The Florida Keys and Key West: What's New, Post-Pandemic

The Florida Keys and Key West once again began to welcome visitors on June 1, albeit under pressure from officials to ensure that everyone takes personal responsibility and precautions to contain any further spread of COVID-19.

A Keys-wide county ordinance requires visitors and residents to wear facial coverings that shield the nose and mouth within business establishments and all public settings that have a roof overhead. People are permitted to remove their masks while seated at restaurants and bars for drinking and dining.

The face-covering rule recommends that everyone over the age of six carries their own mask and don it whenever coming within six feet of another person, even if they’re outdoors. Keys officials are also asking the public to embrace such proven protective measures as social distancing and frequent handwashing.

Throughout the Keys, all hotel and resort properties, restaurants and bars, parks, attractions, watersports providers and other visitor venues have implemented enhanced safeguards in terms of heightened sanitization practices, and social distancing in restaurants, at attraction sites and other public venues.

There are also a number of new properties and hotel enhancements debuting in the Keys post-pandemic:

Cheeca Lodge & Spa, Islamorada: the 214-room, 27-acre, oceanfront property has added a third pool and a second open-air Tiki bar. The new zero-entry, 1,100-square-foot pool provides views over the Atlantic and sits alongside the resort’s private beach, and complements an existing family pool nearby, plus an adults-only pool at The Spa. The new Tiki bar, named ’25 South’, serves up tropical cocktails and all-day casual fare, including lobster grilled-cheese, lobster mac-and-cheese and catch-of-the-day tacos, and is open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

81801 Overseas Highway, Islamorada, FL – Visit cheeca.com or call 800-327-2888.

Sunshine Key RV Resort & Marina, Ohio Key: In the Lower Keys, this the 75-acre, 399-site RV resort has now launched the Sunshine Key Tiny House Village. Priced from $250 per night (plus tax), all models are under 350 square feet, sleep two to six guests, and include standing shower and full bath, air-conditioning and heating, basic-cable TV, linens, refrigerator, stove-top, coffeemaker, toaster, cookware, dinnerware and outdoor dining area. These Petite Retreats are situated along the resort’s gulf-side shoreline, offering beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

38801 Overseas Highway, Ohio Key, FL – Visit sunshinekeytinyhouse.com or call 877-570-2267.

Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, Little Torch Key: Part of the Nobel House Hotels & Resorts collection, this exclusive, adults-only, ultra-luxury resort is now open, offering and just 30 thatched-roof bungalow suites with British Colonial aesthetic for a maximum 60 guests at a time. The oceanfront pool area provides private cabanas, beach lounge chairs and relaxing hammocks, and the grand dining room boasts sweeping ocean views. The property is accessible only via boat or seaplane.

28500 Overseas Highway, Little Torch Key, FL – Visit littlepalmisland.com or call 888-413-0560.

Deer Run on the Atlantic, Big Pine Key: This oceanfront, four-room, boutique-style property lies in the heart of the National Key Deer Refuge and is an eco-tourist’s ideal haven. It’s one of only six in the state to boast a prestigious Florida Green Lodging Program 4-Palm designation, bestowed by the Florida Department of Environmental Education. The 100-percent vegan establishment provides guests with a full daily breakfast, private porches, an on-site beach, Wi-Fi, parking, bicycles and kayaks.

1997 Long Beach Road, Big Pine Key, FL. – Visit deerrunontheatlantic.com or call 305-872-2015.

Kimpton Key West Collection, Key West: The new 219-room Kimpton Key West collection has just opened the doors of its first of five planned boutique hotel properties, all converted from former Historic Key West Inns. With 85 guest rooms, Winslow’s Bungalows—named for the artist Winslow Homer—is the largest property in the collection and features three on-site swimming pools (725 Truman Ave).

Also scheduled to open throughout June 2020 are three more pet-friendly Kimpton Old Town resorts: the Lighthouse Hotel (902 Whitehead St); Ella’s Cottages, perfect for groups and extended stays (811 Simonton St); and Ridley House, ideal for honeymooners and VIPs (601 Caroline St). The fifth and final property, Fitch Lodge (1030 Eaton St), is scheduled to open on July 15, 2020.

Each Kimpton Key West resort will feature its own pool, lounging hammocks, hosted breakfast and complimentary bicycles for guests, with packages offered that include parking.

Visit kimptonkeywest.com or call 877-219-4500.

Barbary Beach House Key West, Key West: Situated across the street from Key West’s half-mile stretch of Atlantic shoreline at Smathers Beach, this recently converted, 184-room, pet-friendly property reopened June 1. Guests will love its lagoon-style pool, lounging hammocks and full-service indoor/outdoor restaurant and pool bar, plus a unique event space laid out beneath a 1,500-square-foot palapa. At the Barbary Beach Club, just across the street, guests can take our paddleboards, kayaks and Hobie Cat sailboats to fully take advantage of the oceanfront location. The resort is only a mile away from Key West International Airport, and also provides guests with complimentary shuttle service to Duval Street and the downtown area.

2001 South Roosevelt Blvd, Key West, FL – Visit barbarybeachhousekeywest.com or call 855-335-1072.

For more information, visit fla-keys.com.

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