68ºF

Final Keys resort damaged by Hurricane Irma set to reopen

This aerial photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau shows Little Palm Island Resort & Spa off the lower Florida Keys on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. The resort was pummeled by Hurricane Irma Sept. 10, 2017, and after almost 2 1/2 years of planning and major reconstruction is set for a soft reopening Wednesday, March 4, 2020. (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)
This aerial photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau shows Little Palm Island Resort & Spa off the lower Florida Keys on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. The resort was pummeled by Hurricane Irma Sept. 10, 2017, and after almost 2 1/2 years of planning and major reconstruction is set for a soft reopening Wednesday, March 4, 2020. (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)

LITTLE MUNSON ISLAND, Fla. – A Florida Keys resort that was ravaged by Hurricane Irma will receive its first vacationers Wednesday after 2 1/2 years of planning and reconstruction.

Little Palm Island Resort & Spa is the final Keys lodging to reopen after Irma, tourism officials said. Most other affected properties resumed operation less than a year after the Category 4 storm struck in September 2017.

The resort sits on a four-acre island three miles south of the Florida Keys Overseas Highway. The rebuilding process entailed installation of new potable water and electrical service. Both storm debris and new construction materials had to be barged between the island and a shore transfer station.

General manager Kevin Geanides said remaining work will take a few more weeks.

“We’ve explained to guests arriving in the next few weeks that we’re still working,” Geanides said. “But they’ve all told us they’re just as excited to be able to get back on the island as we are to host them.”

The hotel, a Noble House Hotels & Resorts’ property, has a British Colonial design with 30 thatched-roof bungalow suites accommodating up to 60 guests. The exclusive Keys lodging has suites starting at about $1,500 per night.

The resort has hosted celebrities including former Vice President Al Gore and movie stars Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore.

But much of the island’s fame came in 1963 when Warner Brothers used it as a location for 1963’s “PT-109,” chronicling the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s World War II heroism in the Pacific.