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January 12, 2018

The Latest Post-Irma Meetings and Events Updates From the Florida Keys

The first cruise ship returned to Key West September 24. // Photo by Rob O'Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO

Four months after Hurricane Irma struck the Florida Keys, the destination’s tourism officials have released a report on how the destination’s event venues, local events and infrastructure are faring in the recovery. Overall, Key Largo and Key West were least impacted by the storm, which struck September 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. Several have reopened or are reopening soon, while recovery of a few other properties is anticipated to continue through this fall, with some properties using the opportunity to advance renovations.

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.

The Florida Keys & Key West have been open to visitors since October 1, just three weeks after the hurricane.


Seventy-seven percent of all Florida Keys lodging units, many with meeting facilities, are back online. Iconic meetings properties such as Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada and Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key in the Marathon area, are completing scheduled renovations and are slated to reopen later this year.

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.    

Here’s a look at specific hotel updates: 

Key Largo

This year, Key Largo will open two all-new properties. Dolphin Point Villas, with six stand-alone villa homes accommodating up to 62 guests and events of up to 100, held its grand opening December 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.

Ocean Pointe Suites is scheduled to reopen in March. 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.

The famed two-bedroom Jules’ Undersea Lodge, the United States’ only submerged recreational hotel, reopened to overnight divers December 1.


The Moorings Village is set to reopen January 15. Islamorada Resort Co.’s Pelican Cove Resort is to reopen in early February, while sister property Amara Cay Resort reopened December 15.

Two other Islamorada Resort Co. properties also are reopening this spring. La Siesta Resort & Marina is scheduled to open in March. 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 reopen in March.

Cheeca Lodge Resort & Spa is scheduled to reopen March 30.

Islander Resort’s Bayside Townhomes are open, although the oceanside resort is closed until fall.


On Duck Key, Hawks Cay Resort & Marina is to reopen in stages, beginning during this year’s second quarter and continuing through summer. 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 35 units available, with 10 under reconstruction and set to reopen by summer. Deer Run Bed & Breakfast is hoping to reopen by the summer.

Key West

In Key West, nearly all lodging rooms are open, except for those at three properties.

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 does not yet have a reopening date.

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.

Flights and Transportation

At Key West International Airport, American Airlines is scheduled to begin new summer 2018 seasonal, nonstop service between Key West and Dallas–Fort Worth international airports June 9. The new service will bring the number of one-stop connections to destinations in the United States and abroad to over 100. 

The once-weekly Saturday commercial service is to run until August 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 struck.

Some debris remains along the highway in the Lower Keys, but is expected to be cleared by the end of January, 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 September 24, and airports in Key West and Marathon reopened for commercial and general aviation September 20.

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 Conch Scramble Charity Golf Tournament, known as the annual “par-tee” on the water, is rescheduled for January 19-20 in Islamorada.
  • The 2018 Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament is scheduled January 26-28, to be staged out of Islamorada’s Whale Harbor Marina.
  • The 2nd Annual Islamorada Half Marathon and 10K is rescheduled February 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/.

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