It’s hard to lump the Florida Keys together when you’re talking about lodging. While some have big hotels and even cruise ship ports, on most of the islands the hotels and resorts are family-owned and spread apart. You can still feel like you’re in old Florida when you relax at Parmer’s Resort, a lodging patchwork on five waterfront acres that’s about equidistant between Marathon Key and Key West.
This Little Torch Key resort is a low-key, laid-back collection of buildings and cottages that’s far different than the big high-rise resorts you’ll find in many other parts of Florida. It first opened in the 1970s and is on its third set of owners, always welcoming guests who want to enjoy time with loved ones away from the stress and bustle of home.
Above all, this is a place to have old-fashioned fun and not worry much about what time it is. Do yoga in the morning on the platform in the shade by the water. Play bocce ball on the full court or toss beanbags in the cornhole set-up. Putt around the four-hole putting green. Or get out on the water with a kayak or paddleboard you can launch from the shore.
You can swim in the Gulf waters here as well off the man-made beach area, or just hang out in a lounge chair by the swimming pool (heated when necessary). Scattered around the property are hammocks, Adirondack chairs, and picnic tables, plus grills you can fire up for cooking dinner.
Breakfast is included in the rates here and delicious cookies come out in the afternoons. You’re on your own for lunch and dinner though. There are a few restaurants nearby you can check out and we had a great experience at The Square Grouper a couple miles away–named after the bales of weed that used to wash up on these shores. We also checked out nearby No Name Pub, just across a small bridge from No Name Key.
You don’t have to go out for meals, however, since most of the units here have at least a fridge and a microwave and some have a full kitchen. The buildings here went up at different times, without much care about consistency, so poke around the various options to find a good match. The lowest-priced units are like a regular hotel room but including a fridge, microwave, and cooktop. Then there are several steps up, usually with a larger kitchen, through family studios and suites to two-bedroom cottages. Pelican is the prime cottage, with two bedrooms, two baths, and a porch that looks directly out at the water.
Units with a sea view have a higher rate, but you’ll be seeing the water from all of the public areas of the property. Parking and wireless internet are both included, as are A/C, TV, and some basic toiletries. Decorations and furniture are not fancy, but they’re attractive and comfortable for a nice Florida vacation.
Note that there is no daily housekeeping service though. You’re welcome to change out your linens and towels yourself for longer stays and there are laundry facilities on site for your clothing.
The Parmer’s Resort staffers are house-proud and helpful. They can assist with lining up fishing trips, snorkeling excursions, or other activities in the region. At a lot of hotels I”m indifferent when it’s time to check out and move on, but at this relaxing family fun stop I was wishing I had come on vacation with a big group instead of just passing through with one other person.
Rates at Parmer’s generally run $160 to $350 double for regular rooms and suites including breakfast, above $400 for the two-bedroom cottages. Book direct at the hotel site or check rates online at Expedia.
Review and photos by Tim Leffel, who was a hosted guest at Parmer’s Resort while researching a feature story on the Lower Florida Keys for another publication.