It’s been almost eight months since the Keys were struck by Hurricane Irma on Sept. 10, 2017. The latest sign of recovery comes with the opening of Islamorada’s historic Cheeca Lodge & Spa on March 30 over Easter weekend.
The 27-acre, 214-room resort underwent a $25 million renovation and restoration in order to welcome back guests. The new Cheeca Lodge features a redesigned main lodge, lobby, guest rooms and grounds, along with the debut of a new dining concept Mia Cucina pizzeria in addition to Atlantic’s Edge and Nikai Sushi Bar.
Cheeca Lodge is also in the midst of Phase II construction of a second pool and tiki bar on the beach, due to be completed at the end of June.
With Cheeca’s reopening, 80 percent of Florida Keys lodging properties are hosting visitors, according to Keys tourism officials.
In Key West, more than 92 percent of accommodations are open. The latest is the Havana Cabana Key West in New Town, which was previously the Inn at Key West. It opened April 1 as a 106-room Cuban-themed retreat.
Marquesa 4-1-4, located on Simonton Street in Old Town, is another new hotel on the island post-Irma. The chic 14-room guesthouse with a central courtyard pool opened on Oct. 20 as an addendum to the classic 27-room Marquesa Hotel on Fleming Street.
The Lower Keys took the brunt of the storm when Irma’s eye made landfall on Cudjoe Key at Mile Marker 20.
On Duck Key near Marathon, the 60-acre Hawks Cay Resort has begun to reopen in phases. Currently, 100 villas and its Calm Waters Spa, sunset pool, kids’ activity center, dolphin program and Angler and Ale restaurant are open. The main hotel with 177 guestrooms, a saltwater lagoon, three pools and three restaurants will reopen this summer.
Little Palm Island, famously one of the Keys’ most exclusive and luxurious resorts located on a private island off Little Torch Key, will be closed through early 2019.
With Cheeca Lodge’s reopening, much of Islamorada’s resorts are back online. The exclusive Moorings Village reopened on Jan. 15 and is as peaceful and idyllic as it ever was.
Three of Islamorada Resort Co.’s four resorts have reopened including Amara Cay in December, Pelican Cove Resort in early February and La Siesta Resort & Marina in March. Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina reopened two buildings and 14 new cottages in March. It will continue to open in phases as renovations continue, including Ciao Hound Italian Kitchen & Bar and its beloved Tiki Bar.
In Key Largo, the 60-acre all-suite Ocean Pointe Suites at Key Largo continues its reopening in phases, which began with a newly restored private beach and over-the-water gazebo.
Key Largo welcomes two new hotels this year including the recently opened six villa Dolphin Point Villas and the forthcoming Bungalows Key Largo, which will be the Keys’ first all-inclusive resort slated to open in May.
The Hilton Key Largo is undergoing renovations and will reopen as the 200-room Baker’s Cay Resort, a Curio Collection by Hilton in the fall.
The Keys officially reopened to visitors on Oct. 1, 2017 just three weeks after the hurricane hit. All 42 bridges of the scenic Overseas Highway were deemed safe for driving within five days of the storm. Key West International Airport and the Port of Key West are operating as usual. All 10 Keys state parks, from Bahia Honda to John Pennekamp, are open while restoration efforts continue, and most fishing, diving and snorkeling charters have resumed operation.
If you haven’t made a trip down to the Keys since Irma, it’s high time as most resorts, attractions, bars and restaurants have rebounded and are open for business.