FLORIDA KEYS — A year after Hurricane Irma passed through the Florida Keys, the island chain’s largest recreational vehicle resort formally reopened to visitors Monday.
Sunshine Key RV Resort & Marina, just past the west end of the Seven Mile Bridge in the Lower Keys, celebrated reopening about 100 of its 399 RV sites as well as new resort amenities. The remainder of the sites are to open by Oct. 1, according to resort officials.
The 75-acre resort’s owner, Chicago-based Equity Lifestyle Properties, invested millions to rebuild infrastructure and enhance facilities.
Amenities include a renovated marina, refurbished recreation center, completely new RV site hookups and infrastructure and access to a Gulf of Mexico swimming area from a new sunset pier.
“I think what we’ve done here is taken what has been a tragedy to so many and really turned it into something super special,” said resort general manager Rosa Cimino. “We took the opportunity to take this property and just take it to an extra level.”
“We redid all of the infrastructure,” she said. “Electric, water, sewer and we completely upgraded all of our amenity locations.”
More than 90 percent of lodging facilities (hotels, motels, campgrounds, etc.) have reopened throughout the Keys. Of the 10 percent that have not reopened, including two significant properties in Islamorada, almost all are scheduled to return to business before Dec. 25. All attractions, and most restaurants and other facilities resumed operations months ago.
Several new resorts, with construction that has nothing to do with Irma rebuilding, are to open later this year and early in 2019.
Tourism employs 54 percent of the Florida Keys workforce and is worth about $2.7 billion to the Keys economy.