miércoles, 1 de mayo de 2024

IPW 2024


Throughout the Florida Keys, resorts are undergoing refurbishments and upgrades to enhance visitors’ experiences and stays. In addition, the island chain offers sustainability activities focused on and in the waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, with opportunities including participation in coral restoration.

Meanwhile, increased seat capacity on carriers flying into Key West International Airport is helping to make the Keys more accessible than ever for visitors traveling to the island chain from major U.S. cities.

Keys Airlift

Key West International Airport (EYW) experienced a more than 20% increase in airline seat capacity and tallied more than 450,000 passengers during the first quarter of 2024. Six carriers — Allegiant, American, Delta, JetBlue, United and Silver — serve EYW with 21 destinations and more than 20 nonstop flights. A 49,000-square-foot Concourse A expansion, set for completion in 2026, is to include spaces for eight gates, additional restrooms, support areas and is to improve the airport's service and operational flexibility with ramp operations, safety, and efficiency while addressing long-term passenger needs. New venues are to include a First Call Beach Bar at baggage claim, Chili’s restaurant and Farm 2 Air Market. Also at EYW, Signature Aviation has unveiled a new private 4,500-square-foot aviation terminal with covered parking facilities, second-story patio with panoramic views and pilot’s lounge, work areas and a café. Visit eyw.com/airlineseyw.com/concourse-a or call 305-809-5200.

Keys Accommodations

At Everglades National Park, an all-new 75-seat stand-alone restaurant is open at the 24-unit Flamingo Lodge and Restaurantunveiled in fall 2023 with studios and one- and two-bedroom suites, kitchenettes and balconies overlooking Florida Bay. Rates are from $159 per night for a studio to $299 per night for a two-bedroom unit, plus taxes, from May 1 to Oct. 31 with a 14-day maximum stay. Bed-and-breakfast packages are available. The restaurant offers catch-and-cook options and casual fare. In addition, the park's pink Guy Bradley Visitor Center — with a Florida National Parks Association bookstore, interactive nature and art exhibits, and expansive views overlooking Florida Bay — is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The 2,400-square-mile Everglades National Park is the continental United States' third-largest national park. Park entrance fees for vehicles and vessels are $35 for a seven-day pass. Visit flamingoeverglades.com/flamingo-lodge-restaurant or call 855-708-2207.

Florida Green Lodging choices in each of the Keys’ five districts — designated by Florida's Department of Environmental Protection — are newly highlighted with a Green Lodging leaf graphic on the destination’s website at fla-keys.com. The Keys’ 17 Green Lodging properties are Ocean Reef Club and Reefhouse Resort and Marina in Key Largo; Amara Cay and La Siesta resort and marina properties in Islamorada; The Hammocks at Marathon; Deer Run on the Atlantic and Bahia Honda State Park cabins in the Lower Keys; and Andrews Inn & Garden Cottages, Eden House, Doubletree by Hilton Grand Key Resort, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Beachside Resort & Residences, Old Town Manor, Rose Lane Villas, Southernmost Beach Resort, The Gardens Hotel and The Marker in Key West.

In Key Largo, the 200-room Baker’s Cay Resort at 97000 Overseas Highway is revitalizing its rooftop garden with fresh herbs, tomatoes, edible flowers, cucumbers and other vegetables to enhance garden-to-table fare. Executive Chef Carolann Wheeler is developing the resort’s Chef’s Garden to seasonally enhance menus with fresh produce. Sustainability initiatives throughout the resort include no single-use plastics in meeting setups, handmade organic confetti for wedding packages, refillable and recyclable bottles of water by Florida-based Proud Source, and team activities involving local conservation groups. A resort team-building activity includes group raft building using repurposed materials. Groups of up to six can build rafts to race on Florida Bay. The resort has over 20,000 square feet of meeting space including a 7,000-square-foot outdoor garden set among shady coconut palm trees. Visit bakerscay.com or call 305-852-5553.

The beachfront Islander Resort Islamoradaundergoing a multi-phase renovation set for completion by mid-December, has unveiled refurbished guest rooms, amenities and resort activities at the 82100 Overseas Highway property. Fully renovated bungalows feature oceanside rooms and suites with updated furniture and interiors in creams, whites, soft pinks and light blues, complementing each room's private patio and lush manicured foliage. Its nearby renovated Bayside Villas at Islander Resort, with townhome-style accommodations redone in the same aesthetic with refurbished kitchens, is at 81450 Overseas Highway. Islander Resort’s activities include yoga, crafting shell jewelry, live music, Beach Movie Night on Fridays, Moonrise Bonfires on Saturdays, complimentary loungers and rentable beach cabanas. Indoor meeting space, totaling 18,000 square feet, also is slated for renovations. Upgrades are also planned at three on-site dining options: Tides Beachside Bar & Grill, offering lunch, dinner and cocktails with poolside and beachside service; Elements Restaurant, serving breakfast; and the Oasis oceanfront food truck. Visit islanderfloridakeys.com or call 305-664-2031.

Islamorada Resort Collection is to offer 379 guestrooms,12 dining outlets, 80,000 square feet of meeting space and a world-class fishing fleet when its newest resort, the 214-room Three Waters Resort & Marina, is unveiled in Islamorada this fall as an independent Marriott Bonvoy’s Tribute Portfolio hotel — the brand’s first Florida Keys location. The resort is to include an island-style pizza restaurant, a new signature restaurant featuring wood-fired fare and an outdoor venue with Central American cuisine; two retail shops; a water taxi for guests and a full-service marina; and renovated Tiki Bar. The Collection currently includes the 110-room Amara Cay Resort and the 55-unit La Siesta Resort & Villas. Planned activities include offshore and backcountry fishing and ocean adventures by Spray Watersports, with a 26-mile personal watercraft tour of backcountry mangroves and wildlife preserves. Visit islamoradaresortcollection.com or call 866-806-0730. 

The 125-unit Faro Blanco Resort & Yacht Club, located by Marathon's iconic 1950s lighthouse, is to convert to Faro Blanco Resort & Yacht Club, Curio Collection by Hilton, in July. On the resort's third floor, premium king and queen rooms are now fully renovated with new furniture and accents featuring light wood tones, natural textures and Keys-inspired tropical art. All guest rooms are to be fully renovated by late summer. The property includes one-story bungalows, a new multi-level pool deck with bar ad infinity pool, poolside cabanas and an all-new spa and fitness center, and 40,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space. The resort is located at 1996 Overseas Highway. Visit faroblancoresort.com or call 305-743-1234.

The Middle Keys' 24-acre,199-unit Isla Bella Beach Resort at 1 Knights Key Blvd. in Marathon haslaunched a partnership with Conch Republic Marine Army, with complimentary voluntourism excursions available for hotel guestsThe nonprofit organization dedicates resources to the cleanup and restoration of Keys mangrove habitats. For groups of 20 or more, with a minimum food and beverage purchase, perks include an "It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere" welcome reception, breakfast vouchers at Marketplace, private pool for a day, fee-waived indoor meeting space, reduced outdoor site fees, room upgrades, one complimentary room night for 40 booked, and reduced resort and parking fees. The Virtuoso Preferred resort's offerings include a recently unveiled Sushi Cabana restaurant, on-site fishing, diving and watersports charters, a 4,000-square-foot spa, five pools, five food and beverage venues, and more than 20,000 square feet of function space including 16,000 of outdoor space and a 2,800-square-foot Hibiscus Event Center. Visit islabellabeachresort.com or call 305-481-9451.

In the Lower Keys, the new 44-unit, all-suite Sugarloaf Key Hotel at the Sugarloaf Key/Key West KOA Resort is open with amenities including boat rentals, poolside pub and café, scheduled weekly trivia nights and live music, ice cream and s’mores socials. Hotel suites accommodate up to six guests and include private outdoor decks overlooking the property, kitchens with dishwasher and full-size washer and dryer, and separate living room and bedroom. Unveiled in December 2023, the hotel is located at 251 State Road 939 on Sugarloaf Key. Visit sugarloafkeyhotel.com or call 305-745-3549.The legendary 311-room Casa Marina Key West, Curio Collection by Hilton, has unveiled extensive renovations to its 1500 Reynolds St. property.

Accommodating groups from 10 to 500, a new 5,000-square-foot oceanfront event lawn has been added to its existing 11,000 square feet of indoor event space — which includes the newly enhanced 3,100-square-foot historic Flagler's Ballroom, 2,600-square-foot Grand Ballroom and versatile 5,000-square-foot Keys Ballroom. All guest rooms — including 63 suites, many with large oceanfront balconies and patios — are renovated. The resort's food and beverage outlets include the new lobby bar and lounge inspired by Ernest Hemingway, The Canary Room, Morrison's Market and Flagler's Ballroom. A new beach bar has opened complete with food service. Dorada, the resort’s signature oceanside restaurant, is scheduled to open in late May. Two upgraded piers accommodate watersports and group activities such as personal watercraft tours, private snorkeling trips on a luxury catamaran and sunset sails. Sister property The Reach Key West, Curio Collection by Hilton, is located at 1435 Simonton St. on Key West’s only private natural sand beach. Visit casamarinaresort.com or call 305-296-3535, orreachresort.com or call 305-296-5000.

Key West’s Southernmost Beach Resort has unveiled newly renovated guest houses — four restored 19th-century Victorian homes for adult-only accommodations. The guest houses — Avalon, Dewey, Duval Gardens and La Mer — blend intimate charms of bed-and-breakfast properties with modern resort amenities and services. Shared spaces include the beachfront Dewey Deck and the new Parlour Bar at Avalon, offering an array of handcrafted cocktails, local beers and an extensive wine list. Guests have access to amenities including three pools, bars, a spa, private Atlantic Ocean beach and the Southernmost Beach Cafe. Southernmost Beach Resort, located at 1319 Duval St., offers live entertainment, group yoga classes, cocktail tastings and trivia contests. Visit southernmostbeachresort.com or call 800-354-4455.

In Key West, the newly independent Key West Historic Inns — the five historic boutique properties of Ella's Cottages, Fitch Lodge, Lighthouse Hotel, Ridley House and Winslow's Bungalows in the Old Town district — is under new management with Pivot, a division of Davidson Hospitality Group. The Davidson portfolio also includes Islamorada Resort Collection in Islamorada and Baker's Cay Resort in Key Largo.Visit keywesthistoricinns.com or call 305-294-3333.

Keys Adventures

In Key West, Steve and Doris Colgate’s Offshore Sailing School — founded in 1964 by Olympian and America’s Cup competitor Steve Colgate — offers three-day Learn to Sail and weeklong Catamaran Live Aboard Cruising courses for US Sailing certification. The renowned sailing school packages its courses with a resort stay at Beachside Resort & Residences; courses are also offered without accommodations. Sailing lessons and bareboat cruising courses are taught aboard a Colgate 26 sailboat or a Lagoon 40 Catamaran, used for six days with cruising certification courses. To celebrate the company’s 60th anniversary, course pricing starts at $1,964 per person, excluding accommodations; with sailing lessons priced at $125 per person per hour with a two-hour minimum. Visit OffshoreSailing.com, email info@OffshoreSailing.com or call 888-385-6177. 

Yankee Freedom, the National Park Service ferry concessionaire taking visitors to the remote Dry Tortugas National Park 70 miles west of Key West, has ordered a larger high-speed catamaran to replace its current vessel. The new all-aluminum Yankee Freedom IV is to carry 175 passengers daily and measures 112.5 feet long and 31.6 feet at the beam. The new boat, with a speed of 28 knots, is to offer main-cabin seating for 130 passengers as well as tables, a snack bar and an audiovisual information center. Delivery is expected in 2025. Visit drytortugas.com or call 800-634-0939.

Keys Sustainability

In Key Largo, The Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) is building a new REEF Ocean Exploration Center for Marine Conservation, to be unveiled June 8, 2025, on World Oceans Day. The $5 million, 4,000-square-foot two-story facility, with a second-floor balcony, is to feature an ocean exploration gallery and three centers for discovery science, ocean outreach and program planning. REEF’s headquarters is a classic conch-style house, known as the oldest building in the Upper Keys still in its original location. Its on-site Interpretive Center, for groups of up to 80, provides educational experiences about fish identification, lionfish and mangrove ecology. REEF is located at 98300 Overseas Highway. Visit reef.org/mccproject or call 305-852-0030.

In the Lower Keys on Summerland Key, the Plant a Million Corals Foundation and the Key West–based Coastlove are collaborating to grow mangroves at the foundation’s Summerland Farms, located at 23801 Overseas Highway. Visitors and small groups can tour the facility to learn about global coral restoration and micro-fragmentation, and the Florida Keys Mangrove Nursery, where mangrove propagules are potted and raised for planting programs. Mangroves and coral reefs offer natural protection against tropical storms, buffering waves and storm surge. Visit plantamillioncorals.org or call 772-216-0391.  

Keys Attractions

The Keys are installing 32 public pickleball courts this year to meet demand of the newest recreational sports craze. In Key Largo at Key Largo Community Park, 10 are set for completion by summer by the Monroe County Parks and Beaches department. On Big Pine Key, three courts at Blue Heron Park are to be completed this year, for a total of six. Also, pickleball lines have been added to two Big Pine Key Community Park tennis courts. In Key West at Higgs Beach there are six permanent courts and two multi-purpose courts with an additional six pickleball courts on two tennis courts. Also in Key West, pickleball lines were painted on two Bay Point Park courts. Visit parksandbeaches.fun or call 305-453-8748.

Key West’s restored Elizabeth Bishop House, where the famed United States poet laureate lived and wrote during the 1930s and ‘40s, is expected to open in early 2025. Bishop purchased the 19th-century eyebrow house in 1938. Plans for the on-site Elizabeth Bishop Garden — to include plants from a list drawn from botanical and garden references in Bishop’s letters, poems, paintings and sketches — include public visitor tours in 2025. An accessible garden pathway is to lead visitors through permanent exhibits illuminating Bishop’s life and work to a small seating area for reflection and reading. A rear yard presentation area will seat about 50. The property, a registered Literary Landmark and the new home of the Key West Literary Seminar, is located at 624 White St. Visit kwls.org or call 305-293-9291.

Keys Dining

In Islamorada, the all-new 3,700-square-foot Papa Joe’s Waterfront — providing signature sunset views of both the Atlantic Ocean and Florida Bay on Upper Matecumbe Key — is open. Stretching over Florida Bay, the venue seats 130 indoors and 32 on the outdoor patio and features a large open Tiki bar. Originally built in 1938, Papa Joe’s was a Florida Keys institution until it was demolished in 2011. Located at 79786 Overseas Highway, it’s open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday (closed Wednesday), and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Visit PapaJoesWaterfront.com or call 305-433-4662.


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