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Internacional en Inglés | transportation, lodging, atractions, meetings, campgrounds

State of the Florida Keys tourism industry following Hurricane Irma

Key Largo and Key West were least impacted by Hurricane Irma, which struck the Keys Sept. 10, 2017, as were most hotels and businesses on the bayside, or gulfside, in Islamorada and Marathon. 

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24.01.2018 13:52 |  The Florida Keys & Key West  | 

Florida Keys & Keys West

State of the Florida Keys tourism industry following Hurricane Irma
  • Overview
The Florida Keys & Key West have been open to visitors since Oct. 1, 2017, just three weeks after the hurricane. Today, nearly 80 percent of lodging units throughout the destination are open for business.
Key Largo and Key West were least impacted by Hurricane Irma, which struck the Keys Sept. 10, 2017, as were most hotels and businesses on the bayside, or gulfside, in Islamorada and Marathon.
On the Atlantic Ocean side of Islamorada and Duck Key near Marathon, some hotels had significant storm surge impacts. Full recovery of several properties is projected to continue through this fall. Some resorts have advanced renovations that were scheduled prior to Irma.
The most severely impacted area of the Keys is west of the Seven Mile Bridge to around Big Coppitt Key, located about 10 miles east-northeast of Key West.
Visitors are requested to avoid traveling through residential neighborhoods along the Florida Keys Overseas Highway, especially between Marathon and Key West, as this region is taking the longest to recover.

  • Transportation
At Key West International Airport, American Airlines is scheduled to begin new summer seasonal, nonstop service between Key West and Dallas–Fort Worth international airports on June 9.
“With new jet service to Dallas, our visitors will now have more than 100 options for one-stop connections to the United States and abroad,” said Donald DeGraw, director of airports for the Florida Keys & Key West. “The new service opens up the U.S. West Coast market for Key West.”
The once-weekly Saturday commercial service is to run until Aug. 25 on 76-passenger E175 regional jets.
The Florida Keys Overseas Highway — with 42 bridges providing scenic, over-water views — was designated safe for driving within five days after Hurricane Irma.
Some debris remains along the Overseas Highway in the Lower Keys, but is expected to be cleared by early February, according to county officials. Highway areas in Key Largo, Islamorada and Key West are clear of debris.
The first cruise ship returned to the Port of Key West Sept. 24, and airports in Key West and Marathon reopened for commercial and general aviation Sept. 20.

  • Lodging
The Florida Keys tourism council reports that nearly 80 percent – or 77 percent – of lodging units are back online in the destination, with 76 percent in Key Largo, 48 percent in Islamorada, 63 percent in Marathon, 74 percent between the west end of the Seven Mile Bridge and Stock Island and more than 91 percent in Key West and neighboring Stock Island.
Key Largo
Key Largo is to offer three new properties this year. Dolphin Point Villas, with six stand-alone villa homes accommodating up to 62 guests and events of up to 100, held its grand opening Dec. 9. The new Bungalows Key Largo, the Keys' first all-inclusive resort, is targeted to open in April with 135 units, two pools and several restaurants and bars. The Hilton Key Largo is undergoing renovation to become the 200-room Baker's Cay Resort, a Curio Collection by Hilton, and is to reopen in the fall.
Ocean Pointe Suites is targeting a reopening date in early April.
The famed two-bedroom Jules' Undersea Lodge, the United States' only submerged recreational hotel, reopened to overnight divers Dec. 1.
Islamorada
Three of Islamorada Resort Co.'s properties are scheduled to reopen soon. Its fourth in Islamorada reopened in mid-December.
Islamorada Resort Co.'s Pelican Cove Resort is to reopen in early February, while its Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina has planned a phased reopening. At Postcard, two buildings, 14 new cottages and the Ciao Hound Italian Kitchen & Bar and Tiki Bar are scheduled to open in March. La Siesta Resort & Marina is scheduled to open by March 31, although its five-bedroom house remains under renovation. Sister property Amara Cay Resort reopened Dec. 15.
Cheeca Lodge Resort & Spa is scheduled to reopen March 30.
The Moorings Village reopened Jan. 15.
The 15-acre Caloosa Cover Resort & Marina has reopened 20 of its 30 suites, with the remainder to open by early February. Habano's Oceanfront Restaurant is open, although the onsite Safari Bar & Grill remains closed.
Chesapeake Resort has reopened 20 garden view units and one pool. Its remaining 45 units and resort amenities, including beach accessibility, are scheduled to reopen later this year.
Islander Resort's Bayside Townhomes are open. Its iconic oceanside resort is closed until fall.
Marathon
On Duck Key, Hawks Cay Resort & Marina is set to reopen this summer, although some sections are to undergo an earlier phased-in reopening. Other hotels in Marathon are open, and a new Hampton Inn Marathon is under development.
Lower Keys
Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge is open. Off Little Torch Key, Little Palm Island is to remain closed until early 2019. On Little Torch Key, Parmer's Resort has 39, with 11 waterfront units, open, with six under reconstruction and to reopen in coming months. Deer Run Bed & Breakfast plans to reopen by the summer.
Key West
In Key West, all properties except three are open.
Havana Cabana Key West Hotel, the former Inn at Key West, is scheduled to open in April. Parrot Key Resort is to reopen June 1. Key West Bayside Inn & Suites is scheduled to open this summer.
The Southernmost Beach Resort fully reopened in late December. The new 14-room Marquesa 4-1-4 opened as part of an expansion at Key West's 27-room Marquesa Hotel on Oct. 20.

  • Meetings
Seventy-seven percent of all Florida Keys lodging units, many with meeting facilities, are back online. Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key in the Marathon area is currently accepting bookings for meetings to begin on Sept. 1, while the property completes scheduled renovations.
All major attractions are open. While recovery continues, particularly in the Big Pine Key region, groups traveling to the Keys can choose from a wide variety of indoor and outdoor facilities, after-meeting venues and team-building offerings.

  • Attractions
All major Keys attractions have reopened.
In Islamorada, Theater of the Sea, launched in 1946 as one of the world's oldest marine mammal facilities, is open. Its beach area is to reopen in mid-February and its stingray program should reopen by spring. Its shark area is undergoing repairs.
On Duck Key, Dolphin Connection at Hawks Cay Resort has reopened with daily dockside and in-water sessions.
In Marathon, Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters, with new feedings for Mobula rays, reopened Dec. 15.
Ferry tours to the historic 5-acre Pigeon Key have resumed with a new gateway in Marathon, departing from the Hyatt Place's marina at the Faro Blanco Lighthouse. Visitors can tour a former section gang quarters, former paint foreman's dorm and historical museum.
Almost all fishing and dive charters have resumed operations.

  • Restaurants and Bars
Most major Keys restaurants and bars have reopened, although a few still have ongoing renovations.
In Marathon, a new Sparky's Landing has opened at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Marathon, replacing the former Tarpon Creek Bar & Grill. The original Sparky's in Key Colony Beach is closed.
No Name Pub on Big Pine Key reopened in late October.

  • Florida State Parks
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, reopened its Visitor Center on Jan. 19. The park is open to beachgoers, overnight campers, hikers and snorkelers taking a glass-bottom boat. Snorkeling tours operate daily, weather permitting. Food is available.
Dive excursions are not yet running.
In the Lower Keys, Calusa Beach at Bahia Honda State Park's northwest side is open. Two nearby campgrounds — Buttonwood, with 43 sites, and Bayside, with eight — reopened for overnight camping Jan. 1. The park's six cabins also are open; full reconstruction of the cabin area is to be completed by late January.
Loggerhead and Sandspur beaches remain closed for restoration. Limited food concession service is available. Snorkel boat tours are expected to resume in mid-February.

  • National Parks, Refuges
Dry Tortugas National Park is open, with the Yankee Freedom III ferry service and Key West Seaplane Adventures air service running on full schedules.
Some sections of Everglades National Park, including 41 camping sites at Flamingo Campground Loop T, are open. Flamingo Visitor Center is open, with minimal services; canoes and kayaks can be rented for a half-day.
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, as usual, accessible only through organized volunteer activities and guided walks.
On Big Pine Key, a new Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Nature Center, currently under construction, is scheduled to open this fall. It is to showcase the Keys' four national wildlife refuges with 1,500 square feet of exhibit space, near mile marker 30.5.

  • Campgrounds
Many Keys campgrounds have reopened for recreational vehicles.
Of the Keys' significant RV resorts, the 28-acre Fiesta Key RV Resort & Marina on Long Key is open but not all services are fully operational. Sunshine Key in the Lower Keys' Big Pine Key is targeting a reopening in spring. Other Keys campgrounds, including Boyd's Key West Campground, are open.
Sugarloaf KOA / Key West KOA is closed through October.

  • Special Events
Most special events throughout the Keys, including multiple seafood festivals in January, are taking place as usual.
Several events postponed after Irma are rescheduled. Among them:
The 2018 Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament is scheduled Jan. 26-28, to be staged out of Islamorada's Whale Harbor Marina.
The 2nd Annual Islamorada Half Marathon and 10K is rescheduled Feb 3-4.
Three events — Brew on the Bay and Taste Around the World in Key Largo, and the Winter Star Party in the Lower Keys — are canceled for 2018.
The Florida Keys & Key West calendar of events can be viewed at fla-keys.com/calendar/.

  • Utilities
Keys Energy and Florida Keys Electric Cooperative restored power to almost 100 percent of utility customers who could accept electrical power by Sept. 29. Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority restored water to all customers who could accept it.
AT&T and Comcast communications services are also restored.

More Information: fla-keys.com
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