See our Advertiser Disclosure and Editorial Note here.
Before I get into the review itself, let me make it clear that I’m in no way encouraging readers to travel at this point in time. My husband and I decided to keep our December reservation because everyone in our family was fully vaccinated by that point. Also, the resort is located four hours from our home, so we could drive our van and avoid crowded airports/planes. That said, there was definitely risk involved, but we felt it was acceptable. Either way, many folks (including me) tend to make reservations via points many months in advance, so I’m hoping this post will be helpful in regards to your future travel plans.
Some of you may remember that my husband and I vacationed in Baker’s Cay Hilton Resort in Key Largo back in April and really enjoyed it. I thought it was a great choice for a low-key couple’s getaway. I encourage you to check out that post for my overall impressions.
That’s why I went ahead and booked a five-night getaway during winter holidays, with kids this time. Since my husband currently has Diamond status, our fifth night was free. In addition, I scored an incredible deal for only 42k points per night on a mini-suite, so my overall cost was 168k points all-in. Considering the fact that nightly rate during this time was $1k per night, it was a steal.
Here is some bad news. The rate per night now runs at 90k points per night, though you can, of course, still use Hilton weekend certificates. The latter is a better option overall, but if you have a ton of Hilton points, I think it could make sense to burn them here, especially during holidays. The free fifth night will sweeten the deal somewhat.
In this post I would like to focus on why this resort is a good fit for a beach family vacation in the Keys.
Five reasons why you should consider booking it
1) Standard rate gets you a mini-suite
No, the suite isn’t huge, but we found it more than acceptable. It’s crucial for me and my husband to have a bedroom door that we can close. That way we can watch movies our kids may not enjoy, and my husband can take a nap.
We brought an air mattress and a sofa pad from home, so our kids wouldn’t have to share the same bed.
It was definitely snug, but doable. I was hoping we would get upgraded to a real suite, but that didn’t happen. No surprise there, since we stayed during the busiest time of the year.
The mini-suite had plenty of drawers, which is a big plus. Overall, I thought the space was used quite well. My daughter did say that she prefers to have her own bed, but it’s not a deal breaker. She said she would gladly come back.
2) Beautiful beach, probably the best in the Keys
If you are familiar with Florida Keys area, you likely know that beautiful/swimmable beaches are rare. This is where Baker’s Cay resort really shines. In fact, I would say it’s the main reason to stay here. The water is super clear and very calm. Normally, I don’t let my kids swim in the ocean without me being right there by their side. But here I felt perfectly safe relaxing in a lounger thirty feet away.
My son proving free cruises for hotel guests
Keep in mind that if you stay here during major holidays, beach chairs get reserved rather early
The resort fee (waived when you use points) includes free use of kayaks and paddle boards, which are tons of fun. Some rentals do cost extra, like this giant water bicycle that my son begged us to get ($35 per hour):
3) Various animal sightings on the property
The coolest thing was spotting a mama manatee with her baby:
They were both having a great time
We also spotted some iguanas on top of the pool:
And there are also some resident dogs and cats that live on the resort grounds, to the total delight of kids.
4) Lots of included activities for kids
Aside from the beach, this is the second most important reason I encourage you to consider it. The resort goes all out to make kids happy. Something is scheduled each and every day. There are pool games and various activities taking place on a regular basis. Weekends offer the most action, but holiday weeks have a separate (busy) schedule.
Once or twice per week, they set up a movie screen outside on the main lawn by the Hammock wing, and give the kids free popcorn. My son was in heaven.
My children also really enjoyed having s’mores on the beach (the resort gives out free kits). I’m not saying all of this is worth $1k per night, but it definitely represents a good value for families when you use points or free weekend certificates.
5) A good place for adults to relax
Unfortunately, there is no kids’ club, so that’s the only downside. Our children are older now, so it wasn’t a big deal for us. This resort feels very safe, as there is a gate you have to pass through when you enter the property. I actually let my daughter walk to the beach by herself, since my son wanted to play in the pool. This is a quirk of the resort, where pool and beach are located on the opposite ends of the property.
In the evening, my husband and I left the kids in the room by themselves and enjoyed the hot tub. The whole place was filled with families, and the environment felt incredibly safe. Once again, our kids are older, so I’m not suggesting everyone should do it.
This property is very peaceful at night, and I loved walking the trails and relaxing in the hammock by the water.
I was thinking about using a free bike at some point, but didn’t get a chance to do it.
We mostly stayed on the property because there was so much to do each day. You get a $30 daily credit if you are Diamond or Gold, though it doesn’t go very far. The prices are high, but it’s to be expected. It’s easy to drop $90 (with tip) on in-room breakfast for a family of four, so plan accordingly.
It didn’t really bother me that much because I got an a amazing deal via points. I also took advantage of Amex offer that gave me a $50 discount on $250 charge, by contacting the property representative ahead of time. While we were staying at the resort, I could see that our total charges would exceed $500, so I went ahead and used another Amex offer to prepay an additional $250, so I could get another $50 discount. It worked.
Accumulating Hilton points for a stay in this resort
As you have probably guessed, we all enjoyed this resort and would love to go back. Unfortunately, my Hilton stash is depleted and will barely cover one night at this place. Also, between my husband and me, we’ve applied for quite a few flavors of Hilton products.
At the moment, I’m still eligible to receive a sign-up bonus on Hilton Honors Amex Aspire card, and eventually plan to apply for it. If approved, I will get 150k points after spending $4k in 3 months, plus “free” weekend certificate. I would also be eligible for $250 resort credit, which I could burn at this hotel.
All in all, the bonus should mostly cover three nights at this resort, and more than justify $450 annual fee. This card is currently not in our affiliate network, but here is my family’s personal referral link in case you choose to apply. To the best of my knowledge, this is the highest offer available at the moment.
In fact, I’ve talked to a lady who lives in Miami about this card (no, I did not push my link!). She mentioned that they come to this resort once a year, and complained about how much the rates have gone up recently. I told her to apply for Aspire card X 2.
I fact, in their case it makes all kinds of sense to hang on to the cards each year despite high annual fees. They would more than pay for themselves. She got so excited, she made me talk to her husband who immediately grasped the potential value to be had. It certainly beats paying $2k for a weekend getaway.
The only wrinkle is making sure to reach out to hotel to prepay $250 ahead of time, and then use the other card for incidentals. Personally, I plan to buy food on property if we stay there again because it’s so much easier than the alternatives. When I’m laying at the beach or sitting by the pool watching my kid, convenience is key. So sadly, spending $500 during a three-night stay is ridiculously easy.
You have many options when it comes to spending your Hilton points. Personally, I think this resort is a terrific choice, despite 90k points per night price tag. If you like Caribbean resorts, but don’t want to deal with the hassle of Covid testing, this place is the next best thing. You can fly to Miami, rent a car and your kids can enjoy this beautiful beach 1.5 hours later.
Sure, getting an overwater bungalow in the Maldives or a villa in Bora Bora is a better deal, no question about it. For something closer to home, this resort represents solid value, especially if you have kids.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.