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“If you don't Grok the FL Keys, don't stay here” 5 of 5 stars
Review of White Gate Court

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White Gate Court
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76010 Overseas Highway, P.O. Box 1528, Islamorada, FL 33036   |  
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Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
42 helpful votes 42 helpful votes
“If you don't Grok the FL Keys, don't stay here”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 15, 2012

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!

Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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76 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
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (12)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Columbia, South Carolina
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 15, 2012

Thank you to Terri and the staff for making our honeymoon so perfect. WGC is simple, clean, adorable, rustic and private. The room was clean, we had ample towels, including one for our dog, two for the beach and bath towels. Thank you for that! It was very quiet and private with no screaming children to deal with or crowds, perfect for a romantic getaway. We fished off the dock and felt like we had the entire grounds to ourselves. Our doggie also enjoyed playing in the water and being allowed to roam leash free. We will be back!

  • Stayed October 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tampa, Florida
1 review
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 23, 2012

My husband and I stayed at White Gate Court cottage number 3, with our small pooch for four nights in August 2012! The cottage is adorably decked out with a white couch and white rocker, small kitchen table, two a/c units, full refrig/freezer, cooktop, coffee pot, dishes, pans and microwave! The queen sized flowery covered bed is elevated and portioned off from the living area by a white wooden railing! There is ample closet space, dresser space, lighting and plenty of towels. Why just outside your door is your own porch complete with table and chairs for 4, in case you meet new friends! To obtain Kayak paddles, one must go to the office and sign a wavier of liability which is standard. Kayaks were always available for us to travel out across the peaceful bay waterways with our dog! Bicycles are available as well and are locked up late in the afternoon. The fact that there is not a pool here at White Gate Court is just simply in step with the natural wonder and layout of the compound. Throughout the property there are coconut palms, hibiscus flowers, huge snake plants, an outdoor chapel area, pick-nic tables facing out to the calming Florida Bay side of this island also referred to as 'Lower Matecumbe Key'. The city of Key West is roughly 75 miles away. 12 miles north is a large food store. Smaller stores are located about 3 miles in either direction. Guided Boat ride excursions and tours to Indian Key (a historical settlement) and Lagumvatae Key (a completely natural and unspoiled mitigation island) can be booked at the dock at the next island just over the bridge. Mile Marker 88 is a well known chef rated restaurant only about 12 miles north. Lorelei's is a fun restaurant that is closer by with live music. White Gate court was just the prescription my husband, dog and I were looking for: Rx for Peace, Quiet, Tranquility, Friendliness, Courtesy, no hustle no bustle. Our new slogan: "Book Again Kayak Often!" Dr. & Mrs. Anderson and our beloved dog!

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Roanoke, Virginia
Top Contributor
105 reviews 105 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 37 cities Reviews in 37 cities
55 helpful votes 55 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 17, 2012

I am so glad my hubby suggested we get away and stay at White Gate Court. He had stayed there several times growing up, and always talked about it and how it was PET FRIENDLY! Often it is so difficult to find pet friendly places, well WGC really IS! We stayed for the weekend in cottage 1 and our dog LOVED It! He sure made a lot of new friends over the weekend. The location is ideal and many restaurants are close by, however inside of your cottage you have everything you would need to cook meals at home. We just opted to go out and experience the restaurants, which were all great! Next time, we will bring food to cook on the grill and enjoy more time at the cottage. It is so very quiet and relaxing. We took the kayaks out both days, and really enjoyed exploring around. We also took the bikes out and tried to ride them to Robbie's, but one got a flat, so we had to turn around and go back. The cottages are very RUSTIC and cute. The grounds are very well maintained. Terry is very nice. We really enjoyed our stay. If I had anything to say to give it the 5 stars, I would say our room needed new sheets. They were pretty worn and a bit itchy to sleep on. Other than that, everything was GREAT! Make sure you bring BUG SPRAY. At night mosquitos are out to get you!

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miami, Florida
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 15, 2012

The staff is wonderful. Kind and considerate. This is the only "resort" I have found in the upper keys which is truly pet friendly. The rooms are small cottages - some individual rooms, some cottages have 2 units per cottage.
White gate court is well maintained and extremely clean. The cottages are older. With window air conditioners. This is not a luxury resort. If being with your pet is the focus of your vacation, this is the spot for you. You can leave your pets safely in your room to go to the beach or out to dinner. The other resorts that claim to be pet friendly do not allow this. At the others, your pet must remain with you at all times.
Your pet can safely walk through the property without a leash. The small boat ramp is perfect for dog swimming in shallow water.
My dog was quite ill at the beginning of our visit to white gate court. The dog seems much better.
He went swimming and roamed the grounds playing with the other dog guests. Terri, the office manager at white gate told me this happens often - that people come down with their dogs to say "good-bye" to their beloved pet, and owner and pet have a wonderful bonding visit.

Room Tip: Cottage number 2
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Deerfield Beach, Florida
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 10, 2012

We have been coming here for 4 years now! Each time we have had a awesome time! Quiet, peaceful surroundings! This is in the Keys so remember relax and enjoy it. The 7 cottages are very clean and accomendating. Don't expect room service! Bring your food and drinks and lay back and relax. We bring our beloved Reba and she loves this place. Fish, swim watch out for Dolphins and Manatees!!! The sunset we go out to the dock for our sunset happy hour! Terry is so womderful and nice and greets you with a bid smile! Can't wait till we go in May!

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled with family
    • 4 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
    • 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.
Woodland Park
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
53 helpful votes 53 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed December 16, 2011

This is what I wrote to the manager of White Gate Court after our 6 night, $1000 stay. Had I been able to get my money back, I would have checked out after our first night, but with the no refund policy we really didn't have a choice but to endure. I sent this letter via email and by fax to the manager over 4 weeks ago and have not recieved any response. In addition to the information in the letter, please know that the "office" smelled very badly of smoke.

"Dear Susan,

I wanted to let you know what my perceptions were regarding my recent stay at your facility. My husband and I made a trip to the Florida Keys area to celebrate our 30th anniversary and stayed with you from November 10th - November 15th, 2011. My purpose in contacting you directly is that our stay did not meet even our most basic expectations.
I have traveled extensively and my standards are not high - however, the experience we had with you was just awful.

Prior to our booking a stay with you, I had reviewed Trip Advisor comments and was expecting that there would be no one to check us in. We found the note on the door and went to our room, and we were happy with it at first glance. Once I read your "welcome" letter telling me that I had better not use the towels for taking off my makeup and that everything in the room would be charged to us if it were damaged, was, well, a little over the top. I chalked it up to you having a bad experience in the past, however, my spouse and I are in our 50's and are not accustomed to ruining things either intentionally or unintentionally when we travel. After a sweaty and fitful night on your plastic mattress pad, in a king sized bed that was pushed up against the wall, I was not in the best mood come next morning. We were greeted by the service person who asked us "do you want service?"
I was surprised by this...I am on vacation, and I don't expect to make my own bed while staying in a motel on vacation....but I got the distinct impression that she didn't want to service our room just by the way that she asked the question. Anyhow, I asked her if she could do 4 things for me to make my stay more comfortable. I asked if she could leave me a washcloth that I would be allowed to take my make up off with as I had used toilet paper that morning to remove my mascara. I also asked for a roll of paper towels and a box of kleenex, and was told that "we don't provide those", and I asked her to please make up the bed with a mattress pad that did not have plastic in it. She told me that she didn't have anything else to put on the bed, so I asked her to just leave it off and we'd make do. This first interaction with your staff sent the message that there would be no effort made to make our stay comfortable and that we were on our own.

The "rag" that was left for me to remove my makeup was not exchanged the whole time I was there. (I have a picture of it if you would like to see it) In fact, after the third day the brown stained areas on the rag that were present when she left it for me began to disintegrate. The top sheet on our bed had some tattered areas on it (almost like it had been sliced with a sharp object) and it was not changed until I finally couldn't take it anymore and asked to have someone change the bed on our 5th night. On nice thick sheets, I can go a week without a changing but the sheets were so threadbare and without a mattress pad, it was just gross. We ran out of dishwashing soap after our 3rd night because it was watered down so much, and it remained empty until we asked to have it refilled after our 5th night. On a positive note, the service person did do our dishes since we were not able to because we had no soap. By the 6th night we were down to one thin bar of hand soap left in the shower and had no soap for the sink. We conserved that bar our last morning and there was nothing left of it when we checked out. It's a good thing we had purchased our own paper towels because we had to mop up the hundreds of little ants who invaded the kitchen our last night. I think they were after the crumbs from under the toaster. Had we not had paper towels, we might have had to use one of the hand towels or the kitchen towel to clean them up. On our 4th morning, I couldn't stand walking across the floor because of all the sand and debris on the floor. I did leave a note with a $5 tip asking to sweep or to leave me a broom so I could do so.

The icing on the cake happened on our 5th day, which was November 15th. My husband and I had planned to spend the afternoon kayaking on the bay in front of the property.
The office hours posted said that the office would be open until 4 pm, so we didn't think there would be a problem getting the lifejackets and paddles. We returned to our room at 2:45 and packed up an afternoon picnic to take with us, and as were were putting the food into our pack, we watched you zoom past in your little gray car at 3:00 pm. We walked up to the office, and of course the office was locked up tight. It totally derailed our plans for the afternoon, and again, service as advertised fell short again.

You may think I'm being very nit picky, but I am writing to you because the entire experience set a tone of being really defensive. From the fact that you are worried about damage to your linens to the watered down soap, poor service, and the lack of responsiveness to simple service requests, well, it just sets a tone of you expecting the very worst from your guests. I felt as though once you got the reservation and our money, you were not going to do anything to help us have an enjoyable time. have no interest in ruining or stealing anything from the places I stay. For $149 per night, I expect basic services and for the office to be open when it says it's going to be open.

I write to you today to solicit your response to my experience. I usually write a trip advisor review anytime I stay out of town, but with our horrible stay, I thought I should allow you a chance to respond to me personally before I post my review. Perhaps there is a good explaination for why things fell so short during our stay."

Lastly, White Gate Court caters to clients who have dogs. We love dogs, and it was one of the things that attracted us to book at the property as I always miss my own dog when travelling. While we were there, a couple with 5 - 75 pound basset hounds checked in to a cabin on the property, and we listened to those hounds bay inside the cabin for hours. I would never leave my dogs to bark like that, EVER. It was very disturbing.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 24
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about White Gate Court

Address: 76010 Overseas Highway, P.O. Box 1528, Islamorada, FL 33036
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Florida > Florida Keys > Islamorada
Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly )
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 8 Specialty Lodging in Islamorada
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A quiet, secluded getaway, where Pets are always welcome. Only 7 units on 3 acres of tropical beauty, with old time charm and modern comfort. 220 Feet of private white-sanded beach area, free dockage, great snorkeling and night fishing, complimentary beach towels, free use of Kayaks and bicycles. BBQ grills for each unit, filtered water supplied for each refrigerator, fully equipped kitchens and more. Personalized attention, great hospitality. We have a brand new Dock!! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
White Gate Court Hotel Islamorada

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