Islamorada's New Wave

Ocanos Resort and Marina will please fishermen and cruisers alike.

Reinventing the old Holiday Isle Resort will make the Keys even more inviting.

Reinventing the old Holiday Isle Resort will make the Keys even more inviting.

Nothing tops hanging out in sportfishing heaven and having North America's only living coral reef less than five minutes away, so anglers and lovers of the Florida Keys should have lots to cheer about at the new Ocanos Resort and Marina. Occupying up to 12 acres around Mile Marker 84 in Islamorada, perfectly situated halfway between Miami and Key West, the resort puts a whole new spin on the idea that location is everything. Here, it's the only thing: The village of Islamorada already touts itself as the "Sports Fishing Capital of the World. It's a claim that's hard to dispute, thanks to being flanked by the Florida Bay, a great locale for backcountry fishing for permit and tarpon, on the one hand, and the Atlantic Ocean, with deep-sea fishing for sailfish and tuna, on the other.

"The location is great," says Adam Schlesinger, president of CSC-Holiday Land L.P., one of the developers of the property, "and it's the perfect place to stop." He's referring to the resort's marina, which cruisers and fishermen alike will welcome. The Ocanos Resort and Marina will replace the Holiday Isle Resort, whose marina was a familiar option to those fishing and traveling through the Keys. The new marina will have 41 slips that can accommodate boats 50 to 100 feet long. Twelve of the slips are reserved for the backcountry fleet. Other services offered include charter fishing, pump out facilities, fueling docks, a marine store and, of course, electric and telephone hookups. Tucked into a natural cove by the Atlantic Ocean, the marina is sheltered from the wind, a big plus for those who might want to overnight on their yachts.

Most others, however, will look forward to the accommodations on shore. After a day of water, wind and sun, the Ocanos knows that nothing is more appealing than docking and plunging into the amenities of a five-star hotel. The Ocanos has all that and more: rooms with private balconies, plunge pools, a 11,000-square-foot spa and wellness center, bars, boutiques, indoor and outdoor restaurants, even tennis facilities to help you lose your sea legs.

You can also just soak up the beauty of the resort, which has combined elements of Greek and Mediterranean décor in its architecture. The result is inspiring on paper; Schlesinger describes the effect as exuding a soft but strong feel. Four architects are putting their stamp on paradise: Les Beilinson and Jose Gomez of Beilinson Gomez Architects, Greg Boner and Leslie Schlesinger. The resort is being built with all-natural materials and will make use of local foliage-bougainvillea, pigeon plum and coconut palms. The interior, adorned with stone, tile and teak cabinetry, will offer all the ultra-modern trappings while staying true to Mediterranean simplicity and warmth.

The resort's 151 condominium suites are dotted in 17 two- to three-story buildings, each with elevator access, all overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Pricing for the suites starts at about $1.5 million. The resort is set to open early next year and is a joint venture of Ceebraid Signal Corporation, a luxury condominium and resort hotels developer; New Valley LLC, a subsidiary of the Vector Group Ltd. holding company; and Investcorp, an investment group.

Getting there is almost too easy, thanks to the resort's location. The Miami International Airport is about 80 miles away, and the Florida Keys Marathon Airport is even closer. Even more convenient is a seaplane that the resort will send to the Miami International Airport to pick up guests and unit owners. Or just cruise or sail right in, via the Atlantic Ocean.

For more information about the resort and marina, visit www.ocanosfloridakeys.com or e-mail info@ocanosfloridakeys.com; or for real estate information, contact ocanos@ellmanflorida.com.