Islamorada’s popular oceanfront Islander Resort was so badly damaged by Hurricane Irma’s storm surge that it may have to sit out the upcoming tourist season.
Many of the hotel’s rooms were severely flooded when the powerful Category 4 storm made a direct hit on the Keys Sept. 9 and 10, as were its bar and restaurants. The main lobby didn’t flood as badly, but the damage was extensive nonetheless.
“The oceanside property suffered significant damage and renovation work is now underway,” resort management announced on the hotel’s website. “For the next several months, Islander Oceanside will be closed to the public as this work progresses.”
Cheeca Lodge and Spa, another iconic Islamorada hotel located less than a mile south of the Islander, was also badly damaged by Irma and is closed indefinitely, according to an announcement on its website. Management hopes to open in “early 2018,” and reservations made through Jan. 4 will be canceled and “any deposit will be refunded in full,” reads the announcement.
Closing the 114-room Islander at mile marker 82.1 and the 214-room Cheeca Lodge at mile marker 81.8 not only hurts business, it also puts hundreds of people out of work for what could be the entire busy winter tourist season.
Tammie Gurgiolo, senior outfitter and a concierge at the Islander, said resort management hopes to get the hotel back and running in less than a year, but there is much work to be done.
“I’d like to think that it would be less than a year, but the possibility exists,” Gurgiolo said.
For now, a handful of staff is working out of the first floor of the Keys History & Discovery Center, a museum located on the Islander property. The museum sustained “minor cosmetic damage to the exterior of the building,” Executive Director Jill Miranda Baker said in a press release, but there has been no reopening date announced.
The museum will resume a lecture series and other special events beginning Oct. 26. (see www.KeysDiscovery.com for more)
The Islander’s other resort, the Islander Bayside, directly across U.S. 1, was not badly damaged by Irma and is scheduled to reopen to guests in mid October, “although none of the Oceanside resort amenities will be available to guests as a result of ongoing renovation work,” the announcement states.
Resort management states that those who have reservations for the main Islander in the next few months “should make alternative plans.”
The resort processed refunds to guests planning stays at the main resort for all of September and October and through Oct. 14 for guests who booked rooms at the bay side resort.
David Goodhue: 305-440-3204