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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Keeping it Keys Casual at Parrot Key Resort

Walk under a canopy of coconut palms and yellow-blooming cassia trees at the Parrot Key Resort in Key West, and you'll pass town houses with tin roofs and peaked gables. The white picket fences have pineapple millwork, the symbol of hospitality. On the outskirts of downtown, the three-story units here offer open and spacious floor plans with a nod to the island motif, featuring comfy sofas done in bright-green and aqua abstract patterns. You'll most likely find yourself forgoing the sofas altogether for the blue wooden chairs on the balconies off both second-floor bedrooms, especially if you've chosen one of the homes along the Florida Bay.

Step through metal gates laced with yellow, flowering allamanda vines to find four pools linked together by pathways that meander through antique Tibetan doorways. Light music calms the air as you choose a quiet spot under a blue-striped umbrella to sip a Key-lime colada delivered poolside from the outdoor Café Blue.

Tall metal sculptures by internationally renowned local artist John Martini punctuate the lush landscaping around the pools. With flat steel shapes pieced together with exposed bolts, the figurative works of art boast an industrial look, but they spring to life as whimsical creatures donned in bright tropical colors.

The resort features tanning areas with ultra-soft sand and private cabanas, but a barrier of protected mangroves blocks water access. Head to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park on the other side of the island; although the beach is rocky (bring water shoes), you can spend all day kayaking or snorkeling with parrotfish, yellowtail snapper, lobster, corals and other sea life.

Originally published in Florida Travel + Life magazine

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