Sunshine Estate – Florida

Get ready for a Key-naissance…Or how Netflix show Bloodline put the Florida boondocks back on the map.

Tucked away behind a hot, humid tangle of orchid-filled mangroves, an unexpected celebrity hideaway has been left undiscovered for years. Models, fashion photographers and Hollywood A-listers have been quietly meandering down US Route 1 to the heart of the Florida Keys for The Moorings Village experience since the Nineties – as the framed thank-you notes covering the walls of the hotel’s subterranean games room attest. From Kate Moss and Billy Joel to George W Bush and Heidi Klum, this little-known hotel boasts quite a visitors’ book.

Now the secret is out. Thanks to a Netflix summer hit, The Moorings has a not-so-quiet cult following. And visitor numbers to the long overlooked Florida peninsula were up 20 per cent in 2015 as fans flocked to the sleepy fishing community of Islamorada – the location of the Emmy award-nominated drama Bloodline, starring Sissy Spacek and Sam Shepard.

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The original plan had been to film the show in the buzzier Key West – a four-hour drive further down to the state’s southernmost tip.

But when the production team came across The Moorings on their way to scout locations, there was only one thing for it: rewrite the script.

It is easy to see why the decision was made. The 18 individual Keys-style villas that make up the sprawling 18-acre hotel

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look out onto a picture-perfect white-sand beach and one of the most photographed jetties in the world – used as a location for everything from Victoria’s Secret calendar shoots to Charlize Theron’s June 2014 US Vogue cover.

Blue Charlotte, the largest of the villas and the one used in Bloodline as the central characters’ family home, has now become something of a Florida Keys icon thanks to its striking white wraparound verandas and blue shutters.

The property’s swimming pool, private cinema and, in particular, that games room are all great add-ons.

 

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But it takes some hotel to maintain an 80 per cent renewal rate on bookings when there is no bar or restaurant on site. Instead, The Moorings is twinned with Pierre’s at Morada Bay, a laid-back restaurant within walking distance where tables are set up on the beach.

If a long overdue renaissance of the entire Keys region comes to fruition, thank Bloodline – and then the real star of the show, The Moorings.

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