The Florida Keys officially reopened to tourists on Sunday, Oct. 1, after taking a direct beating from Hurricane Irma just three weeks earlier on Sept. 10.
While recovery efforts are still ongoing, especially in the Lower Keys and parts of Marathon where the storm hit hardest, officials chose to reopen the destination thanks to the speedy completion of significant infrastructure repairs, almost total restoration of utilities, and out of necessity for resuming the tourism-driven economy that employs about 50 percent of the Keys workforce.
“By welcoming visitors to the destination, it will provide the jobs and the hope that our residents are looking for so they can begin to rebuild their lives,” said Stacey Mitchell, director of marketing for the Florida Keys tourism council.
The destination has also rolled out a $1 million emergency advertising campaign to lure travelers back to the islands.
Local business owners are also encouraging the return of tourists. “We have a big mess of trees,” said Christopher Shultz, owner of various bars and restaurants in Key West, including The Porch. “That’s really it. We’re rebuilding. The party atmosphere and the fun didn’t get blown away. Tree branches did.”
The Key West port has already welcomed the first cruise ship guests back to the island.
La Concha Hotel & Spa
La Concha, Key West’s tallest and most iconic hotel is open for business with rates starting at $191 through October 20. The hotel in the heart of Duval Street stayed open throughout Irma, accommodating evacuees, locals, first responders and clean up crews. With past guests ranging from Harry S. Truman to Tennessee Williams, La Concha is steeped in Key West’s history.
430 Duval St., 305-296-2991
Pier House Resort & Spa
Located on the Key West harbor, Pier House is currently welcoming guests with rates starting at $249 through October 20. The spa and restaurants are open for business, including the Chart Room, one of Key West’s saltiest dive bars.
One Duval St., 305-296-4600
Margaritaville Resort & Marina
Adjacent to Mallory Square, Margaritaville Resort & Marina is back in business with all services and amenities fully operational.
245 Front St., 305-294-4000
Located at “the gates” of the island in New Town, The Gates, with their stylish rooms, are open to guests. Resort fees are waived until October 20.
3824 N. Roosevelt Blvd., 305-320-0930
Sister property and neighbor to The Gates, 24 North is also open for business with resort fees waived until October 20.
3820 N. Roosevelt Blvd., 305-320-0940
The newest development in Stock Island, The Perry Hotel is happy to welcome guests back to their resort after hosting FEMA workers and first responders with rooms and hot meals during the recovery.
7001 Shrimp Rd., 305-296-1717
Banana Bay Resort & Marina
Located on 10 tropical acres in Marathon on Mile Marker 45, Banana Bay Resort & Marina is welcoming guest back with 25% off best available room rates through February 28 when booked by October 31.
4590 Overseas Hwy., 305-743-3500
Playa Largo Resort & Spa
Key Largo’s newest hotel Playa Largo is ready to welcome guests after housing relief workers during recover efforts post-storm.
97450 Overseas Hwy., 305-853-1001