Amara Cay Resort
What We Love
- Furnished balconies with ocean views from all 110 guestrooms and suites
- A spectacular private beach, complete with hammocks, thatched huts and beach chairs
- The on-site dive shop takes care of all your water-based adventures, from kayaking and paddleboarding to dive certification and diving excursions
- Sparrows Rum Bar, known for its fresh fish tacos and a killer key lime pie
What To Know
- While there is no separate spa, massages can be arranged poolside or in your room
- Islamorada is located less than two hours from Miami by car
- There's a free shuttle for destinations within four miles of the hotel
- Handicap Accessible
- Parking On Site
On Islamorada, a Florida Key halfway between Key West and Miami, Amara Cay Resort has 110 guest rooms and suites that all boast private balconies as well as sustainable touches like LED lighting and upgraded sinks and showers (and Nuxe bath amenities). The Italian eatery Oltremare promises fresh local seafood, but serious diners should consider the bistecca fiorentina, a 40-ounce prime porterhouse for two. For more casual fare there’s Sparrows Rum Bar, which is known for fresh fish tacos and a killer key lime pie. The elevated private beach is better for relaxing in the sun than for swimming, but there’s also a heated outdoor pool and whirlpool. For more serious sea-based pursuits, on-site dive shop Sea Monkey’s will hook you up with snorkel gear, kayak rentals or a full-on scuba-diving adventure.
In the Area
Islamorada lives up to its nickname of “Sport Fishing Capital of the World.” To make sure you don’t come home with just a fish story, book your angling experience with Bud N’ Mary’s Marina. If swimming with sea life is more your speed, make your way to Theater of the Sea for the chance to play with dolphins, sea lions, rays and sharks. To see sharks, rays, dolphins and manatees in their natural habitat, rent a kayak to explore Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park, located on a small island to the west of Islamorada.
How to Get There
I feel compelled to write this review so that people are not misled when choosing Amara Cay for their vacation.
Amara Cay “Resort” is a very nice updated hotel. It was previously a Hampton Inn (you can google it). The hotel is modern, updated well, and clean. They have replaced the old hotel pool with a larger nicer pool and added a green turf area with some cute outdoor games. It is a nice hotel to stay in while visiting the keys. It is certainly new and nicer than some of the dated hotels in the area. The staff are also quite friendly.
However, it is not a “resort”. It is a new, updated, modern hotel.
Sometimes TripAdvisor and reviewers get it right, but not in this case. This is a 3-star hotel, calling itself a resort and people are giving it 4-star reviews because it is nice and clean. I would much rather stay in a 4-star resort with 4-star reviews for a similar price point.
I was so frustrated that I chose this location over the resort that I usually stay at a few miles away. It is priced similarly to the other resort and it is also marketed as a resort.
I googled “resort” and found that “a hotel and resort are quite different in terms of how much land they're on. A resort is typically on a substantial amount of property, so its able to have more rooms available for guests as well as plenty of extra space for features such as a golf course. The extra land is also on or near a more natural environment. A hotel is often on just enough land for the parking lot and the building itself. It's also usually on a main highway so it's easy for guests to have access to activities in the area”.
The Amara Cay (previously Hampton Inn) Hotel is not on a “property” but just enough land for the building, pool, and a small common space. This is mostly evidenced by the fact that almost half of the hotel rooms face a parking lot. Yes, you can pay top dollar and a daily resort fee (DRF) and be in a room that overlooks a blacktop parking lot. If you do stay here, definitely do not book a “standard room” or you will never want to look outside, as the parking lot view makes you feel like you are paying $300++ per night to stay at a roadside hotel.
As I mentioned, this “resort” was previously a Hampton Inn. Remember the old hotels when you were a kid where you had an adjoining room with family and friends - with a door between the rooms and paper thin walls where you could hear everything? Well, if you like nostalgia, you will find that here. Our room has an adjoining room door. I can hear every single word that the people next door are saying (at 11pm). I can also hear every single person in the hallway. I think that they did a nice job remodeling this hotel, but did not change the room format (relatively small rooms) or improve the soundproofing (there isn’t any).
I actually read a “4-star review” where the reviewer criticizes “inconsiderate” parents for having a baby that
cried at 4am and woke up at 7am waking them up. This is no reflection at all on the guest that has children. They should not have rated the hotel 4 stars if they can hear people moving about their room at 7:30am. The rooms have not been soundproofed efficiently
Practically everything that is listed as a “resort fee amenity” is a standard hotel offering.
-2 small, room temperature bottles of Zephyrhills water
-Parking (parking is free everywhere in the keys except Key West)
-Lawn games. Cornhole, Jenga, and Connect Four are offered in most bars across the nation so I don’t think they can be considered a “resort fee amenity”.
The only amenity on the list that could be included in a Daily Resort Fee is the use of paddle boards and kayaks. However, this hotel is on the ocean side and not the bay side, making it less attractive for novice or family users of kayaks and paddleboards.
We are only on night one of 4 nights here, but I will certainly opt for a 4-star resort next time.
Absolutely the friendliest, cleanest and fun resort in Islamorada. Daniel was fantastic and we look forward to going back soon! The GM has done a great job with team as everyone, everywhere is happy and has a big smile.
We will definitely be back soon and will tell everyone we know. Thanks Daniel for making our stay extra enjoyable!
This the friendliest and most laid back resort we have ever visited. The staff is incredible! Ken at the front desk made us feel welcome from the moment we checked in. He upgraded our room and was just overall super friendly and welcoming. Miles was super nice and memorable! He even played corn hole with my husband and I for a few minutes. Did I mention they also have one of the best bartenders? The entire staff made us feel like this is a place we would want to come back to many times and will as we only live a few hours away. The resort was spotless and the amenities were incredible. If you want to get away to a laid back resort then this is the place for you!
Nice resort to stay in if you are traveling to or through Islamorada. The service was great and the bar and waitstaff were super. The prices were a bit steep considering what the place had to offer but still very nice.
Amara Cay is Highly recommended. The hotel and grounds are clean and beautiful, the staff is friendly and accommodating. We stay here every year and it only gets better. Great hotel in a great location.