Cheeca Goes Green: Discover Our Eco-Friendly Florida Keys Resort

The Florida Keys are one of the most pristine and environmentally sensitive regions in the world. The tropical climate, living coral reefs and vast array of marine life are precisely the reasons why tourism is the biggest industry in the Keys.

Cheeca Lodge is dedicated to becoming the eco-friendliest resort in the Keys. As a steward of our environment, we have launched a number of programs to make our resort more environmentally sound:

  • Cardboard: Cheeca recycles 100% of its cardboard, which has reduced garbage disposal costs. According to our recycling company, Cheeca produces and recycles the most cardboard in Islamorada.
  • Glass: Cheeca also recycles its glass.
  • Water: Cheeca’s wastewater treatment plant recycles 31,000 gallons of water each day through a water reuse plant. This grey water is used for irrigation of the gardens and golf course. When the new lodge was built, water cisterns were added under the lodge to collect rain water from the main lodge tower roof and the air-conditioning drain lines. This water is pumped into the irrigation lake.
  • Scrap Materials. Scrap metal, wood pallets, golf cart and car batteries are recycled. Fluorescent light bulbs, small batteries, old paint and chemicals are taken to the Monroe County Landfill for recycling.
  • Cheeca Lodge does not allow jet-skis and other thrill craft in the waters surrounding the resort. They destroy sea grasses and endanger marine life. They are also a source of noise pollution.
  • Cards in rooms encourage guests to save water and detergent by giving them the option of how often they would like their sheets changed and their towels replaced.
  • Our Camp Cheeca Environmental Awareness Program for children ages 5-12 teaches campers about the fragile Florida Keys environment with a wide variety of entertaining and engaging activities.

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  • A sign at the end of the resort’s trademark fishing pier encourages “catch and release” fishing, discourages discarding fishing line and garbage into the water, explains proper fishing etiquette and instructions on who to call if an injured bird or other sea life is spotted.
  • Cheeca uses biodegradable and low-phosphate cleaning products whenever possible.
  • Our restaurants limit the use of disposable items like Styrofoam cups and plastic utensils whenever possible.
  • Cheeca Lodge supports numerous local, regional and national environmental conservation groups like the Turtle Hospital and the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center, among others.

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  • The resort dims and limits the use of outside lights on the beach during turtle nesting season.
  • Cheeca is changing all lighting throughout the property to LED which consumes up to 90% less power than incandescent bulbs.

In our next post, we will highlight some ways you can help protect the Florida Keys’ ecosystem and wildlife on your next visit to paradise!

Every Day Is Like Earth Day at Cheeca

Cheeca’s celebration of Earth Day last month was another resounding success—and while we look forward every year to that annual party, we strive to think “green” every day at the resort. We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to conserve natural resources and protect our idyllic surroundings in the gorgeous Florida Keys. Here’s a list of some of our current eco-friendly initiatives, as well as some we have in the works:

  • WATER: Using reclaimed water for non-potable uses saves potable water for drinking. Here at Cheeca Lodge & Spa, we reuse an average of 80% of all water we purchase thanks to our own wastewater treatment plant, which processes an average of 31,000 gallons of wastewater each day—one of six reclaim facilities here in the Florida Keys. When the new lodge building was built in 2009, water cisterns were added beneath it to collect rain water from the main lodge tower roof and the air-conditioning drain lines, which is then discharged into a pond and used to irrigate the landscaping. We lobbied aggressively to keep our wastewater reclamation plant when the Village of Islamorada wanted us to use drinking water for landscape purposes—and just this past February, we were granted the right by the FDEP to keep our system. We’re also initiating programs to reduce single-use plastic water bottles—which each take approximately 450 years to decompose in the environment—by installing water bottle filling stations on property and selling reusable water bottles at our signature store. Just 20 water stations save 288,000 bottles of water, 48,000 pounds of CO2, 16,000 pounds of petroleum and 10,000 gallons of oil annually.

 

  • RECYCLING: Beyond recycling 100% of our cardboard and glass used on-site, Cheeca also recycles scrap metal along with golf cart and car batteries. Wood pallets are donated to the local community and are often used for art including frames. Fluorescent light bulbs, old paint and chemicals are taken to the Monroe County Landfill for special handling and recycling.

 

  • ENERGY: Cheeca is investing in converting to all LED lighting throughout our beautiful 27-acre property. LEDs are extremely energy-efficient and consume up to 90% less power than incandescent bulbs.

 

  • AMENITIES: Cheeca will feature the American-made Float Collection amenities by William Roam, some of the most environmentally sensitive products in the world that celebrate the U.S.A. through their use of American fruits, grains and other key ingredients. Its products are free of dangerous preservatives like parabens and petroleum derivatives, and its paper products are made at a plant that uses only 7% new energy. The company is also member of 1% for the Planet, a non-profit organization whose members pledge 1% of top-line revenue to environmental causes.

 

Cheeca’s eco-initiatives don’t stop there: we’re also working to earn prestigious LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, and plan to provide guests with unlimited access to over 5,000 newspapers online in lieu of distributing a daily paper to every room. Watch this space for more updates!

Cheeca Lodge Celebrates Earth Day

Earth Day is just around the corner— and Cheeca Lodge & Spa is gearing up for a celebration of the environmental treasures that are the Florida Keys on Sunday, April 24th from 11am-4pm.

The holiday is all about appreciating nature’s bounty and preserving the wonders of the natural world—wonders like the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and National Key Deer Refuge, which are vital parts of the natural fabric of the Keys. This year, Cheeca will again kick off the festivities with the creation of a giant sand sculpture that will spell out the 2016 Earth Day slogan, “SAVE EARTH.” Teams of 8-10 from local schools and businesses will each sponsor a letter, which includes custom-designed “Cheeca Earth Day 2016” t-shirts along with food & beverage tickets for every team member. The team that designs the most eye-catching letter will be presented with a starfish-themed “Best Letter” plaque that afternoon.

Sculpting an inspiring message on the sands at Cheeca Lodge & Spa is at the center of Earth Day festivities.
Sculpting an inspiring message on the sands at Cheeca Lodge & Spa is at the center of Earth Day festivities.

There are plenty of other events on tap at Cheeca on Earth Day, which this year will highlight environmental education. Speakers from local institutions including the Dolphin Research Center, Sea Turtle Hospital, Sea Camp, Mote Marine Laboratory, and the History of Diving Museum will be on-hand to present to guests throughout the day, and will bring along interactive exhibits including touch tanks full of live animal friends.

And that’s not all: besides the sand art and touch tanks, kids will have the chance to play in their very own sandbox, where they’ll dig for Cheeca-themed treasures, and can also take fishing and casting lessons on Cheeca’s iconic pier. A live steel-drum band will set the laid-back island mood as guests enjoy a family-friendly beach BBQ menu including Cheeca’s very first custom brew, created especially for Earth Day, from the team at Florida Keys Brewing.

As the party winds down at 4pm, guests and locals alike will be invited to hang around for drink specials at the Tiki Bar—one of Cheeca’s favorite gathering spots—and a well-priced “Before 6” prix fixe menu at our flagship restaurant, Atlantic’s Edge.

If you’d like to join us for Earth Day or another getaway this spring, Cheeca is offering a range of specials, including a nightly $70 resort credit on select suites in honor of the resort’s 70th anniversary this year. We look forward to celebrating this important day with our valued guests and local residents!