Anyone who has been to the restaurant Il Riccio on Capri will likely do a double take when they see the seafood restaurant Fish Tales at Bungalows Key Largo, a Florida Keys resort slated for a soft opening on December 20. It’s a complete copy down to the turquoise tables and chairs, the blue and white tiles lining the counter, and the wood strips gracing the ceiling. And it’s not accidental. Owner Jerry Johnson—the former owner of Cheeca Lodge & Spa down the road in Islamorada and the current owner of the Rustic Inn at Jackson Hole, the Lodge at Jackson Hole, and the Capitol Reef Resort in Utah—created this upscale, adults-only all-inclusive with different homages to his favorite places around the world. But looking at the signature used for the resort’s name—a script strikingly similar to that of the Beverly Hills Hotel—you have to wonder whether some of that homage drifts into the realm of copyright infringement.
Even so, the 135-suite hotel does have various things going for it. Just 63 miles—a 75-minute-or-so drive—south of Miami’s airport, it provides a much easier trip to the Keys than the three-and-a-half-hour trek all the way to Key West (a trek that can be made decidedly more glamorous when private jets and yacht transfers are involved). Once you pass through its gates, the property is extremely peaceful and quiet—a feat considering it is just a turn off of the always-busy Overseas Highway. This tranquility extends throughout the resort: Its beachfront is used primarily for snorkeling, splashing, and paddleboarding, and boating noise is kept to a minimum (read: no Jet Skis allowed). That said, electric Duffy boats, kayaks, and a 38-foot sailing catamaran are available to take out around the property—as is a more powerful 40-foot Intrepid powerboat, for private charters and fishing expeditions.
Inside, the suites, which range from 900 square feet to 1,100 square feet, are similarly peaceful, with bespoke fixtures and a beige color scheme overall. Each is replete with private verandas with soaking tubs, and two bicycles for tooling around the resort’s 11-plus acres. Among the destinations: the property’s other two restaurants—Bogie & Bacall’s for fine dining and the open-air Sea Señor for Mexican fare. There is also the Zen Garden Spa, where the highlights include a salt room, a range of treatments in outdoor cabanas, and palm-covered walkways dotted with Buddha heads—a homage, this time, to Bali, another of the owner’s favorite places.