Florida Keys Tourism rebounds with new and refreshed resorts
Throughout the Florida Keys & Key West, 86 percent of all lodging units are back online after Hurricane Irma passed through the island chain last fall.
The Keys are to add nearly 1,500 rooms to their lodging inventory as the destination continues to unveil new and fully refurbished properties. The Keys’ first luxury-inclusive, adults-only resort is to debut in late fall.
In Key West and nearby Stock Island, 95 percent of all properties are open. Elsewhere in the island chain, 86 percent are open in Key Largo, 71 percent in Islamorada, 77 percent in Marathon and 64 percent between the west end of the Seven Mile Bridge and Big Coppitt Key.
New airlift is coming to Key West.
American Airlines is to begin new summer nonstop service June 9 between Key West and Dallas–Fort Worth international airports. The once-weekly Saturday commercial service is to run until Aug. 25 featuring 76-passenger E175 regional jets.
Beginning Oct 4, United Airlines is to increase from seasonal to year-round, daily nonstop service to Key West International Airport from New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport on 70-seat E170 aircraft. During peak travel season, February through May 2019, United is to add a second Key West–Newark flight. During summer months, United offers nonstop service between the two airports Saturdays and Sundays.
Also, beginning June 2 through mid-December, United is to operate Saturday and Sunday nonstop service between Key West and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. From mid-December through May 2019, United is to increase its Key West–Chicago frequency to a daily flight.
The 60-acre Ocean Pointe Suites continues its reopening with a newly restored marina and private beach and a new over-the-water gazebo for intimate weddings and events. All 170 suites, sleeping up to four or six guests, are set to reopen in June.
The Keys’ first adults-only, “luxury-inclusive” resort is to be unveiled by late fall. The new Bungalows Key Largo is to showcase 135 new stand-alone units, two pools and several restaurants and bars.
Also in Key Largo, the new 200-room Baker’s Cay Resort, a Curio Collection by Hilton, is to open in September with 17,000 square feet of meeting space and amenities for pets.
Islamorada Resort Co.’s 145-unit Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina is scheduled to reopen by Aug. 30 in time for Labor Day weekend. The company’s other three Islamorada properties, including the 63-unit Pelican Cove Resort, 54-unit La Siesta Resort & Marina and the 110-room Amara Cay Resort, are open.
The 27-acre, 214-unit oceanfront Cheeca Lodge Resort & Spa reopened March 30 with a $25 million overall redesign and new Mia Cucina pizzeria and pasta bistro. A second oceanfront pool and second Tiki bar, named South 25, are scheduled to open by late summer.
Cheeca Lodge’s renovation includes a rebuilt 525-foot-long wooden fishing pier, redesign of its main lobby and all rooms, 4,600 square feet of meeting and function space, a 5,700-square-foot spa with seven treatment rooms and a refurbished nine-hole golf course.
Chesapeake Resort is open with 20 garden-view units and one pool. Its remaining 45 units and resort amenities, including beach accessibility, are to reopen by spring 2019. Guests have complimentary access to Islamorada’s Founders Park.
Islander Bayside Resort is open with 25 two-story, two-bedroom townhomes. Sister property, the 25-acre oceanside Islander Resort, is to reopen this fall with an all-new design and culinary concepts.
Also in Islamorada, the 70-room, 5-acre Fisher Inn Resort & Marina and the boutique Hadley House Resort are in development as new properties located 2 miles apart. The oceanfront properties are to be managed by Aimbridge Hospitality.
On Duck Key, the 60-acre Hawks Cay Resort, a AAA Four Diamond Award–rated and Preferred Hotel Group Lifestyle Collection member, partially reopened in mid-March with 100 villas, the Calm Waters Spa, Sunset Pool, Coral Cay kids’ activities center and Angler and Ale restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The main hotel, with 177 guestrooms, is to reopen this summer.
An all-new 80-room, full-service Hampton Inn Marathon with a 24-hour fitness center is scheduled to open June 7 under the Hilton Portfolio of Brands.
Near the Seven Mile Bridge at mile marker 47, The Singh Group is constructing an all-new 24-acre, 301-room oceanside resort to be named Isla Bella Beach Resort, with several restaurants, pools and a marina. It’s scheduled to open in early 2019.
On Little Torch Key, Parmer’s Resort is fully open with 44 units, including a cottage and a new 90-foot-long beach. The four-unit Deer Run Bed & Breakfast plans to reopen by late summer. Off Little Torch Key, Little Palm Island Resort & Spa is to reopen in late 2019.
In Key West, all major properties except two are open.
The 148-unit Parrot Key Resort, with four pools and a new food and beverage concept with poolside al fresco dining, is to reopen Aug. 1. The property currently known as Key West Bayside Inn & Suites is undergoing full renovations and scheduled to reopen in September.
Florida Keys Attractions
All major Florida Keys attractions are open. Fishing, snorkeling and diving charters are operating.
National Parks, Refuges
On Big Pine Key, a new 1,840-square-foot Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Nature Center, currently under construction near mile marker 30.5, is to open this fall showcasing the Keys’ four national wildlife refuges. It is to include indoor and outdoor exhibits, a nature trail boardwalk and a book store.
Three national wildlife refuges, including the National Key Deer Refuge, Great White Heron and Key West national wildlife refuges, are open. A fourth, the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Key Largo, is accessible, as usual, only through organized volunteer activities and guided walks.
Dry Tortugas National Park is open, with the Yankee Freedom III ferry service and Key West Seaplane Adventures air service running full schedules.
In Everglades National Park, drive-up camping sites at the Flamingo Campground are open. Flamingo Visitor Center is open with ranger-guided programs; canoes and kayaks can be rented. Park waters are open for boating.
Florida State Parks in the Keys
All 10 Keys state parks are open for day use as restoration efforts continue.
In Key Largo, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first undersea park in the United States, is open for beachgoing, overnight camping, short hiking and scuba diving. Tours for glass-bottom boats, dive excursions and snorkeling operate several times daily, weather permitting. Docks are repaired and boat slips are available for overnight rentals. Powerboat rentals are to resume by mid-June. Snacks and drinks are available, and the park’s Blue Heron Cafe food concession is targeting a mid-July opening. The park’s Visitor Center and Aquarium reopened in January.
In the Lower Keys, Calusa Beach on Bahia Honda State Park’s northwest side is open. Two nearby campgrounds — Buttonwood, with 43 sites, and Bayside, with eight — and the park’s six cabins are open. The park’s concession is open with food, snorkel tours and beach gear rentals and souvenirs. The park’s boat ramp and marina are open.
Bahia Honda’s oceanfront Loggerhead Beach is scheduled to reopen by late fall; its oceanfront Sandspur Beach is scheduled to reopen in 2019.
Most Keys campgrounds are open for recreational vehicles and tent camping.
Of the Keys’ main RV resorts, the 28-acre Fiesta Key RV Resort & Marina on Long Key is open. Sunshine Key RV Resort & Marina in the Lower Keys is set to open this summer. Also in the Lower Keys, Sugarloaf KOA/Key West KOA is planning to reopen before the end of this year.
Other Keys campgrounds, including Boyd’s Key West Campground and Keys Palms Luxury RV Resort in Key Largo are fully operational.
The Florida Keys & Key West calendar of events can be viewed at fla-keys.com/calendar/.
Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS
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