I‘ve been coming to Hawks Cay Resort for years. I can’t help myself. There’s something about it — could be the resort or the magical location in the Middle Keys — that draws me back again and again.
The first time I checked in, back in 1995, this little island was known for a few beautiful bridges, expensive homes along canals, and a fading resort that served the best desserts for miles around. I lived on Long Key, on the other side of one of the bridges.
Even back then, I came here to do nothing except sit by the pool and eat ice cream.
A decade or so later, the luxury villas went up. They refurbished the main hotel. They added more activities, from jet skiing to “snuba.” Even then, when I visited, I had the good sense to clear my calendar and do nothing.
This time, though, I came with three kids and resolved to do something.
Not the best idea.
The schedule was insanely ambitious: Scuba diving, deepwater fishing, visiting nearby museums and state parks. It would be a miracle if we got any sleep.
Then it started raining.
It rained hard, like it does at this time of year — a monsoon-like downpour with dangerous gusts. Gone was the dive trip the next morning. (I had also gotten sick, and the idea of getting to depth without being able to clear my ears was not a comforting one.)
It kept raining. Our plans to visit Long Key State Park washed out. Swimming? Swept away.
The next morning, there was talk of a small-craft advisory out in the Atlantic. “Could get a little bumpy,” the captain of our fishing vessel said nonchalantly. When the captain of a fishing vessel uses the word “bumpy” nonchalantly, you shouldn’t take it lightly.
My oldest son Aren and I looked forward to a morning of fishing — “hook and cook” as they call it, where they fillet your catch and you prepare it at Tom’s Harbor House. But a few miles out, as we were being jarred back and forth by five-foot rollers, I watched my boy turn green.
I’ll spare you the details of our seasickness. Let’s just say that within a few minutes, we’d both curled up in a fetal position and didn’t emerge until the boat safely docked in the harbor.
Yet despite all that, I love Hawks Cay.
I now realize I was trying to do something here that I shouldn’t.
You’re not meant to do anything here.
You check in, with the sounds of reggae classics resonating in the Caribbean-inspired lobby, and you’re meant to dial everything down, starting with powering off the iPhone or BlackBerry. They say they have wireless Internet connection in the rooms, but it runs on island time.
Why would you come to Hawks Cay and work, anyway?
The villas have all the creature comforts you could want, including oversize plasma TVs and designer kitchens. They’re nice, but all you really want to do — all you’re supposed to do — is open the curtain and look out at the bay and let yourselfs go.
Why cook when there are several terrific restaurants at the property. Since our last visit a few years ago, I’ve noticed a real uptick in the quality of the food. May have something to do with the new chefs they’ve hired, including Wolfgang Birk, the resort’s director of restaurant operations.
There are a few things you must do while you’re here, but they’re not rigorous activities. Try the pools. If you don’t like sharing one with my noisy kids, head to the nearby tranquility pool. Admire the dolphins.
Check out the spa, too. There’s a treatment with blazing hot rocks that I can highly recommend. I tried it one rainy afternoon when I felt like I might have to spend the rest of the trip in bed, and I’m all better now.
A few days at Hawks Cay have taught me that this place isn’t about what you do, but what you don’t do. Come here to enjoy a sunset, a dip in the pool, a good meal and a romantic walk on the pier.
I hope my son forgives me for the boat trip someday.