September 5, 2018

KEVIN WADLOW/Free Press
Koral the Mermaid welcomes guests to the Hawks Cay pool as the Duck Key resort reopens the doors of the main lodge Aug. 30 after hurricane recovery.

KEVIN WADLOW/Free Press Koral the Mermaid welcomes guests to the Hawks Cay pool as the Duck Key resort reopens the doors of the main lodge Aug. 30 after hurricane recovery.

DUCK KEY — A landmark Florida Keys vacation spot for more than half-century, Hawks Cay Resort reopened its main lodge Aug. 30 to cap its $50 million renovation after Hurricane Irma.

“Many of the areas of the Florida Keys have recovered,” said Sheldon Suga, Hawks Cay vice president and managing director, “and we just took our time to do this right.”

All 177 guest rooms in the main lodge have been renovated and updated. The resort’s 250 vacation villas resumed rentals starting in March.

Suga said in the wake of the September 2017 storm, Hawks Cay’s owners and managers decided to “reimagine” the Duck Key resort rather than make hasty repairs to damaged facilities.

“The reimagined Hawks Cay experience celebrates its island sensibility with a design that allows its magnificent ocean surroundings to become the centerpiece of the refreshed hotel,” described a representative. The main hotel “is infused with a color palette of tropical hues and patterns that reflect the movement of the ocean.”

Monroe County Mayor David Rice, a Duck Key resident, commended Hawks Cay executives “for turning adversity into opportunity.”

New dining options include Hawks Cay Marketplace, “a casual eatery with menu items from sandwiches and salads to pizzas and pastas,” to the more upscale Sixty-one Prime, a steakhouse with choice meats and a selection of “Florida Fresh” seafood.

Hawks Cay created Oasis Cay, a poolside venue with bar service and an Atlantic Ocean view for the over-21 set.

The resort offers four freshwater pools, among them a dedicated Pirate Ship Pool for youngsters at Coral Cay.

Fishing, paddlesport and diving experiences are available, as are treatments at the Calm Waters spa.

Hawks Cay marked the reopening weekend by hosting its 10th annual Heroes Salute for military veterans. The agenda for the special tribute planned a 5K run, concerts and a fireworks show.

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm Beach, an Army veteran who lost both legs to a bomb in Afghanistan, spoke at the Hawks Cay reopening to commend resort managers for supporting veterans and the Middle Keys community after Irma.

Ken Lawson, president and chief executive of Visit Florida, said the ongoing recovery of Florida Keys vacation businesses “is so important to the overall Florida tourism economy, and Hawks Cay is a leader.”

“Other hotels are coming back on line, doors are opening and things are coming together,” Lawson said. “That shows this community will not be beaten down.”

kwadlow@keysnews.com