The Washington Times - June 6, 2009, 05:31PM

By Lisa Ruth

Associate Editor, Donne Tempo Magazine


For Spring Break, the destination was Marathon, Florida.  A journey that took myself, my husband Jonathan, my 8-year-old-son Connor, my best friend Lara, her 12-year-old-daughter Kailey, and her 8-year-old-son (my son’s best friend)Ross to the Keys for five days of sun, surf, sand and fish.  The goal was fun, water, sun and time to relax. 

Day 1 – Take The First Left Turn Past The School Of Grunts Or It Was My Idea, But I Don’t Think Much Of It.

We are on the first day of our six-day vacation to Marathon in the Florida Keys. 

We left the house at 12:45, stopped for a quick lunch of drive through fast food, and got on the turnpike, heading south. According to the GPS, we were due to arrive at 4:19. 

Unfortunately, the GPS did not take into account the fact that it was a Saturday during spring break, and that there was construction on the small two-lane road leading into the Keys.  First, we were slowed by workers sodding along route 1 just before the exit to Card Sound Road.  We stayed on Route 1 – eventually getting past the watering truck – and zoomed along until we hit construction for the new bridge.  In all, we were delayed about an hour and twenty minutes.

Our next adventure was finding the place to check in.  Our resort is called  Indigo Reef Resort, a Singh property, but we had to check in at Coral Lagoon, a sister property.  

I would have passed the entrance if, not knowing that the turn was at 53.5, I hadn’t slowed down when approaching.

Like the other Singh properties in the Keys, Coral Lagoon is an enclave of Key West-Style 3-bedroom townhomes in a well-landscaped setting.  From what I could see from the car, it was extremely clean and had an attractive setting. This bode well for our vacation.

We checked in and Omar, new on duty, provided us not only the number to the front desk but also his cell phone number in case we needed anything. The property has a small “general store” with some supplied, book and dvd library. Omar gave us maps of Indigo Reef – our property – and the third property – Tranquility Bay – where the swimming beach, sunset beach, and the restaurants are located. 

On the down side, they did not provide a map of the area.  So the directions to Indigo Reef consisted of “go over the bridge and make the first right.”  

A bit of foreshadowing, I know, but let’s just say an area map would have helped.

The first order of busy was to launch the boat and disconnect the trailer. Another adventure in the making.

Omar had told us to “launch the boat” and “just take it to Indigo Reef” because the “guys in the marina” went off duty at 5:00pm.  

Before leaving, we had called several times to ask boat questions (how much is a boat slip, how do we launch, etc.) and no one had mentioned any specific hours for the “boat guys” who were supposed to use a fork lift to put the boat in the water. With the boat guys off duty, we decided to launch the boat ourselves, but couldn’t find the boat ramp.  

Omar came out immediately to assist and we located it in the back part of the marina behind the stairs.

Adding, or creating, the adventure, the boat ramp is very skinny and shallow.  We watched as one guest, attempting to pull his boat out, had gotten stuck. Before we luanched the boat, we asked how to get to Indigo Reef by water, which enhanced the adventure as Omar, continuing to be as helpful as he could, was rather vague with directions such as:

“I think you go kind of that way and then over that way…but I’m not sure how you cut across…hang on, let me call a friend”

Well, this wasn’t working for us so we decided to wait and launch when the “Boat Guys” were around.

I’ll cut the getting lost part of the adventure to just this:  get better directions to Indigo from Coral Lagoon.  We wandered around some very local neighborhoods with two kids who had been in the car for five hours, finally called back the front desk, where a still friendly Omar guided us, turn by turn, to the property.

Thankfully, all the adventure aside, Indigo Reef is the definition of “vacation.”  

When you pull up to the property, an intricate metal gate, a piece of artwork in itself, sets a very elite tone.  The small road to the property is lushly landscaped and has a secluded feel.  We parked the boat in the extra parking lot – very close to the property – unloaded and put one car in the designated car port.  There is plenty of parking, easily accessible to the unit.

When we saw the unit, we felt that whatever small glitches we had encountered were worth it.  The outside is white and clean, with night-blooming jasmine, yellow trumpet vine, pitch apple, lantana, and other well-chosen plants and a front porch.  The inside of the unit is spacious, painted a bright yellow, with stocked kitchen and Key West-style furniture. 

Entering to exclamation of “I could live here!” we explored the unit, with Lara and I quickly espying the wide back porch holds four Adirondack chairs and looks out on the Gulf of Mexico, boat slips, and the pool. 

The rear of the property is terraced grass and a large open area for kiting, playing catch, football, or just running around. Or enjoying a nice bottle of chilled wine and ceviche.

We were all glad to find that upstairs are three bedrooms; a master with a king-sized bed, a huge bathroom, and a porch looking out at the Gulf.  The second bedroom has a queen-sized bed and a small balcony overlooking the front of the house, and the third bedroom has two full beds, also with a balcony.  All bedrooms have televisions.  There is also a second full bath upstairs.  Plenty of room for two boys and three adults.

We watched the sun set, and I can’t even tell you how spectacular this place is.  We sat on the porch while the kids ran around the property exploring, and it was pretty near perfect.

Our first day adventure wasn’t complete yet, though!  

At about 9:00pm, we realized the refrigerator wasn’t working.  The temperature was 56 degrees, no fan blowing, no cooling.  We called Omar, who still being on duty, arrived and reset the system.  He told us to wait a few minutes and it should chill.  

We waited until 10:20, but the temperature still didn’t drop, so we called Omar again.  He told us the maintenance guy was already off, but he could give us a key to an empty unit two doors away and we could put our food in that refrigerator for the night.  

Under the circumstances, that made sense, so we waited for Omar, moved everything out of the refrigerator, and sat on the porch of the other unit to wait.  Omar arrived with the key. The key didn’t work.  We tried a second empty unit, put everything in the refrigerator, and returned to our unit.

Believe it or not, it was a pretty incredible evening, and a pretty incredible place.  They have a few kinks to work out, but it’s a good place and we all looked forward to a pretty spectacular day two. 

Lisa Ruth is an associate editor and writer for Donne Tempo Magazine, a Travel, Culinary and Lifestyle magazine for Women. Check back for Lisa’s Key’s Vacation Day Two.