David and Laurie were going to do it up right. First class tickets on American to Key West via Miami, direct from San Francisco. The destination was one of the more exclusive Key Islands off of Little Torch Key, some 30 miles east of Key west. Rated one of the best resorts by all the top travel magazines and a place that movie and show stars quietly sneak away to be pampered at the spa and eat 5-star meals. Following the wedding, they were scheduled to depart at 7a.m., on the 14th of August for a 5 day stay at Little Palm Island.
If you know of the Hurricane Havoc adventure that Laurie and David endured, I’m sure you will believe that they were confident that nothing more adventurous could occur that would top that trip….. Well, as luck would have it, their honeymoon would provide a venue for another story of intrigue and adventure with travel.
Upon arrival at the First Class counter at 5:45 a.m. David and Laurie had a tinge of deja vous when the lady informed them that their flight was delayed due to engine problems and the decision time was 10 a.m. However, they shouldn’t fear, the agent said she was very experienced and we would be just fine. They could put us on a flight through DFW (Dallas Fort Worth) and they would be able to get there just a couple hours late and there was still a flight that would get them to Key West that evening. David and Laurie were not real thrilled, but at least they would be in their comfortable suite on the island that evening.
While waiting in DFW for the connection David called Little Palm Island and let them know the situation with the flight changes and Little Palm took an order for sandwiches that would be waiting for them when they arrived at the resort around 10 p.m. From DFW the flight was off to Miami where David and Laurie ran through the wonderful Miami airport ( Monitors? Who needs gate monitors during remodeling?? )
When they arrived at the gate David and Laurie were informed that their flight to Key West was delayed. It seems there was no plane to take them to Key West. It was not clear if there was a mechanical issue or just a shortage of planes, but either way, it would be at least 10pm before a plane showed up. Eventually, it was determined that a plane would be flown in from San Juan, Puerto Rico to take the flight to Key West, but the plane wouldn’t be there until 11p.m. Can you imagine how excited Laurie and David were at this point??
David got on the phone to let Little Palm Island know that there was yet another problem with the airline and they would be even later. However, no one answered the phone. Several more tries and different numbers, calling home and having numbers looked up and confirmed, calling the reservation service, and other attempts to reach the island met with no luck. With no way to get their bags from the airline, David and Laurie decided to risk it and if there wasn’t anyone there to meet them in Key West, they would just get a room at a nearby hotel and call Little Palm in the morning. Eventually, the American Eagle flight boarded and at 11:30pm David and Laurie were finally on their way to Key West and their relaxing suite at Little Palm Island.
When arriving at Key West, Laurie and David were ecstatic to find Gary from Little Palm waiting for them to arrive. He’d been hanging out at the airport for most of the previous 3 hours waiting for them. He also had good news that the boat from Little Torch Key to the island would be waiting for them to arrive.
An hour later Gary had David and Laurie up at the dock and ready for our trip out to the island. Minor problem though, no boat was there to pick us up!! Gary couldn’t reach anyone at the island and the late arrival phone didn’t appear to be working. At this point, Gary was very embarrassed and we began to look for a hotel nearby where Laurie and David could get some sleep. Eventually, at 2:00a.m. David and Laurie got checked into the Sugarloaf Lodge. It was 1970’s vintage, but clean enough and the bed worked for the 6 hours that was spent there.
When David and Laurie rolled over at 8:30 a.m. they both had the same thought. “Let’s get the heck out of here and to our nice suite and a good breakfast.” We called Gary and he was there within 20 minutes to pick us up and get us to the dock and the reception area. The General Manger, Emanuel, was there and apologized profusely and said he would make it right for us. Within 15 minutes, Laurie and David were on the island and the Concierge, Jessica (we’ll see her more later) was waiting to show us our room and give us a quick tour of the island following a great breakfast.
After breakfast, David and Laurie returned to the suite to relax, take a nap and Laurie really needed a calm relaxing bath. Nice ideas, except there were ants around the edge of the tub. Not a disaster, but a call was made to the Concierge to have maintenance come take care of it. After 15 minutes the ant trail was gone and Laurie was ready to prepare a nice relaxing bath. Unfortunately, the drain was full of live ants and as soon as she tried to fill the tub they began to swarm out of the overflow drain. After getting Laurie to breath normally again, the concierge was called again and the maintenance manager was sent to fix the problem.
Later in the afternoon Laurie and David shared a nice Romantic spa session in a tub, compliments of the resort and we were able to relax and we began enjoying our stay. For dinner we were surprised by 2 different versions of Hog Fish that the chef had prepared for us. We’d heard this was supposed to be very good and had mentioned it at lunch. They also provided a complimentary bottle of Cristal Champagne. After the wonderful dinner Laurie and David returned to their suite around 10 p.m. to relax and get some much needed sleep.
Unfortunately, both David and Laurie were hearing music in their ears. There was a live band at the pool for someone’s 50th birthday and the quiet romantic resort, wasn’t. David got up and called the front desk to find out when the music would end. He was told midnight. He was told they would try to get them to turn down the volume. By 11:30 p.m. David and Laurie had had it and David went off to the front desk (a.k.a. the Quarter Deck) to find the manager in person. Mark, the manager on duty, was called to the Quarter Deck and listened to David, but there was little he could do and the music seemed to get louder. He’d already been in touch with the general manager, but the person with the party had bought a large number of rooms on the island (over 10, but not sure if it was 15 or 20) and there was nothing that could be done. David eventually returned to the room with little consolation and no success. Eventually the music shut down and they were able to drift off to sleep around 1a.m.
At breakfast the next morning the General Manager came by the table to ask if he could sit down to talk. It was requested that he wait until after the meal and he graciously departed. He asked the hostess to call him when we were done. After eating, Laurie and David headed back to their suite and told the hostess to let the GM know he could come find us there.
As Laurie and David walked up to their suite the GM was about 10 feet behind them. The GM was very apologetic. He readily admitted he had no way to apologize enough for the myriad of problems that had been encountered. There apparently were some serious problems with their phones and the microwave link they run across which caused much of the phone problems. As to the birthday party, let’s say it was a learning experience for them too. After letting him talk for a few minutes, David explained the microwave and phone problems didn’t hold water, cell phones worked fine (indeed, David had talked to his travel agent a couple of times) and that there wasn’t much that could be said to fix an unexpectedly poor beginning to a honeymoon on this “quiet and romantic resort”. The GM was quite remorseful offered to provide us a special dinner that night a Palapa Point with a private waiter. He also said that he would ensure that we were credited for our first 3 days there. In addition, our suite would be moved to the far end of the island where we would be sure that it would be quiet and relaxed.
Nothing like a challenging beginning to the honeymoon and marriage. The good news is that the rest of the week was most everything the resort was known for. We hit the spa each day and Wednesday night we had a wonderful private Sunset Sail and were able to eat on the Atlantic Dock. Thursday morning was our last day and perfect for our snorkel trip. The last night we ate by the pool and the chef prepared lobsters for dinner (2lbs each!!). After dinner we returned to our room to find it lit with votives along a rose petal path through the suite. The bath was filled and had rose petals, along with more votives and rose petals in the bedroom. Oh, did I mention the chocolate covered strawberries and champagne in the bathroom?? On the bed was a teddy bear with some romantic massage oil and a Palm Island CD.
The next day David and Laurie got up to head home. Palm Island had definitely made a huge effort to try and make things right for us. Apparently, our first few days there were unprecedented in the history of the resort (and I suspect it is so, given their reputation). Gary met us at the far side of the island and delivered us to the Key West airport for our ride home.
This time, American Airlines got it right and we were home in SFO by 5:30 p.m. thinking about the Wedding Celebration to be had the next evening…..
The one thing about Palm Island is the people are amazing. The staff was incredibly nice and friendly and always took the time to talk with us about anything we were curious about or just the experience of it all. Notably, Jessica the Concierge was our savior. If we had a question or were interested in doing something she took care of it for us with a smile and never a hesitation. She went out of her way, beyond what I would consider normal extended help. She made our time there so much more enjoyable. Oh, and we can’t forget our transportation savior, Gary.