Florida, skipped by storms and tourists

Special to The Times

WE all saw the televised images and news photos of the Florida Keys during the recent hurricanes: residents boarding up their homes, cars lined up bumper to bumper in a mandatory evacuation. Devastating storms hit the state, and many people assumed the Keys were badly damaged, as were the Florida Panhandle and the central coast.

Fortunately, they weren’t. The eye of each of the four successive hurricanes bypassed the Florida Keys far out to sea, and from Key West in the south to Key Largo in the north, no serious damage was sustained. But because of widespread misconceptions, tourism is down in the region, and many hotels and resorts have vacancies. To overcome this commercial disaster, they are offering sizable discounts and price reductions. You’ll have to gamble on the weather, but how many hurricanes can the state get?

The bargains start in Key Largo, about 60 miles south of Miami, at historic Tavernier Hotel, (800) 515-4131, The hotel advertises that it is “next door to the sea” and within eight miles of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and its undersea preserve. Double rooms are $44 a night until Nov. 16.

At Kelly’s on the Bay, (800) 226-0415,, double economy rooms are $50 a night midweek until Dec. 20. The resort emphasizes scuba diving. If you’re looking for something more upscale, try the Sheraton Beach Resort, (305) 852-5553. Rooms are $109 a night, subject to availability, midweek from now until Dec. 16, except during the Thanksgiving period.

Farther south in Islamorada, double rooms with kitchenettes are $79 a night at Lookout Lodge Resort, (800) 870-1772, The rate is available until Dec. 16, except for holidays and special events.


In Marathon, elegant Hawk’s Cay Resort on Duck Key, (888) 443-6393,, has double rooms that start at $99 midweek until Dec. 19.

Finally, in Key West, where the usual rates hover around $200 per room and up, the Conch House Heritage Inn, (800) 207-5806,, will charge $98 a room per night, subject to availability.

The Southernmost Hotel, (800) 354-4455,, will have rates starting at $109 a night per room, with a two-night minimum.

And Pearl’s Rainbow Resort for Women, (800) 749-6696,, is offering specials for gay and gay-friendly women. Rates begin at $99 per room.