We were sad to hear that this place suffered a massive fire to the main building a couple days ago shutting down the resort until further notice. Thankfully, no one was injured. I hope all the wonderful people who work there will not be displaced for long and will be taken care of in the meantime. A word of advice: book a vacation here as soon as it reopens.
My husband and I visited Bungalows Key Largo in late April for our honeymoon and we didn't want to leave after five days. Despite all the rave reviews, I was a little apprehensive before going because of the handful of negative reviews. Much to my delight, our experience was perfection. The grounds are immaculate. The rooms are lovely. The food is outstanding. The drinks are premium. The spa was luxurious and relaxing. The pools and activities (floating tiki bar, sunset cruise, kayaking, bikes) were so much fun!
We did not have any of the same issues with service, food or housekeeping that I've read from a few others. However, my hunch is that more of the issues occur on the weekends when the resort is busier as they are still working out the kinks. We arrived on Monday and checked out on Friday, so we had the run of the place without issue.
Shout-outs to the amazing staff for making our honeymoon everything we hoped: Rob at check-in; Trey, Fred and Jason with the water activities; Desiree and Jayne in the spa; Renda in guest experience; Reyna, James and Luis at the bars and restaurants. Thank you.
One last comment regarding the staff. We were so pleased to see smiling, friendly, happy and personable people. They all felt very genuine. After a couple conversations with staff members, we heard that the owner treated the staff well and really cared about them, and that their employee experience was head and shoulders above other places (resorts) they had worked in the area. Gotta tell you that this made a difference in our perception of the place, too.
(A side note: we also heard that early on there was a management company running the place, but the owner wasn't happy with how things were going and took over the management of the resort himself. He was there while we were there, and I saw him doing even the tiniest of tasks like adjusting bike seats. I wouldn't have even realized he was the owner until one of the staff members pointed him out.)
A few tips to guests:
1) Call ahead of your trip to book at Bogie & Bacall's if you are coming on the weekend. Since we were there during the weekdays, we didn't have an issue getting a reservation but I can see how it would be tougher on the weekends when there are more guests. Also, eat lightly that day because it's a BIG meal, so you'll want to save room for it.
2) Listen to the advice of the spa about what services to take advantage of. I had originally booked an in-room service and upon the advice of Jayne, I ended up going to the spa, and I am so glad I did. I would have missed out on a wonderful and unique experience.
3) Book your sunset cruise and floating tiki bar ride immediately because there are limited spots (I think max of 6 seats for both). The upside is the experience feels very exclusive and intimate. The downside is that you may miss out on these awesome activities if you wait to book.
4) Don't drive down to Key West unless you are looking for a tourist-y experience. Upon the recommendation of a friend prior to my trip, we rented a convertible and drove the two hours down to Key West. Cool drive and experience but the problem is you have to turn around and drive back, so if you do it, at least stay overnight. As soon as we entered Key West, we sat in traffic. The place was crawling with people and screaming kids. We found a spot to eat and made our way down to the Southernmost point only to find a line of people down the street to take a selfie there. Hard pass. We wondered why we left paradise for this.
A few pieces of feedback to Bungalows:
1) Bogie & Bacall's -- portions could actually be smaller. The number of courses made it hard to eat EVERYTHING, and I hated to see that food going to waste, though it was delicious.
2) Spa services -- better detail the breakdown of menu items and associated costs. (For example, I originally booked an in-room getaway but didn't realize that there was an additional cost for the Aromatherapy or Mineral Muscle Relief aspect because it was not clearly articulated on the menu). Also, make it clear that gratuity is included in the spa service. This was great surprise because I expected to tip on top of my service. However, not knowing that it was already included affected my decision-making about which spa services I selected. Finally, downplay the in-room services in favor of spa experiences where your best services actually occur.
3) Better poolside and cabana service during the weekdays. We noticed on Thursday heading into the weekend as more guests arrived that staff was more abundant and visible and offering food and beverage services throughout the property, which we really didn't experience Monday through Wednesday. It certainly wasn't a deal-breaker to have to make a very short walk to the bar for our drinks, but this type of attentiveness would have been a level up.
4) The club music that was pumping throughout the entire day on Tuesday at the main sunset pool, Sea Senor, Fish Tales and the Tiki Bar was grating after a while and didn't match the vibe of the place. Something more like ambient pop would've been a better experience and less headache-inducing. However, we were relieved that this changed by day and found the music to be much more mood-appropriate Wednesday and Thursday.