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Sustainable Offerings, Added Flights and Renovated Resorts Among What's New in the Florida Keys & Key West for Winter 2020

This winter the Florida Keys continue to spotlight sustainability and responsible tourism as new resorts open, new low-impact tours and experiences are created and a new app is unveiled to promote safe driving and highlight eco-attractions.

Posted on Wed, Feb 5th, 2020 9:30 am by joyoftravel.ca news services

Here's what's new:

Keys Sustainability
On Big Pine Key, the new Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Nature Center is holding its official grand opening Feb. 15 to showcase more than 1,800 square feet of exhibition space highlighting the Keys' four national wildlife refuges: the National Key Deer, Great White Heron, Key West and Crocodile Lake refuges. Located at 30587 Overseas Highway near mile marker (MM) 30.5, the center is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and also includes an on-site Florida Keys Nature Store. Visit www.fws.gov/refuge/National_Key_Deer_Refuge/ or call 305-872-0774.

Keys Accommodations
Baker's Cay Resort Key Largo, Curio Collection by Hilton, has unveiled a Dock to Dish tour to showcase its local seafood initiative. The program allows a guest "to become the fisher which is something that the vast majority of American travelers have never experienced," said Sean Barrett, Montauk, New York–based co-founder of Dock to Dish. Guests can take a charter with Sea Monkey Charters to explore deep water, the backcountry or nighttime lobster netting to pursue the most abundant, sustainable catch of the day. Resort Executive Chef Andy Papson then guides guests through cooking methods used and includes fresh herbs handpicked from the resort's rooftop garden. The experience is priced from $750 for two people. Visit www.bakerscay.com/activities or call 305-852-5553.

In the Lower Keys the 5.5-acre Little Palm Island Resort & Spa (shown above), A Noble House Resort, is scheduled to reopen April 1, 2020, with 15 redesigned thatched-roof bungalow suites, some with outdoor copper soaking tubs and private outdoor showers. The Dining Room, with indoor and outdoor dining and sweeping ocean views, is to offer breakfast, lunch and dinner, Sunday brunch, full moon dinners and wine maker events. A fully restored Monkey Hut lounge and Palapa Bar also are to be unveiled. The resort's spa is to feature a two-story atrium with carved architectural details and handcrafted tile fountain. Private cabanas are to enhance the oceanfront pool area. A private island resort located three miles off Little Torch Key, the property is open to adults 18 and older. Access to the ultra luxury resort is at 28500 Overseas Highway. Visit www.littlepalmisland.com or call 800-343-8567.

In Key West, the 101-room Hampton Inn Key West, located at 3755 S. Roosevelt Blvd. and formerly the Best Western Key Ambassador, has completed a 14-month renovation that includes adding a new fitness center, upgrading the popular Cheekie Hut bar and grill, updating the swimming pool, renovating the lobby and resurfacing the parking lot. Guests get signature Hampton Inn amenities, including complimentary hot breakfast, On the Run breakfast bags, complimentary WiFi and shuttle to Key West International Airport, beaches and downtown. Visit www.hamptonkeywest.hamptonbyhilton.com or call 305-296-3500.

The 150-room The Reach Key West, Curio Collection by Hilton is open as Key West's first Curio Collection resort. Rooms each have a balcony and feature teak wood–toned furniture, blue hues and curved bathroom vanities. Events can accommodate up to 300 people with over 4,000 square feet of indoor event space and an additional 18,000 square feet of outdoor event space including the gazebo over the Atlantic Ocean. The resort features an Escape Room Experience in partnership with Key West Room Escape. The new Four Marlins Restaurant with waterfront views is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Outdoor amenities include a pool and bocce ball court, while a state-of-the-art fitness center features Peloton spin bikes. On-site vendors are Barefoot Billy's, with a range of jet ski and coral reef exploration tours, and sand sculptor Marianne van den Broek offering sand sculpting workshops. The Reach Key West is located at 1435 Simonton St. Visit www.reachresort.com or call 305-296-5000.

Keys Attractions
The Key West Literary Seminar has acquired the Key West home at 625 White St. owned by Pulitzer Prize–winning American poet Elizabeth Bishop from 1938 to 1946 and designated a National Literary Landmark in 1993. "The Bishop house is a vital site that shaped the work of one of the 20th century's most esteemed writers," said Arlo Haskell, executive director of the Key West Literary Seminar, which is dedicated to promoting the island's literary heritage. The property is to become headquarters for the organization, which plans to begin restoration in 2020 and host a Bishop birthday celebration each February. The inaugural celebration, set for Feb. 7-9, is to include the 109th anniversary of Bishop's Feb. 8 birth. Its scheduled highlight is the first public viewing of the home where she was inspired to write many of the poems for her pivotal first book, "North & South." Visit www.kwls.org or call 305-293-9291.

Keys Tours
The Key West Art & Historical Society's Key West Historic Marker Tours program offers new maps highlighting 125 self-guided historic sites and a roster of themed walking tours that include Black Heritage, Cuban/Bahamian Heritage, Maritime Heritage, Historic Church, Military Heritage, Architectural Heritage, Museum and Cigar Factory Heritage trails, the seven Curry Mansions, Civil War Forts and the Key West Cemetery Tour. The old Monroe County Jail, at the corner of Fleming and Whitehead streets in Key West, has been added to the Historic Marker Tours program showcasing the island city's cultural history and heritage sites. The jail, built in the 1890s, is to undergo a restoration beginning in early 2020, with summer 2021 targeted as its opening date as a museum. The tours' smartphone app can be accessed at keywest.oncell.com. Maps are available at City Hall or at a society-operated museum. Visit www.KWHMT.org or call 305-507-0300.

Keys Art
On Stock Island, a new Stock Island Arts District has launched Second Saturday Art Strolls through April, scheduled 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with eclectic shops and working studios marked by bright pink "Arts District" banners. The district includes Collections Key West at Safe Harbor Marina, 6810 Front St.; Green Pineapple, 7001 Shrimp Road at The Perry Hotel Key West; the 16 artist studios of Stock Yard Studios and Soul House, a furniture, gift and accessories boutique, both at 6700 4th Ave.; The Studios at Stock Island Marina Village and Ship's Store at 7005 Shrimp Road; and Washed Up Studios at 6475 2nd St. In addition, a 5,000-square-foot The Art Shack compound, at 6404 Front St., is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with shipping container workshops housing six resident artists, a gallery showcasing 19 local artists in various disciplines and island-style food at The Jerk food truck. Visit www.ILoveStockIsland.org or call 305-731-3385.

Keys Shopping
In Marathon, Banana Bay Resort & Marina hosts a new monthly event held 1-6 p.m. on the last Sunday of each month to showcase Keys arts, crafts, jewellery and food. The Banana Bay Bazaar is held at The Pointe, its bayside sunset bar. Attractions include free parking, local music, food trucks, drinks and local wares. The Banana Bay Bazaar is located at MM 45.9 bayside, or 4590 Overseas Highway. Visit www.bhotelsandresorts.com/banana-bay/bazaar or call 305-743-3500.