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Fodor's Expert Review Cheeca Lodge & Spa

MM 82 OS, Islamorada, Florida 33036, USA See on Map Fodor's Choice

Jill Martin

See and be seen at Cheeca Lodge and Spa. This luxurious property is where presidents, actors, entertainers, athletes, and other notable guests have chosen to stay, time and again. The reason? Twenty-seven acres of oceanfront splendor, including a 9-hole, Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, onsite spa, award-winning restaurants, and five-star service.

YOU SHOULD KNOW There’s a steep $45 a night resort fee (plus tax) which makes some folks angry, but it includes golf, tennis, Wi-Fi, some watersports, and plenty of activities. Get your money’s worth and have them bring bottled water to your room each day.


Rooms vary depending on your building but most are spacious with West-Indies décor and rich, dark furniture. Audubon/nature-style artwork adorns the pastel walls and your view can be lagoon, ocean, resort, or golf course. Getting out of bed will be tough, as the premium bedding is plush. The ceiling fans can qualify as works of art.

Get a room in the Main Lodge building as you’ll be closer to everything. For a sensuous treat, get a room with a soaking tub on your balcony (it fills from the ceiling) and be sure to use it.


Suites boast elegant sand-colored marble, a rain shower, clear vessel sinks, waffle robes, stylish sconces, a glass shower--this bathroom is sexy. And you’ll find all the little toiletry items you need. Standard rooms, not so much. No fancy tile, no glass shower, but you do get a lighted makeup mirror.


Heavy, dark wood doors open automatically as you approach, then BAM! the shimmering ocean comes into view. Where’s the reception desk? Who knows at that point, the view is so distracting. Be welcomed to have a seat and a glass of champagne and you’ll be personally checked in. The lobby is busy with guests coming and going to restaurants and the beach area.

Men, you’ll feel right at home in either your Tommy Bahama dress shirt or Guy Harvey T’s. Ladies, this is the place to break out your Lilly Pulitzer.


There are two pools, both heated. The family pool is oceanfront with an inviting free-form design and teak loungers, perfect for napping. For serenity and a private cabana, head to the adult-only pool. There’s also a saltwater lagoon.

Too comfy to move from your lounger, but you’re hungry or thirsty? Poolside service is available, and that includes a full liquor bar from the poolside Tiki.


Choose from three waterfront restaurants: Atlantic’s Edge, Lemoncello, and Nakai Sushi Lounge. Just know that whichever you choose, you will drop some serious coin. For a taste of local flavor, try the Guava-Glazed Mahi at Atlantic’s Edge; for dessert, get the key lime cannoli from Lemoncello.


Cheeca offers a long stretch of beach with plenty of lounge chairs and spectacular Atlantic views, but beaches in the Keys are not beachy at all. They’re comprised of coral, not sand, because of the reefs just offshore. That’s why they feel rough to the touch, like cat litter. You won't be building any sand castles here, or anywhere in the Keys. It's just the way it is.

camp cheeca

Enroll your kids ages 5-12 in Camp Cheeca and you can have a glorious day (or weekend night) all to yourself. You’ll get guilt-free “me time” and your kids will love the eco-focused activities.

fishing pier

This is the longest pier in the Keys and it rather famously jets out into the Atlantic 525 feet. Your resort fee includes use of fishing rods, so get fishing, just release whatever catch. The pier is also a great place to catch the sunrise.


Getting Around

Here’s a nice perk, Cheeca offers a 24-hour-a-day shuttle within a 2 or 3-mile radius. You can walk to many places as well, but to explore further, go ahead and drive yourself.


The Shrimp Shack (3-minute walk) is one of Guy Fieri’s favorites. Start with shrimp fritters. Bitton Bistro (2-minute drive) is a casual French café open for breakfast or lunch. Try homemade crepes, French-pressed coffee, sandwiches, and salads (with Dijon dressing, of course). Bad Boy Burrito (2-minute drive) is a fun option for inexpensive fish tacos and homemade guacamole. Offsite fine dining can be had at Chef Michael’s (2-minute drive). It’s as pricey as Cheeca, but worth it.


Take a seat at the bar at the Green Turtle (2-minute drive). You never know who will pop in. Jimmy Buffet showed up recently and did an impromptu concert. Really. Lorelei Cabana Bar (2-minute drive) is the gathering place for sunset. Slow service, live music, and a nice view. The Zane Grey Lounge (1-minute drive) is on the second floor of World Wide Sportsman. We love the happy hour-priced food and drink deals, and marina views.


Seriously, what’s not to love? Tasteful rooms, waterfront dining, great service, a nice spa, shopping in their signature store, winding paths through lush foliage, 70-years of island history, and a long list of activities and amenities are yours to enjoy. It’s also within walking distance to museums, the Islamorada Arts District, shops, and restaurants. Cheeca Lodge and Spa is idyllic in setting. Yes, it’s big and pricey, but its size also provides you plenty of places to escape to--and chaise loungers by the water.


On the beach


Phones: 305-664–4651;800-327–2888

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