Eight months after Hurricane Irma hit parts of Florida, the state is once again basking in the sun, with refurbished properties that look even better than they did last year pre-hurricane. And the areas of the state that didn’t feel Irma’s sting have upped the ante with even more offerings.
When in the Florida Keys…
The 27-acre Cheeca Lodge & Spa, which officially re-opened at the end of March, has undergone a $20 million renovation and rebuilt its famed 525-ft.-long wooden fishing pier. The main lobby, guestrooms, and spa have been redesigned, and the 9-hole golf course has been refurbished. A new pool and tiki bar are set to open later this month.
On Duck Key, the 60-acre Hawks Cay Resort, a four-diamond and Preferred Hotel Group Lifestyle Collection member, has reopened with 100 villas and its Calm Waters Spa, Sunset Pool, Coral Cay kids’ activities center and Angler and Ale restaurant with breakfast, lunch and dinner. The main hotel, with 177 guestrooms, is to reopen
The Keys’ first adults-only, all-inclusive resort is expected to open this month as the new Bungalows Key Largo featuring 135 guestrooms, two pools and various restaurants and bars.
The former Hilton Key Largo will re-open as the new 200-guestroom Baker’s Cay Resort, a Curio Collection by Hilton property, after completing renovations this fall, even offering pet amenities so Fido doesn’t have to stay behind.
Ocean Pointe Suites sustained extensive damage when Hurricane Irma ripped through the Florida Keys, but after months of rebuilding and renovating, the beachfront property reopened in March.
The transformation of the resort included major infrastructure enhancements to the marina, boardwalk and nature trails throughout the 60-acre resort, as well as an expanded beachfront with more facilities for swimmers, fishermen and sunbathers. Public spaces such as the jr. Olympic-size pool, tennis courts, tiki huts, and barbecue areas have also been refurbished, along with partial or full renovations of almost all suites, including new furniture and enhanced WiFi throughout the property.
When in Naples…
Naples Grande Beach Resort unveiled 50 newly renovated Garden Villa Suites. These secluded, custom-designed villas debuted as an additional phase of the resort’s multi-million-dollar refresh following the impact of Hurricane Irma. Also renovated are the property’s public spaces, guestrooms, spa, and restaurants. Off-season rates for the Garden Villa Suite start at $359 per night; resort rates start at $209 per night.
LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, a Noble House Resort has brought back its Sea Turtle Suite package for the 2018 nesting season. The 2-night package includes dining at the resort’s BALEEN Naples restaurant, the opportunity to adopt a sea turtle, and visit the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Guests can book now for the nesting season taking place between May and October 2018; rates start at $1,400.
Another option at this property is the Birdies, Bacon and Bourbon package starting at $699 per night available through June 30. Perfect for those dads on your roster who want to take a break in a luxurious beachfront suite, which accommodates up to four guests. He’ll also get to enjoy a round of golf for two, a bacon-inspired breakfast for two at BALEEN Naples with treats such as a bacon-studded waffle with Vermont maple bourbon syrup, and specialty Bourbon beachside cocktails for two.
This June, The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club will kick off its annual SummerJazz on the Gulf concert series. Running through September, these Saturday evening concerts at this four-diamond beachfront resort will play host to Show Biz Kids, a 12-piece Steely Dan tribute band, as well as the New Orleans-style TBone Hamilton’s Big Easy Revue. The hotel has a Stay 2 Nights and the 3rd Night is Free package that runs June 4 to Sept. 30.
For those into watersports, Paddle Naples offers guests paddleboarding, kayaking, and fishing tours. While on tour, guests might even spot pods of dolphin or manatees. Experienced adventurers can opt to explore the local area solely by water. Travelers can choose from hourly, daily, or multi-day rentals and tours, including full guided eco tours.
Baker’s Cay Resort: curiocollection3.hilton.com
Bungalows Key Largo: bungalowskeylargo.com
Cheeca Lodge & Spa: cheeca.com
The Florida Keys & Key West: fla-keys.com
Hawks Cay Resort: hawkscay.com
La Playa Beach & Golf Resort, a Noble House Resort: laplayaresort.com
Naples Grande Beach Resort: naplesgrande.com
Naples, Marco Island, Everglades: paradisecoast.com
Ocean Pointe Suites: providentresorts.com/ocean-pointe-suites
Paddle Naples: paddlenaples.com
The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club: naplesbeachhotel.com
Visit Tampa Bay: visittampabay.com
When in Tampa…
• Take a stroll along 7th Avenue in the historic neighborhood of Ybor City, with its Spanish and Italian architecture complemented by wrought iron balconies. The popular avenue spills over with bars, cafes, sidewalk jazz musicians, vintage shops, breweries and landmark restaurants, including the decorative Columbia Restaurant, whose history in the city stems back more than 100 years. Mingle with locals in the intimate confines of Ybor City’s Cigar City Cider & Mead where the menu of small-batch specialties changes regularly.
• Take in the waterfront while walking along Tampa Riverwalk, which has debuted monthly Fourth Friday events highlighting the city’s cultural side. New, too, are floating docks that give boaters, kayakers, and paddleboarders access to the Riverwalk.
• Try the city’s new food halls in historic Tampa Heights, where visitors can sample mouthwatering fare at Hall on Franklin or Heights Public Market located inside the waterfront Armature Works, both iconic buildings reborn as stylish, modern eateries.
• Spend a day at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, ideal for animals lovers and rollercoaster enthusiasts, and then skip on over next door to its sister waterpark, Adventure Island Tampa Bay, which recently debuted a new slide ride, Vanish Point. At the top of the 70-ft. tower, riders can choose between two 425-ft. paths: in one, the floor disappears beneath the rider, and in the other, riders go down a 455-ft.-long spiraling slide.
• Experience the new 4-D theater and splash pad at The Florida Aquarium.
• Take a detour to St. Petersburg to visit The Dali Museum, with a collection of works by Spanish artist Salvador Dali. Don’t miss the virtual reality experience: guests “walk” through a virtual wonderland of Dali’s paintings while listening to haunting music. Alfresco, dare to get lost in the museum’s garden maze.
•Luxury Hotel Pick: Part of the Autograph Collection, the food-focused, 137-room Epicurean hotel is a boutique property located in the trendy Hyde Park historic district of South Tampa. It features a state-of-the-art culinary classroom known as the Epicurean Theatre; Elevage, a restaurant where classic recipes are re-imagined; EDGE rooftop bar; Chocolate Pi patisserie; Bern’s Fine Wines & Spirits wine shop; and the Evangeline full-service spa.
And let clients know that the CityPASS will get them into some of Tampa Bay’s most popular attractions for half the normal cost of a ticket: $106 for adults, $96 for children 3-9 years of age, a 51 percent saving compared to buying all the tickets at full price.