Introducing Admiral Travel’s new Hilton Family Travel Journal!  As most of you know, Ryan & Malaka Hilton typically spend most of the year traveling, whether escorting guests on Founders Journeys and private departures, or performing site visits at partner properties across the globe.  

“As the world turned in 2020, our plans for the year were sidelined – like everyone’s – and we found ourselves home in Sarasota, Florida with a little extra time on our hands.  This was a perfect opportunity to connect more deeply with our young adult children, Alexandria and Carter, and with each other, too,” notes Malaka Hilton, CEO of Admiral Travel.

Currently in fall of 2020, Alex is a rising sophomore at Florida State University and a budding travel marketer who is wrapping up her first summer internship with ATI’s marketing agency.  It was at her suggestion that Ryan & Malaka lean into the travel investigator part of the job in this age of the virus. To ensure that Admiral Travel can offer our guests the best, most accurate possible answers to the many questions you undoubtedly have, our team considers it our responsibility to venture out into the world, to support the global travel industry as much as possible, and to report back to you what we learn.  All images were captured by Ryan Hilton Photography

Alex’s account of the Hilton family’s visit in August 2020

“Passports?”  I joked as we rolled off down the driveway, down the street, off to see someplace new. Off to a cooped-up COVID quarantiner’s dream  — Little Palm Island the Florida Keys.

We pulled up to Dolphin Aviation at the Sarasota-Bradenton airport, got lost in the clouds for a short while, and touched ground ready to get out-of-touch with the real world, even if only for a few days.

There are few foreign accents and many Miami weekenders here on Little Palm.

The prices are high but the service, the food, the scenery, and even the hardware are difficult to dismiss as ordinary. (I would come back when I know I’ve earned it.)

No kids under the age of 18 are allowed on the property, making this a romantic getaway destination more than it is a family adventure spot. A popular honeymoon destination, Carter and I were mistaken as newlyweds more than once. 

Leave it to the Hilton boys to create their own adventure here: Carter and dad, with a fishing rod from home, found some fishing lures on the mainland and landed a tarpon off the Sunset dock late at night. Mom and I lounged on a boat the next morning while Carter speared and tickled fish and lobsters for lunch… and for dinner. Since I was a kid, Dad and I would always try to sneak in a photoshoot in our travels across the world… I was excited that we were able to fit one in here on the beach.

From the Spa to the Sunset dock, new construction improvements leaves almost nothing to be desired, really. I remember thinking to myself that there weren’t many issues at all that the hotel management hadn’t already solved: breakfast can be delivered, lunch was often enjoyed in a poolside cabana, and dinner can be taken with your toes in the sand. Other than a few pecks down on the beach, the bugs were not terribly pesky (in South Florida. In August.) and the common-area playlists were different every day!

Masks were to be worn by guests only inside the dining room. If it weren’t for the service staff, I would have forgotten completely about the pandemic. In fact, the wait staff just looked to be protecting themselves from the sun’s harsh rays with their neck buffs. 

The walls were a bit thin where we stayed, but other villas looked to be more spaced out, some with their own hammocks and all with outdoor showers. The WiFi worked marvelously – I even conducted a couple seamless Zoom meetings.  Maybe that has something to do with why Little Palm never felt too exotic for this Florida girl. 

For a couple, this place offers everything one would need to kindle or rekindle any flame, to get some quality time away without having to go too far. For me, this family outing was my only destination vacation of the summer. The 3-night island getaway provided the perfect amount of time for me. I did not ever truly feel I was that far from home but I didn’t need to. All I needed was a bit of an escape. 

I do wish that shoes weren’t required at dinner.