I rarely write travel reviews. I prefer to lurk in the cyber shadows, living vicariously through the opinions of others. Like most people who can't look away from a wreck on the roadside, I am drawn to the negative reviews. Occasionally I'll come across reviews for a familiar venue that make no sense to me. White Gate Court is such a venue, with such reviews. I have stayed at White Gate in the past and I write this as I take a break from packing for an upcoming weeks stay there.
I suspect that the writers of these negative reviews, which appear to be in the extreme minority, would be much happier at an all inclusive mega-resort or in a suite on the upper decks of the newest cruise ship. That's fine. To each his own. But if that's your idea of a good vacation stay away from White Gate Court. They tell you as much on their website.
You may have noticed that I have given White Gate Court 5 stars. I give them not for what the place is but for what it isn't. Also, and just as importantly, for where it is. Culturally, the Keys have more in common with the islands of the caribbean or rural Hawaii than with the rest of the U.S. In the Keys, "Maña," "Island Time," and "Ain't no big thing Brudda" are not just quaint phrases. They are a philosophy seriously practiced by residents and converts to the keys mindset. Even for we mainland Floridians it may take a day or two to make the adjustment to "Keys Think." For people coming from the northeast for a 4 or 5 day "power vacay," that adjustment may never come. They leave frustrated, wondering what all the fuss was about.
White Gate isn't a traditional hotel, motel or even a resort. I prefer to think of it as a private compound (think Kennedy or Mellon) to which you are granted entrée. For the price of admission you are provided private, albeit vintage free standing accommodation. The service is adequate but you would do well to consider this the American equivalent of the British self catering holiday. If the floors get sandy, well there's a broom in the closet. Feel free to sweep, but this being the Keys understand that within the next 30 minutes or so the floor will be full of sand again. You will not be fawned over, you will be left alone to experience a unique and wonderful property.
Located on the Florida Bay side of Lower Matecumbe Key, White Gate Court sits on some of the priciest, heavily regulated and environmentally sensitive developed real estate on the planet. A botanist could spend weeks cataloging all the native flora on the property. No doubt state environmentalists have done just that. Native tropical hardwoods predominate. Lignum Vitae Key, a State Botanical Park, is a kayak paddle from the beach. Kayaks are included, just tell the office early so they will give you your gear before they close for the day. If you feel the need for civilization you can find it a few miles to the north in beautiful, downtown Islamorada.
My opinion... skip the beach bars. Sit down by the beach with your favorite adult beverage and toast the end of the day. The sunsets over Florida Bay are spectacular!