USA Barefoot luxury at Playa Largo Resort & Spa By Megan Padilla / May 17, 2017 Share 1 The Beach House at the Playa Largo Resort & Spa. -- After an hour's drive south from the Miami Airport, I feel as though I've arrived on a quiet Caribbean island, no passport or flight required. The new Playa Largo Resort & Spa embraces a long stretch of Key Largo waterfront, making the transition from mainland to island seamless and immersive.Four three-story towers (the last completed just weeks ago) in garden settings are bookended by two classic Florida Keys-style structures. On one end is the elevated, high-beamed and open-air bar and restaurant called Sol by the Sea, on the other is the private Beach House with wrap-around balconies and a waterfront pool. Across the entire length is a long ribbon of white sand dotted with sleek hammock pods, groupings of chaise loungers and Adirondack chairs placed in the shade of sea grape trees. Bathing-suited bodies sprawl on blue mattresses afloat in the blue-green water of Florida Bay.My family and I visited the resort as guests of Buick, which selected it as our road trip destination to test drive a 2017 LaCrosse as part of a media promotion. Though Travel Weekly covered the new Autograph Collection resort in a December 2016 story, this visit gave me access to Playa Largo's private bungalows and beach house that together serve as a hotel-within-a-hotel called the Hammocks. It is secluded enough for privacy but positioned for guests to easily access all of the resort's amenities, including a bayfront pool, four restaurants and bars, a spa, a fitness center, tennis courts, water sports and a manmade beach.What was a welcome change for me on this trip was the chance to visit a property as a paying guest (courtesy of Buick, in this case) as opposed to being hosted by the resort. It enabled me to experience Playa Largo as anyone else would, without the usual general manager meet-and-greets and site inspections.My family and I stayed in one of the 10 two-story bungalows, each with a jaunty Caribbean name and pastel color. Ours was named Key Lime and colored a shade of sunshine. A metal roof and slatted Bahamas shutters completed the island look. Each bungalow is situated along a cobblestone path in a garden setting whose trees and shrubs screen one house from another. There's a patio off the downstairs living room and a balcony off the upstairs master. The only thing you'll likely see, though, are some bright green iguanas scurrying in the brush. The bungalows are exceedingly quiet, perfect for sleeping in.One of 10 secluded bungalows at Playa Largo Resort & Spa. Photo Credit: David MacGillivray At the end of the cobbled path is the three-bedroom, four-bath Beach House, which is fully ADA compliant with a wheelchair ramp, an elevator to the second floor, an oversize master bathroom and a lift in the private swimming pool.For our wellness weekend, writers and their families stayed in a bungalow while our hosts stayed in the Beach House, using it as the primary event space for our group activities.Our multicourse meal inspired by Playa Largo Resort's elegant take on Caribbean food was across-the-board delicious, but the surprising hit was the fresh bread and butter whipped with local in-season honey, currently KeezBeez farmed from the black mangroves that are in bloom. Once we learned we could buy some at Winn-Dixie, there was a run on Aisle 9 the next day.Dinner came to an end, and we all returned to our bungalows. Downstairs there is a foyer, a bathroom with shower, a small eating area, a full kitchen with barstools at the counter, living room with sofa bed, cable television where guests access to their Netflix account and sliding-glass doors to a small patio. The neutral decor is both coastal casual and elegant.Upstairs is a spacious master suite with vaulted ceilings and a comfy king mattress in an upholstered, sleigh-style bed; a second sofa bed (though its mattress was uncomfortable); plenty of closet space; a desk; a television; and a gorgeous master bath with an egg-shaped, stand-alone soaking tub; a separate shower; granite countertops; a private toilet stall; and a stacked washer and dryer. A dedicated concierge is provided for guests of the Hammocks. We found the in-room dining app on the guest services tablet to be intuitive, fast and efficient. We used that service a couple of times, and I was impressed each time wuth how seamless it worked and with the speed of delivery of our food. The hotel has undergone some changes since it officially opened last August. For starters, a new general manager, Mark Frances, arrived in the new year and has loosened things up to tap into the vibe of an authentic Keys experience. He is still in the process of reshaping the food and beverage options, but he's already scrapped the fine dining dinner option for at La Marea, which now serves only breakfast. Lunch is available all day poolside at Sandbar and also at the open-air Sol by the Sea, where dinner is abuzz with live music on the weekends and the choice tables overlook the water.Starting this Friday, Frances will lead two complimentary guest experiences on Fridays through the end of August: a fly-fishing casting lesson on the event lawn followed by a stand-up paddling excursion to his favorite places to see Florida wildlife. Guests can also borrow bikes and fishing poles on property.For all other water sports and charter boats for fishing or snorkeling excursions, Caribbean Watersports operates the concession from its shady "office" underneath Sol by the Sea. If your family would thrill to snorkel on a coral reef, consider booking a private charter to Grecian Rocks Reef in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, a protected marine sanctuary.This reef is surprisingly healthy with abundant living corals and purple sea fans housing all manner of sealife. We saw brightly colored parrotfish, spiny sea urchins, electric blue damselfish, menacing-looking barracuda and the super-cute boxfish with its puckered lips and whirring propeller dorsal fins. It was an outstanding first snorkel experience for our young daughter, who has been practicing for a year in a swimming pool. An ideal way to top off the day is a sunset sail. Sure, such options are ubiquitous when staying at a beach resort, but the smaller-size ocean catamaran sailed by Caribbean Watersports right off of the resort's dock is the perfect vessel to find your Zen. For me, it was the perfect end to an unplugged weekend of wellness with my family.