The art of tropical distancing at Little Palm Island Resort & Spa (PHOTOS)

My husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary, in August. And, over the years, we promised each other we’d go back to St. Lucia for our monumental celebration of love. It is where we were married.

August 10, 2013, was one of the best days of our lives and we wanted to relive it to celebrate our 10th year of marriage. But then, we learned about a paradise not quite so far away and, seemingly, as beautiful – if not more – than the resort where we had our nuptials and honeymoon. 

It didn’t seem possible, after all, we chose St. Lucia for a reason. And then, we began to research the resort. Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, nestled perfectly between Key West and Marathon, appeared to be a sanctuary like no other. The more we researched, the more we talked amongst our friends, and networks, the more we knew that LPI was where we wanted to “Get Lost.”

This island of privacy, anonymity, intimacy, romance, luxury and the ability to lose yourself is like no other. 

Just a short flight away or, potentially, a “time for togetherness” drive down.  

We chose to fly privately to the Key West (EYW) airport – popping a bottle of Krug as we took off on an adventure of love. It was a beautiful day for flying and the day only got better from there. As we landed, our seaplane operator met us to take our bags. We had chosen to fly early enough to spend some time in Key West, prior to our check-in time at the resort. Brunch at Blue Heaven never disappoints and, during lobster season, I crave their lobster grilled cheese. Every single bite is delectable and sweet, and dripping with tastebud ecstasy. 

Our private driver picked us up in time for our seaplane departure and off we went on a site-seeing tour of the Keys, on the way to the most memorable anniversary to date. Having grown up, mostly, in Florida, the Keys have always been a favorite source of beauty and entertainment. I’ve been there more times than I can count and have stayed on almost every Key and, now, at all the best resorts. But still, from the air, I learned things, and saw things, I hadn’t before. 

Upon landing the seaplane and approaching the dock, we were met with a signature welcome cocktail, the Gumby Slumber, and a delightful guide who toured us around the island and showed us our accommodations.  

It wasn’t a long tour, as LPI is only a 4.5-acre island, but it is steeped in history. It has been an underwater fossil, a coral reef, an aviary, a hideaway, a stopover, a camp, a retreat, a love nest, a movie set, a dream and the site of both destruction and loving care. LPI has had its share of hurricanes over the years, but each has led the owners to enhance its beauty and luxury. As is written in the LPI story book, romance is an unbreakable power source. In the words of Pat and Diane Colee, of luxury resort Noble House, “Indeed, nature has challenged us, but with each passing hurricane, the island has been revitalized and enhanced, becoming more of an idyllic escape for people who seek to ‘Get Lost’ and be nurtured by the Little Palm Island Family, the many wonderful people who work there.” 

The residences were incredible. The attention to detail is evident in every aspect. Under thatched roofs, framed by swaying palms, each one is luxuriously appointed with elegant materials, impeccable design and breathtaking – unobstructed – ocean views. Four-poster beds with butterfly netting and outdoor showers – just private enough but allowing one to experience the sound and smell of the salt air – just steps away. A sitting room that left us wanting for nothing, complete with champagne, chocolate-themed sushi, fresh fruit and LPI special snacks. Our bungalow even had our last name inscribed on a little wood sign at the top of our private steps, alerting us to the fact that this place was something very special. 

We experienced some of the best nights of sleep of our lives in that bed, brought on by the ultimate in relaxation coupled with sumptuous bedding and a silence not experienced elsewhere. The darkness of the sky is unimaginable. Because it’s a private island, there is no ambient light. As far as our eyes could see, the black sky was dotted with stars, constellations and galaxies. A falling star graced our anniversary evening, almost sending us a message that encounters like this one, much like a love like ours, are precious, dazzling and hard to find. 

Each residence has its own, private hammock and two chaise lounges, waterside. There is no reason to leave your bungalow unless you want to. It’s a paradise, within a paradise.

This island has hosted the likes of Michael Keaton, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and more. There are tributes to President Harry S. Truman throughout the resort, as it was said to be his favorite summer vacation destination. The weekend prior to our stay, Sean Hannity and Ainsley Earhardt were guests there.  

It’s the sort of island that makes memories and keeps secrets. And the sort of place where you can, quite literally, do nothing, which is really something. Do-nothing time is too important to waste.

The are only 30 residences on the island. No worries about seeing others if you don’t want to. Each meal can be enjoyed alone – whether in the room, on your private deck overlooking the water, in the dining room, or with a toes-in-the-sand experience on the beach. We made a point to experience each of these, as dining is a Noble House specialty. 

Our first morning there, my husband woke up early with the intent of getting to the pool and reserving our private cabana. What we learned after his sweet sleep sacrifice was that it wasn’t necessary. There are so few suitors on the island that we were able to secure a cabana, daily. The resort-style pool is an oasis within an oasis. The pool bar adjacent, the accommodating staff is willing to deliver any libation or sustenance desired – and with a smile. 

Key deer lingered poolside, just curious enough to let us see them – one even ate the celery from my hand. There was a mom deer who recently had babies and, on our last day there, we were able to gaze at one of them for some time. The baby still had little white spots and small, wobbly, knocked knees. It was nibbling on the lush greenery that is so carefully chosen and cared for. The Key deer seemed to feel that LPI was their own, private resort.

Phones are discouraged poolside, but we did experience a very strong Wi-Fi signal and were able to choose how we spent our time lounging in the sun. And, while there is only one television on the island, in the island’s great room, we never felt that we were missing anything while truly being connected to each other. 

On day two, we scheduled a couple’s deep relaxation, 110-minute massage journey as another gift. Spa Terre (the Latin word for earth) is a sublime spa with a two-story atrium that includes a gorgeous fountain and sitting area, a little bit of lux retail and a lot of thoughtful respite options to choose from. We chose the deep relaxation package which included vibrations and chakra balancing. Alternating between our customized massage and their use of Himalayan singing bowls, bringing healing vibrations to specific parts of our bodies, our package ended with a facial massage and traditional kansa wand to tone and release stress in the face, shoulders and neck. To say it was extraordinary wouldn’t do it justice.  

While neither of us were the least bit interested in a workout during this particular trip, LPI also offers a spacious, cutting-edge gym with Yoga, Advanced Healing & Meditation, Prana Nidra Meditation, Personal Training, Paddle Board Core Fit Classes and Paddle Board Yoga. 

As excited as we were to get there, all good things must come to an end and we were equally saddened when it came time to say goodbye to our newfound nirvana. But the euphoria doesn’t stop when departing the island. It’s as if they can’t help but deliver excellence at every turn. While we had arrived by seaplane, it was time to depart by boat – as there are only two ways to get to the island and we wanted to experience both. 

The departure took me back to how it must have felt way back when Truman used to visit, the calm of the waters, the charm of the boat, the quietness of just being. And, of course, the docking site on Little Torch Key is an extension of the utopian resort complete with Gumby Slumbers, marvelous staff and a continuation of perfection. We were whisked away by the resort’s private driver, in an impeccably clean Range Rover, and delivered directly to the airplane that awaited our arrival. The driver even shared with us his personal lobster recipe that he guaranteed to delight every time.

With a latitude and longitude of  N 26° 54’ 53.4168”, W 82° 21’ 13.1112” and an attitude of “how can we best serve you?” LPI is a destination that must be experienced to be believed. The Bellos won’t be waiting another 10 years, I can promise you that. ♦

EXPERIENCES

Activities and Adventures: Looe Key Reef Scuba Diving Trip, Snorkel over a natural reef, meet a friendly dolphin, go deep sea fishing, kayak through the Great White Heron Sanctuary or learn to sail. Day trip to the Dry Tortugas, sky diving, Keys Cable at the Lagoon on Grassy Key, Backcountry Adventure, Dolphin Encounter, Eco-Tours, Backcountry Flats Fishing, Offshore Fishing, Wreck and Reef Fishing, Spearfishing, bird watching. 

Spa Terre offers Massage Journeys, Rituals, Body Treatments, Ritual Baths, CBD Offerings, Facial Indulgences, Salon Services, Bridal Services and Nail Services. Tipping is included in the pricing.

Weddings for guests are available for up to 60 friends and family. For an island buy-out, 30 one-bedroom suites complete the “Exclusively Yours” wedding package, which starts at $495,000. Vow renewal packages are available, as well. 

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