This is the feedback from one of my customers Jo & Mike, who recently visited Miami and Key West, sounds like they certainly had the trip of a lifetime.
"We booked a Flydrive to Florida with Alison Kemp at Travel Counsellors. We departed Heathrow on Saturday 10 Nov 2017 with Virgin Atlantic.
Alison had pre booked all our seats and completed our check-in for us the day before we travelled, this making our experience of Heathrow a breeze.
Once we arrived at Miami Alison had pre-booked car hire for us. They gave us a massive Dodge vehicle, when we put our cases in the back we could of got 6 more in. It was like a truck. BUT ALL VEHICLES ARE LIKE THAT THERE.
Mike asked for a Mustang ($60) extra, we wanted that anyway, so we went for it. White, 5litre V8 convertible - wow, posers.
We never had the top up as the night was 26 Deg and the day 29/30 deg, so the breeze and sun in the day was FAB.
Sat navs - are $12 per day, Mustang had it built in so the $60 was well spent/deal.
Petrol apx $2.5 (just under £2 per GALLON) - 1300 MILES DONE FOR Approx £100 IN FUEL.
Alison had pre booked a 2 night stay at the Pestana Art hotel for our first couple of nights. Whilst we acclimatised.
The Pestana hotel is lovely and the beach and 'high street' shops are just around the corner
The breakfast was fab, buffet as much as you like.
Good quality food:
fresh fruit salad
hot egg, bacon, sausage etc
coffee, tea etc as much as you like. Fridge with daily water in room.
Beach clean, flat and sea with waves, and apart from one day we were there it was very calm. Free area on beach with the hotel, sun beds only, pay for umbrella, towels free from hotel.
We also booked the hotel for our last two nights before the flight home. The manager Ricardo and desk staff were very very helpful and the rooms ART DECO, so nice.
Parking you have to pay for if you hire a car and is expensive, but there is a public multi-storey you can leave your care 24/7 for a lot less $ approx 10min walk away. Parking in hotels in Miami is expensive as not much land.
Parking at hotel approx $40 dollar per 24hr.
The multi-storey public car park above, was $20 per 24hr. The municipal public car park, car was fine there.
Ocean drive (along promenade) is walkable from hotel 15mins, and lots of photos to be taken. Visitors centre on promenade has a big shop in it and you must go, full of Art Deco stuff to buy, pictures, ornaments, radios, trinkets etc etc, brings back memories !!!! Depending on your age, ha ha.
There was a veteran's parade when we were there and it was fantastic, old (good condition) cars, police and fire engine vehicles, colourful decorated lorries, parades, music, dancing etc
HOTELS/MOTELS we booked.
Used phone on Airplane mode during the stay as cost for O2 was silly money approx £6.oo per day to use as normal.
Lovely drive to KEY WEST, we stopped on Key largo as when you drive on there, to the left of the road is a very large Visitors Centre and they are so helpful with advise, places to go, costs, hotels/motels if you want etc etc, love the British!
KEY WEST - we stayed at the Marriott Beach (as there is another Marriott on this island. Our Marriott was just as you drove onto the island.
At the time we were there - locals were staying,(government were paying)!!!! There, as lost their houses etc due to Hurricane Urma. It is a lovely hotel with big pool, jacuzzi and beach and own little pier. Very romantic place.
Parking again had to be paid for on site of hotel and expensive.
We used the free hotel shuttle mini bus to go into the centre and the beach around that area - where the tourists head to get a photo of the most southerly point of Key West.
Key West is a nice place and very touristy, we just walked the beach and shops and sat outside the Hard Rock Cafe eating our meal at dusk and watched the posing cars and people walk bye. You see some sites, Mikes into cars.
We saw a lot of devastation driving on and through the Keys, due to the October hurricane. Houses, mobile homes, shops, beaches wiped out, lot of sky high rubbish heaps at the side of the roads waiting to be cleared. The TV and radio appeals, asking for food and clothes etc, but it didn't spoil it for us as it really made me think how lucky we are. Lots of beaches we couldn't get onto, as cordoned off and said danger!
There are a few stopping areas on the bridges as you go to the Keys, you can watch people fishing, amazing fish they were catching. Can't remember the name of the place (but visitors centre will tell you.) You can buy a bucket of fish for a couple of $ and take it to the end of a small pier and feed the fish (massive fish) they come up to your hand to take the small fish off you - Mike was having a go, and a BIG BIRD came down and caught it out of his hand !!
We stopped at a diner on the road to the Keys called something like the WOODEN spoon and they were on the walls everywhere inside and had a great lunch in there.
We drove up and off the Keys and headed to HOMESTEAD - just for the night in a motel / Floridian Hotel, no parking cost and headed for Everglades city next day. It had been struck by the Hurricane and we went into the local supermarket and it was empty as it's quite a remote place, but lovely.
We stayed in Naples in the Best Western - lovely motel and place. Walked the beach and night down through the town, to eat and do the shops. Select place/town. Bit of damage to the end of the pier whilst we were there, again due to hurricane.
Parking - use credit card in machines on site of the public car parks $5 for approx 4hrs.
We had a day on the TAMIAMI TRAIL (long road) - cross country .
We did the Everglades - Air power boat ride (big fan on the back) - plenty along this route, take your pick which company you do it with $25 per person we paid, it took us through the Everglades and stops to see crocodiles and we landed for approx 1 hour on a massive man made wooden pier/walk way to spot the crocodiles, (guide and talk during this ride) and wildlife . Across the road from boat ride was the Indian Reserve which we went onto to see how they used to live, they were doing their crafts and a museum about the history of the Indians lives, years ago. Interesting. Also a live crocodile show with an Indian (bit like Crocodile Dundee but an Indian one!
We stopped in America's Best Value inn motel in Fort Myers.
From Fort Myers we went to Sanibel and Cape Captiva - again visitors centre on route - beautiful houses, shops beaches blablabla, wildlife, countrified village type areas, gorgeous, views as you cross the toll bridge.
By the way we have not had the TOLL BILL yet as it's done via cameras via number plate and Alamo have our home address to send the bill - let ya know !!!!!
Drove to Venice and did a tour on foot - nice place and then stayed just outside Sarasota in another America's Best Value inn motel. Meant to say all motels inc continental breakfast - coffee, boiled eggs, toast, pastries, coffee. Some motels had kitchenette as in the room. All had microwave, coffee machine with supplies.
Nice Steak houses/good prices - Applebees - all over the place - $35 for 2 steak meals, drinks on promotion at the time. Large tall glass of Sangria $1. Use IPad at the table for menu, and pay on it at the end, waitress just brings it to table.
We then drove over to Atlantic Side to Daytona (through Orlando, no stops) lot of roadworks going on, done Orlando previous trip a few years ago with son.
Daytona - $10 to drive the beach with car and pose as you do. Stop on the beach for the day if you want with vehicle. Come off and go back on during the day if you wish. Did the lighthouse at the end of the drive above.
Mike did the Daytona Speedway - $25 (mike got a voucher and cost him $20), 3 hour tour, he was very impressed and enjoyed the whole experience. I was by the pool watching the cars on the beach as the hotel overlooked it.
Emerald shores hotel Daytona, free parking.
Xmas lights up and they are beautiful. There is also a Xmas drive by Xmas light show (like Blackpool) at the speed way we did - there is a charge but we got a good view from a hotel car park we sat in the car watching all the cars and lights !!!!!
We then headed to NASA space centre and Cocoa beach - great time and stopped in, MELBOURNE, Seascape motel - quaint little place right on the beach. Chilled out.
LAKE WORTH - NEAR PALM BEACH, stayed in Edmond James motel. Walked over massive bridge to Lake Worth beach, walk, people watch. Lake Worth prom is having a lot of money spend on a refurb - Mike enjoyed looking at the buildings !!! (Being a builder.)
Spent the day walking along the river - fantastic place.
Did a boat trip - to see famous and rich mansions and moored yachts along the inlets - really really good trip, a few boats moored up do the trip, all on internet, talk on the microphone during the trip on who owns who, unbelievable, money, money, money.
Back to Miami and relaxed, didn't feel tired until we got back home. The roads are so big, max speed limited interstates roads are 70mph, and other roads 45-55 is normal, but you don't realise the miles you're doing as its not like little Britain roads. We drove approx 1300 miles in a soft top Mustang and only had the roof up once due to a heavy shower. We took $ with us and used Credit card for overnight stops, tickets etc, just paid the card off on return.
Really enjoyed and everything went according to plan, no mishaps, seen no crime or felt scared anywhere. People love the British when they hear your accent.
Recommend "if we can do it anyone can do it", Book with Alison Kemp at Travel Counsellors.
Motels/hotels various prices - credit card statement says:-
£407 Key West, Marriot - 2 nights, car parking and taxes inc in price.
£83.67 Floridian Hotel, Homestead overnight, car parking free.
£143 Best Western Naples, 1 night, free parking.
£58.93 Emerald Shores hotel Daytona Beach, free parking.
£71.68 Sea Scape motel, Melbourne, free parking.
£84.35 Americas Best Value motel, free parking.
Forgot to say on Key West at the time we saw power boat racing, fantastic, speeds, people, party, party, party.
Gorgeous wood walk way, on the water/sea/coast, lots of places to eat, seafood and seafood.
Houses on Key west look like THE WALTONS HOUSE(s.)
We never wore a cardigan or jumper and we got lovely tans, its so cold here, heating on full blast!"
Thanks for sharing Jo, so glad we could help you make your dream come true.
Member since: 17th July 2014
Let me tell you about my travel background. I have been in the travel industry for over 25 years. I have previously worked as a Cluster manager for Thomas Cook and Co-operative Travel in Lichfield, Staffordshire,...