Cheeca Lodge & Spa
Address: 81801 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036, United States
Phone: +1 305-712-7166
My Rating: 84%
Price Rating: $$$$
Summary of Stay: After a week in Miami, I took my parents down to the Florida Keys to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. I had searched the internet for a resort that was away from the party scene of Key West but would give the full experience of being in the Keys. I finally picked the Cheeca Lodge and booked our rooms.
Islamorada is approximately an hour and a half drive from Miami and Key West is another 2 hours further. The village of Islamorada is made up of several keys and the resort is situated on Upper Matecumbe Key. The drive along the keys is beautiful and serene. Any anxious drivers, including my mother, do not need to worry as the roads are spacious and side-guarded. It is easily one of the most amazing drives I’ve ever done.
Turning into the driveway of the hotel, you are surrounded by lush tropical gardens on both side as you are greeted by a security guard at the gate. Within moments of confirming us, we were driving past the 9 hole golf course and up to the main lodge. We were promptly greeted by the bell staff and ushered in towards the check-in desk. We were upgraded to One Bedroom Suites and were shown where they were located on the property.
Our suite, although not an ocean-view, was oversized and well appointed. Nearing almost 700 sq. feet, it was more like a fully furnished condo than a regular hotel room. It was equipped with a fully stocked kitchen with bar stools, small dining table and a large living room with full media center. The separate bedroom had a king bed and room to spare—this lead into the spa bathroom with jacuzzi tub and glassed in rain shower. The large screened-in balcony was comfortably furnished and we spent most nights out there. The entire room was exceedingly clean and every day I was impressed with the thoroughness of the housekeeping staff.
The hotel is luxurious but it has a very comfortable homey feeling—like you come here every weekend. Furniture, be it at the pool or in-room, were clearly selected with comfort in mind. The mindfulness of screening-in the balcony is brilliant. The staff at the property know you by name and remember your preferences. For instance, every time I went to the pool, one of the attendants would instantly bring over a beach umbrella after I requested one the first day we arrived.
Highlight of the Hotel: The hotel has wonderful recreation facilities that are all included with your resort fee. There are 2 heated pools as well as the manicured beach area. One pool is adults-only and this keeps it peaceful for those wanting a quieter scene. The main pool is nestled near the beach and really does make you feel the tropical quality of the islands. My mom even commented that the resort reminded her of our time in Maui. The gym has state-of-the-art equipment with strong air-conditioning (necessary in Florida) and offers fitness classes. There are 6 tennis courts hosted by a USTA professional who can help you improve your swing. You can hit the 9 hole executive golf course that was designed by Jack Nicklaus. There are paddle boards, sea-kayaks and bicycles available for your use. One day my dad signed out a fishing rod and caught a fish ‘this big’ at the end of the hotel’s 525 ft pier.
If you are coming with kids, the hotel has Camp Cheeca—an eco-focused day camp for kids aged 5-12. They offer a variety of activities from swimming, scavenger hunts, fishing and arts and crafts. I’m a fan of hotels that have activities available for kids to allow parents time to themselves. And while there were kids at the resort they very well behaved and well mannered.
Highlight of the Stay: Beyond the overwhelming recreational activities available at the hotel, there is so much to do in the vicinity. One afternoon was spent swimming with and training the dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center—definitely worth checking out (https://www.dolphins.org). Another day was spent at the Turtle Hospital where you can take tours of their facilities and learn about the sea turtles up close (http://www.turtlehospital.org/). There are also some incredible restaurants in the nearby area with our favourite being Chef Michael’s. Make sure you order the hogfish! (http://foodtotalkabout.com). This gem of a restaurant is within walking distance of the resort.
Drawbacks: As I mentioned before, this hotel is designed for relaxation. If you are looking for a more lively scene, head to Key West or Miami. Beyond that, the hotel also has a daily resort fee of $45 + 12.5% tax. The food at the hotel was ok but nothing memorable.