Key West has experienced significant growth the past several years. More and more tourists each year. Demand brought higher prices. For everything. Vacationers willing to pay. They were visiting Paradise!

Key West however has failed to keep quality of services at a level expected. The peak has been reached and the downward slide begun.

I have written the past few years that at some point Key West was going to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. The goose not yet dead, merely sick. Sick should be the warning. A warning to shape up before the goose dies and the golden egg is no more.

Two events in the last 24 hours compel today’s column.

Each involves a major hotel. Reputationwise, two of Key West’s best hotels. The Pier House and Casa Marina. The persons complaining experienced world travelers. Several times a year. Both couples additionally having visited Key West many times in the past. One 10 times. The other more than 20.

The Pier House. The couple guesting there had this to share. Rooms fine. Complaint was with service at the Pier House’s premier restaurant, One Duval.

Service slow. Help obviously inexperienced. Food presented. No silverware provided. Silverware provided, a fork used with appetizer not replaced for main course. The knife dirty with remnants of the appetizer.

Worse, the food only fair.

Breakfast the same. Though they were complimentary of the eggs benedict.

The Casa Marina. Unquestionably the best beach setting in Key West. Not as good inside the hotel itself, however.

The couple reported internally the room and services an abomination.

Mildew in the room. Could be from Irma. If so, should have been remedied by this time.

The couple enjoy coffee first thing in the morning from the pot in the room. Pot, yes. Coffee, no.

Telephoned to get it. Four different numbers called, including front desk. No answer. Finally housekeeping or some other service said they would attend to it immediately. No one ever showed up.

The Pier House and Casa Marina are two of the most expensive places to stay. Service and accommodations should be top shelf. No excuse for anything less.

Then there are those problems I myself periodically complain of. Like traffic. This past holiday the worse ever. Goes for cars, bicycles and pedestrians. All over the streets. Stop lights, stop signs, and cross walks of no consequence.

A recent study of cities with 15,00 to 75,000 residents ranked Key West #1 for bicycle fatalities and injuries.

A Master Plan was ordered by Key West to assist with the traffic problem. The plan took 2 years to be received. It will be discussed at the January 15 Commission meeting.

I know not he cost of the Plan itself. The implementation of the recommendations already public. $28.6 million.

Insufficiency of parking a complaint for many years. Whenever the City does something, parking places disappear. Difficult to understand.

The cost of parking a disgrace. The most recent raise for public parking areas raised $1 an hour. With a 4 hour limit.

The cost of a roof over one’s head out of sight. Sales prices once again extremely high. Rent levels a disgrace. Affordable housing a constant problem receiving more lip service than correction.

The working people of Key West leaving. The waiters, waitresses, bartenders and kitchen help. They no longer can afford to live in Paradise. Employers making huge profits. The help holding close to minimum wage. The State no assistance. Raised the minimum wage 21 cents an hour as of January 1.

Service less than expected because of the insufficiency of help.

There are more stores on Duval empty than I can ever recall. The reason simple. The rents were/are too high.

Gouging of tourists and help commonplace. The dollar definitely supreme to the detriment of tourists and help.

Greed kills. The goose on its way out unless things change. People who feel they did not get a fair shake when in Key West will return home with negative comments about our community. Word spreads. Just as once a great place to go, it will become ok but….

Franklin Delano Roosevelt made an observation that fits the present Key West situation: “We have always known that heedless self interest was bad morals, we know that it is bad economics.”

Key West has a new Mayor and some new Commission members. I believe Teri Johnston will be an excellent Mayor. The type of woman who takes the bull by the horns. The new Commission members toughies also.

Key West’s problems require immediate attention. Otherwise, we all will be attending the celebration of life for the goose. A sad day for the goose and a sad day for Key West.

Enjoy your day!

13 comments on “THE GOOSE IS SICK

  1. Lou – I think you are right about Key West’s problems, both the quality of it’s experience and that of traffic. But have you been anywhere else lately? I travel a lot in my line of work and I’ll tell you it’s a mess where ever you go, nowadays. Small towns or big towns and cities – constant serious congestion and often total gridlock. Key west in not at all unusual in this regard. BTW, take a look around you as to how much of the problem is with large vehicles and just ONE person in the car. That’s not tourists, that’s locals!

  2. From what they are saying, in another 50 years they will have to find a way to make Key West float and traffic congestion will be a thing of the past.

  3. Perhaps the TDC is also to blame. And the City itself. It’s a 6 square mile island. The place is always packed at the holidays, with people staying here – too many people.

    With that said, do we really need 3 CRUISE SHIPS on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day. I think not. No wonder staff is overwhelmed at restaurants and hotels. So many workers left after Irma, less workers, more tourists. Not a good equation.

  4. One must mot forget to mention the fact that our airfuel pollution based on too many flights entering our tiny airport and having heavy effects on our eco system. Another most important factor is the footprint of changes on our island’s protected canopies and Heratige Champion Trees. We are losing the charm and intetity of our unique little island’s shine.

  5. I’ve been saying this for so many years. Everyone wants to get rich. Key West doesn’t exist anymore. Our city and county leadership heads the problem… The TDC is next, by giving our leaders all the money they want. They keep the tourist coming, and the traffic gets worse. The Keys are a nightmare. The water is dirtier and more contaminated than at any time in my memory. The fish are gone….fished out by tourists. The ocean in Key West isn’t visible unless you pay for an overpriced room or meal, and the meal isn’t going to be worth it. In old town, there are no affordable places to eat, and nothing to do but drink. There’s no beautiful old Key West to look at. Our leaders cut down the trees and tore down the old buildings and put up new condos. You can pay to go to that ridiculous museum and see replicas of the historic buildings that have been torn down in the last few years. The people? Foreign, not particularly friendly. The peace and friendliness of a small town is gone.

    • Perhaps it is best to put Key West to a timeline. The period of desolation and isolation, a relatively poor, hard scrabble community, then to the period of transformation to the eclectic age or safe haven for those outside the box and today, the period of capitalism through tourism. I wonder how many left-overs from the first period fretted over the coming of the second. This is no different from second to last, it is what it is.

  6. The Old Key West still exists in people’s minds the world over, thanks in part to Hemingway and Buffet, and that is why so many come here. For that memory and for a tee shirt.

  7. I’ve lived in Islamorada for over 3 decades and can say that I’ve never had road rage until a couple of years ago . How can we keep getting more and more traffic!! Can’t imagine how inundating some cruisships must be !! Our poor precious keys

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