DUCK KEY, Florida Keys — Almost a year after Hurricane Irma passed through the Florida Keys, Hawks Cay Resort, near Marathon in the Middle Keys, formally reopened Thursday to visitors.
The subtropical island resort underwent a $50 million construction project to repair damage caused by Irma. The property's owners, Carey Watermark Investors, used the opportunity to enhance the property's appeal to travelers.
"After Hurricane Irma we didn't just look at recovering from the storm," said Hawks Cay Managing Director Sheldon Suga. "That would have been the quickest and easiest way to do this, but it was an opportunity for us to reimagine Hawks Cay."
Among enhancements guests are to experience, completely renovated rooms, two new restaurants and a new oceanfront, adults-only relaxation area with pool, food and beverage facilities called Oasis Cay.
The resort's 177 hotel rooms will boost the Keys lodging inventory to 90 percent operational following the Sept. 10, 2017, tropical cyclone, Keys tourism officials said.
"The Florida Keys is back," Suga said. "I think we never left."
"Many of the areas of the Florida Keys have recovered and we just took our time to do this right," he said.
Hawks Cay had to lay off much of its staff because of the storm, but hired 200 employees in advance of the reopening.
"We have this family that works here and we take pride in that," Suga said. "That's one of the most important things … bringing the family back together."
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