the Upper Keys is the way to go.

John Pennekamp State Park ( is a great place to spend a day kayaking and snorkeling.

Make the Hilton Key Largo ( your home base. It’s a family-friendly resort with a beautiful stretch of white sand beach, something that can be tough to find in the Keys. There’s a kid-friendly pool, as well as an adults-only pool. While there isn’t a drop-off kids club, there are plenty of activities, including daily arts and crafts, nightly bonfires with s’mores, plus a basketball and tennis court, along with a beachfront bean bag toss and Ping-Pong. While the kids are busy playing in the sand, parents can kick back at the resort’s classic tiki bar.

The Keys are known as the sport fishing capital of the U.S. and the Hilton Key Largo lets kids in on the action by providing complimentary fishing poles. Relax on the dock with your favorite fishing buddy and wait for a glimpse of the manatee that often stop by to visit.

To learn more about the local marine life, head to the Dolphin Research Center ( at MM 58 where you can watch trainers at work or pay an additional fee to have a close encounter with these lovable animals. The Turtle Hospital ( at MM 48.5 provides another great opportunity to learn about the local wildlife. Best for kids over 8 years old, it involves a detailed opening presentation in a classroom setting, followed by a tour of the rehabilitation tanks.

Next door to the Turtle Hospital is another kid-friendly lodging option. You’ll completely forget you’re on the mainland when you stay at the aptly named Tranquility Bay Beach House Resort, ( opened in 2005.

These Gulf-side beachfront townhouses are decorated in upscale island décor. Each comes with a full kitchen and washer/dryer. There are two large landscaped pools, one for families and one for adults. The pristine beach area is waves of fun with its volleyball net and laid-back patio bar and restaurant.

Key West

From Tranquility Bay Beach House Resort in Marathon, it’s just over an hour drive to Key West. Once there, hop on the Conch Train ( for an introductory tour of Keys kitsch and history.

Want to live like a pirate in the Caribbean? Ride like the wind aboard a schooner with Danger Charters ( Despite the name, this is a kid-friendly opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the surrounding islands. Best suited for kids 7 and older, the half-day eco trip takes guests on a snorkeling adventure (equipment included) as well as a kayak tour through the surrounding mangroves.

After snorkeling and kayaking, the bar is opened for mom and dad to have a glass of wine or beer. It’s not a booze cruise, but a glass or two is a fun way to end the journey!

The most memorable way to end a day in Key West is at the nightly sunset celebration, one of the best free things to do in Key West. You know you’re on island time when people host a nightly party to celebrate the day’s end! Head down to the pier and marvel at the street performers and artists at this unique sunset spectacle.

Sunny souvenirs

Don’t leave the Keys without bringing back a warm keepsake. The area’s namesake treat, key lime pie, is a favorite, but I prefer wearing home my souvenir. Those in the know never leave Key West without stopping at Kino Sandal Factory. You’ll find a wide variety of quality leather sandals, made on site, for only $13. At that price, if the shoe fits, get it in every color! It’s a great reminder of the laid-back sunny attitude you’ll find in the Florida Keys.

• Andrea Guthmann is a longtime Chicago journalist who writes the Midwest TravelingMom blog for Information for this article was gathered on a research trip sponsored in part by the Florida Keys & Key West Tourism Development Council (

When Key West Was Cuban (First Part)

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When Key West Was Cuban (First Part)

By Ciro Bianchi RossHavana, (PL) There were times when Florida depended from the General Captainship of Havana, under Spanish colonial rule. At that time, the Cuban capital was a city bigger and more important than other towns like New York and Philadelphia in the United States.

The English, in 1762, did not occupy the Island, they were satisfied with holding on to Havana. One year later, Spain passed on to England all the Florida peninsula in order to get Havana back, hinting at the importance that Madrid attributed to the capital of the largest of the Antilles.

Key West was considered part of Florida. Thence, when Spain gave that peninsula to England, the Key was part of the package. But London barely paid attention to the key, which continued to be used as occasional venue for fishermen born in Cuba and other islands of the Caribbean.

When the United States obtained its independence, citizens of the new nation arrived at the Key and for years Washington did not exert any control over Key West nor recognized it as its own. No other government did so either.

This circumstance was maybe to blame for the fact that in 1815 the Governor of Havana gave the territory of the Key to Juan Pablo Salas. The sly creole owned the key for a short time.

By that time, more U.S. citizens had come to live in Florida and Salas thought it most convenient to sell the Key, so he did. The naughty thing was he sold it twice, first to a John Strong, and later to a John W. Simonton, who did not take long to pass on the property to General John Guedes, former Governor of South Carolina.

Eventually, the trick of Juan Pablo Salas was discovered and the case sent to court. Simonton was recognized as rightful owner He had no more right than Strong, but he did have more influence in Washington circles.

By that time, the United States government had decided to take action regarding its rights over the Key. In fact, on March 25, 1822, Lt. Matthew C. Perry, Navy officer,

landed on that territory and planted the flag of his country and proclaimed U.S. sovereignty over Key West.

He proceeded to change its name and baptized the territory as Thompsons Island, in honor of Smith Thompson, Secretary of the Navy, and named the port as Rodgers, in tribute to a war hero. None of the new names were to take roots in the people.

Key West is its official name, although Hispanic descendants keep calling it “Cayo Hueso” because as tradition goes, the first settlers found many parts of human skeletons in its beaches.

Be it called one way or the other, the southernmost U.S. locality, three hours south of Miami, is a tourist city by excellence and enjoys the preference of visitors from all over the world.

Several cruiser lines stop there. The facilities for a visitor are so many and extended that it is thought the Key is made for the travel industry. Its restaurants and hotels fit all pockets and exceed all expectations.

Its museums are full of treasures saved from terrible shipwrecks and the souvenir stores attract the attention of passers-by. Key West is famous for having been, together with San Francisco and New Otrleans, one of the most liberal towns of the United States, where the enthusiasm of its people and the brisk and easygoing pace of existence invites to a bohemian and relaxed stay.

My wife Silvia Mayra and I went once more to Key West, not as a reporter nor as tourist, but as a curious passenger of our history. Because that small island is, as Jorge Mañach would say, is an honorary piece of Cuban land. Bone and marrow of the homeland, as Fina Garcia Marruz uses to describe Cayo Hueso or Key West.

A place so close to the emergence of Cuba as a nation was called by Jose Marti ” “the egg yolk of the Republic.”

To be continued�

Modificado el ( martes, 18 de febrero de 2014 )

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Key West Weather

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