This Just In... Archives




Want to sample The Florida Keys from your desktop?

March 30th, 2011: This past week on the Discovery Channel, Florida Travel and Live aired a great 30 minute show on the Florida Keys. While some of the places mentioned paid for a sponsorship which included commercials during the broadcast, the magazine has now posted all the video segments on the web. Not so sure how long they will be there, but if you've never been to The Keys, this would be a great primer for you to watch - and you can choose the segments. Of course, we're linking you to the short segment on our gallery and botanic garden - but all the other links are also there for your viewing pleasure.

As we like to say, the best way to see all of The Florida Keys is to stay with us for a week or so and let Tracey, Denise and Ronnie serve as your concierge(s) and travel guide(s). They are familiar with all The Keys and most guests tell them their recommendations were great - be they here in Key Largo, down the road in Islamorada, or further off in Key West or the Everglades. So, take a look at the video and then consider giving us a call to discuss your Keys travel plans. Perhaps, like so many of our returning guests, you too will choose to make Kona Kai Resort, Gallery and Botanic Gardens your Florida Keys "home."

If you want to see the rest of the segements click on this link:

Kona Kai’s New - Ethnobotanist

January 24, 2011:
Do any other hotels have an “ethnobotanist” on staff? We do!
Rick Hederstrom

As we prepare for the official debut of The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai, we are pleased to welcome Mr. Rick Hederstrom, an ethnobotanist, as Associate Director of our gardens. Rick will team up with Veronika Milar, who’s been with us for over a decade, and owner Joe Harris in managing and transforming our tropical gardens into one of the first ethnobotanic gardens in the southeast United States.

In 2009 Rick received a B.A. with honors in Ethnobotany and graduated summa cum laude from Connecticut College, one of only a few colleges in the United States offering this degree. During his time there Rick interned at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, the Holden Arboretum and Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in London. He also spent a semester in Peru studying ethnobotany within the Quechua and Matsigenka cultures. Before joining Kona Kai Resort, Gallery and Botanic Garden, Rick managed the plant records at Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio.

Born in Virginia Beach, Rick and his family moved to Chardon, Ohio, when he was 12. Shortly thereafter, Rick joined his Dad working in landscaping and golf course maintenance. Rick’s specific interest in ethnobotany began just over a decade ago when he began to appreciate how incredibly complex and advanced plants are and how important plants are to humans. Early in his college education, Rick realized that if he integrated ethnobotany with employment at botanical institutions, he would be able to share his passion of the plant world with others. His position as Associate Director at The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai will provide him the opportunity to directly do just that. Rick says, “I am looking forward to partnering with Veronika in showing Kona Kai’s guests around the grounds and adding my knowledge of ethnobotany in more formal tours, presentations and events.”

When not busy researching plants and their relationships to humans, Rick loves reading, technology, mixing and making music, tennis and other outdoor activities, as well as actively participating in the Catholic Church. He looks forward to expanding these interests in his new community here in Key Largo and, of course, sharing his love of ethnobotany with the guests here at Kona Kai Resort, Gallery and Botanic Garden.


Facebook - One Year Later:
November 1, 2010: On October 23rd, 2009 we went "live" with our very own Facebook page. It's linked here on this page of our website. It seems you like our Facebook addition and many of you have become fans. With almost 1500 "fans" folks tell us they find Facebook a nice way to stay in touch with the latest goings-on when they are not here. We're glad to have both guests and future guests as our fans and invite you to become a Kona Kai Facebook fan.

We thought it would be fun to look back on this first year to see what our fans had to "say." So, by clicking on the link below, you can read a compilation of their unedited comments, from our first year of postings. The comments tell an interesting and fun story – and, if you’re thinking of visiting us they just might tell you what you want to know….so, go ahead and click here: (Facebook- 1st Year)

If you're not yet a fan, go ahead and become one. We don't do that many posts, so we won't clutter up your "news feed" and you just might find much of what we have to say of interest, even when you are not on vacation at Kona Kai. If you've chosen not to have your own Facebook "profile," you can check out our "page" anytime by simply clicking on the Facebook widget over in the left column of this website page. While you won't be able to "like" us unless you are a Facebook member, need we remind you that being here is the best way to truly enjoy all that Kona Kai has to offer!


Our Front Desk - 35 Years of Florida Keys Experience
September 13, 2010: Beginning this week you’ll be hearing a new
voice on our reservation phones. We are thrilled to have Denise
Scoble officially join Tracey and Ronnie on our Front Desk as Kona
Kai’s new Guest Relations Specialist. Denise has been around
for the last 8 weeks familiarizing herself with Kona Kai. Beginning
September 23rd, she’ll be managing the front desk and greeting you upon check-in three days each week.

Denise brings 10+ years experience coordinating Florida Keys fly-fishing trips, as well as outfitting anglers with all the right gear. Prior to that, Denise put in 5 years working with offshore anglers. So, her extensive knowledge of both the backcountry and offshore waters here in the Florida Keys means now is the time to make Kona Kai Resort your fishing lodge, as Denise will surely source just the right trip for you!

Denise is a “tru island girl;” she was born on another great Caribbean
island, St. Thomas; grew up in St Maarten and has spent the last 15
years here in the fabulous Florida Keys. Denise says: “so long as I’m
surrounded by water, palm trees and satisfied clients, I’m happy.

She should love it here at Kona Kai!

So, with Tracey, Ronnie and Denise on the front desk, you have at
your disposal, the most experienced and knowledgeable front desk
staff found anywhere in the Florida Keys – which adds that much
more value to your Florida Keys vacation at Kona Kai Resort, Gallery
and Botanic Gardens in Key Largo, Florida.

1991 Entrance
2010 Entrance

September, 2010: That’s right, Kona Kai Resort has been owned and operated by the same family for over 20 years now. While there have been a few changes at the front desk, Joe and Ronnie Harris are still the sole owners and their imprint is still felt by each and very guest each and every day!

We’re counting down to our 20th anniversary which will be on
March 21st, 2011. What made us remember this was an e-mail we
recently received from Steve C, who wrote:

“I stayed with you a couple of times, round about 20 years ago. I am thinking about taking my wife, Carrie, for her first trip to the Keys. [Based upon your website] it seems things sure have changed since I checked in last time. I'm going to be staying in WPB for a reunion…. After that is when I'd like show my wife your resort. I would really like to experience that fun again.”

Right on, Steve! Since purchasing Kona Kai in 1991 almost everything has changed - except our name. Every year Kona Kai Resort, Gallery & Botanic Garden has gotten better and that’s still the case. Most of the staff has been around for 5+ years and over 50% of our guests return for a bit of R&R at least every few years, if not every year.

Steve is a journalist, so if he does return in March 2011, perhaps we’ll invite him to post a blog here on our site commenting on the changes as well as the things remaining the same that made things such “fun.”

In the meantime, we’ll be thinking of how we can make the beginning of our 21st year the best ever - for all of you! It you’ve got any ideas, go ahead and post them to our Facebook page at:
you’ll also find a photo album with lots of “oldie” photos.

November 15th, 2009: We don’t think there is any official government committee to pick underwater trails, but here in the Florida Keys there is a one-of-a-kind underwater trail that offers the challenge of a lifetime to all wreck divers. The image to the right is a recent ad that Tinsley Advertising produced for The Florida Keys and Key West. It, and the wrecks it refers to are spellbinding. “The Florida Keys Shipwreck Trail” tells the story of these wrecks – but you need to see them firsthand to really understand that they are The Final Frontier. If the ad and the article don’t tempt you to come down and do these wreck dives – then you probably want a “do-nothing” vacation. Either way, Kona Kai Resort might just be your best anchor for a rewarding winter vacation.




Fodor's Choice 2009 Travel Reviews

July 17, 2009: We are very pleased to announce that Kona Kai Resort and Gallery has been selected as a 2009 Fodor's Choice resort. Travelers love to talk about their favorite discoveries and so do travel editors. From hidden-away restaurants to can't-miss museums, Fodor's Choice selections recognize the top sights, properties and experiences the Fodor's editors and updaters have found in their travels. Fodor's Choice selections are the "best of the best," providing a remarkable experience in their price range or category. This distinction represents a remarkable achievement and recognizes Kona Kai Resort and Gallery as a leader in its field for service, quality, and value in the 2009 year.

Since 1988, Fodor’s Travel, the foremost name in travel publishing, has been awarding the Fodor’s Choice distinction to only the very best hotels, restaurants and attractions around the world. Every year, Fodor’s writers experience, examine and evaluate thousands of hotels, restaurants and attractions in their travels across the globe. While every business included in a Fodor’s guide is deemed worth a traveler’s time, only fifteen percent of those selections are awarded the very highest, Fodor’s Choice designation by Fodor’s editors.


Time machine

June 22, 2009: Well, we’re now ten months into this economic downturn and it is affecting all of us. September 2008 caught most of us by surprise. Since then, many of you have been telling us that times have gotten a bit tough, so you’re passing up your 2009 vacation entirely.

Being in the “good health” business [a vacation is really important to your overall well being, no?] here at Kona Kai we've been trying to figure out a way to help make sure you have good memories of your Summer of '09.

So, we’ve reprogrammed our computer and created a special Kona Kai “Time Machine” that can roll our rates back 4 or 5 years. It all depends on the day of the week and how many rooms we still have available – sort of like the airlines and those bigger, impersonal, hotels.

But, unlike those guys, we haven’t cut back on any of our services or perks: you’ll still find the free bottled water and fresh fruit at the pool; the free Wi-Fi, paddleboat, kayaks, tennis and much more, including our new and evolving botanic gardens. And, there’s still no resort fee, parking fee, or any other surprise fee. Oh, not to forget: our pool is still chilled for your summertime comfort; our accommodations still have the same fine soft sheets and compelling amenities and our concierge service is as personal as ever.

So, call us now, while our new “time machine” O/S is humming and lock in your rate before our “time machine” needs a new software release with updated programming and rates!

May 17, 2009: South Floridian’s – and maybe a few others – have voted


for The Best of… in the Miami Herald’s “South Florida’s Best” poll. It was great to discover many Florida Keys lodgings were awarded “best of . . .” in various lodging categories.

Best of all, our own Kona Kai Resort and Gallery has been voted “South Florida’s Best Kept Secret.” While it’s no secret we’ve been calling ourselves “Key Largo’s Hidden Treasure” for quite some time – maybe we’re not so hidden anymore and just maybe all those guests who depart saying they had such a good time they’ll keep us their secret, have now let the proverbial cat out of the bag.

It was also great to see so many other Keys venues also chosen in other categories: [] Of course, it wasn’t surprising that in the ‘nightlife’ categories not a single Keys place was selected outside of Key West; guess we’re just sort of a quiet and peaceful place down here, at least in Key Largo!


botanical garden

March 21, 2009: Eighteen years ago Ronnie and I started something new with the purchase of Kona Kai. It was a run-down sleepy little motel in, what was then, the somewhat remote Florida Keys. Today Kona Kai Resort and Gallery is considered one of the unique showplaces in the Florida Keys. Well over 65% of those who first come to stay with us, return year after year.

To celebrate our 18th year of ownership, we have again started something new. This time it is a “botanic garden.” Most guests comment on just how lovely our grounds are – and many ask about the different palms, trees, bromeliads and shrubs around our grounds. With that in mind, in October 2008, we began a project to catalogue and classify each of the plants on our property. And, with that done, we amazed even ourselves at the variety and significance of what we had planted in the last decade.

Today, we began our new “botanic” garden project at our highway entryway. We have set out with the noble goal of creating a true botanic garden. Over the next 12 months we’ll be searching out and adding numerous tropical plant species for you to admire. Veronika, who has been with us for over a decade, is now officially our Director of Gardens and Grounds here at Kona Kai. She, along with Bobbi (who you’ll meet at our reservation/reception desk), will be creating a complete and informative directory of “The Botanic Gardens” at Kona Kai for your reference. We’ll be cataloging both the existing and the new additions, photographing their growth and, for those interested, offering informal tours of our new ‘botanic gardens.”

So, come on down now and see the beginnings of The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai. Of course, you’re welcome to return often to observe the new ‘kids’ as they mature into what will continue to be “one of the prettiest places to stay in the Keys.”


March 2nd, 2009. At this years 63rd Miami International Orchid Show, one of our staff, Charlie Johnston, who has been with us for over 12 years, took a first and a third place award for a Cattleye and an Oncidium. These awards are truly quite an accomplishment and quite an honor. Charlie has been an orchid enthusiast since her husband, Jim, bought her first orchid some 12 years ago. Little did Jim know what he had started! The annual Miami Orchid show is the largest exhibiting orchid show in the USA and one of the most prestigious in the world – so congratulations Charlie!

Oh, Charlie, who can be seen in this photo with her two award winning orchids, can be credited with getting the rest of us here at Kona Kai Resort into growing orchids. We now have an orchid house with some 250 different orchids; so be sure and take a look when you next stay with us. We are now beginning to put orchids throughout our grounds as part of our 2009 program to transform our gardens into true botanical gardens. Stay tuned for more garden news.

Baby Alex

February 1st, 2009: If you've arrived at Kona Kai in the last two weeks, you might have encountered Bobbi, now back at our Front Desk after her three month maternity leave. And, if you're really lucky, you might have even met baby "Alex," who is just the cutest thing - according to mother as well as our entire hotel staff. Just before returning, Bobbi took Alex to grandma's for her first dose of a real winter. It was below zero in Maine when they visited in January and everyone was bundled up, especially Alex, as you can see from this photo. Now that everyone is back in a much warmer and sunnier Florida, Alex is back in her summer duds. You can bet she's happy. And, so are we, as when Bobbi is on the desk, we now get the pleasure of seeing Alex once or twice a day when Alex gets her dose of mother's milk. Tracey and crew are thrilled to have Bobbi back and while we don't allow kids to stay at Kona Kai (the peace and quiet is incredibly nice), Alex's short visits and big smile are a real treat for staff and guests alike. If you want to meet Alex while you are here, be sure to be here on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday and you just might have the chance to say hi to Kona Kai's first baby - Alex.

Baby Alexandria

January 1, 2009: Two months into her three month leave of absence, Bobbi is very busy looking for a babysitter who will watch over Alexandria while she is working here at Kona Kai. Two months into life, Alexandria is enjoying every minute of her life and, it appears, unlike her Mom, Alexandria is not too worried that Mom has to go back to work. As you can see from the adjacent photo, Alexandria and Rock, her "sort-of brother," a big gentle chocolate labrador, has been demonstrating his child-care abilities quite regularly, doing his best to convince Mom and Dad that he can perform the necessary child care chores. Be it Rock, or someone else, we hear Bobbi is looking forward to her February return, and on occasion, Rock might even bring Alexandria by to say Hello to one and all.

Paradise without passports is what many call The Florida Keys. Our coral reefs attract many divers and snorkelers to our unique island destination, which has also beckoned pirates, poets and performing artists. In Scuba Diving's 2009 Annual Readers Survey, the Florida Keys ranks #4 in North American dive destinations. Even better, Key Largo gets lots of ink as one of the top 3 destinations in most categories. So when you are planning your next dive or snorkel vacation remember - Key Largo, Tavernier and Islamorada are all part of Kona Kai's "backyard."

• Top Underwater Photography (Florida Keys) – No. 1
• Top Beginner Diving (Florida Keys) – No. 1
• Top Visibility (Key Largo) – No. 2
• Top Macro Life (Key Largo) – No. 2
• Top Value (Key Largo) – No. 2
• Top Dive Destination (Key Largo) – No. 3
• Top Snorkeling (Key Largo) – No. 3
• Top Wreck Diving (Key Largo) – No. 4
• Top Marine Life (Key Largo) – No. 4

Vacationing at Kona Kai Resort and Gallery is sure to make your dive or snorkel vacation a serene and scenic experience. To check out some of the best dive and snorkeling sites, take a look at this interactive map put together by Scuba Diving magazine: . And, if you haven't yet seen our reefs, come on down and let us help you experience the best Key Largo and the Florida Keys have to offer. Kona Kai Resort, of course, tops that list!


DECEMBER 1, 2008:
It’s a question we all seem to be asking ourselves lately. So, here at Kona Kai we put the question to ourselves and started a list of all the things we are doing everyday to help reduce waste and preserve our environment. The list is growing, but we think it is already pretty impressive. Our philosophy is simple – “CRR: Conserve, Respect & Recycle.” The list is a bit much to put up on this page, but should you be interested, click on the recycle logo above and a window will pop-up listing all the things we are doing here at Kona Kai Resort and Gallery to be more energy efficient and eco-conscious. And, we're not alone, as the entire Florida Keys is working to be eco-energy-ficcient - just take a look by clicking on our new word!

portfolio ad November 25, 2008:In a new advertising campaign, our local Tourist Development Council and Tinsley Advertising suggest one “Road to Recovery” can be found right here, along the Florida Keys Overseas Highway. The warm sun, the blue skies, the fishing, diving, snorkeling, kayaking and more all add up to the perfect bailout for those in need of an escape from tough times. So, if you need to take a breather, find some sanity and feel more than half-full; forget your portfolio, diversify and invest in yourself here at Kona Kai Resort and Gallery. In these rough times, planning the perfect vacation can be tough and risky. So if you’re aiming for a “recovery” score of 9.5 or better, we suggest you try us. Explore our website. If it appears we could fit the bill for your recovery, give us a call and discuss your plans. We’ll help you decide if we’re the right investment. And, when you arrive, we’ll help you diversify your vacation to fit your portfolio. While we can’t guarantee the weather, we can guarantee we’ll help you maximize the vacation portfolio you’ve invested in! To see the entire “Road to Recovery” campaign, just click the thumbnail images.H invest ad
breather ad diversify ad


half ad


sanity ad




March 2008:Suffering from IAD? Not sure? Not even sure what IAD is? Well, with all the connectivity, abbreviations, acronyms and text messages in today’s universe it sure can be hard to tell if you have IAD; even if you know what IAD means.

I.A.D. is “internet addiction disease” and many of us unknowingly suffer from it. Right now there is no pill or medical cure for IAD. But here at Kona Kai Resort we have found a way for many of you to escape your addiction, even if only temporarily.

Simply being in paradise, relaxing at our PTP (perfect temperature pool); staring out at Florida bay or a magnificent sunset on our PPP (perfectly positioned pier); enjoying the physical challenge of a BPPM (beachside ping pong match) with your IAD afflicted partner; taking a PBR (paddleboat ride) on the bay; or simply DAN (doing absolutely nothing) will start you on the path to a cure for your IAD.

Kona Kai is the perfect spot to start your IAD escape. To help you, we are offering a SCCD (secure computer cellphone depository) for all those electronic gadgets that have enabled your addiction. Upon check-in simply deposit your cellphones, smartphones laptops or other IAD devices at the front desk. We’ll hold them in lock-up until you check-out. And, if you’re not sure you can go a whole 24 hours or more without your EAA’s (electronic addiction assistants) we will also be happy to hold them from 9am to 7pm. Only thing is, you must remember to come and get them before we lock-up at 7pm, as we cannot predict, or be responsible, for how you will handle the IAD withdrawal symptoms brought on when darkness harkens.

Kona Kai Resort and Gallery – your center for managing IAD!


November 3rd, 2008: Here's the first photo of new baby Alexandria, born to Kona Kai's Reservation Manager, Bobbi Cook and her husband Richard. Arriving right on tiime and as scheduled, "Alex" was born at 7am on November 1st. A happy and healthy 6.6 pounds, 19-1/2 inches, Alexandria is now home with Mom and Dad. Bobbi has taken a 3 month maternity leave to take care of Alex and to get her acquainted with the laid-back Keys lifestyle (or so Bobbi and Richard hope)!  Bobbi will be back on the front desk in February. Tracey and Ronnie are "babysitting" Kona Kai's front desk in her absence. And, we'll be providing a monthly photo-update on Kona Kai's first ever staff baby, so stay on-line. We couldn't be more tickled!


Joe and RonnieJuly 17th, 2008: On Friday, August 1st, Key Largo will kick-off what we hope will become our first annual Food and WIne Festival. Many cities and towns have gone down this path and now have very popular events where one can enjoy the unique local fare and local chef's cooking, paired with great wines and more. (Key Largo's 'more' is our wrecks, reefs, and backcountry, all of which are uniquely Key Largo.)

Last night, Ronnie and I were invited to attend a "test" run of one of the first of 30 scheduled food and wine events. This test "kick-off" was a 6-course, regional, home-cooked, Italian meal prepared by Key Largo's own local celebrity chef, Dr. Jim Boilini. Dr. Jim is actually a local optometrist who will check your eyes and prescribe a pair of eyeglasses for you, so if one is lucky enough to get a taste of his extraordinary home cooking, it is definitely a uniquely Key Largo event!

Joe HarrisLast night's test run was not a disappointment: Jim served up a bruschetta and tapenaude starter that rivaled anything we've ever eaten anywhere. It was pared with an excellent Sicilian "Feudo Arancia Nero d'Avola" red wine and was followed by a Lemon Proscuitto Shrimp first course. As the evening drew on, course after course, and wine after wine, (there were 5 other courses and 6 other wines in all) things only got better and better.

Without exception, Ronnie and I both agreed that we've never had a better meal anywhere or anytime in the Florida Keys. And to add to our enjoyment, the background was a magnificent cloud-shrouded, sunset seen through the picture windows at Sundowners, which was the site Boilini choose to do his cooking and serving.

We tell you all this so you too can experience it for yourselves as the Key Largo Food and Wine Festival kicks off with this Italian extravaganza in uniquely Key Largo style, on Friday, August 1st at 7pm. But better hurry, there is limited seating and as word gets around after last night's trial run, reservations are likely to fill up fast. And while the $100 price tag might seem steep, we assure you that the evening will be worth every penny. And, if you wish, leave your cash at home, for that includes tip and all taxes - a deal you can only get in Key Largo.

To learn more, read the entire menu, and to see all the dining and wining events in this first time two week event, check out the Key Largo Food and Wine Festival's website at:

Lastly, to make it a real Florida Keys weekend, come on down Friday, enjoy an afternoon dip in our pool, stay the weekend with us so you can make the first dive of this years "Wreckfest," a nine-day wreck-diving bonanza that begins on Saturday morning. Learn more at:

Or, simply make one call to us at Kona Kai (800-365-STAY) and we'll reserve your room and book your meals and dives for you. Or even better, join us for a Food, Wine and Diving vacation -- available only in Key Largo this August. As of this writing, we still have a few accommodations left for the weekend or the week.




May 22, 2008:  The new, 65 foot high, $93 million dollar, Jewfish Creek Bridge, at the entrance to Key Largo, opened today. "Coming to the top of the Jewfish Creek Bridge you’re going to see a spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Florida Bay on the other," said Jackie Harder, president of the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce. "Most importantly you’re really going to be able to tell that you’re in the Florida Keys."

Opening of the mile-and-quarter span will make your arrival here in Key Largo much more dramatic. Meanwhile, the ongoing reconstruction of the "18 mile stretch," connecting Florida's turnpike to Key Largo, is already at the halfway point and the new roadway is great! The "new" 18-mile Stretch is designed to enhance vehicular safety as well as benefit the environment. About seven miles of the new road have been completed; however, speed limits are still set at 45 mph or less, so watch your speed as you are coming down, or leaving. There is still only one travel lane in each direction, but those lanes are now divided by a concrete median safety barrier, painted a bright Belize blue, a color suggested by marine artist Wyland, who recently painted his final "US whaling wall" here in Key Largo. You'll pass it on your way to Kona Kai.


"KONA" AND "KAI" - The Dogs!

April 2008:  The following arrived by e-mail the other day from Kirt and Lisa. "Hi again. We just wanted to say that in my Mother's Sheila's honour and because of the impact your beautiful resort had on her and my brother Les, we named our two German Shepherd puppies after the Kona Kai Resort. The pup in my husbands left hand is "Kona" (pictured right) and the pup held in my husbands right hand is named "Kai" (pictured left). Proud "Dad" is in the middle! Many thanks for having such an idyllic resort that has had the impact it has on so many people."  We are honored and happy to share this news with one and all, including our very own Max and Rainey.



Verdoorn ParisFebruary 2008: Well, not quite, but close: read on. A recent headline in the NY Times stated that the US Dollar has fallen to “historic” lows. Many of us, including Ronnie and I, who travel to Europe on both business and pleasure, couldn’t have been more displeased. With the dollar losing so much value, how will that affect the pricing of the European artwork in our gallery? How will the falling dollar affect airfares between Miami and the “continent?”While the picture is bleak for those of us traveling to Europe, it’s just the opposite for our EU visitors. If you’re coming from a Euro currency nation, US prices have been cut in half, not only for our accommodations, but also for all your eating and leisure activities as well as for your shopping opportunities! Sure, we know, you’re thinking; ‘what shopping in the Florida Keys?’Did you know that for years South American’s flew to Miami to shop – they knew they could get great bargains and lots of things they could not get at home. Now the same is true for our European friends. Some of the greatest shopping in the USA is only one or two hours from Kona Kai’s driveway. But those shopping malls don’t offer any places to stay that are anywhere near as special and relaxing as Kona Kai and the Florida Keys. After a tiring day of shopping, you’ll need Kona Kai’s waterfront, our sunset, and a soak in our Jacuzzi!

So, we’re suggesting you do what our recent guests Yvonne and her husband Marian [pictured here with his new Mac Book purchased at 50+% less than had he purchased it in the Netherlands] did this winter. Combine a stay here at Kona Kai with a day or two of driving up to the mainland to buy lots of great goodies at even greater prices at our huge Florida shopping malls.This opportunity won’t last forever – someday the dollar and other currencies will grow stronger and weaker respectively – but right now you can’t get a better room rate or shopping value anywhere in the world. So, what are you waiting for – stay with us and we’ll help you shop till you drop!


Verdoorn Paris


January 2008: If you’ve been visiting this blog, or if you’ve visited Kona Kai since August 2007, it’s likely you know our little black dog named Moose, who was always here to welcome you, passed away this summer. After a lengthy search, Ronnie and I finally found a new dog to adopt – this time a very small Yorkshire Terrier, named “Sweet Southern Rain,” or “Rainey” for short. She is Kona Kai’s newest ambassador, and hopefully will someday join Max in helping you cope with missing the pet(s) you left behind for your vacation at Kona Kai.

Rainey joined us on October 24th and is adjusting to her new Kona Kai environment with all its comings and goings. At 3.5 pounds, Rainey is both small and very adorable, although she is also very shy with people. Rainey came from a breeder in central Florida, Jodi, who allowed us to adopt her because Rainey is too small to breed. Jodi gave her wonderful name, “Sweet Southern Rain.” Born on January 1st 2006, we expect Rainey will be with us for a long time to come.

Rainy and Kona Kai’s other ambassador, Max, are getting along just fine. Max is teaching Rainey the do’s and don’ts of life here at Kona Kai. Of course, there’s still a few things Max has to learn (no taking food from guests), so maybe we can teach them to Rainey first, who might then teach them to Max. (No harm in a bit of wishful thinking here.) So next time you’re here at Kona Kai, watch out underfoot; it might be Rainey, rather than one of our friendly squirrels.



Verdoorn ParisDecember 12th, 2007: If you're not in Key Largo for Christmas, the next best place to be is France. Ronnie and I came first to Cannes for the International Luxury Travel Market, the only global trade event dedicated to specialist luxury travel buyers from the world's top 52

travel markets. In Cannes, we met with a few of the world's leading luxury travel suppliers. We hope ITLM will prove to be an interesting and worthwhile event for Kona Kai's marketing efforts.

After that it was off to Paris, for the 40th Salon de la Marine at the Palais de Chaillot on the place du Trocadero, where we joined one of our favorite artists, Dirk Verdoorn and his family, for the exhibition vernissage, [varnishing from the French language, meaning the finishing of the painting and the preview or opening of the exhibition] at the Musee national de la Marine. [ ]

salon de marine

It was an exciting evening, with many of the official French marine painters present and in uniform. It was crowded and, of course, packed with great marine art, including over 100 paintings and sculptures from artists vying for one of the gold, silver or bronze medals awarded at this important bi-annual event. Now that Dirk is a "peintre officiel de la Marine," we are hoping to see one of his friends, Vivi Navarro, win a medal this year. And, for the first time, we met Sophie, proprietress of Galerie de L' Estuaire in Honfleur, where Dirk also shows his work.

Verdoorn Tug

Best of all, we were lucky enough to leave with a new painting of the Miami River that Dirk had completed just weeks ago and brought for to show at The Gallery at Kona Kai. However, as it will not make it back to the USA, since we sold it upon our arrival in Auribeau-sur-Siagne, where we will celebrate the holidays Provencial style, I've included a .jpg of it here.


December 2007: Wishing you could live in paradise all year? Then come-on down and see the The 2008 HGTV Dream Home. While the home can be seen on a HGTV Special beginning January 1st at 9:00pm (, you can see it live and in person down here in the upper Keys. The 3 bedroom waterfront home, built by Dellanos Construction of Tavernier, can be seen, outside and inside, at MM 86.7 bayside, from January 3rd through March 2nd 2008. Tickets, available here at Kona Kai Resort, are $20.00 each; proceeds from the ticket sales will benefit The Florida Keys Children's Shelter (

The new home, part of a new 8 home development, is valued at $2.2 million dollars and is located just 11 miles south of Kona Kai. We'll be happy to give you some great nearby restaurant recommendations, so you can see the HGTV Dream Home and then enjoy a great meal in the fabulous Florida Keys. And, perhaps, best of all, you can enter a HGTV giveaway sweepstakes to win this home. Details are on the HGTV site. So when making your winter vacation plans, remember to include us and to allow time to visit this great new HGTV Dream Home in Paradise - it could end up being your new home!


fish joe and tracey
October 2007:As many of you know, Kona Kai closes each September so the entire staff can take their vacation. We're back, so now you can again enjoy vacationing at Kona Kai for the next eleven months; until we close again next September. Everyone had a great vacation. We'll let you know more about what we all did later on, but for now here are two images worth viewing. First is our new Reservation Manager, Bobbi Cook, with her first "big catch" (a fish, not a reservation) and second is a shot of Assistant General Manager, Tracey Weaver, putting Joe in his place in historic Le Baux de Provence. Tracey, Ronnie, Joe and two other friends all met up in France for a tour of Provence.

[For more on our vacation, click here.] 

Bobbi Cook - Kona Kai’s new Reservations Manager:

Conde Nast

August 2007: Please welcome Ms. Bobbi Cook to the Kona Kai staff. Bobbi comes to us from the other side of paradise: Greene, Maine. Greene is known for the record amounts of snow it receives each winter; we’ll have to wait a bit to see if Bobbi misses those Maine snowfalls. With degree's in environmental sciences and teaching, Bobbi hopes to pursue yet another degree in Oceanography here in Florida.

Bobbi discovered The Keys a few years ago at the urging of her best friends who came down to paradise seven years ago and have never left. Like most, Bobbi fell in love, first with The Keys, next with Richard and, most recently, with Kona Kai. Bobbi decided to make The Keys her home in early 2007 and joined the Kona Kai staff in May. In her free time she likes to go fishing with her boyfriend, a backcountry guide, who fishes out of World Wide Sportsman; you can be sure he will be high on Bobbi’s recommendation list.

Beginning this September, Bobbi will be helping you with your reservation requests and welcoming you upon check-in, along with Assistant General Manager Tracey Weaver, as well as Ronnie and I. Please welcome Bobbi and please 'cut her some slack,' because it takes a while to get the hang of the reservation desk.


If you're a fan of The Florida Keys and James Michener. . . .

Conde Nast

August 2007: Then you might want to pick up a copy of this, never before published, short novel by Michener. Matecumbe features many of the hallmarks of Michener's best work, including detailed descriptions of place. However, the plot is much more intimate than that found in most of his large-scale, epic novels. Focusing on the parallel lives of a woman and her mother, both divorced, Michener spent his creative energy on character development and allegorical storytelling. Random House, his publisher, wasn't pleased, and wanted the mega-best-selling author to concentrate on producing "heavyweight" books like Hawaii and Centennial.  So, Matecumbe sat in a drawer until, eventually, Michener gifted it, including the copyright, to Keys local, Joe Avenick, his friend and former ghostwriter. Avenick played a key role in the research and writing of Chesapeake and introduced Michener to Melissa DeMaio, a local Keys businesswoman. Biographers and critics agree that Michener's personality and his characters in Matecumbe were both affected by his relationship with DeMaio. As perhaps his most encompassing autobiographical novel, Matecumbe provides what may be tantalizing glimpses into Michener's life. The publication of Matecumbe, in this, the centennial year, of the author's birth, is a boon for both Michener and Florida Keys fans.  We have copies here at the front desk of Kona Kai, should you be staying with us or simply passing by.


We’re going to miss her . . .
We know many of you will too.

Conde Nast

July 28, 2007: Moose was with us here at Kona Kai for well over a decade, barking her welcome and keeping you company on the beach. She passed away on July 28th, after having been ill for the last year. Having come from a local animal shelter, Moose led a charmed life here at Kona Kai and was a very happy and friendly dog, who gave so many much joy and much love to us and many of our guests. When we traveled, Moose always traveled with us; thus, she saw much of the world. Kona Kai won’t be less special without her, but it sure will be a bit lonely at times.


Hurricane Season – It arrives every year:

Conde Nast

June 2007: You are now undoubtedly, once again, hearing the hurricane predictions and forecasts through the news media. Of course, those of use who live in South Florida are accustomed to all the ‘noise and hullabaloo.’ However, if you’re planning your vacation, you might have a question or two.

First, know that on June 1st our “Hurricane Cancellation policy” will go into effect. That policy is, simply, “from June 1st through October 31st, once a NOAA Hurricane Warning is put into effect for Key Largo, you can postpone or cancel your vacation at Kona Kai with absolutely no fees or penalties. *

Monroe county evacuation plans are carefully thought-out and any threatening hurricane puts those plans into action to assure your safety; hotels are notified by EMS in advance of any approaching storm. Over the years very few folks have had to leave Kona Kai due to hurricane threats, but when it is necessary we will make sure you are safely on your way long before any hurricane makes landfall in Key Largo.

Most importantly, don’t let all the media hype keep you from enjoying our warm sunny days and wonderful summer sunsets. Remember, the media loves hurricane predictions, but the fact is that, on average, less than one storm a year becomes a serious threat to the Florida Keys.
* [This is the only exception to our 2007 cancellation policy. You must confirm any cancellation with our reservation desk and receive a cancellation number.]


Key Largo gets its' own Whaling Wall: See it Live, Now!

whaling wallFebruary 12, 2007: Marine life artist Wyland, who has painted 94 huge murals around the world to promote ocean conservation, today completed what he says is his final U.S. wall painting; this one in the Florida Keys. A panoramic 7,500-square-foot representation of the living coral reef that rests off the Keys, the mural wraps around a four-story, four-sided building in the median of the Overseas Highway that bisects Key Largo, just a over a mile north of Kona Kai Resort & Gallery. "It's the gateway to the Florida Keys," says Wyland. "The idea is to welcome people with a depiction of the sun, taking them above and below the surface to see the tremendous abundance of marine life and color." Wyland, who began painting the murals dubbed "Whaling Walls" in 1981, intends to paint his last mural, projected to be more than two miles long, in Beijing prior to the 2008 summer Olympics.

A part-time Keys resident, Wyland draws inspiration for his portrayals of marine life from diving the islands' colorful reef - North America's only living contiguous barrier coral reef. Wyland has spent more than twenty-five years using his art to increase awareness about the need to preserve and protect the marine environment.

Fishing in Key Largo

WATCH THE VIDEO:ABC's Good Morning America discovers the beauty of Key Largo!
January 7th 2007 – This morning, ABC’s Good Morning America did a short travel feature on the wonders of Key Largo.  If you were ever wondering why you need to spend a week in Key Largo, then perhaps this piece might have the answers to your questions.

Yes, Ronnie and I are featured in the video. Yet, if you’re [planning on] coming to the Florida Keys, clearly Key Largo is the place to choose for a relaxing and beautiful time. Furthermore, we believe Kona Kai is the place to stay - if you’re looking for quiet comfort. GMA Weekend host Bill Weir said of Key Largo during his in-studio introduction: “Though it's just an hour away from Miami, visitors say it feels like a world away….”

We agree with Bill's assessment and we think you will too. We’re working on getting this clip right here on our website, but until we do: (if you have high speed broadband), click and watch the piece on ABC’s GMA site. Then call us, we’ll help you determine if Key Largo and Kona Kai Resort is the right place for your next vacation.

Florida Monthly

September 2006: For the 11th year, Florida Monthly Magazine and it’s readers have voted for the best of...  throughout the state. Winners include 16 choices from the Fabulous Florida Keys and over half of these are within a few miles of Kona Kai.  While they are not all tourist mecca’s, perhaps the message is that the Florida Keys are a great place to live and to visit. Florida’s Friendliest small town is Tavernier; Best Art Gallery is the RainBarrel Artisan Village; Best Florida Artist is Clyde Butcher; Best Restaurant with a view is Sundowners; Best Book Store is Cover to Cover Books; Best State Park is John Pennekamp; Best Saltwater Fishing is The Florida Keys; Best Dive Shop is Ocean Divers; Best Financial Instution is TIB Bank; Best Hospital Food is Mariners Hospital. While we hope you won’t be eating at Mariner’s Hospital we want you to know that here at Kona Kai we keep our very own “best of” list and we’re happy to make sure you always get the best of everything – just check with Cris or Tracey for the latest updates when you arrive.


tree truck tree hand

Oh Bismarckia . . .
July 2006:In preparation for summer weather, our Florida Keys Electric Cooperative checks all power lines in advance to make sure that during a windstorm trees are not a potential threat to power lines. It’s the smart way to make sure the power remains on during and after a storm. FKEC’s advance planning has enabled us to almost always have power when other areas of South Florida were without electricity. This year, in an effort of co-operation, Kona Kai worked with FKEC to remove the centerpiece of our roadway landscaping which was getting too tall. Nice thing is, rather than cut down the beautiful Bismarckia Palm that many of you have seen, it was relocated to a spot in Key Largo's Ocean Reef community where a similar palm was blown down during Hurricane Wilma. While we miss this fabulous palm, we’re thrilled FKEC helped find a new home for a rare and valuable tree that had graced our entry for almost a decade. Thank you FKEC for helping us and teaching us about the importance of keeping the powerlines clear.

Kona Kai

Not Only for NASCAR Fans
July 2006:Like the ad says – there’s no better place to shut down and relax than Key Largo. And race fan or not, people who have stayed with us know that Kona Kai is one of the best places to “shift into neutral and coast.” So, if you’ve got your race tickets but not your place to stay, give us a call. We still have a few choice availabilities for before, during, and after this year's end of season challenge. And remember, you don't need to wait for the NASCAR race because here at Kona Kai you can “shift into neutral and coast” 365 days of the year.

June 12th, 2006: As everyone knows, it is that time of year again. No matter where you are, for the next six months, the media will dwell on tropical storms and hurricanes which could affect the USA. So, when considering a summer vacation in paradise, Kona Kai staff wondered what weather related issue is most important to you. And, we’ve concluded your most important questions is: "What will happen to my KONA KAI vacation if a hurricane comes during my stay?"

Well, not to worry. For your safety, countywide evacuation plans are carefully thought-out and any threatening storm puts those plans into action to assure your safety first. Additionally, from June 1st through October 31st, once a NOAA Hurricane Warning is put into effect for Key Largo, you can postpone or cancel your vacation at Kona Kai with absolutely no fees or penalties.* Simply contact our front desk and request your deposit be applied to future dates of your choice or be refunded and we will issue a confirmation of your request. If you're already here, county hurricane plans assure you'll have ample time to change your plans as you see fit. So don't worry, be happy, and get busy planning your vacation!

And, most importantly, don’t let all the media hype keep you from enjoying our wonderful summer sunsets. Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro, commenting on all the media hype and forecasts, writes in today’s Weather Channel Blog: “. . . That's where the bunkum and snake oil come in. . . . The fact of the matter is, nobody knows at this juncture exactly what regions/ states/ communities will receive exactly what impacts in 2006. Florida again? Maybe. Louisiana and Mississippi again? Maybe. Texas? Maybe. Is it the Northeast's turn this year? Maybe. This is why The Weather Channel does not issue its own seasonal hurricane forecasts. . . . ultimately the devil is in the details and the state of the science in that regard is not at a sufficient level to be of meaningful value. The media loves preseason predictions, but that is a misdirected focus . . . .”
* [this is the only exception to our 2006 cancellation policy]

Temperatures Rise in Summer, But Not at Kona Kai!!
May 2005: That is, not since we put a chiller cooling system on our beachfront pool. Heated in the cooler months to a comfortable 88 degrees, but cooled to a refreshing 80 degrees in the hot summer and fall months - that's the pool at Kona Kai. Those of you who were here last summer experienced the first chilled resort pool in the Keys. And, as far as we know, it is still the only resort pool that is heated in the winter and cooled in the summer. Come and enjoy it, for when the temperature reaches 90 degrees and most pools feel like a warm cup of tea, our 80 degree pool is as cool and refreshing as your favorite summer drink. The chilled pool, and all the rest of the delights of Kona Kai, are just waiting for you!

Kona Kai gift certificate

“WHEN YOU CARE ENOUGH TO GIVE THE VERY BEST” . . . Give a Kona Kai Gift Certificate
June 2006:
Available in any amount, a Kona Kai gift certificate is a smart and easy way to give a gift. All it takes is a phone call to Kona Kai reservations at 1-800-365-STAY (7829). You choose the amount, the recipient decides the dates and the accommodation. With no expiration date, there ‘s no pressure to use the certificate before a certain date and with the wonderful memories one takes away from Kona Kai it will be a “gift that keeps on giving.”


kona kaiTHANK YOU DONNA (and see you in October.)

April, 2006: An friend from my past TV days recently e-mailed me concerning his wife’s retirement. He writes: “Here's one for your book. Donna is retiring in October. I have about 200,000 Delta miles so I began putting together a trip to Rome for us.

While I was on telephone hold with the airline, Donna sighed and said I shouldn't worry too much if my plan fell through because it was 'my' plan anyway. I asked, diplomatically, (40 years of marriage has taught me that's the best way to ask about some things) what she meant. She replied that it was 'my' dream for us to celebrate her retirement with a trip to Rome. I pressed on, asking: ‘Well, if you could do anything and go anywhere to celebrate your retirement, where would you go and what would you do?’ Well Joe, honest to g-d, this is what she said: ‘I'd go to Kona Kai and sit on the beach with a couple of good books.’

I asked, incredulously ‘Of anywhere...Europe, Asia, Alaska, Hawaii, visit your kids. . . that's what you'd do?’ ‘Yep,’ she said 'that's my favorite place of anywhere we've been.' "

January 12, 2006: Experts agree that people who take their health seriously should also learn to take their vacation time seriously. Actual medical studies have shown that vacations can be the ultimate tool to reduce the pressuresof every-day life and eliminate stress.

         A vacation at Kona Kai means stress relief. Our casual, relaxed, atmosphere is filled with sunlight, starlight and warm, relaxing waters. Our knowledgeable, courteous, staff strives to make your vacation as relaxed, enjoyable and stress free as possible. Most importantly, Kona Kai won’t disappoint – just go to our guest comments page to see what other healthy vacationers have said about their vacation time at Kona Kai.

         So, if vacations are the ultimate tool to reduce the pressures of every-day life, why not take them regularly? Short ones - if that is all you can make time for – at stress free Kona Kai. We’re awaiting your call or e-mail – 1-800-365 STAY(7829) or

Kona Kai’s Vacation Smarts
January 12, 2006: There ‘s lots to do in the keys – most of it water oriented. But, for a truly restorative vacation, we believe the best thing to do is . . . nothing! "Nothing" is good. Actually, “nothing” is great! “Nothing” means waking up when you feel like it. “Nothing” means no plans, no cares and no worries. “Nothing” means: should we sunbathe before or after breakfast? “Nothing” means: floating in Kona Kai’s 88 degree pool while gazing at the stars. “Nothing” means: watching the sun set with a glass of wine in your hand. “Nothing” means: relaxing in a hammock between the palms while reading that book you’ve been meaning to get to for the last six months. “Nothing” means. . . .

And, to truly enjoy a “Nothing” vacation, follow these three simple rules:
         Rule #1: Upon arrival, put your watch, computer & cellphone in a drawer and forget about them. Take a deep breath and get onto "KEYS time," which can be summarized with the phrase "sooner or later". You will encounter this phase when you ask your waiter when that drink you ordered 15 minutes ago will arrive.
         Rule #2: Place all of that extra clothing that you packed in the drawer on top of your watch. You will only need swim suits and tee shirts.
         Rule #3: Try eating at some of our favorite truly casual restaurants which you’ll find on our personal restaurant list and follow the recommendations of Ronnie, Cris, Joe or Tracey.

         If you follow these three simple “rules” [and perhaps create some new ones of your own], you will discover just how stress free a Kona Kai vacation can really be.

Is It Real, Or Is It Virtual?
August 15th, 2005. A personal note from Joe Harris:
I was watching the Today Show this morning. They featured a story on celebrities getting upset with magazines for using computer software to extensively touch-up photos taken of them. Seems those celebrities are getting tired of having to live up to the impossible perfection represented by those photos. The Today Show story made me think of the Internet, our guests and our website here at Kona Kai.

Over the years, numerous professional photographers have come in and offered to do a first class ‘photoshoot for the web’ for us. We’ve always declined, preferring to shoot the photos ourselves. Why? Because of comments such as this one just received from a guest:

Personally, I think one area that could be improved is your website. That’s how I discovered you guys (and, to be honest initially, passed you over). [Another small] resort has one that is really well done. I stopped by there on my way back from Duck Key to see what it was like in person and was not impressed. Kona Kai has it beat hands down, but you would not know it from the Internet.”

By reading our "guest comments" page and the numerous Internet travel blogs, you'll conclude that 99% of Kona Kai's guests are thrilled with their choice. Perhaps I should also note that it's not unusual for a guest to tell us the real Kona Kai is just so much nicer than the virtual one, especially if they've visited some of the other properties they were considering during their initial internet research.

In managing our website, the decision comes down to a question of exceeding your expectations, as so many places “virtually” do, or showing you the “real” Kona Kai, virtually. So, is it real, or is it virtual? Kona Kai’s website is real and we assure you that when you arrive you will not be disappointed.

So, when planning your vacation, visiting websites and calling reservation desks, remember to ask: “Is it real, or is it virtual?” Our answer, unequivocally, is that at, what you see is what you get, if not more!

With regards,

Travel Writers Rank Keys Among Top 10!
AUGUST 2005: SATW has named The Fabulous Florida Keys one of the 10 best travel destinations in the United States. "SATW," an organization of 1200 North American travel writers, editors and photographers, recently surveyed it's membership to determine the top 10 travel destinations. Also known as The Society of American Travel Writers, SATW listed the Florida Keys as tied in the number 8 spot with Alaska. It's nice to know that the fabulous Florida Keys and Key Largo are year round destinations, so while you might choose to visit Alaska only in the summer, you can visit Key Largo and the Florida Keys in the summer, fall, winter and spring! And believe it or not, every season will give you a different vacation experience, even if you stay at Kona Kai every time! So, what are you waiting for?

"Scuba Diving" Magazine Names Upper Keys Best U.S. Dive Spot
January 2005: Readers of Scuba Diving magazine have named the Upper Keys as the premiere dive destination in North America. Key Largo received five awards and is included among "Top Ten Dive Destinations" in North America. Islamorada / Tavernier also took top honors in the categories of "Top Marine Life" and "Top Snorkeling." The 2005 Readers' Choice Awards are published in the publication's January/ February issue. "Scuba Diving is the only magazine that asks readers to rate their dive vacations for the benefit of other divers. For this issue, the reporters in the field are our readers, diving the world and recording their observations," said Buck Butler, editor of the magazine.


peeping doggyA Peeping Tom at Kona Kai?
December 2004:If you stay with us, it is likely you'll get to meet Moose and Max - the resort's two small dogs who love to share your vacation with you. The fact that we do not accept dogs just thrills Moose and Max, as they get to fill in as your surrogate pets. In fact, sometimes they're a bit too busy being your surrogate pets - as can be seen in this picture sent by returning guests who've befriended Max on many an occasion. Bruce and MaryCris were here in early December and they just e-mailed this photo along with these comments: "Well, we've only been home a few days, but already we're missing you always seems to go so fast! In the meantime - we wanted to warn you about a peeping tom at Kona Kai - we even caught him on film - well, digital image - and we've attached the incriminating proof. You may want to keep an eye out for him...." Well, as they say, 'forewarned is forearmed.'

The Florida keys as a Cultural Destination?
ber 2004:The Florida Keys do offer a lot of culture - but like everything else down here, it is a bit difficult to find. However, 'the times they are a changin.' Thanks to the efforts of the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, the Florida Council of the Arts, as well as all of us who are involved in one way or another with promoting culture [along with sunshine], you will be seeing some ads reminding you to search out our culture along with our sun, fun, fish and food; all things that make your Keys vacation memorable. And, now that Art Basel is again coming to Miami, it is time to remind everyone that Miami is only the beginning of the South Florida 'cultural trail,' leading right through The Gallery at Kona Kai all the way down to Key West. So, here's the latest in Tinsley Advertising's cultural creations (left). P.S. To see the image larger, just scroll over and click on it; it'll open into a larger image.

Most Romantic:
August 2004: Folks sometimes ask how Kona Kai Resort & Gallery compares to other romantic (luxury) hotels in south Florida.  Writer Kelly Braden wrote this article which can be found in the August/September issue of WAVE South Florida. This exclusive listing, which mentions the Marquesa, Little Palm, the Miami Mandarin Oriental, Chesterfield Palm Beach, Cheeca Lodge and other Florida resorts, had this to say about Kona Kai Resort & Gallery: "Kona Kai is outstanding when it comes to beauty, peace and tranquility. From the gorgeous, well-maintained grounds with tropical fruit trees and orchid garden to the hammocks, beautiful lounge chairs and complimentary fruit and chilled bottled water by the pool, every detail has been carefully thought out. The beach is above-average for the Keys and the sand is raked every night. It's a great place to kick back and enjoy the tropical oasis that will beckon you to come back time and time again. With only 11 rooms on two acres, there's plenty of privacy for guests and the staff is friendly, helpful and available. Their “no-kids” policy is perfect for that romantic getaway." If you want to read the rest of the article download the .pdf file by clicking here.

JULY 2004: Hurricanes and tropical storms are part of life in paradise and while they are threatening, it's always nice to know that after the winds and rains have passed on, paradise is always alive and well. That has been recorded fact with every hurricane and hurricane season for the past 154 years. Speaking of records: It is interesting to note that since hurricane records were first recorded in 1851 (154 years ago), less than 5% of all storms (well over 700 to date) have even come within 150 miles of the Florida Keys. And, believe it or not, less than 3% have actually hit someplace in the Keys. Yet, well over 70% of all recorded hurricanes have gone on to hit someplace(s) (oftentimes more than one place) in the America's, usually causing significant damage.

The kind of extensive media coverage of hurricanes that we all experience today, began only about a decade ago, as television news technology improved. Thus, when listening to our radio and TV's today, we might want to remember that most Atlantic storms have to pass nearby the Keys to make landfall and that's why we're always in the storm news. But few of those storms have ever hit our fabulous islands.

Considering all this, maybe that's why those of us who live here don't make as much of a hurricane frenzy as the media does; until it is clearly a threat to our islands. If you're interested in some of this hurricane history, take a look at this link: Click on "Hurricane Data" under "Miscellaneous" for a year by year tracking history.

PERHAPS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU THOUGH IS: "What will happen to my vacation if a hurricane comes during my stay?"  Well, not to worry.  For your safety, county wide evacuation plans are carefully thought-out and any threatening storm puts them into action to assure your safety first. And, once a  hurricane warning is put into effect you can cancel or postpone your vacation at Kona Kai with absolutely no fees or penalties so your deposit, or remaining days, will be refunded or applied to future dates of your choice.  And, if you're already here, you'll have ample time and assistance to change your plans as you see fit.  So don't worry, be happy, and get busy planning that vacation!

America's Most Scenic Drives :
June 2004: The editors of Life Magazine have just published this hardcover book detailing their assessment of America's top driving journeys. And these distinguished editors rank the Florida Keys Overseas Highway, connecting Key Largo to Key West, number 10 on their list of top 40 driving trips. The Time-Life editors write: "Today, a drive from Florida City to Key West on the 127-mile, 42-bridge, Route 1 is an oceangoing voyage unlike any other." If you think about it, crossing those bridges while looking out over ocean and bay simultaneously is a unique and inspiring experience. Perhaps that's why so many of our guests stay with us and make Key West a day trip, squeezing in two trips along this Top 10 ranked roadway in one day! A photograph of the Seven Mile Bridge is featured on the back cover of the 176-page publication.

From the bottom up:
May 2004: Please welcome Ms. Tracey Weaver to our front desk staff.  Tracey was born and raised in Altanta where she earned a BBA in Finance. She has been in the hotel business since 1996 when she joined the Hilton Hotel chain in Key West, eventually becoming their Acting Controller.  Leaving the Keys (for what appeared to be greener pastures) she quickly realized how much she missed our islands charm and beauty and so returned in mid 2002 to the less crowded and more charming Upper Keys. Bitten by the "own your own resort" bug, Tracey joined Kona Kai some 6 months ago. After a few months on our service staff, to gain 'hands-on, bottom-up' experience, beginning this June she will share front desk responsibilities with Cris.  So, let's welcome Tracey!  

Kona Kai's latest creation:
March 2004: Congratulations go out to Mike and Lisa, long standing guests at Kona Kai. Their first child, Olivia, was born exactly 9 months after their last visit to Kona Kai ... making all of us here at Kona Kai honorary aunts and uncles (sort of)! Mike and Lisa report that the grandparents are eager babysitters (who wouldn't be, with a cutie like Olivia!) so we won't have to wait 16 years to see them again; in fact, they are already planning a visit to Kona Kai for a soon to be needed, quiet, adults only, get-away!

The Sunsets are still magnificent!
Janaury 2004: Ronnie and I have now been owner/managers for almost 14 years and for 14 years we have managed to watch many a great sunset. Every night nature brings us and Kona Kai's guests a new surprise. This picture was taken at our annual “Last Sunset of the Year” party on 12/31/03. While you can see the resort business still agrees with us, take a look at this sunset rather than us. It truly ranked a “10” on the Florida Keys sunset “conchmeter!”

Sunsets are never the same
February 2004: At sunset you can always find Kona Kai's guests on the beach or out on our pier watching nature create her newest canvas. And, many guests have their cameras with them. Some months ago, Kathy and Jim sent these photos along. They've been in our “to do” file for months – only now did we get a chance to scan them for the Internet. Here's just three of the sunsets they enjoyed on their last visit. And, sunset isn't nature's only surprise at Kona Kai: we tell our guests the squirrels are quite friendly - here's proof: Jim feeding one of the little critters a few peanuts!

CoBrA comes to Kona Kai:
December 2003: Besides being the name of a snake, “CoBrA” is an acronym for Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam and has become a very important movement in the world of art. Here at the Gallery at Kona Kai we're now proud to represent two “CoBrA” genre artists - Jan Sierhuis and Robert Terwindt. Sierhuis recently had a one-man sow at the CoBrA museum in Amstelveen, the Netherlands while Terwindt is a younger protégé of the “CoBrA” style. Next time you're at Kona Kai make sure to see the work of these two artists; if you're a CoBrA collector you can contact the gallery at 305-852-7200 for additional information.

Art Gallery inspires guest to paint:
November 2003: Received
this digital image via e-mail from one of our guests (Stephanie M) who spent her time at Kona Kai relaxing and sketching scenes of the property. She writes: “We have not been down for some time because we have started a new business … but that does not stop us from dreaming about our next time at Kona Kai. Thought you might like this sketch I did a few years ago.… Maybe you should start a collection of photos and drawings guests have done while staying at the Kona Kai.” We like the idea, so send in your images – when we have enough we'll start a “guests' views” web page


A Grand Slam!
ovember 2003: These 4 pictures came from a very proud guest who scored big with a “Grand Slam;” not baseball, which is not a big thing in the Keys, but Fishing – which is a real big thing in the Keys! Joyce sent the pictures in an e-mail along with these comments: “The fishing clinic was awesome and I learned a great deal .... we went fishing with Capt. Mike Haines out of Flamingo. What a great day! I got a grand slam....trout, redfish, snook, jewfish!!” Take note, however, Joyce warns the fishing clinic is not a guarantee of a grand slam! Congratulations – way to go, Joyce!



Grab a Gelato … and Chill in Laid Back Key Largo
June 2003: Charles Buhman, writing for Knight-Ridder newspapers, starts his recent travel article with these words: “ We’re thinking Kona Kai is just too cool for us. After all, the tiny resort’s brochure reads ‘for thefortunate few.’ … Of course we are wrong. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone with attitude. Every time we make the quick drive down to the upper Keys – just 45 minutes from downtown Miami – we’re amazed at how casual and funky everything is. Long pants are probably against the law.” Mr. Buhman goes on about our little resort and some of the best places to eat in Key Largo, advising his readers that perhaps Key Largo is worth a visit. He ends his article with: “But the coolest place on Key Largo by far has to be Mr. C’s ice cream….” If you stay with us you too will enjoy what Mr Buhman implies is some of the best of the upper keys. So, come on down and join us for a few days in laid back Key Largo!

The World's Largest Artificial Reef is 1 year old!
And, it’s in The Fabulous Florida Keys!
May 2003: The Spiegel Grove sank May 17, 2002, hours before it was scheduled to come to rest upright on the sandy ocean bottom about six miles off Key Largo in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Today, the Spiegel Grove is the largest ship ever scuttled anywhere to create an artificial reef, according to wreck-diving experts. "In less than a year, there are more species of fish on the Spiegel Grove than on the wreck of the (nearby) Coast Guard cutter Duane, that was sunk in 1987," said Laddie Akins, of the Reef Environmental Education Foundation, who is involved in a multi-year study of the Spiegel Grove site to monitor fish presence. More than 130 species of fish have been documented including a resident goliath grouper, mutton snapper, black grouper, as well as many bluehead wrasse, bar jacks, bicolor damsel fish, ocean surgeonfish, round scad and grunts. "There are massive schools of fish and I have even heard of whale shark sightings," said Stephen Frink, a top underwater photographer. "You also have the beginnings of coral growth and lots of invertebrate life. The grandeur of the whole vessel makes it extremely difficult to study the minutiae," he said. "It is so huge that it is impossible to see the entire ship on one dive." So come on’ down and dive this new artificial reef – for the first, second, third, or 10th time!

Florida Keys Named a TOP 10 Beautiful Location:
May 2003:
“USA Weekend” magazine named the Florida Keys as one of the 10 most beautiful places in America in the May 18th issue of the magazine. Our fabulous Florida Keys are the only destination in Florida that was awarded such an honor! In our opinion, while the beauty of our island chain may not be initially self-evident, if you take the time to get to know the wonderful natural areas of our islands, you too will agree with USA. To determine their “Top 10” list, USA editors solicited opinions from travel writers and photographers, polled their own colleagues and talked to outdoor enthusiasts. Some other winners included Red Rock Country in Sedona, Arizona, the upper Mississippi River and Hawaii’s Na Pali coast!


Missing Those “Starry, Starry, Nights?”
April 2003: Then, perhaps you ought to come to Kona Kai! In a recent report, the British Astronomical Association released a report indicating that “light pollution” is reducing areas in the world where the full effect of the starry night sky can be seen. Their report indicates that almost 40% of the 12 signs of the zodiac are hidden by “night blight” in many areas of the world, especially cities. Directing lighting to point downward and putting hoods over street lights would help, some claim, but if you really want to see a star filled night, just come on down and be on our dock in the dark hours – you won’t believe the number of stars that you can see ‘out there.’ While watching the full moon rise over Kona Kai is almost as incredible an experience as watching the sun set over the bay – counting the stars and constellations, especially when there is no moon, is just another one of the incredible and breathtaking experiences awaiting you at our little paradise – Kona Kai Resort & Gallery!

Some (Ancient) History:
March 2003: Folks who stay with us here at Kona Kai often ask: "What did Kona Kai look like when you bought it in 1991?" We have a photo album at the front desk that has some pictures of the resort in 1991 along with some pictures of the massive one million dollar renovation Kona Kai underwent at the end of the 1990's. However, Ronnie and I thought you might like to see Kona Kai when it was "born" in the 1950's. This image is of a business card that a previous owner, Chuck Bennett, gave us recently. Chuck and his wife, Joyce, who still live in town, owned the property some time ago and he had found this picture in one of his old scrapbooks. Perhaps when you arrive, you'll be able to spot these buildings in what most consider, our wonderful tropical paradise. And, not to worry - the resort now looks like all the OTHER pictures on this website!
personalized service!

More Palms:
FEBRUARY 2003 - Our beachfront has always been noted for it's inrcedible views and beautiful palms. But, if you've stayed at Kona Kai, you know we're always improving - so we've now added a new beachside palm garden with a mix of different palms and a beautiful Pandanus as the centerpeice. Here's a photo of the new Pandanas, or Screw Pine, as we're unloading it from the truck. We planted a total of some 14 new palms and the area has already been adopted by folks who want a semi-private area for an outdoor massage. One very beautiful rare palm, a coccothrinax borhidiana, has been planted especially in memory of a guest, Sheila Lee, at the request of her son, Les. His "mum" so loved Kona Kai he asked if we would do this. She couldn't be remembered in a more beautiful place.


You Asked for It, You Got It:
DECEMBER 2002 - Room and suite pictures. With most of us now using the Internet for advance planning and research, everyone has asked to see individual pictures of each of our accommodations. So, go to "Getting Around" and check out the new images. While each accommodation is different and unique we¹re sure you¹ll agree they are all very nice. Start planning your vacation now; but try not to get hooked on a single choice before checking for availabilities. 1-800-365-STAY (7829).


Franco Passalaqua at work

A painting by Jonny

A piece by Reuther

Exciting News at Our Very Special Art Gallery :
SEPTEMBER 2002 - The Gallery at Kona Kai. This fall, three new artists have joined our repertoire, and are represented exclusively in America by The Gallery at Kona Kai. Pictured here is Italian minimalist, Franco Passalaqua, who is passionate about trees, which he believes are an important part of our environment and very necessary for our survival. His works are both incredible and unusual and some are part painting, part sculpture. Also new this fall is Jonny, a Venezulan painter whose mixed media-primitive works are just spectacular.

And lastly, we are honored to have Reuther joining us. While Reuther began his career in Brazil, he has spent much of his life in France, where he currently resides

SEPTEMBER 2002 - One of our long time guests has passed away. Her son, and traveling companion, Les, shared some very touching e-
mailed thoughts and we would like to share them with you: "We lost mum (Sheila) on Sept.11th. As I told you, she was diagnosed with lung cancer back in May and although she put up a brave fight for four months, it got her in the end. We shared many memories of Kona Kai when she was feeling down and it really picked her up and helped her through some tough times. Mum had travelled to many parts of the world, including the Caribbean islands and the Bahamas, and her absolute most favorite place ever, was at Kona Kai amongst the trees, the wildlife and the sunsets." Below is Sheila, many years ago, on one of her first visits to Kona Kai, enjoying an ice tea on our beach and then several years later pictured at a "Kona Kai friends" reunion. Sheila was a very special woman and Kona Kai will miss her.

AUGUST 2002 - For those of you who have stayed with us and have had the pleasure of seeing Ronnie's orchids, you know the passion and love that she puts into them. Well, after 3 years of watching and waiting this orchid has finally given way, just this November, to it¹s first bloom...and a spectacular one at that! It¹s name is: Paphiopedilum St. Swithin (phillipinense 'Monte Vista' x Rothschildianum 'Eric Young'). There¹s always something new and unusual happening in the orchid house, so be sure to check it out the next time you are here! And, because so many of you have expressed an interest in "How to", Ronnie will start carrying a basic intro to orchid book along with all those wonder Fruits and Passions amenities for you to take home.

AUGUST 2002 - which many of you affectionately consider our swim platform is in. As many of you know, the old one was due for replacement. This new one is much nicer, and offers two benches for sunset watching. Of course, there is still the entire pier and beach, but for an extra measure of sunset, the barge might be just the place for you. Come enjoy it.

AUGUST 2002 - Kona Kai must be a pretty photogenic place as many guests take and send pictures...but this one is special. Taken by Kathy Talley, a long time guest, she "adopted" Max during her visit this past October (or should we say Max adopted her?). While, strictly forbidden to go in the accommodations, Max somehow "whiddled" his way into Kathy¹s suite. Could it be Max¹s big brown eyes? Kathy not only had Max beggin' at her doorstep, but also "Fred" the bird, his great white heron brother "Nick," his cousin "the egret" and 5 Ibysses--all at the same time! Not to mention the ever peanut-hungry squirrels! Although Kona Kai is a "pet-free" resort mother nature (and Max), are here to make sure you don¹t miss your own pets for too long!

AUGUST 2002 - The Sugar Apple was the last room to be refurbished when we did our major renovation in 1998-9 and our Sugar Apple tree was the last tropical fruit tree we planted. This summer was our first crop and this is a picture of our first red sugar apple. An incredible sweet and tasty fruit; but, like many tropical fruits, not the easiest to eat. Perhaps when you come to stay we'll have a ripe Sugar Apple on hand for you to try. Remember, we share all the tropical fruits we grow with our guests, whenever they are ripe.

Oh, and a little known fact - February is strawberry season in Florida. Just north of us, in Homestead, you can buy some of the biggest and best strawberries in the world, yes, stawberries in the winter.

JULY 2002 - Kona Kai has had some great TV coverage over the years. "The Good Life" is a show that is still seen on the air occasionally, even though it was first aired in the last century.

HGTV's "Secret Gardens" made our incredible tropical gardens a little less secret, but you still won't find them crowded.

We've also turned up on The Travel Channel in a South Florida's 10 best series; CNN has featured us overseas in their travel reports and most recently, Jeff Shamon our very own, very talented, masseuse was spotted in the crowd at the New York studios of "The Today Show." This picture show's him [shamonlessly] promoting Kona Kai! 

FEBRUARY 2002 - On our 10th anniversary we asked ourselves if the Florida Keys are changing so much that they are losing their wonderful and unique character - which many of the travel books refer to as "KEYS FUNK." Webster's defines "funk" as: "offbeat, odd, or quirky, as in appearance or style."

Well, we went looking and confirmed that The Keys are still quirky as ever! To prove it to all, we took our digital camera out to prove it. Here is a postcard-style montage of some of the sights that are still out there. You just need to take the time to look for them.


Well, for now, that's "The Latest" from Kona Kai. We never know when we'll update this page again - but we can guarantee that the best of what we write will stay here, as will we. So just remember, when you need to escape for a day or a week, give us a call. And, to make it easy for you, just remember that every day of the year you can call 1-800-365-STAY and you'll be connected with your tropical paradise, Kona Kai Resort and Gallery.