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The Keys to Good Luxe

Unfettered by the responsibilities of motherhood, ink-slinger, Juliet Austin goes on assignment with trusty Tim, partner in crime of the past twenty years. Together, they discover two swoon-worthy resorts and reconnect for a sybaritic sojourn in the Florida Keys.

A quick glance at the diary alerts me to the impending twenty-year anniversary of my betrothal to the devilishly handsome boy-wonder, Tim. What better way to celebrate than with a spontaneous long weekend frolicking in Florida and cavorting in the Keys? Imagine… a return to the heady days of life BC (Before Children), far from the drudgery of laundry and long division. Just me and my man… and All. Those. Spas. Herein lie the chronicles of Juliet Austin, aged 43¾, amorous adventurer and roving romantic.

Ocean Key Resort and Spa, Key West

Friday (3:03 pm) (Pangs of guilt: just the 1; cocktails: 17¼) Was busy berating self for deserting little darlings for allure of luxury adult playdate with my beau at Ocean Key Resort and Spa when one look at my new Jimmy Choos (a little anniversary gift à moi) put everything into perspective. Forgot how damned sexy heels make a girl feel. Sang, “I Am Woman” in taxi to 0 Duval Street, the coolest address in Key West. Fire up those margaritas, boys… Mama is coming to town!

(4:17 pm) Ensconced in swanky 350-square-foot Deluxe Oceanfront Guestroom overlooking Gulf of Mexico. Rapture! Have kick started Relationship Revival by booking sensuous couple’s massage at Spa Terre ahead of ‘conch-fusion’ dinner for two at fine Hot Tin Roof Restaurant (of Tennessee Williams’ renown) tomorrow night. Am walking in hallowed footsteps of writers past; capering in creative crucible of Great Masters. Haven’t quite managed to put pen to paper yet... Perhaps a Mojito on the private balcony will lubricate the lexicon….

(10:59 pm) Tore Tim away from nauti(cal) nirvana of Key West Harbor (picture endless stream of private yachts, designated party vessels, tall-rigged schooners and gin palaces) for romantic rendezvous on legendary Sunset Pier followed by whistle-stop tour on world famous Conch Train past Sloppy Joe’s, favourite watering hole of the inimitable Ernest Hemingway. Hopped off to raise a glass (or two) to the man himself. Can’t remember when I last felt this footloose and fancy-free.

(1:26 am) Misplaced hubby (always turns up in the end), but had photo taken with very charming Darth Vader outside Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum. Visited open-air markets and danced in the streets to strains of Blues guitar. Love this town! Decided to join Frisky Friday girls on the bar at the Coyote Ugly Saloon. Girls DO just wanna have fu-un!

(1:53am) Yay! Whisked off the bar by hubby who seemed in quite the hurry to escort me home – steady on, Tiger!

Saturday (It’s five o’clock somewhere) (Pangs of guilt: 19; cocktails: 19¾) Sparks flew last night but not quite the ones I was hoping for. Atmosphere decidedly frosty over breakfast. Tim visited Pirate Museum, while I enjoyed a rejuvenating Mimosa (seemed churlish to decline) followed by heavenly purifying Volcanic Earth Clay Ritual and Instant Radiance facial (feeling a touch green around the gills). Reflected on holistic/ballistic; nauti/nice; surf/turf nature of relationship while drinking in the moment with a few Piña Coladas at poolside Liquid Lounge. Concede I was a tad impulsive….

(10:28 pm) Feeling warm and glowy again after a sunset cruise and grovelling apology. Enjoyed mouthwatering candlelight dinner with beloved at the hotel’s très chic Hot Tin Roof Restaurant. Crab stuffed lobster bathed in lemongrass butter? Don’t mind if I do! Ah, love is a many-splendored thing.

Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, Florida Keys

Sunday (9:04 am) (Pangs of guilt: 0; cocktails: very respectable 6; bottles of wine: one each) Hot damn! Am ecstatic! In the shrewd words of Belinda Carlisle, “Oooh, Heaven is a place on earth.” Transferred to Noble House sister property, Little Palm Island Resort & Spa this morning and discovered my spiritual motherland. A quick ten-minute boat ride aboard the classic Woodson water launch, past wheeling pelicans and swooping cormorants, and voilà, you arrive on a charming sand circled Key; a five-acre islet with space to wander and wonder. No phones, no TVs and no guests under sixteen. Guess I have no choice but to ignore angry red light of Blackberry. Could life be any more perfect?

(10:26 am) Escorted along meandering pathways, past Zen ponds, secluded coves and garden nooks, to jawdroppingly romantic thatched roof Mockingbird Suite complete with all the bells and whistles: twinkling chandeliers, a dreamy four poster bed, complimentary bubbly, own private Jacuzzi and fire pit, claw foot tub, indoor and outdoor rainshowers.... Thought I was hallucinating (never can tell), but they even have little deer foraging in the undergrowth. No really! Can’t decide whether to embrace inner Amazonian and kayak through the Great White Heron Sanctuary or have the poison pummelled from my system by the deft hands of Thekla at the Indonesian-inspired spa. They even have a Key Lime Margarita Pedicure. Ok, I surrender…am helpless in their power.

(6:32 pm) Ooooh-là-là. Am blissed out by the pool with one of Patrick’s anti-oxidant mojitos after a quick jaunt across the island’s seagrass flats in one of their complimentary motor vessels. Suppressed urge to gun it (v. immature) in favour of more serene pace befitting middle aged mother-of-two. Purchased one of the resort’s ‘GET LOST’ T-shirts for my Editor – what can I say? Generous to a fault.

(11:16 pm) This place oozes sophistication and calm – no wonder it’s the escape of choice of presidents, dignitaries and savvy travellers alike. Must I leave? Dined on fresh Catch of the Day under the stars next to the lapping ocean and frolicking deer, then sipped mugs of aromatic coffee in armchairs next to roaring beach fire as soulful jazz saxophone wafted out into balmy tropical skies. Ignored PING from Editor in favour of lovers’ stroll around boardwalk encircling island.

Monday (5:02 am) (Pangs of what?; cocktails: 10 – drowning sorrows) Awoken serenely by dawn chorus at sunrise. Headed out stalwartly for morning salutations on paddleboard (apparently all the rage in L.A.) but Tim handed me a hair of the dog Bloody Mary. Hmmph! Can’t he see I’m a changed woman? Downed it – didn’t want to start anything. One or two balance issues. Patrick suggested a Jamaica Me Krazy might help.


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