A cornerstone of the Islamorada community since 1946, Cheeca Lodge & Spa will mark its 70th anniversary in November 2016.
Paying tribute to the hotel’s spirited traditions, Cheeca is to stage a yearlong celebration titled “Authentically Cheeca” that will include unique Florida Keys experiences through promotions, partnerships and programming.
With the support of local businesses such as Islamorada’s Florida Keys Brewing Co., and the debut of a new Guest Adventures program among other property updates, guests can expect classic Cheeca services while enjoying the many activities Islamorada has to offer.
Cheeca Lodge & Spa is a 27-acre property in the heart of Islamorada. The historic resort is also home to some of the United States’ most highly acclaimed fishing tournaments. For more information, visit www.cheeca.com or call 305-664-4651.
Set to open in January 2016, the Courtyard Marathon Florida Keys will feature panoramic bay views and a white sand beachfront.
Hotel guests can enjoy an infinity pool, fitness center, pool bar and on-site casual dining. Other amenities include on-site parking, local restaurant dinner delivery and more than 14,000 square feet of total meeting space. For more information, visit www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mthmc-courtyard-marathon-florida-keys/ or call 305-289-2100.
Keys Arts and Culture
Tavernier Creek Marina in Islamorada now is home to sea life artist David Dunleavy’s new outdoor mural, “Dolphin Rodeo.” The large-scale creation, which features a bull and cow dolphin fish leaping to feed on flying fish, stretches 252 feet wide and 32 feet high.
The artwork is the 62nd in a series of outdoor sea life murals Dunleavy has painted in the U.S., Bahamas and Australia. It is his fourth mural in the Keys and has become the largest outdoor artwork ever created in the island chain.
The marina’s location just off the Florida Keys Overseas Highway ensures the mural’s high visibility for southbound motorists. The vibrant illustration covers two metal boat storage barns located at 90800 Overseas Highway, mile marker 90.8 bayside. For more information, visit www.mytaverniercreekmarina.com or call 305-852-5854.
After closing for six weeks for renovations, the Key West Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters has reopened for tours.
Renovations included upgrades to both the interior and exterior of the lighthouse from washing, cleaning and painting to other restoration work. The museum store also received upgrades, and renovations to the Keeper’s Quarters are scheduled to be complete by spring 2016.
Located at 938 Whitehead St., the 167-year-old structure serves as a beacon of Key West’s maritime history. Visitors can walk up the 88 steps to the top of the light as well as explore the belongings, photographs and words of the lighthouse keepers and their families. For more information, visit www.kwahs.org/visit/lighthouse-keepers-quarters/ or call 305-294-0012.
The Gallery, a new Key Largo venue showcasing local art, has opened in Miller’s Village at 102991 Overseas Highway. The shop features 10 artists who are local to South Florida and who specialize in a wide variety of handmade items.
Some of the featured works include those of Keys residents Carl and Mary Siel, while other contributors including Diane Snider of Live Wylde Jewelry Designs, Emily McElfresh of the Crafty Pelican, Broward County resident Robert Stein, and Brian Schofield.
In addition to the art gallery, the grounds are soon to feature a small coffee shop in the back of the building that will also sell homemade Key lime pies, as well as an outdoor reptile pen. For more information, call 305-916-5117
The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, acclaimed as Key West’s best-known visitor attraction, is debuting theOfficial App of the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum.
The home, located at 907 Whitehead St. in the heart of Old Town Key West, was where author Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote in the 1930s.
The new app, to be available for both iOS and Android phones, features a detailed map of the property and six separate tours. The tours include an overview of the house and museum, a garden tour, a comprehensive description of Hemingway’s years in Key West, an overview and synopsis of Hemingway’s writing, descriptions of films based on Hemingway novels and a “cat tour” introducing the famed felines — many of them six-toed — that inhabit the property today.
The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center in Tavernier has expanded its Mission Wild Bird building at 92080 Overseas Highway to include Wild Bird Explore.
Wild Bird Explore features a series of interactive exhibits including streaming videos of bird releases and hospital activities, Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology eBird kiosk, a children’s build-a-bird puzzle section, interactive bird migration maps, and a section on bird anatomy with X-rays, articulated skeletons and more.
The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of native and migratory wild birds that have been harmed or displaced; to providing or locating a humane shelter for those birds that cannot be released; and to educating the public about the importance of coexistence with all wild bird species. For more information, visit www.keepthemflying.org or call 305-852-4486.
The Infamous Hauntings Ghost Tour is an intriguing walk that visits the island’s most captivating hauntings and iconic locations. The tour explores Isleno’s curse, a murdered Klansman’s spirit, human and feline ghosts of the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum at 907 Whitehead St. and the historic lighthouse at 937 Whitehead St. The evening concludes inside the haunted “secret brothel room” at Viva Saloon, 903 Duval St.
Also new for 2015 is the Haunted Happy Hour Saloon Stroll, where guests can raise a toast to ghosts before the sun goes down. The two-hour-plus saloon stroll includes drinks including rum from a still and features stories about botched hangings, in-bar burials, a haunted bar stool and a unique collection of haunted artifacts. For more information visit www.hauntedkeywest.com or call 305-395-1435.
Starting in January, Raven Air is to offer nonstop flights between Florida’s Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and Key West International Airport.
Raven is scheduled to fly on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays, carrying passengers in a five-passenger Aztec aircraft. Flights are scheduled to depart Key West at 9:50 a.m. and arrive at Sarasota-Bradenton at 11 a.m., then depart at 11:30 a.m. and land at Key West at 12:40 p.m.
Fares start at $129 each way. For more information, visit www.ravenair.net or call 239-777-4046.
Keys Food and Drink
A 150-seat restaurant and bar dubbed Fish recently opened to provide casual fine dining in the Lower Keys.
Located at mile marker 14.5 on the Overseas Highway, the waterfront restaurant and bar offers an upscale yet casual dining experience with fresh food and creative cocktails, beers and wines.
Owners Matt McKnight, Matt Moline and Jason Gwynne have conceived a menu that specializes in fresh seafood from local Keys captains. It is designed to be versatile and “foodie friendly” with a mix of traditional Key West flair and creative twists on many popular dishes from around the globe.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/fish14.5/ or call 305-735-4201.