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“Wonderful” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Kona Kai Resort, Gallery & Botanic Garden

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Kona Kai Resort, Gallery & Botanic Garden
97802 Overseas Highway, MM 98, Key Largo, FL 33037   |  
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Ranked #1 of 19 Key Largo B&B and Inns
GreenLeadersSilver level
Scotland
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“Wonderful”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 12, 2008

Could not fault this wonderful place - the location is stunning, the gardens beautiful and the jetty/beach/swimming idyllic. They also have complimentary kayaks. Friendly and attentive staff. The rooms are spread out thoughfully and are very highly equipped. The perfect place to unwind. Even a great restaurant and bar across the road. We arrived 24hrs late due to a missed flight; they were great about it and didn't charge for the missed night. Loved it.

  • Stayed May 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 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.
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265 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (57)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Krakow, Poland
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 4, 2008

Our 1st time to Key Largo, booked hotel based on this website. The reason I say it is not a resort, is b/c there are no bars, restaurants, spa, golf course or gift shop---which defines a true "resort", given my experience of traveling. But what you will get is plenty of relaxing peace and quiet here. Staff all nice, rooms Very clean, grounds, pool area (heated pool), beach even gets raked, all clean and quiet-unless some noise from next door hotels, but the hotel itself is quiet. No restaurant or cont. breakfast offered here, but fridge in room with stores close by. Stayed in 3 different rooms, but not a suite with kitchen. Grills on property and a lot of people cooking food outside. Problems with squirrels which I hated b/c I just hate them-rats in fur coats! They only offered cleaning svc in the rooms every 3 days, so I had to take out our trash, go ask for clean towels, drop off dirty ones, ask for extra coffee, cream, sugar, soap, etc, etc. Word got back to the front desk that I thought this was not fair for the amt. of $$$ we were paying for a hotel---Not a Resort, so they are suppose to be changing the policy to "light touch" upon request, which is what it should be in the 1st place---After all, aren't we ALL suppose to be on Vacation??? Pool and hot tub are open at night and nice to sit in the hot tub and star gaze with a glass of wine. They have a small fridge at the pool with bottled water and a bowl of fruit for taking. All the rooms have books in them, ceiling fans, small tv, clock, but no phones, which I liked anyway. 1st night we stayed in a very nice queen room with a great shower with glass block-no shower curtain which was great, called the Kiwi room(which was my fav). The bed was comfortable, but the pillows-we requested foam, were all knotted up and seemed old. All the rooms are named, not numbered. We also stayed in a large king room called the Sugar Apple room with nice bathroom, and both had great working A/C as well. The king bed in the Sugar Apple was comfortable too, but again, the pillows-foam, were a bit lumpy and seemed old. We do not use feather pillows, so maybe they are nicer. Only draw back---for me was the light coming in the room at the Sugar Apple room from the bright parking lot lights, plus some uplighting surrounding the room. My husband loved the Sugar Apple room. The room has a nice private walk out small patio for morning coffee, a step up to the bathroom, small love seat, nice tile, and I cannot say enough about how clean the property is. Our last night we stayed in the Mango room-king bed, nice size room, but very small bathroom with tub/shower combo, which I don't care for. I enjoy a shower only in a hotel room and don't like it when the shower curtain blows on you. The king bed in the Mango room seemed to be old or worn out, and not as comfortable as the beds in the other rooms. It moved every time we did and made squeek noises with every move, so probably just needs to be replaced. The grounds have a nice tennis court, which we did not play. They have a nice bay front pier with chairs for sunning, and watching sunsets. We had lunch at Tug Boats and loved it, great food. Dinner at The Big Chill and it was excellent with very good prices. I had the Angel hair pasta with shrimp, garlic & olive oil sauce, and we counted 13 shrimp for $16.95, which came with nice size dinner salad. Dinner at Ballyhoo's was not at all good, as my scallops were gritty and the Key Lime pie was strange with some kind of whipped cream mixed in it. All in all, we would stay at the Kona Kai again, but in a King suite with a kitchen and grill outside. Note: Do Not forget to pack your bug spray, as sitting outside early morning or anytime after sunset, you will get bit. We asked for a late check-out, but was denied. We had a 5pm flight and would have been nice to take a swim or sit in the hot tub, then shower, and keep luggage in the room, till 12 or 1. With only 11 rooms getting cleaned every 3rd day, you would think that would have been possible. But, they did let us clean up in the small powder room inside the small lobby before leaving. If you have a late flight, maybe ask ahead of time when you make your resv. for a possible late checkout, as it never hurts to ask. Again, the hotel staff are all very nice and will help out anyway they can and give tips on everything you want to do, where to eat, etc.

  • Liked — clean rooms, pool/hot tub, nice beach on bayfront, free parking, nice staff
  • Stayed April 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
Owner-KonaKai-Resort, Owner at Kona Kai Resort, Gallery & Botanic Garden, responded to this review, August 18, 2011
Dear sun_e1954:

Another detailed and thoughtful review. Thank you. We thought it would be worth mentioning that daily maid service is available upon request at no extra charge. The "3-day" service evolved over the years from requests by guests to not be disturbed by housekeeping - folks here are usually on vacation, not at a business trip. Sorry we were so busy that we could not give you a reservation where you did not have to change accommodations, but thanks for the comments on each of the rooms you enjoyed. Even with a staff of 9, we cannot always offer a late check-out; however, as you note, the powder room is available to change and freshen up. Lot's of upgrades since you were last here, so hope to see you again.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Northville, Michigan
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed April 18, 2008

The property and gallery were wonderful, however, this could never make up for the disappointing room. There was nothing good about the room (also viewed some other rooms and didn't see anything worth a change) - small, low ceiling, full mattress (advertised as queen), worn out bed linens, loud air conditioning, etc., etc...... Could not recommend this property to anyone. Extremely disappointing !!!!!!!!!

Stayed April 2008
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Shepperton
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 22, 2008

It's all the superlatives you see in all the reviews....with two tiny exceptions. Paying the rate you do, I think you should have the accommodation serviced daily, even if it is only a "light" touch and I think some understanding could be made on check-out day if you have a long time til your flight. Irrespective you have to be out of the room at 11 am and if there's no one coming in that day I think some discretion could be applied. This single thing may have us look for somewhere that makes that accommodation in future.

  • Liked — The quality of every aspect of the facility
  • Disliked — Check-out time
  • Stayed March 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Galway
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 21, 2008

Myself and my partner stayed for three nights, and the Resort offered a haven from the Signpost Madness that is Route 1 down through the Keys. We were visiting from Ireland, and so the chance to watch the sunset in shirtsleeves down on the jetty, take the kayak out, swing in the hammocks and swim in the warm pool was simply delightful. Nothing was too much trouble for any of the staff, and I just wished that we had more time to enjoy the facilities there. Kona Kai reminded me of a small upmarket Asian resort..it has wonderfully maintained gardens with lots of spots to relax or barbeque. My only negative comment would be about the constant noise of the main road, not from the room, but from the pool or on the quay which is no reflection on the Resort, but its truly a shock when you think you are miles away from anywhere...!

  • Liked — Layout of resort, gardens and beach
  • Disliked — noise from the road
  • Stayed March 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Alexandria, VA
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 19, 2008

My husband and I stayed at the Kona Kai for six nights, in early December 2007. We could not have been more pleased with the property or our experience there.

For the few reviewers who are unhappy with the property, I do understand where they are coming from. The Kona Kai really isn't a resort, in terms of my general expectation of what constitutes a resort. For us, that was a good thing, but for people who like the activities and entertainment of a resort, I am sure it would be a disappointment. I really don't think there is any intention on the part of the property to misrepresent their amenities -- their website provides an accurate representation of their property -- but they must just have a different definition of resort than most of us do. The Kona Kai is a place to rest, relax, refresh, reconnect, and recharge! but it does not have a bar, or a restaurant, or dancing, or planned activities -- so I would not call it a resort.

Let me tell you why we loved the Kona Kai. The grounds are lovely. The beach is lovely. The pool and hot tub are lovely. The staff are warm, friendly, extremely helpful, there when you need them and gone when you don't. The bed was unbelievably comfortable. Our room (Mango) was spacious, well-lit, with lots of room for storage, and very clean. It was just so nice. Our room even had a cork screw and wine glasses. The refrigerator at the pool was stocked with cold water that we would transfer to the fridge in the room and have on hand whenever we wanted a cold sip of water. There were kayaks that you could take out any time into the Florida Bay (right off the back dock). There were lockers for scuba gear and a tub for rinsing the gear. The Kona Kai is worth so much more than the sum of its parts because these exceptional and unexceptional amenities, when added together, sum to a wonderful experience.

There is only one restaurant within walking distance (the reviews that refer to multiple restaurants are outdated), but that one restaurant (Ballyhoo's) is right across the street, and it is probably the best seafood restaurant we have ever known. We ate there 4 nights and after having mahi mahi, tuna, and yellowtail the first three, I could not decide what to get for the fourth -- it was all so good. I wish we had seafood so good at home. There is a very well-stocked grocery store a few miles away, with an unbelievable wine selection. We also got our own coffee there since the Kona Kai coffee (provided in the room) was not to our taste (we like it dark and strong).

While we were in Key Largo, we split our time between diving/snorkeling, and the Everglades. For the diving/snorkeling, we used the Quiesence dive shop (recommended by Tracy, the concierge), and it provided excellent service. For the Everglades, we did the ecotour (recommended by Tracy); they picked us up in a zodiac right from the Kona Kai dock and took us directly into the watery Southern edges of the park. Really, the mangroves and ecology of the Everglades is just so interesting -- I didn't realize how little I knew about the park until I saw it for myself. We also drove to the Northern entrances of the park on two different days and hiked the trials, saw the alligators, and picked up milkshakes on the way home at the Robert Is Here fruit stand (also recommended by Tracy). In general, I would recommend that you let the front desk help you with any questions you have about what to do in the area.

One last note -- on reading the past reviews, I see that a few people did not find their rooms to be what they expected. I haven't seen all the rooms, but, in general, I would recommend that you look at the map on the web site and really visualize where the room is in relationship to the parking lot and other rooms. The Pineapple Suite and the Breadfruit Suite each have great views directly over the Bay. I am fairly sure no other room or suite has a water view. The Mango Room, were we stayed, claims to overlook the sandy waterfront -- but we kept the blinds on that side of the room shut because the path to the beach led right past it -- so do not pick this room for the view -- it is, however, a great room just steps from the pool and beach. For any of the other rooms -- again, I didn't see them -- but I wouldn't get your hopes too high about the room itself -- it is sure to be clean and comfortable, but it isn't your destination -- the best of this property is outside the rooms.

  • Liked — The grounds, pool, hot tub, and beach
  • Disliked — Lack of exerice facility
  • Stayed December 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Boca Raton, Florida
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 9, 2008

Beautiful small resort. The women who run the place were very nice, even helping us arrange things to do while we were in the Keys. Everything was maintained extremely well - I think they even swept the sand to make it look just so.

This is a small place, maybe 10 rooms. They have no restaurant or bar. There are plenty of places nearby to go, but if plan on drinking heavily you should bring your own. If you're not a drinker (like us), this is an even bigger reason to come here.

One really nice touch -- they have a refrigerator with bottled water and fresh fruit out by the pool.

I don't think they allow kids, or there's some minimum age. We didn't see any kids there at all.

  • Liked — Too many to list
  • Disliked — Would have liked an onsite eating option.
  • Stayed February 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Kona Kai Resort, Gallery & Botanic Garden

Address: 97802 Overseas Highway, MM 98, Key Largo, FL 33037
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Florida > Florida Keys > Key Largo
Amenities:
Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 19 B&Bs / Inns in Key Largo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Owned and operated by the same family since 1991 and a "Fodor’s Choice" selection since 2009, Kona Kai is a magical hideaway, teeming with the natural beauty of old Key Largo and hand polished into one of the most exclusive resorts in the Florida Keys. With all new accommodations in 2013, Kona Kai is reserved for adults. Offering highly praised personalized concierge service, Kona Kai is regularly recommended by leading travel publications and websites. SInce the 2011 addition of "The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai," guests enjoy our gardens day and night; complimentary tours for all registered guests are offered by our staff ethnobotanist. Kona Kai is a classic Keys experience; the perfect alternative if you're seeking to avoid the crowds and formality of a big resort. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Kona Kai Resort & Gallery Hotel Key Largo
Kona Kai Resort And Gallery

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