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Key West Time
October 16th
11:36pm · 81°F

A Key West Vacation Rental Story: "Broadway to Key West"


You could say Key West’s effect on Broadway actress Betsy Morgan, whose recent credits include “The King and I” with Ken Watanabe, has been life-changing.

“I feel like there was an element of exploring without destination that maybe was first born from wandering around the streets of Key West,” she says.


A family-only wedding

Betsy was so captivated by the town’s beauty, culture, history and unique energy on her first short visit that she booked a week-long vacation less than two months later. Seven years and several vacations later, she chose Key West as the site of her wedding to Broadway musician Chris Fenwick.


“We got married at Ernest Hemingway House,” Betsy says. “Our wedding was just immediate family, so we rented Grande Dame and everybody stayed in that huge house together.”


Betsy happened upon the 7-bedroom, 7-bathroom home during a wide-ranging Internet search. “We wanted something that felt like an Old Key West mansion,” she says. “The interiors are so well preserved and maintained.” Built in 1840, the home’s original architectural detail includes stately 12 foot-ceilings, Dade pine planked floors, an 1890s bannister staircase and second- and third-floor verandahs running the width of the back of the house.


A week together in paradise

With a Victorian parlour-style living room, game room, full dining room, chef’s kitchen and large pool deck, the three-story Grande Dame proved to be an ideal gathering place for the couple’s families.

“We got married at the beginning of the week and it was a party for the rest of the time,” Betsy says. The group started each day over breakfast at the large patio dining table, then went their separate ways until dinner.

Surrounded by beautifully restored 19th century mansion homes, Grande Dame is an easy walk from Old Town Key West's historic section. “The location cannot be beat!” Betsy says. “It’s just one street off of Duval. We were right in the middle of everything.”

The newlyweds had their own morning routine. “We would get a Cuban coffee and walk and have the greatest talks and just enjoy the early morning there, which is pretty quiet. We are both artists and, for us, it has such an artist colony quality. Once you get off of Duval Street there is something about the energy and the walk-ability of Key West. We love being able to go and be inspired by the beauty and the culture. We found it equal parts exciting and also relaxing vacation.”



Already dreaming of next time

There is no question that they’ll be back to write a next chapter in their life together.

“We’ll go directly to the source next time,” Betsy says. “I probably look at Vacation Homes of Key West website about once a month, just to dream about the next time we go back.” Looking for something smaller will open all kinds of new possibilities. Although she admits, “We are kind of spoiled now with having had that pool. We might be limited to ones that have their own pool.”


Favorite Things

Hole-in-the-Wall Finds

“There’s a hole-in-the-wall called Mo’s Restaurant that has some of the best traditional food you can get. Also, there’s a dessert place called Better than Sex. Deuce’s ‘Off the Hook’ Grill was new for us. It was fantastic!”

Walking Away From the Crowd

We love to go into some of the smaller streets and look at the bungalow-style houses. All of the side streets kind of wind and loop and are really interesting to experience. And it’s all walkable. You can get everywhere on foot.”


Dining In

“The way we work when we do family vacations is we’ll cook breakfast and then everyone will do lunch on their own and usually we go out to dinner. There are one or two nights where we cook at home. We went to the fish market and picked up fresh fish – whatever they had - and fresh produce.”



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