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“worst vacation experience” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Hawks Cay Resort

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Hawks Cay Resort
4.0 of 5 Resort   |   61 Hawks Cay Boulevard, @ Hawks Cay Resort, Duck Key, FL 33050   |  
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Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Duck Key
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“worst vacation experience”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed November 28, 2012

Went to Hawks Cay for a long Thanksgiving weekend with family. We booked directly through the resort for a villa in sunset village. We were very excited to get out of the cold and enjoy some fun in the sun. We are very easy to please people who go with the flow; so was expecting some possible delays or crowded pools, especially being a holiday weekend. That would've been wonderful compared to what we had to put up with.

I must say check in Weds. afternoon was very smooth and quick. The rep. @ desk was very pleasant. We headed to our villa (which we opted for having two young children, 4 & 7, so that they have more room while in between activities). Villa looked clean on surface; so we dropped our bags and headed out to check out the resort. The landscape and resort itself seems to be well kept. Went to Tio's for dinner (was average at best). Kids were tired after long day of travel & put on pj's & feel asleep on top of bed. I went to go in @ 11 & tuck them in. I pulled down covers & swiped over the sheet & was horrified. It was covered with what appeared to be dead skin(husb. described to friends looked like instant mash potato flakes..yuck!!). Also there were some long black hairs(we are all blonde). Of course called front desk & was just offered new sheets but my kids were out already so we just kept on top for the night. When called back next day was offered new sheets again..said fine..just put them on myself....45 min later still nothing..was told someone could come in & do it then if we didn't mind...when at capacity can't guarantee housekeeping for 24 hrs..rep. was surprised someone told me @ 11 at nite that they could be there by 11 a.m. WHAT? Are you kidding me? Was done when we got back at 4. O....your feet will be black after walking around villa for a while....gross!!!

Also we weren't able to make resv. for Thanksgiving buffet or Alma..was told they were all booked. We were referred to Key Colony Inn down in Marathon. So we called and got a resv. there no problem....for 1/2 cost of what they were charging @ Cay we had a wonderful dinner. The owners & their staff @ Key Colony were great...recommend for casual dining.

Fri.(day 3) we head out to the Indies pool for the majority of the afternoon. We were ther whole time..playing with our kids in pool. We do not resv. chairs or leave our things & come back. When we went to leave @ 4...my husbands brand new & only pair of shoes he brought were gone...STOLEN!!!! Are you kidding me? Believe we know who did it(employee @ Indies) but had no proof...so didn't even bother trying. (keep an eye out for black & red Asics...lol). Stewart @ guest services was great...allowed for a pair of flip flops & would credit our account! Both he & Mike at Indies Grille were stand out employees to us....one if not only good thing to say about this place! The woman who braids hair down by the lagoon is wonderful too...very sweet!

Upon returning to our villa...no fresh towels...(day 3!!! come on!!). Understand water conservation but should have fresh towels every other day. So again, I call front desk as we had dinner resv. @ Alma for 6. Needless to say..no towels before we left. We ended up using our pool towels as I already had our bath towels on floor for housekeeping pick up. Towels were there after we returned from dinner.

I know this is very long winded but I feel people need to know all. I wish I would've taken heed to some of the bad reviews and gone elsewhere. For the amount of $$$$ you pay to stay here..luxury..no!!! Resort fee crazy too...supposed to be for housekeeping, valet, indies club & fitness center. For luxury resort & amount you pay....these things should be included. Just another way to nickel and dime your hard earned dollars!! Have no problem paying good money for a vacation but would expect to get what I'm paying for!

After all we had to deal with while here it was a little disappointing that a resort of this caliber didn"t have anyone to check & follow up on major issues such as filth & theft!! Busy or not...no excuse!
It was a very disappointing experience & even still my family tried to make the best of it & enjoyed our time together.

Obviously, I would not recommend this resort to any family or friends.....must be something better in area for same and actually get what you pay for!!

***if want fun place to go off resort & have great food..pool & sand pit with corn hole & projection screen to watch games....check out Sunset Grille****

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HawksCayResort, Manager at Hawks Cay Resort, responded to this review, December 11, 2012
Dear ClevelandNiblet,

Thank you for the detailed feedback of your Thanksgiving stay with us. On behalf of the entire team I want to sincerely apologize for your disapplointing stay. There is no excuse for the experience that you had with us. As a former Ohioan myself, I know how meaningful and restorative warm weather family vacations are. I am so sorry that we were not able to provide you with the exceptional vacation that you deserved.

Our team would appreciate the opportunity to learn more and address your stay further. I hope that you'll contact me so that we can connect directly.

Thank you, again, for taking the time to share your comments.

Best regards,
Jennifer Dinan
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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3,471 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
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English first
Lititz, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 27, 2012

This is our second visit to the Hawks Cay Resort and both experiences have been wonderful! Last year my family had a wonderful time! The resort is beautifully landscaped, inviting, friendly staff, clean rooms and heated pools. (not to forget the lagoon for fun snorkeling, kayaking or laying under the umbrellas). My family wanted to return to the Florida Keys this year and stay at the resort. Although I was a little leary about booking at the same place... (it couldn't possibly be as great the second time around).... IT WAS! Just a wonderful resort, close to any destination that you are interested in doing while visitng the keys.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 27, 2012

We had a great family vacation for Thanksgiving. We stayed at Harbor Villas, which wasn't what we booked but it worked out well because our sun loves to fish. So, he got to fish right out the back door all week. The kids loved the pool and it was great to use the marina for boating activities. The Dolphin Connection is run very well. But those extra activities are very pricey. The front desk, door and wait staff were very kind and fun to chat with.
The tram ran on time and the staff were very courteous and fun.

The reasons I can't give an excellent review is thw simple fact of cost. The overall look is tired. The furniture is in need of a thorough cleaning. The daily resort fee must not cover housekeeping. Our villa was under ok for cleanliness. The one time during a six night stay they cleaned, the staff said he could change the bedding. You assume they will do the other standard cleaning as well. I'm not even sure our beds were really changed. New towels were left on the flirty bathroom floor in a folded pile. A let down for a 'luxury' resort. All of us have tiny red bumps that itch from our Fl. Stay but cant exactly pinpoint where we got the itchy bugs. For part of our stay I realized we had other guests, cockroaches, big ones. Being from Colorado, the kids were entertained, since they only see them at our butterfly museum. Gross. Our trash was taken out 3 times during our 7 day stay.
As a side note, there were no salt/pepper or kitchen towels. I was told to grab salt and pepper at the small market they have on site. When I asked for another box of detergent, I would have walked to the front desk myself for the $20 delivery fee?! Which I was not told over the phone. They also charged the $20 delivery fee for dessert we ordered over the phone and that I personally picked up inside the lobby!

The pool was lovely for the kids to enjoy. The seagulls were a problem as they landed in the pool to hang out often and then swoop and steal food right out if your hand.

The firepit area, poolside, is awesome and the best atmosphere besides the lobby. It was a little gross to wade through 1-2 inches of standing water by the end of the day at the firepit area though. You just know there is bodily fluids and food mixed in.

It would have been more fun if the bikes and water gear/kayaks were free to use as part of your stay, or for a small charge. You felt like there was nothing just given to you, for being their guest. They did give a lot of smiles.

The Indie club for kids is great, it just looks older, a bit run down. The basketball court severely chopping its paint. But my kids and I had a fun time shooting hoops.

The saltwater lagoon I expected to see fish or sea turtles, like our stay in Hawaii. You could snorkel all day and see beautiful sea creatures.
Lack of sand, too.

There's 2 buildings that are near the Indie club that must be for staff. It looked like a slumlord owned it. Window screens torn or dangling. Buildings needed paint. The grounds not primped or pretty. A lot of personal items astrewn; bikes, lawn chairs, bbqs. It just didn't 'fit' in the resort scheme.

The food is ok. Drinks overpriced and 18% gratuity added to all. Even one drink that my husband got for himself at the tiki bar! The breakfast/brunch overpriced for what is on the buffet, however the omelette station is nice. There is no menu to order anything else, other than that, at breakfast.

Due to the non-exciting food choices, and lack of ornate, pretty paths to just walk through at the resort, we totally enjoyed driving to other local establishments for fantastic fare and atmosphere.. We had a great day trip to Key West, which is where I would stay if we ever venture to the Keys again.

  • Stayed November 2012
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Whitefish, Montana
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 26, 2012

We just got back from our wonderful stay at Hawks Cay Resort, We were in Key West for a family wedding and spent several days post wedding ready for some chilling out before heading back to our home state of Montana. We had a suite by the adult pool and enjoyed the quite surroundings. It was great to have the beachside bar/dining around the corner. The bartenders and staff were friendly and the tropical drinks were great. The views were stunning and the sandy cove is like nothing I've ever seen before. Our room was stunning with great furniture and amenities. Nice flat screen tv, comfy bed, private balcony. Will definitely return!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hampshire, Illinois
Level Contributor
15 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed November 26, 2012

I will preface this by saying that we are not high maintenance travelers. All we need to be happy with a hotel or resort is a room that is clean and functional. After all, how much time do you really spend in your room anyway. The Marina Villa we just returned from at Hawks Cay was neither clean nor fully functional. The carpeting was stained and smelled moldy. The tile floors were so filthy that the bottoms of your feet or socks were black after walking around for 20 minutes. Dirt and dust hung out of all of the air registers. Even the walls were dirty as if someone walked around rubbing the walls with dirty hands. My favorite was the toilet paper holder in our bathroom that had literally been torn out of the drywall and was hanging on by one corner, leaving a gaping hole in the wall for lord knows what to crawl in from. Housekeeping replaces the toilet paper so how can they not have noticed this? I reported this one to the front desk shortly after we checked in and we were told maintenance would fix it but they never showed up. We knew going in that we would have limited housekeeping service but they were supposed to collect garbage daily and we only saw them once in 6 days. I would say that our experience might be an isolated experience but my sister and her family stayed in a Harbor Villa with its own set of maintenance and cleanliness issues. The bottom line is, I have stayed at far better properties for far less then than what I paid for this resort. As for the resort overall, the grounds are beautiful and the location is great. We only used the main pool and that was fine every time we used it. We didn't eat at any of the restaurants as there are so many other great restaurant options nearby. In general, I would be very hard pressed to recommend this resort or stay here again in the future.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 26, 2012

Great resort.The rooms were very nice and clean. The pools are great and the staff was very friendly. My only complaint is that there are not a lot of options for dinner with young children after the beach grill closes at 5. The pizza is terrible. Try the sunset cruise very entertaining.

  • Stayed November 2012
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
25 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 25, 2012

In summary: A 5 star location, 4 star amenities and 3 star service. We visited over Thanksgiving weekend with our kids (both under 8 years old). Overall we enjoyed the weekend and while we would not likely return we would suggest you try it at least once.

- A great property well maintained and very conveniently located with excellent views.
- Large rooms even in the hotel section, with nice and modern bathrooms.
- Alma Restaurant which served an amazing dinner (try the skirt steak) and a high quality breakfast buffet.
- Kids activities (games at the lagoon, kid’s area).
- Very good tennis facilities including 4 “clay-like” courts.
- The lagoon and dolphin centre are great.

- Food choices outside of Alma are of very poor quality, specifically the Beach Grill and even worse Tio’s which is to be avoided at all costs.
- Spa is horribly overpriced for the services received ($340 for 2 one hour massages)
- Gym equipment is in need of a serious refresh including the cardio machines and free weights
- Maid service in the room is not thorough (no face towels available for 2 days we were there) or speedy (front desk said the rooms are only cleaned before 5pm).
- While the rooms are nice overall, the beds and specifically the mattresses need replacing.
- I am going to share more info below on the two biggest issues that plague the resort. Firstly, the overall staff service levels and secondly the daily resort fee.

I want to cover my final point in more detail. I can explain it most easily by saying that I really wanted to love Hawk’s Cay. Again, the location was great and while the other reviews that referenced the high cost of the resort are true (our 3 nights in a standard room with a couple of meals, 1 spa treatment and a few drinks = $2000) I am perfectly comfortable spending this kind of money for quality.

The issue we really had was that the service from staff was at best a 3 star level with 5 star prices. I want to note some exceptions, specifically Garfield at the valet, Craig at the lagoon, Nicole our waitress at Alma were all really fantastic. However, they were the exception and it really felt like the automatic 18% gratuity on everything + the $30 resort fee resulted in many of the staff just not caring.

There were some really specific cases, a bartender at the Beach Grill from Montauk or Roger the host at Alma who were just plain grumpy. The baristas at the Starbucks – where you have to prepare your own food when you buy it – and the phone operators at guest services were also just not easy to deal with. The overriding feeling is that as a guest you are an annoyance. A perfect example was our dinner on Thanksgiving night. We called Tio’s for a last minute table at 6pm. We were told the restaurant was fully booked and that there would be no room. They then said if we could come right away we would be accommodated. When we arrived and until 8:00pm when we left the restaurant was never more that 50% full. Yet the host acted as though we were lucky to find a spot with them.

Lastly, there is the $30 daily resort fee. This is positioned by the management as a convenience fee to for the fitness and kids centre, wireless + valet parking and most importantly so that you don’t have to tip staff. In my opinion, it is a way for the resort to post a rate on line and then tack on 10%-15% more through the fee. I used the valet twice, the bellman twice and that’s it. I would have been happy to pay them directly so that I could recognize those that really did a good job. The resort fee is unnecessary and should instead be built into the price. If you are going to be a 5 star resort then paying for wireless and a fitness centre is just not right.

To close, in my opinion you’ll enjoy the resort and probably like me be frustrated at the price versus service equation. However, if the management starts by eliminating the $30 resort fee and the automatic 18% tip I believe that an immediate improvement in service can be had. The stars (like Garfield, Craig or Nicole) that must be frustrated by some of their colleagues can get the recognition and pay they deserve. The others will probably just leave once the tips dry up.

Get it together and this could be a great Keys resort. For now, Hawk’s Kay is just average.

Room Tip: Be careful of rooms described as "Island View" as this means parking lot.
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hawks Cay Resort

Address: 61 Hawks Cay Boulevard, @ Hawks Cay Resort, Duck Key, FL 33050
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Florida > Florida Keys > Duck Key
Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Duck Key
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Hawks Cay Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 400
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Also Known As:
Hawks Cay Hotel Duck Key
Hawks Cay Duck Key
Duck Key
Hawk Cay Resort
Hawks Key
Hawks Cay Resort Duck Key, Florida

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