In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, guests at Cheeca Lodge Resort & Spa walk on a new 525-foot-long pier at the iconic Florida Keys resort Friday, March 30, 2018, in Islamorada, Fla. After sustaining major damage from Hurricane Irma, the oceanside resort reopened Friday for the first time since visitors were evacuated a few days before the storm's Sept. 10, 2017, passage through the Keys. Keys tourism officials say that 80 percent of accommodations throughout the island chain have returned to business. (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)

Restored Cheeca Lodge Reopens, Boosting Florida Keys Inventory

FLORIDA KEYS — One of the Florida Keys’ iconic resorts has reopened, as the island chain continues unveiling fully refurbished accommodations more than six months after Hurricane Irma.


Islamorada’s 27-acre, 214-room Cheeca Lodge Resort and Spa, which is widely featured by international operators, reopened its doors for the high-demand Easter holiday weekend, hosting holidaymakers for the first time since a visitor evacuation began several days before Irma impacted the destination on September 10 last year.


Cheeca’s lobby, landscaping and a 525-foot-long oceanfront dock sustained heavy damage from storm surge. Many guestrooms also had water intrusion, although the core of the Category 4 storm made landfall on Cudjoe Key, about 60 miles west of the resort.


About $25 million has been spent on Cheeca’s restoration, which includes upgrades that began prior to Irma, resort executives say.


The hotel’s lobby, for example, was fully redesigned to enhance views of the Atlantic Ocean.


With Cheeca’s reopening, 80 percent of Florida Keys properties are hosting visitors, according to Keys tourism officials. In Key West, more than 92 percent of accommodations are open. The tourism industry employs more than 50 percent of the Keys labour force.


Key West’s 106-room Havana Cabana Key West Hotel, the former Inn at Key West, is to reopen this month with Cuba-themed amenities and a 104,000-gallon pool billed as Key West’s largest.


In Key Largo, the 60-acre all-suite Ocean Pointe Suites at Key Largo continues its reopening that began with a newly restored private beach and over-the-water gazebo.


Also in the Upper Keys destination, the new 12-acre “luxury inclusive” adults-only 135-unit Bungalows Key Largo is scheduled to open in May with a “Florida chic” design and bungalows averaging 800 square feet.


On Duck Key near Marathon, the 60-acre Hawks Cay Resort, a AAA Four-Diamond Award–rated and Preferred Hotel Group Lifestyle Collection member, is partially reopened with 100 villas and its Calm Waters Spa, Sunset Pool, Coral Cay kids’ activities centre and Angler and Ale restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The main hotel, with 177 guestrooms, a saltwater lagoon, three pools and three restaurants, is to reopen this summer.


Almost all Keys attractions and restaurants have returned to pre-Irma operations.


For more information on the Florida Keys:

Editor’s Note: High-resolution images available here:

Hayley Musson

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