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What’s New in the Florida Keys & Key West for Spring & Summer 2024

Family Fun
This Family Fun story spotlights a family-focused attraction, event or place that enriches the Florida Keys for visitors of all ages

April 2024: Springtime in the Florida Keys & Key West features weather that’s ideally suited for every type of outdoor activity. Throughout the 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 and mangrove restoration.

Among what’s new

Keys Accommodations 

The beachfront Islander Resort Islamorada, undergoing a multi-phased renovation, has recently unveiled its refurbished guest rooms, amenities and new resort activities. Highlights include fully renovated bungalows featuring oceanside rooms and suites with updated interiors to complement each room's private patio and lush, manicured foliage. The resort’s renovated Bayside Villas at Islander Resort offer town home-style accommodations redone in the same aesthetic with refurbished kitchens. Islander Resort’s activities now include yoga, shell jewellery making, Beach Movie Night on Fridays, live music, Moonrise Bonfires on Saturdays, complimentary loungers and rentable beach cabanas. Guests also can enjoy the resort's saltwater pool, freshwater pool and hot tub. Additional renovations are soon to include upgrades to 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 with fresh seafood. A new beachside dining pavilion and redesigned menus at each venue are also being added.

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 in Islamorada - Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina – is unveiled this summer. Culinary experiences are 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. Activities are to include offshore and backcountry fishing and ocean adventures by Spray Watersports, with a 26-mile jet ski tour of backcountry mangroves and wildlife preserves. 

The 125-unit Faro Blanco Resort & Yacht Club, located at Marathon's iconic 1950s lighthouse, is undergoing conversion as the Faro Blanco Resort & Yacht Club, Curio Collection by Hilton. The conversion is scheduled for completion this summer. On the resort’s third floor, premium king and queen rooms are now renovated with new furniture with light wood tones, natural textures and Keys-inspired tropical art. All guest rooms are to undergo renovations in upcoming months. The property is to include over 40,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, one- and two-story bungalows, a new multilevel pool deck with bar and infinity pool, two-story poolside cabanas and an all-new spa and fitness centre. Adjacent to the resort, located at 1996 Overseas Highway, is the 74-slip Faro Blanco Marina. 

On Sugarloaf Key in the Lower Keys, the 44-unit, all-suite Sugarloaf Key Hotel at the Sugarloaf Key/Key West KOA Resort is now open. Guests can enjoy KOA resort amenities including boat rentals, poolside pub and café, scheduled weekly activities and events such as trivia nights and live music, ice cream and s’mores socials. Well-appointed hotel suites can 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. 

In Key West, the newly independent Key West Historic Inns - a portfolio of five historic boutique properties in the Old Town district - is now under new management with Pivot, the lifestyle operating vertical division of Davidson Hospitality Group. The five inns include Ella's Cottages, Fitch Lodge, Lighthouse Hotel, Ridley House and Winslow's Bungalows. The Davidson portfolio also includes Islamorada Resort Collection in Islamorada and Baker's Cay Resort in Key Largo. 

The Key West Marriott Beachside Resort has been rebranded as the 222-room Beachside Resort & Residences by Spottswood Companies, based in Key West. Its management company Brightwild, which connects guests to local culture, offers guest experiences, managers and city guides to customise visitor experiences like those enjoyed by residents. 

Key West’s Southernmost Beach Resort has unveiled its 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 a modern resort's amenities and services. Fostering a sense of community, they include shared spaces such as the beachfront Dewey Deck and the new Parlour Bar at Avalon, offering an array of hand-crafted cocktails and 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. 

Keys Sustainability

Key Largo’s Coral Restoration Foundation recently welcomed three additional Keys dive operators to its public dive programme. In Key Largo, Pirate Cove Watersports and Conch Republic have joined as participants, while Southpoint Divers has been added in Key West. The dive programme is open to both certified divers and snorkellers, who work to clean, maintain, monitor and plant corals in underwater nurseries. 

In the Lower Keys on Summerland Key, the Plant a Million Corals Foundation and the Key West-based Coastlove have partnered in a collaboration to grow mangroves at the foundation’s Summerland Farms. Visitors and residents can tour the facility and mangrove nursery where mangrove propagules are potted and raised for planting programmes. Mangroves and coral reefs are effective natural protections against tropical storms and serve as buffers for waves and storm surge. 

Mote Marine Laboratory, with its Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration located on Summerland Key, has unveiled an Adopt-A-Coral programme in the Keys. Mote also operates coral nurseries in Key Largo and Islamorada, and has permanent exhibits at Islamorada’s Florida Keys History & Discovery Center and the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center in Key West. Digital E-Pal coral adoptions are $30 and come with a digital adoption certificate and photo of the “adoptee” with fact sheet. Adoption donations help Mote scientists breed corals with higher resilience to increasing heat, test various disease treatments and plant new corals onto damaged reefs.

Keys Attractions

Key West’s Aquaplex, located in the heart of the island city’s LGBTQ entertainment district, recently debuted its Birdcage Cabaret with renowned female impersonator Christopher Peterson. Known for performing his EYECONS show at Key West venues and in other cities, his Birdcage performances blend traditional impersonations of famous divas with elaborate new elements and feature a rotating cast of Aquanettes, the complex’s signature drag queens. The new 90-minute cabaret show is staged Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. 

Keys Dining

In Islamorada, the all-new 3,700-square-foot Papa Joe’s Waterfront - known for its signature sunset views of both the Atlantic Ocean and Florida Bay on Upper Matecumbe Key - serves “elevated casual fare” such as calamari, tuna nacho and “conch puppy” appetisers; hamburgers and fresh fish sandwiches for lunch; and fish and steak plates for dinner. 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. 

In Islamorada at Bud N’ Mary’s Fishing Marina, the new PR Café, open for breakfast and lunch daily, is operated by Erik Rodriguez, the executive chef at Islamorada’s Ziggie & Mad Dog’s restaurant. PR Café’s breakfast offerings include meat, egg and cheese options on croissants, bagels and English muffins. Sandwiches and take-away lunches, with weekly specials, are available for diners and fishing charters departing daily out of the complex’s adjacent marina.

Bungalow Outdoor Living Area (courtesy of Islander Resort Islamorada)

Bungalow Outdoor Living Area (courtesy of Islander Resort Islamorada)

This article was updated on April 24, 2024 at 8:55 AM