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    Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada rebuilds after new years eve fire

    Chad Newman

    by Chad Newman

    ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys — A major Florida Keys luxury resort is poised to reopen after a 2009 New Years Eve fire that heavily damaged its main lodge. Cheeca Lodge & Spa has been closed to the public since Jan. 1, while the shell of the main lodge was torn down and plans were developed for a replacement. Friday, a topping off event marks the highlight of an intensive 90-day major construction project that features 62 concrete, pre-greened modular suites trucked to the Florida Keys from Ockeechobee and hoisted in place with cranes. The 840-square-foot-suites have been delivered with fully-equipped bathrooms -- incorporating marble tile floors, granite counter tops, bath fixtures, and marble and glass rain showers -- and all electrical wiring and cabling throughout the suite. The modules are highly insulated, environmentally sustainable, energy efficient and can withstand a category 5 hurricane. The units are 30 percent fabricated from recycled materials. Cheecas new four-story main lodge incorporates the original porte-cochere entrance and is built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) specifications set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council. Cheecas transformation also includes an expansive indoor-outdoor lobby lounge, meeting room with ocean-view floor-to-ceiling windows, two new restaurants and a club floor with sun deck. The resort is scheduled to reopen Dec. 15.