Romantic getaways are fun, but traveling with a group can be a blast too. Whether it’s your college classmates getting together for a reunion, the girls in your book club heading out for an escape or perhaps your family wanting to travel together, finding the right fit for everyone can be a challenge.
Here are two wildly different options in Florida: one with modest accommodations in an expensive, lively city. And the other a large, gorgeous home in a more laid-back location, also a surprisingly affordable option for a group, given the level of luxury.
Not Your Average Hotel; Key West, Florida
It’s all there in the name. I’m betting you’ve never stayed anywhere like NYAH, as it’s known. This charming small property is made up of several buildings, nestled around four pools and shaded by trees.
The entrance is small, protected by the adorable white picket fence that seems prevalent in Key West, Florida’s southernmost point about 90 miles north of Cuba. Key West is a wildly popular tourist destination, as visitors are attracted to its mild climate, water sports, laid-back lifestyle and during several weeks a year, its wild festival atmosphere.
It’s also the second most expensive city in Florida, with Miami taking the number one spot. So finding a place to stay for a group whose members may be watching their budget can be a challenge.
That’s where NYAH can be the answer. Its rooms can accommodate up to six guests, but you pay by the room, not the guest. So with rates starting at just $159, you can end up paying less for a room here per night than a few frou-frou cocktails at a fancy resort.
Here’s how the rooms work. They have a trademarked BYOR (build your own room) design. Two bunk beds can transform into a king. Or into a sofa. They will set up your room as you desire.
My room had six beds, each with its own locker that opened and locked with your room key. Each bed had a little cubby by your head where you could put your phone, and charge it with the outlet just inside. A nice breakfast, served poolside, is included in the rate. I brought mine back to my room to enjoy at a table on the front porch. There’s a happy hour every night from 4:20 to 5:20.
One of my favorite features was the decks you could climb up to for 360-degree views of Key West. The pools were also very nice. And another fantastic feature is the location. We were within walking distance of just about any attraction you’d want to visit in Key West.
Sunset Reflections by Natural Retreats, Cape San Blas, Florida
If you’re looking for lively night life, mini golf, lots of beach bars and high-rise resorts, keep driving. But if you’re looking for gorgeous uncrowded beaches, laid-back relaxation and exploring an unspoiled part of the state, head to Cape San Blas, Florida.
Located on Florida’s Forgotten Coast, this small peninsula packs a lot of beauty in a small space. Some parts of the island are so narrow you can see the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the St. Joe Bay on the other.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit beaches around the world, and I find the beaches on the panhandle of Florida some of the most beautiful in the world.
Most visitors here rent homes, and several large new homes are available through Sunset Reflections by Natural Retreats. We stayed in Cape Conchs, a new six-bedroom home that was so beautifully designed and decorated, we fell in love with it. Fortunately, we live in a very vertical home and are used to lots of stairs – we had 53 stairs to descend from our master bedroom. That’s a good way to stay in shape while indulging in local seafood. (No worries; there is an elevator!)
We loved how the kitchen was open to the living area, with a view of the large pool just outside and the ocean beyond. The bedrooms were spacious, and with double beds and bunks in some, the home sleeps 18. A sample quote for a week’s stay in August was around $6,079, including tax. (Pets are welcome although there is a separate pet fee of $115.) Right on the quote page is a split calculator where you can put in “split by family” or “split by people.” With six families, each using one bedroom, the total cost for a week is only $1,014 per famliy. That is only $144 a night. (I did that math all by myself.) For that you get a giant, well-equipped home with a private pool and the ocean just steps away. Lower rates are available other times of the year, starting at just $377 a night.
But wait! There’s more!! Your rental include $250 of beach gear you select that is then delivered to your door for use during your stay. Options include beach chairs, umbrella, kayaks, bicycles and coolers.
Sunset Reflections has 59 other homes available in Cape San Blas, so you’re sure to find one that works for your group.