Well, I'm pretty certain that I am not all the way back, but I am declaring it a good start.
You might recall that my hubby an I were supposed to vacation at a little private island off of the Florida Keys in 2012. I was heartbroken--really heartbroken--when, the day before we were to fly out, we had to cancel the trip due to the hurricane. Ever the trooper, my hubby did something completely un-like him and booked us a week long stay at the St. Regis in Kauai. Less than 24 hours later, we were drinking $18 cocktails and had our feet in the sand.
Although it was not what I had planned, it turned out to be a lovely and relaxing trip. It's a good thing, too. Why? Because my life quickly became a series of ridiculously horrible experiences that, if I had not lived it, would have thought I were making it up to gain sympathy. Alas, it was all too true.
I'm not going to bore you with the specifics of what happened, because you can go back over my blog posts and check it out for yourself if you are so inclined.
I will say that, after being out of work on disability for over 8 months, my husband is now back to work full time. His exhaustive treatment included 4 phases that lasted almost a full year.
Some say that a major illness can put a ton of stress on a marriage. I found that it brought us even closer together. I wanted my husband to feel like, even though he was the one who was sick, we were in it together. I greatly scaled back my work to be able to coordinate almost every aspect of his preliminary diagnostics (we got 2nd and 3rd opinions) as well as his treatment appointments. I drove him the 90 miles round trip to where he was getting treated and modified certain aspects of the home so the things he would need would be within reaching distance from him. I'm never one to sugar coat things, but I understood that some of the potential side effects of treatment could be mortifying and could make him feel quite vulnerable. I wanted him to know, implicitly, that we would get through all of this together.
Because his treatment lasted such a long time, I really felt like I needed something to look forward to. I also felt that, after spending a year as a caretaker, I could really use a freaking break. That's when I decided that I would make arrangements to go Little Palm Island. The difference this year is that I decided to go alone. I'm not sure how to describe it, but, I have NEVER had a specific vacation location "call" to me before.
Man, did I get some really strange reactions to me going on a luxury trip by myself. It's as if people looked at me as if I had 2 heads. I don't understand the issue, really. I'm great company, and was really looking forward to having "me" time. I guess there was also a concern about the overall cost.
The things is, I knew that I could absolutely appreciate spending the money for something that I felt was a once in a lifetime vacation. Knowing my husband the way I do, I knew he would be more caught up on the price which would most likely make the trip less fun. By the way, it wasn't the first time I took a solo vacation, but it was the first time going to any place this fancy. And by fancy, I mean expensive. I bit the bullet, prepaid for the trip, and very much looked forward to my upcoming luxurious vacation.
All I can say, you guys, is that NOTHING in my life sufficiently prepared me for just how
glorious this trip was. Even though I know it was a multiple award-winning property, it exceeded every expectation!
Here are some of the awards Little Palm Island has received in the past few years:
- Travel & Leisure "America's Best Beach Hotels", multiple years
- Conde Naste "Top 500 Greatest Hotels in the World", multiple years
- Trip Advisor "Certificate of Excellence", 2013
- Wine Spectator "Award of Excellence"
It totally helped and delighted me to see that the island's signature, yummy tropical alcoholic beverage was waiting for me as I checked in. Seriously, it was just like the opening sequence from the TV show Fantasy Island. The karma gods were totally on my side when the boat captain told me that I was being upgraded for 4 out of
my 7 nights.
Tropical Gumby Slumber drink:
pineapple juice + cranberry juice + orange juice + platinum rum + spiced rum + shaved coconut + ice
(you can also substitute the 3 juices for POG (pineapple/orange/guava) juice)
What I soon found out is that I got THE BEST suite on the whole island! Holy shit balls! It was over 1000 sq feet and here are just a few of the extras I had by being given this suite; my own private pathway that was so secluded I never heard anyone else around me, private boat slip with a double seat cabana, hot tub with a crazy outside lounge bed, hammock, fire-pit (I made s'mores!), outdoor (and indoor) shower, and the biggest copper bathtub I have ever feasted my eyes on. I'm not kidding about the tub. I'm approximately 5'4 and my toes barely touched the other side when I was fully reclined!
I ended up spending 5 nights in the honeymoon suite and moved to a somewhat smaller, but equally extravagant suite for my last 2 nights. I honestly could not have been more surprised and appreciative of all the upgrades I was gifted. It was a an incredibly generous offer on behalf of the island.
One of the things I was most looking forward to was the island policy of no cellphones in public spaces. Of course, you could take pictures, and text all you want. They just don't
want you to be bothered by overhearing cell phone calls. The other policy I was looking forward to was no kids under 16 allowed.
I can't say enough about how fantastic this trip was. I had never been to a resort where tipping is not expected nor encouraged, and there was no surcharge for room service. I took the liberty of having my breakfast outside on my suite deck each morning. Probably one of the craziest things was not having to sign my name for any dining room or bar charges....seriously, they just knew who I was! Also, I was more likely to be "photo bombed" by the key deer than any other island guest!
Their official motto is "get lost", but it really should be "whatever you want, we got it (or can get it)!"
This was the single most healing vacation I have ever taken! The last time I was in the Florida Keys was for spring break in 1989. As many of you know, I recently lost my father. It was a terrible, horrible, gut wrenching experience. Somehow, it felt more cruel as I lost my mom less than 4 years before--his passing at the exact time my husband learned of his illness was what officially made my life ridiculous!
My parents and I have always had a special relationship with Florida as my family owned a home on Sanibel Island. My mom even had a "semi-native" bumper sticker on her car for many years. Each year my family would look forward to spending our spring break on Sanibel and had a tradition of renting a speed boat for a day every fathers day. Some of my most favorite memories are from these trips. Even in the 70's and 80's renting a speedboat for a day was not cheap. We pooled our money for the special day. That's why I was surprised to learn that the island owned 3 speedboats that guests could take out for FREE.
I can't tell you what a cosmically special surprise it was for me to see a beautiful rainbow when I took one of the speedboats out. I nearly cried because I honestly felt like my
parents were both saying hi and that they loved me. I would not have caught sight of the rainbow had I not decided to take the boat out for a spin.
I left the island feeling completely refreshed and relaxed. It also made me feel like I was much less of a broken person.
Of course, you are probably wondering how much all of this cost me? Because of the all the upgrades, the trip could have cost more than $15k for just me. Relax. I didn't pay close to that amount. Still, if you are willing to part with a cool 5 figures, then this is the place for you! I can't help but quote Ferris Bueller when talking about the Ferrari he drove in the movie, "if you have the means, I highly recommend picking up one!" Incidentally, I have happened upon some recent studies showing that people who spend their money on experiences rather than material things are happier in life. As someone who has done my fair share of stimulating the economy, I can safely say that this trip brought more joy and peace to my life over almost any piece of fine jewelry I have purchased.
I've been trying to come to terms with the fact that I have had an incredibly financially privileged life. Whether it is said or not, I have often felt that others judge my lifestyle. One of my most favorite sayings is telling people to "suck it", and that is exactly what I say to anyone who reads this post and judges me! After over a year of absolute shit, I am worth it, worth it, worth it!
I came back from vacation feeling much more like "me". I still have a great deal of work to do in order to make sense of all that has transpired over the past year and a half. I think I can safely say that I feel as if I am beginning to get my groove back!