This Private Island Resort Was Voted No. 1 in Florida — and It’s a Romantic, Adults-only Slice of Paradise

This Private Island Resort Was Voted No. 1 in Florida — and It’s a Romantic, Adults-only Slice of Paradise

The “World’s Best Awards" survey for 2024 reinforced two major factors about the Sunshine State’s resorts: It’s all about waterfront stays and thoughtful details.

When it comes to warm-weather getaways, Americans have long been heading south to Florida. While families tend to find amusement around the Central Florida theme parks and those looking for a vibrant scene congregate around Miami, this year’s World’s Best Awards showcases how widespread the southernmost state’s offerings are. Snagging the top 15 spots are a luxury property in the panhandle and a long-time favorite Ritz-Carlton location on the east coast near the Georgia border, all the way down to a pier-front Key West property known for its sunset views. Along the way, Gulf Coast cities of Clearwater Beach and Naples and Atlantic Ocean spots of Vero Beach and Fort Lauderdale also play hosts to readers’ top picks, proving that anywhere in the Sunshine State is an ideal destination for a resort getaway.

<p>Courtesy of Little Palm Island Resort & Spa</p>

Courtesy of Little Palm Island Resort & Spa

How Voting Works

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Over 186,000 T+L readers completed the 2024 survey. A total of more than 700,000 votes were cast across over 8,700 properties (hotels, cities, cruise lines, etc.).

Hotels were classified as either resort hotel, city hotel, inn, or safari lodge based on their location and amenities, and they were specifically rated on the criteria below:

  • Rooms/facilities

  • Location

  • Service

  • Food

  • Value

For each characteristic, respondents could choose a rating of excellent, above average, average, below average, or poor. The final scores are averages of these responses.

What Readers Loved

Sunny days are always a good bet in Florida, so it’s no surprise readers favored stays near its 8,436 miles of shoreline. Even the cluster of inland winners around Orlando tended to be near lakes. The Breakers Palm Beach (No. 9) was lauded for its “spectacular” oceanfront beach and “breathtaking” views from the rooms, paired with “impeccable service.” Just down the street, The Colony Hotel (No. 2), draws guests with its “charming vintage decor” dating back to 1947. Its “fantastic location” offers the best of two worlds — it’s around the corner from upscale retail and dining on Worth Avenue and also sits just a block from Palm Beach’s sandy shores. Further north, The Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island (No. 6), has become a “go-to place when [readers] want to relax” and a “top-notch” experience where “everyone knows you and cares.” In fact, it’s all about those little touches, including at Hotel Effie (No. 14), where “the fresh flowers provide a welcoming vibe,” mixed with a rooftop pool that are “so fun.”

The Winner

Little Palm Island Resort & Spa: Little Torch Key

<p>Courtesy of Little Palm Island Resort & Spa</p>

Courtesy of Little Palm Island Resort & Spa

This dreamy resort in the Lower Keys is the ultimate story of resilience. Following a two-and-a-half-year closure after Hurricane Irma damage, Little Palm Island Resort & Spa reopened in 2020 at the onset of the pandemic. During that time, travelers started quietly discovering the “fabulous hidden gem,”  reveling in the seclusion of the four-acre private island — only accessible by seaplane or boat — on Little Torch Key. By 2021, the resort was No. 7 on our list, rising to No. 2 in 2022, and first capturing the top spot last year. With 30 private bungalows that readers called “well-designed,” the adults-only resort is draped with British West Indies influences that create a charmingly romantic atmosphere, complete with “personal beachside fire pit[s].” One reader even shared that she “fell in love on Little Palm Island” and her boyfriend later proposed there: “We will continue to go back to such a special place… pure bliss!”

The Full List

1. Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, Little Torch Key

Reader Score: 96.29

2. The Colony Hotel, Palm Beach

Reader Score: 94.96

3. The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale

Reader Score: 94.93

4. The Ritz-Carlton, Orlando Grande Lakes, Orlando

Reader Score: 93.94

5. Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel & Spa, Vero Beach

Reader Score: 93.60

6. The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Amelia Island

Reader Score: 93.01

7. Ocean Key Resort & Spa, Key West

Reader Score: 92.80

8. The Alfond Inn, Winter Park

Reader Score: 92.50

9. The Breakers Palm Beach, Palm Beach

Reader Score: 91.61

10. Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando

Reader Score: 91.56

11. Sandpearl Resort, Clearwater Beach

Reader Score: 91.11

12. The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, Naples

Reader Score: 91.08

13. The Ben West Palm, Autograph Collection, West Palm Beach

Reader Score: 91.06

14. (tie) Hotel Effie, Miramar Beach

Reader Score: 91.00

14. (tie) JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, Orlando

Reader Score:91.00

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