Islamorada’s Cheeca Lodge, damaged by Hurricane Irma, to reopen by end of March

With the addition of Cheeca Lodge, 66% of the Upper Keys' rooms will be open

Cheeca Lodge
Cheeca Lodge

UPDATED March 19, 4:15 p.m.: Islamorada’s Cheeca Lodge & Spa will reopen on March 30 after completing $25 million in renovations and repairs spawned by Hurricane Irma.

Upon reopening, the hotel, located at mile market 81.8 on Islamorada’s Old Highway, will sport a renovated lobby and spa, renovated guestrooms, and a new restaurant. Cheeca also plans to open a new pool to augment its two refurbished pools.

Cheeca General Manager Bob LaCasse said the resort will also offer more programming and activities than in the past, including dive certification courses and motorized scooters.

In September, Hurricane Irma’s storm surge carried water across Cheeca’s beach and all the way to the western edge of the 27-acre property, LaCasse said. Meanwhile, wind-driven rainwater was 6 inches to 8 inches deep in the lobby. Damage to guest rooms mainly came in the aftermath of the storm, when humidity coupled with the loss of power on the property led to mold growth.

LaCasse said that all of Cheeca’s 214 guestrooms have been overhauled. “Pretty much everything you can think of in the rooms is brand new from the flooring to the drapery to the furniture,” he said.

The lobby renovation also included the introduction of new furnishings and décor, as well as an expansion of the bar. In addition, Cheeca has removed several lobby columns and removed a wall behind the front desk to open views.

“It is a much more open, modern model than it used to be,” LaCasse said.

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None of the work involved alterations of building footprints.

With its reopening, Cheeca will debut Mia Cucina, a family-friendly Neapolitan Italian bistro. The restaurant replaces Limoncello, which served more upscale Italian fare.

The new Cheeca pool, which will be the third on the property, is slated for a May opening and will sit along the Atlantic, where the resort’s saltwater lagoon was prior to Irma.

The reopening of Cheeca, which is one of the Upper Keys’ best-known hotels, be welcome news to local tourism authorities. Currently, just half of Islamorada’s 1,300 rooms are open in the aftermath of Irma, said Islamorada Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Judy Hull. With the addition of Cheeca’s rooms, that figure will increase to 66 percent.

Prominent Islamorada hotels that remain closed include The Islander, Postcard Inn and Days Inn, Hull said. La Siesta and Cheseapeake resorts have reopened some rooms, she said, but most of their units still are not available.

Across the Keys, 78 percent of lodging units were open as of the end of February.

Correction: A previous version of the story had an incorrect number of guestrooms.