Saturday, May 3, 2014

News from Pines & Palms...

For those who haven't been here for a while, we offer some exciting new amenities and features.

Captain Chis Hanbury is our in-house guide doing everything from fishing and snorkeling to sunset cruises and eco tours. He even took people out Lobster hunting earlier this year. If you want to fish with Chris or book him for Lobster season, give us a call and we'll hook you up.

Happy Hour at the pool side bar has become very popular, Monday through Sunday 4 pm to 6 pm, two for one house wine and standard beer.

Live Music is on tap 4 to 7 pm on the weekends. Local musicians perform laid back tunes to create the perfect late afternoon ambiance. 

Free Yoga on the pool deck happens every Saturday morning with Tracy at 9:00 am. We provide the mats, towels, and cold water... you provide the stretching and meditation.

Spanish Gardens Lunch specially prepared by Chef Jose' is offered Tuesday through Saturday afternoons. Simply place your order at the pool-side bar or front desk. Charge to your room.

Paddle Boarding lessons and guided tours are now offered by our own Pierre-Mark. Two people, two hours... $99. Fun in the sun!

Hope to see you soon in sunny Islamorada...

Monday, October 14, 2013

How to Get the Best Room at the Best Price

It's amazing how making a hotel reservation as changed. It used to be you simply called the hotel or went to their website. Now there are many more choices and currently the trend is on-line booking.

Travelers are flocking to websites (we call them booking-engines) like Expedia,,, Orbitz, etc., because it is easy to book and easy to compare choices. As a consumer it is to your advantage to understand how these web sites work. In short, if you already know what hotel you want, it's better to call the property direct. If you are price shopping and only want the cheapest room, Expedia (and the like) are the way to go.

To be blunt (and skip all the details), hotels generally use the booking sites as dumping grounds for unsold rooms. They either pay extremely high commissions (up to 25%) for each reservation or sell off large blocks of rooms ahead of time. The end result is you may get a less expensive room, but your contract is with the booking site, not the hotel. That is an important difference. You may get a cheaper rate but you give up choices such as room location or room type. Many hotels keep the most desirable rooms to sell commission free to their regular customers.

My advice is to go to your favorite on-line booking site, check things out and decide where you want to stay. Book your room direct with the hotel or hotel web site.  If you found a cheaper room on-line, let them know. They will gladly match the rate and sell it to you commission free. When you book this way, your contract is with the hotel and not with a web site.

Want to know another little secret? There are really only a few of these on-line booking sites. Expedia, for example, owns, Trivago, Hotwire, Engencia, etc. They simply rearrange the data and call it something else.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Our Special Guest for the Holidays

Martha Stewart spent the Holidays with us here at Pines & Palms Resort in the Orchid Cottage. Along with her daughter and grandchildren, they had a nice relaxing time touring the backcountry, dining at some of our restaurants, and relaxing on the beach. She was such a nice lady and a pleasure to have on the property.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Employee of the month... of the year!

If you’ve been to Pines & Palms you’ve probably met Ana. Among her many duties as Resort Manager, Ana is likely to be the person to greet you upon arrival, do the final check of your room, tend to the orchids, or deliver a barbecue. Ana moved to the Keys from Bogota, Colombia in 2000 and immediately got involved in hospitality and came to us as a housekeeper in June of 2002. Soon after she was promoted to Housekeeping Manager, became a U.S. Citizen in 2008, and eventually became the Resort Manager. Pines & Palms owner Jim Bernardin: “Ana will be celebrating her 10th year anniversary later this month. It’s a real milestone given the transient nature of the Florida Keys and Pines & Palms wouldn’t be the same without her. She is the sweetest, most honest, and reliable person and our guests love her.” Congratulations Ana!

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Pines & Palms Web site and Video

After months of working with our friends at FloridaKeys.Com and Sun King Studios we finally launched our new web site. We've added the video you see here plus a high definition Web Cam, Live Chat, an interactive property map, a newsletter, and much more. Check it out at

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cool Cultural Scene Expanding in Islamorada

There's always been an arts, music, and culinary scene in Islamorada. Up until now it's been a bit underground... you had to know where to look. Now we have the Third Thursday Art Walk showcasing local artists, food and music. The video really captures this cool little event.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Islamorada... Just Perfect

Check out one of our new television commercials for Islamorada. We also launched a new Florida Keys web site at

Saturday, March 12, 2011

New Bonefish Rules Possible

People come from all over the world to try to catch the elusive Islamorada Bonefish. You can find them all over the world but Islamorada is home to some of the largest specimens on the planet.

It's big business here. A recent study by the University of Miami estimates the value of each Florida Keys Bonefish to be about $3500 per year or nearly $75,000 over it's lifespan.

This may be one of the reasons the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is proposing new fishing regulations. The proposal would eliminate the one-fish daily bag limit and allow only catch and release fishing. Seems like a good plan. I don't know of anybody who would keep one unless it was some kind of record.

Apparently the new rules would allow temporary possession of a Bonefish for photographs or for weigh-ins at tournaments.

FWC board Chairman Rodney Barreto is quoted as saying "These proposed rules will further protect bonefish populations in South Florida, while providing anglers with opportunities to document a record catch and enjoy the exciting action of bonefish fishing tournaments."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Important News on Turnpike Tolls

Starting mid February all turnpike tolls between Exit 47 and Exit 1 (a primary route to the Keys) will be collected electronically... no more cash lines... no more stopping.

Tolls will be collected with the SunPass (a prepaid toll program) or with TOLL-BY-PLATE which is a system that photographs each vehicle license plate and mails a bill.

Vacationers traveling in their own cars can purchase a mini-SunPass sticker via mail before their trip for $4.99 and receive the cost back in toll credits. The pass is available at major Florida retailers and Turnpike service plazas or visit or call 1-888-865-5352.

For visitors renting cars in Florida, most major rental companies have programs allowing you to use the TOLL-BUY-PLATE system. Tolls and service fees are automatically charged to the same credit card used to rent the vehicle. For more details including pricing options and participating rental car agencies, visit

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

More Good News for the Keys

Check out Tuesday's (June 22) Miami Herald headline:

Keys Dodge Threat from Oil

"Forecasters say the state's delicate chain of islands is in no imminent threat from the oil gusher."

The article goes on to say "the risk of oil from the Deepwater Horizon blowout reaching the Florida Keys and South Florida anytime soon is now so remote that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has suspended its trajectory maps for the area, effectively downgrading the area to low risk."

As stated previously, you can get all the up to day, realtime information at the TDC web site at

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

No Oil in the Keys!

My daughter called today from Boston and asked me what the oil damage was like in the Keys.

I don't want to downplay the significance of the BP Gulf oil spill, it's an eco-disaster. But come on... this irresponsible news coverage is causing damage to places like the Florida Keys where there's no sign of oil.

Hotels, fishermen, dive & tour operations and others have experienced significant losses from oil related cancellations. So much so that BP has opened claims offices in both Marathon and Key West!

If you really want to know what's going on, visit the Tourist Development Council (TDC) website which provides real-time information. There's even a weekly video offering proof of all the great activities here including beaches free of oil.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Too late to say goodbye...

A group of Islamorada locals gathered to morn the unexpected loss of "Little Kenny" Bowering last night... a gem of Islamorada, an original barn dog, a pirate, a Keys character, an all-round good guy, a friend. Bud n Mary's won't be the same. Click here to see a tribute to Kenny. Hit your back button to return to Islamorada Insider.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Fishing is Fine

It's no secret... we've had the coldest winter in over 30 years here in the Keys. January was so cold we experienced a huge fish kill in Florida Bay losing so many Snook they closed the season till next September. There were dead fish of all sizes and species floating across the Bay.

The good news is the water is warming and things are returning to normal. The fishing is currently very good. Last Monday, I took a couple of my favorite spring breakers out fishing (my daughter Kelsey and her friend Stacey). Although the water is still quite cold, we found plenty of action off 9-mile bank. Our catch included Cobia, Bluefish, Snappers, Sharks, and as many Spanish Mackerel as you would care to reel in.