To help celebrate Earth Day on April 22, the famed Cheeca Lodge & Spa on Islamorada, Fla., will again kick off the day with the creation of a giant sand sculpture that will spell out the resort’s 2016 Earth Day slogan, “SAVE EARTH.”
Teams of eight to 10 from local schools and businesses will each sponsor a letter. The team that designs the most eye-catching letter will be presented with a starfish-themed “Best Letter” plaque that afternoon.
Throughout the day, guests will listen to pressing environmental topics from notable speakers from local institutes including the Dolphin Research Center, Sea Turtle Hospital, Sea Camp, Mote Marine Laboratory and the History of Diving Museum. Each presenter will provide an interactive exhibit, such as touch-tanks with live animals, among other materials for an immersive learning experience.
Guests also can get a beach BBQ with a live steel drum band and Cheeca’s first custom beer brewed especially for the resort’s 70th anniversary this fall by Florida Keys Brewing. Signature cocktails will be served at the Tiki Bar and a ‘before 7pm’ prix-fixe menu available in Atlantic’s Edge, the property’s fine dining restaurant.
Rhonda Whitfield, director of sales at Cheeca Lodge, said she expects more than 300 people to attend the resort’s Earth Day event, which is a throwback to the many Earth Day events that Cheeca hosted for the local community over the years.
“The last large event took place in 2008,’’ Whitfield said. “In addition to the ever-popular sand sculpting contest, we wanted to bring environmental awareness and education – with emphasis on local issues – to the forefront, in a fun and engaging way.
“The individual speakers and live exhibits will touch on the Florida Keys’ unique environmental challenges, the sustainable themed BBQ menu will bring attention to better alternatives accessible to everyone, and the children’s casting lessons will help instill the value of “catch & release” in our littlest community members. And of course the large message in the sand will be a beacon to all to join the efforts to save our precious planet – every contribution counts.’’
How does Earth Day fit into the culture of Cheeca Lodge?
“Islamorada’s earliest settlers were tenacious farmers who, out of necessity after the great hurricane of 1935, turned to the ocean for their livelihood and sustenance,’’ Whitfield said. “We respect our island home and the beautiful ocean that continues to provide our community (and our guests) with sustenance and enjoyment.
“Cheeca has long been a steward of the Florida Keys’ natural wonders, both on land and at sea. Our own green initiatives – from water re-use, to recycling to guestroom recycling receptacles, to light and noise pollution initiatives – will continue to expand this year as we completely do away with small plastic amenity bottles, undergo a resort-wide replacement of traditional lightbulbs with energy efficient LED, and ban the use of all plastic and non-recyclable containers used throughout the property. We hope to achieve our most aggressive goal of completely doing away with plastic water bottles – and replacing with property-wide water filtration refill stations – by end of 2016.’’