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“Beautiful but customer service is deplorable”
Review of Cheeca Lodge & Spa

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Cheeca Lodge & Spa
Ranked #7 of 19 Hotels in Islamorada
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 29 March 2010

Cheeca Lodge

Let me say first, that I had never heard of this resort, its storied past, recent fire and rebuilding before booking a last minute vacation here. I looked into Sunset Key, where we had stayed on another vacation, but it was booked. Cheeca was purely finding somewhere in the keys that had rooms at the last minute and didn't appear to be a dump.

After passing several frightening looking "resorts" on the way down from Miami we were a bit worried about what this place was going to end up being.

We were relieved as we pulled into the beautiful grounds and stopped at the guard gate. The grounds crew does a great job and was working from sun up to sun down keeping the place well manicured.

We drove up to the beautiful lodge and started the check in process. We had a quick tour by the bellman and then checked in. The whole process was very smooth and quick. You park your car under your room so that was very convenient.

That, unfortunately, is where much of the quality customer service ended. (More later)

It turns out that the area of the resort where we stayed was an older building but it was updated very nicely inside. It was considered a partial ocean view but besides a tree, we had a direct view of the ocean, especially from the screened in balcony. We watched the sunrise twice.

The shower was a nice, new tile-lined and there was a nice rain-shower head in it. There were two vanities with plenty of storage.

The AC worked great (a very important thing for my wife and I since we hate being hot at night).

The room had a 42 inch flat-screen which is what I expect at this price point but the signal into the tv was only SD which means the picture quality is pretty poor.

There was a revolving list of people who were in the room next to us during our week. For two of the days there were two men who were very loud until 1 or 2 in the morning that made it difficult to sleep.

The ice machine across from our building never gave me ice so I had to call and request an ice delivery whenever we wanted ice. That meant we had to plan 10-15 minutes before we actually wanted ice so it could be delivered. The first time we asked for ice an empty ice bucket was delivered so we had to wait for him to go back and actually put ice in the bucket.

The resort was full of families which created some irritations. There is an adults only fitness room and an adults only lap pool. People ignored both rule and brought kids into both areas. I mentioned it to a manager who said that they had a lot of kids and it was hard to control. Wrong answer!

One day it rained all morning and didn't clear up until about 2 p.m. The resort apparently let the person go home who was supposed to help guests at the adult pool. There were no towels available and the cushions were never put out on the wooden slat deck chairs. Again, that’s pretty poor customer service, especially when you are paying an extra $30 a day as a resort fee on top of the room fee.

The housekeeping staff was great. They got the room together in a quick manner every day and were very friendly. In another example of not getting things right, the housekeepers would put glasses outside of the room so they could be brought back to the restaurant but they would sit out there in front of the rooms for 24-48 hours at a time.

The thing that irritated me the most happened on our last night. It was our anniversary so I had worked with the restaurant to have a special cake to be made and delivered up to the room at an appointed time so I could surprise my wife. When it was 25 minutes late I finally walked down to find out what was going on. I was left waiting for 10 minutes while the guy I worked with went back into the kitchen. The guy finally ran out to say that the person just delivered it to the room. (Glad I was there for the surprise). I ended up having to walk back again because while they delivered the cake, they didn't deliver anything to cut or eat the cake with. Again, some common sense by the staff would go a long way.

The restaurant is ridiculously overpriced for the product. We ate one breakfast, lunch and dinner there purely for convenience, but if you can avoid them, try to at all cost. We actually got up and left one lunch because we were seated for more than 10 minutes and had never had a waiter stop at our table to even get a drink order. To give you an idea, breakfast for 2 ends up being about $50. I had to laugh that they charge $3 for a cup of coffee when, at the same time, they had free coffee at the edge of the restaurant.

There is a small par-3 course (short enough to only need pitching wedges) and nice tennis courts. There is also a nice little path that goes around the property that we walked one day.
We didn't try any of the water sports because the water was pretty chilly the week we were there.

So, to summarize, this place is immaculate and the staff is very friendly but, as a whole, clueless as how to provide 4 star service. If they can get their act together I'd recommend this place. With the current customer service I'd recommend going all the way to Key West and staying at Sunset Key, where they have their act together.

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank bostonluke
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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3,217 - 3,223 of 3,450 reviews

Reviewed 26 March 2010

I staye dhere for a week with my mother..it was great..the breakfast was good and the hotel itself was really nice..we had a really big suit and the pool was nice with great weather..We went several years ago but i would defineatly go again..We did water sports outside the hotel too which were excellent.. At night the hammock was good to relax on whilst the sun went down alone the beach. the are didnt have a lot of choice for dining out in the evening though, although there was a great fish place close by which I have forgotten the name of. I have fond memories of this hotel.

  • Stayed: August 2007, travelled with family
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Thank holoudays
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 March 2010

My wife and I had two highly enjoyable weeks at Cheeca.
The resort facilities and location were superb and the service we received from all staff, but particularly Marsha and J.J. made it a vacation to remember.
Our room in the new lodge was great and the food was very good.
We have very warm feelings of a tremendous holiday.
P and A.

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank archpat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 March 2010

I would highly recommend this resort to anyone looking for luxury accomodations in a lush, tranquil environment. The hotel was beautiful and the staff was delightful. We dined onsite and the food was stellar; the sushi was world class! The spa was amazing, the grounds reminded me of being in Hawaii. We booked a deep sea fishing trip offered by the resort and had a great time. Can't think of enough nice things to say about this place. My partner and I own a high end service company and we were impressed.

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank DeborahDallastexas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 March 2010

Cheeca is a beautiful resort with a gorgeous (if hard as rock) beach. New main building is a lovely improvement over the old layout, with wonderful spaces to have a cup of coffee in the morning with your paper, or a cocktail in the evening. Food is expensive but very nice. We ate good meals in both the new sushi restaurant and the main dining room.

The big issue is the dining room service, and lack of clear management there. In fact, during our week there we never met a manager, which I think is a big mistake. It certainly doesn't cost anything for a manager or principal to take the time to walk around and check on guests, in fact it would go a long way there. The dining room was overwhelmed at both breakfast and dinner, and it wasn't even spring break yet. We had one smiling, charming waiter at breakfast one day who was delightful, but he was notable in the fact that he was the only one who was noticeably friendly. Most waiters were harried, inefficient or non-existent. One waiter for our $500 dinner at the main dining room was simply terrible. I will say that the servers on the beach were smiling, cheerful, helpful servers who work very hard traipsing up and down the beach serving guests very well. The problems were in the dining room, and while the food was delicious, a bad service experience kind of rankles when you are spending so much. This was our big disappointment.

Some of the rooms are a little tired, so check with reservations about the specific condition of your room. Our room in the newly built main lodge was spacious and lovely, and it is very convenient to be in the lodge if you have kids coming and going.

Snorkeling trip run by the lodge is very reasonable at $45.00. The reef is not far, but not fabulous. Don't bother if you expect a National Geographic moment, but it is a fine "beginner" reef especially for families. Boat staff is very nice and friendly, as are the beach staff at the watersports desk. Lots of nice options for activities on the beach. If you want to ride a bike around the property or surrounding neighborhoods, get one early or check back throughout the day because they go fast, but also get returned often.

One irritating thing- check out is at 11:00 am, and I was kind of insulted to find out that if you overstay past 11:00 their system will make your key inoperable and they charge a fee of HALF your daily room cost. That felt harsh and a bit insulting at $500. per day. You can whine to desk staff and they will rekey your key so that it works for a little while if you tell them you need a bit more time, but that is pretty un-guest-friendly.

These are not enough complaints to recommend against the place. You will probably not find a prettier hotel/property in the keys.

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled with family
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Thank family1Minnesota
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 March 2010

Had stayed at Cheeca previously and enjoyed it greatly. The renovations are wonderful and the physical plant is in great shape. The service is terrible at its best, particularly at the restaurants. Not unusual to wait 20 minutes for a table at breakfast and then wait another 20 minutes for a waiter to show up. At the fine dining restaurant, Atlantics Edge the food was very good, albeit expensive, but once again the service was terrible, it was necessary to ask someone to find our waiter three times over the course of a meal. When he was available he was arrogant and rude. During a four day stay a member of senior management was never spotted. When a complaint was registered when checking out, they asked I speak with Otis the dining room manager, who indicated he was sorry but they were very busy. If Cheeca wants to be a five star resort they need to find some management! Very unfortunate they have screwed up a great opportunity.

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled with family
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Thank PChris24
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 March 2010

For the past 4 years my extended family and I have traveled to the keys and stayed at the Cheeca Lodge with the exception of last year due to the New Year's Eve fire. In that year we stayed at Hawks Cay Resort.

Upon hearing the news that the lodge had been rebuilt we made plans to stay at the resort once again. We were alarmed at reading some of the posted reviews and even considered canceling our reservation and returning to Hawks Cay Resort. We called and spoke to the manager, and he assured us that although they did have some bumps in the road when they first reopened that by the time we arrive all the kinks would be worked out.

I am pleased to say that he was correct. We had a wonderful time. We booked five Ocean view king rooms in the lodge. The rooms were fantastic. Each room was clean and ready when we arrived at check-in.

Some of the earlier reviews complained about the staff lacking training - our experience was just the opposite. The staff at the front desk was polished and checked all five couples into our rooms quickly. All of the food services staff members that we were exposed to were equally great. Cali, Eric and Anastasi (not sure about the spelling) were notable standouts. Quite a few of the staff members were local residents. I believe everyone was trying to make an extra effort in delivering quality service beyond any experience that I have had at other resorts. The food quality was also great. All experiences at the restaurants, poolside and the tiki bar were positive.

The water sports desk on the beach was also top notch. They provided great suggestions to make our stay fun for the adults and children.

I would highly recommend this resort.

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled with family
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Thank johns64memphis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Cheeca Lodge & Spa

Address: 81801 Overseas Highway, Mile Marker 82, Islamorada, FL 33036-3631
Region: United States > Florida > Florida Keys > Islamorada
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Top resorts Hotel in Islamorada
#6 On the Beach Hotel in Islamorada
Price Range: £264 - £578 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Cheeca Lodge & Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 214
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The "Queen of the Florida Keys", Cheeca Lodge & Spa has been an exclusive hideaway for celebrities, business leaders and U.S. Presidents for over 70 years. Set on 27 private oceanfront acres in Islamorada, Cheeca has been constructed with a porte-cochere entrance, traditional Florida Keys architecture, chic West Indies décor, and spirited tradition of “barefoot elegance” -- a term coined at Cheeca. Along with a new breakfast bistro and lobby bar, Cheeca boasts three distinctive restaurants: Nikai Sushi Bar and Lounge offering the Florida Keys’ freshest sushi, Asian-inspired fare and a unique selection of Japanese sake and wine; Atlantic’s Edge with a seasonal fine-dining menu of fresh local seafood, prime steaks and organic local produce; and its family-friendly Limoncello Italian restaurant serving up Tuscan favorites in a casually rustic setting. Cheeca Lodge & Spa features 2,400 square-feet of retail shops with a Cheeca Signature store featuring the latest designer fashions and accessories. An expanded roster of activities include offshore and backcountry fishing, parasailing, sightseeing, eco-tours, paddleboards, water trikes, kayaks, golf, tennis, pickleball, shuffleboard and more. The resort’s signature features include a classic 525’ wooden fishing pier, tropical gardens, crossing palms archway, nature trails, Tahitian-style Spa Lagoon, spectacular purple sunsets, 1100 feet of beaches, Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, Camp Cheeca children’s environmental activity program, and access to world-class sportfishing. Located just 90 minutes south of Miami International Airport in the Florida Keys, Cheeca Lodge & Spa is just a few hours by air or drive from major East Coast U.S. cities. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Cheeca Hotel Islamorada
Cheeca Resort Islamorada
Cheeca Lodge Florida
Cheeca Lodge And Spa
Cheeca Lodge Islamorada
Cheeca Lodge & Spa Islamorada, Florida - Florida Keys

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