December 19, 2018

Free Press
Visitors will find lush landscaping filling the Islander Resort's 24 acres as the landmark spot reopens later this week.

Free Press Visitors will find lush landscaping filling the Islander Resort's 24 acres as the landmark spot reopens later this week.

ISLAMORADA — Even ardent fans of the Islander Resort, an iconic destination on Islamorada’s oceanfront, may be awed by its rebirth this week.

“It’s a brand-new property, basically. Everything in the rooms is new,” General Manager Scott Simmons said. “We’ve always made upgrades through the years, but now we’ve taken it to a whole new level.”

The Islander ramps up for the winter season with a soft opening this week. Online reservations are being accepted for early January.

After Hurricane Irma’s unwelcome visit in September 2017, the 114-room resort was among several Upper Matecumbe Key hotels closed for extensive repairs.

Results of months of work on the 24-acre property have been described as a “reimagined, luxury oceanside experience.”

“The amenities and quality of our product will be comparable to the other higher-end properties in Islamorada,” Simmons said. “Our rooms all have hurricane glass and central air-conditioning. One of our biggest changes is our new landscaping. It’s quite lavish.”

Operations Manager Eric Carlson added, “Every item in the rooms, down to the towels and linens, has been handpicked. Our major focus will be on our staff’s level of service. Our guests won’t want for anything.”

The Islander Resort will have about 100 employees for the break-in phase, eventually growing to more than 150.

Among amenities will be concierge service, private beach cabanas, two pools plus a hot tub and kids’ splash pad, activity programs, waterfront yoga, environmental education programs and a range of water sports.

The Tides Beachside Bar and Grill at poolside will be serving during the early weeks of reopening. The new Elements Lounge and Restaurant debuts in the near future with “destination dining at its finest.”

The Islander Resort is a partner member of greenhotels.com, dedicated to environment-friendly practices that include use of solar panels on several buildings, energy-efficient procedures, biodegradable products and multiple stations for refilling personal water bottles.

The Florida Keys History & Discovery Center on the Islander grounds has added several new features, including a coral reef aquarium exhibit in partnership with Mote Marine Laboratory.

“It’s been a long process to develop all this,” Simmons said. “We’re thrilled to be back open to help our community.”

The Islander Resort (islanderfloridakeys.com) is located at mile marker 82.1 on Upper Matecumbe Key. Call 305-664-2031 or 800-753-6002 for information.

kwadlow@keysnews.com