Note: The Florida Keys on Sept. 25 said it would reopen for visitors on Oct. 1, nearly three weeks earlier than expected.
Officials in the Hurricane Irma-raked Florida Keys have maintained
an Oct. 20 reopening date for tourists, even as many area resorts said they
would open as early as the end of this month, and at least one cruise ship
planned to call on Key West on Sept. 24.
While Key West and Key Largo were relatively spared, the
islands along the 100-mile stretch in between were not as fortunate, spurring
officials in Monroe County to advise tourists to avoid the Overseas Highway so repair
efforts aren't hindered.
Adding to the confusion, Key West International Airport
resumed service on Wednesday but noted on its website that "only Monroe
County residents or those assisting in the Hurricane Irma recovery effort
should be traveling to the Keys."
However, the Port of Key West said it would reopen to cruise
ships, and Royal Caribbean International said the Empress of the Seas is
scheduled to call there on Sept. 24.
"The hotels can reopen when they want, but we as a
tourist development council are waiting for the word from officials when we can
start promoting the region again," said Andy Newman, spokesman for the
Monroe County Tourist Development Council. "With Oct. 20, that was a safe
thing, though it's certainly possible from an official standpoint that the
destination may reopen earlier."
With that in mind, many hotels, having complied with local
authorities' Sept. 6 evacuation orders, are reopening in late September and
early October. Other properties will remain closed to comply with the Oct. 20 date
or because they need repairs. (Note: the projected opening dates of hotels are subject to change.)
Concha Key West is already open. The DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hotel Grand Key-Key West
forecast a reopening date of Sept. 30, while the Hilton Garden Inn Key West and
Hyatt Residence Club Key West Sunset Harbor plan to reopen Oct. 1.. The Hyatt Residence Club Key West, Beach House
plans to reopen Oct. 2. Key West's 175-room Oceans Edge Hotel will reopen "in
part or in full" by Sept. 30.
The Reach Key West and Casa Marina Key West, which are both
part of Hilton's Waldorf Astoria group, will reopen Oct. 13, as will the Hyatt
Centric Key West. Sheraton Suites Key West reopened with "limited
operations" on Sept. 16, while the Inn at Key West will remain closed
until further notice.
In Marathon, the Hyatt Place Marathon/Florida Keys reopens
Oct. 1, while the Tranquility Bay and Hawks Cay resorts won't reopen until at
least mid-October. Bluegreen Vacations Hammocks at Marathon, an Ascend
Collection hotel, and the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Marathon are slated
to reopen in November.
In Key Largo, the 10 hotels overseen by Marriott and Hilton
have reopened. The Quality Inn Florida City-Homestead reopens Sept. 24, while
Dove Creek Lodge, an Ascend Collection hotel, resumes operations Oct. 9.
Correction: La Concha Key West is already open.