Inspired by the island’s rich maritime history, the beachfront Barbary Beach House Key West hotel is adding a special artist-led Sailor’s Valentine class to its February lineup of couples activities. Offered at 11 a.m. each Wednesday in February (3, 10, 17 and 24), the class is free to overnight guests and will include the instruction and materials to create an original version of this 19th-century shell craft. Originally made from the 1830s to the 1890s, sailor’s valentines were special tokens adorned with tiny seashells and given by homesick mariners to their loved ones upon returning from a long voyage at sea.
“Sailor’s valentines from the 1800s are collectible antiques today, but the art form itself has become very popular in recent years,” said General Manager Milos Davidovic. “In addition to other activities such as Sip & Tails and Rum Tastings, this February art class will be a fun island-style way for couples to celebrate their love during their stay with us in the month of romance.”
Sailor’s valentines are octagonal, wooden hinged boxes decorated using small, colorful shells to form intricate symmetrical designs, often in the shape of a compass rose or heart, hence the name, and sometimes included a sentimental message. Maritime lore has it the octagonal shape represented a ship’s compass box, which protected the all-important compass. Whether handmade or purchased while at a faraway island port, these “valentines” are now prized for their beauty and unusual qualities.
An all-new property in the Conch Republic, rates at Barbary Beach House Key West start at just $269 for standard rooms and $329 for suites throughout February. Guests have access to an array of amenities, including a lagoon-style pool, lounging hammocks, bicycles, complimentary shuttle service to Duval Street and the Downtown Seaport Harbor, and full-service restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating and pool bar. Across the street at the Barbary Beach Club, guests can get Hobie Cats, paddleboards and kayaks. The resort is located just one mile from Key West International Airport.
Enhanced cleaning and safety protocols are in place, including limited capacity at the restaurant. Social distancing guidelines are also in place throughout the property.
Photo Credit: Barbary Beach House Key West