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Kona Kai Resort, Gallery & Botanic Garden
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Reviewed May 5, 2012

My wife and I have vacationed in the Florida Keys for 15 years. During the last 12 Florida Keys vacations we have always stayed at Kona Kai Resort in Key Largo. We are on a first name basis with the owners, Ronnie and Joe Harris. Originally, we met them through mutual friends. I own a large format water color of the Kona Kai lagoon, which Joe wanted to borough from me to place in an art book project he was considering. Unfortunately, the night before we were to fly to Miami for our 2012 Keys vacation I had a medical emergency that prevented me from flying and driving. That night I called the three hotels regarding my cancellation. Considering that two of my hotels gladly refunded my deposit with 15 hours and 2-day notice, respectfully; I was quite disappointed when the Kona Kai receptionist reminded me they had a 21-day cancellation policy. I was advised that Ronnie and the reservation manager would be back the next day to review my 7-day notice. In the next two days I sent two emails regarding my cancellation and offered to provide medical documentation. Each email began with, "Dear Ronnie and Joe". In the ensuing 10 days I never received a response to the emails. Once the scheduled days at Kona Kai had passed, I received an email from Kona Kai advising me that they were keeping my deposit. As an exception, however, they would allow me to use the deposit toward my next stay at Kona Kai.
So much for 12 years of customer loyalty. The charge is now under investigation with my credit card company. Regardless of the outcome, I will never stay at Kona Kai Resort again. 12 years of loyalty plus many more years of future visits appears to mean nothing to the owners.

My rating for Kona Kai has always been "Excellent". This inhospitable treatment now gets them a "Terrible" rating from me, a long-time client.

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled with family
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21  Thank Gary M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed April 30, 2012

We recently returned from a short 4 night stay at Kona Kai Resort. We booked solely based on reviews as we have never seen nor been to this resort. We have stayed in Key West at the Casa Marina for a week two years ago but we were looking for something quieter and more intimate with no kids. Well that is what we found at Kona Kai. This is a small resort with a beautiful property with only about 10 cottages on sight. The grounds are immaculate and the gardens are remarkable. The property has a small beach where you don't have to get out early to reserve a chair like so many other properties. The pool and spa are small but perfect for how many people are at the resort at one time. Fresh fruit every day at the pool in the fridge w/ cold bottled water is a nice touch. Again, the pool is surrounded by beautiful foliage and well maintained. The resort has a sea wall with many beach chairs and tables as well that offer beautiful views of the bay and the Everglades. At night, the sky is AMAZING on a clear night as there is no city lights, the sky is dark. We were able to see many constellations and planets on the nights we sat out on several quiet nights w/ a bottle of wine and/or cold beers. There is also complimentary Kayaks that we took advantage of to do a little sightseeing.

Ok....there is a few downsides as well as you need to be prepared for. First, the road noise is somewhat annoying as the resort is right off of Hwy 1 and there is no big hotel to block out the road noise and this is a busy road. Second, the bed was very uncomfortable which we read in other reviews prior to booking. I was hoping that it was an exaggeration, but unfortunately it wasn't. An investment in some nice comfy beds would go a long way. Our room didn't even have a headboard, just a frame, which I thought was kind of cheesy for a "resort". The rooms are perfectly sized but there was nowhere comfortable to relax. The beds were not comfortable and neither was the futon in the living area. We did buy some food to cook breakfast but there is only one pan to cook with. The made it difficult to cook as you can only cook one thing at a time. So one add'l pan would have been nice. Other than that, the room is well stocked with plates, cups, wine glasses, etc....OK, lastly. The restaurants recommended I would take with a grain of salt. Key Largo restaurants have much to be desired. Ballyhoos is overpriced and a bit run down, but the food and crabs were good. Snappers was, well Snappers. Good for a fish sandwich and a beer but again, atmosphere just ok. Hog Heaven....same Key Largo very casual atmosphere and food again was pretty good. However, they had a really nice beach that you can walk to at end of the pier. Looks like a good nightlife live band place but we never got back to check it out. Calypsos was recommended....REALLY! This place is a dirty, run down unsanitary dump. It says waterfront, well it is if you want to see a few boat slips, NOT waterfront and no view. The cook and dishwasher smoke ciggs as they cook your food in open view. They give you paper utensils and tableware for a 30 dollar dinner. Are you kidding me? The place is tired and run down. I know it's Key Largo, but c'mon....you can keep the "mystique" of the keys without being just downright nasty and dirty. Islamorada is a 15 minute drive worth taking for some better restaurants with some more class if that is what you are looking for. There were a few others in Key Largo with good reviews but I gave up hope after Calypso. If you want to eat dinner with dogs at the next table with paper plates, and ashes in your meal, this is the place for you. We went to dinner at Pierre's one night right next to Bass Pro Shops and this is a classy fine dining pricey dinner with an awesome view if that is what you are looking for. So.....that is my review. Beautifully landscaped resort with a nice little beach, pool and view but a bit noisy w/ roadnoise and uncomfortable rooms for the price. The crew at Kona Kai were very nice and accommodating as expected at a resort. However, room service isn't daily but upon request which we knew going in. Best of Luck Kona Kai....just need some more comfortable beds and couches and additional pans to cook with and all is good! Thank you!

Room Tip: Try to get the cottage closest to the beach for the best view. The others mostly have a view of the courtyard / garden.
  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank reviewsfromme
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed April 30, 2012

Wow! Fabulous place to connect with whatever..family,spouse,nature, or yourself. We had a wonderful weekend(although the southeaster that hit altered our plans). All this on just 2 acres! Beautifully appointed with well placed chairs,hammocks and loungers. The pool is warm and inviting.( LOVE the banana gate!). The owners and staff really thought this through. DoNot miss the botanical garden tour with Rick.(unbelievable!). Get a bottle of wine and some cheese and relax on the dock and watch a keys sunset.

If you are looking for on site action, crowds or a bar scene, this is NOT the place for you. The reason this place is a gem is because of the tranquility, privavcy and dediction of the staff and owners.

Room Tip: Largest suite,facing water with an outside patio was the pineapple suite.(we loved it.). Next time we will try the Breadfruit suite.
  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank lkymom1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed April 25, 2012

We recently had the pleasure of staying at Kona Kai for 5 nights. Before we even arrived Denise and Tracey helped us with reservations. And while there Tracey helped plan our day trip to Key West, especially with parking (not easy), lunch spot, and what to do. This place is beautiful, intimate, and they make you feel special. It made for a wonderful vacation.

Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
1  Thank OhioOnHoliday
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed April 24, 2012

We spent 6 glorious days at the Kona Kai, April 10th to 15th. In all our travels, we have never been greeted so warmly - ever. Tracey was like a gracious hostess who was welcoming you to her home. She showed us around the grounds, helped us with restaurant selections, gave pamphlets on things to do, and then helped make reservations as needed. Denise was also there for one day and she too was very helpful. I cannot describe the grounds, they are beyond description. Too beautiful for words. We stayed in the Key Lime one bedroom suite. Everything was top-notch. The bed was comfortable, the kitchenette was well equipped with everything you could possibly need. Even the cutlery and dishes were lovely. We enjoyed our own private patio. If you want to relax and be enveloped with peace and beauty, then this is the place to go.

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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1  Thank Canadians_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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