Resort Relaunch to a Regional Market: Florida’s Cheeca Lodge and Spa

Situation Analysis. The 63 year old Cheeca Lodge & Spa in the Florida Keys suffered a disastrous fire on New Year’s Eve 2008 which affected the main lodge, which included its restaurants and bars, private club area and some guest rooms. The occurrence on New Year’s Eve made it an especially big news event, widely covered both online and offline. It had to close to rebuild and scheduled a re-opening for December 15, 2009.

The Challenge. To re-launch Cheeca Lodge and Spa to its key regional drive markets, evoking the legendary history and appeal to long time return guests, while creating excitement in the “new” and even better Cheeca.

Objectives
  • Generate strong awareness in Florida in general, and South Florida in particular, recognizing the importance of the drive to market for rooms, food and beverage, spa and Cheeca Club memberships
  • Position Cheeca Lodge as a destination oasis; you’re in the Caribbean with no need for a passport
  • Position Cheeca Lodge as an exclusive hideaway; only Florida Keys’ resort with a gated entrance and resort activities specific to hotel guests or Cheeca Club members
  • Build the “buzz” among travel trade and consumer audiences
  • Provide publicity support to marketing programs
  • Generate inquiries and bookings  [Top]
Needs/Strategies
  • A strong story line. Cheeca was the first luxury resort in the U.S. to use modular guest room construction, highlighting its “green” elements, superior structure and innovative construction. The most important too tool for communicate the news was video, via a multi-media release, YouTube and for local TV stations.
  • Gain major placements in Florida, in particular South Florida, media pre-reopening to kick off the momentum
  • Place “exclusive” news items for specific media, working with them one on one in advance of the opening
  • Work closely with Visit Florida and the Florida Keys PR agency to capitalize on synergies and stretch marketing dollars
  • Use visuals in communications wherever possible to break through the media’s copy clutter
  • Promote the resort through targeted group and individual media visits
  • Staged local events as news hooks  [Top]
Tactics
  • Placed news items in leading target niche media (e.g. boating, fishing, food, family, romance, bridal, spa) using special events as news hooks (e.g. Sailfish tournament, Cheeca Club re-launch, Valentine’s Day and Easter)
  • Built a marketing and PR campaign around cutting edge facilities and services, such as the spa tubs with water features, organic spa treatments and Concept Chef, using extraordinary images to capture media attention
  • Staged a model unit unveiling to introduce local media to Cheeca’s new Premier Suites
  • Promoted a “topping off event” to introduce the media to Cheeca’s new modular guest room construction, its “green” elements and superior structure  - the first in the U.S. to use such  innovative construction
  • Initiated pre-opening press visits for South Florida media to experience the “expedited” construction techniques
  • Organized group and individual press visits post-opening, specifically targeting Florida media
  • Capitalized on the pedigree and of award-winning chef with food and beverage recipe releases
  • Tied into rooftop bar trend for re-launch of Cheeca Club as the most exclusive rooftop hideaway in the Florida Keys with a feature social media release distributed via EON (Enhanced Online News) which was indexed and served up in search engine result pages
  • Targeted both media and consumers in Florida, particularly South Florida, via Twitter and Facebook to create buzz around the reopening  [Top]
Results
  • Cheeca Lodge and Spa reopened to sold out occupancy
  • In 12 months, feature articles appeared everywhere from the Miami Herald, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, FL Times-Union and the AP Newswire to Florida Travel + Life, Florida International Magazine, Islands, Boca Raton Observer, Jacksonville Luxury Living, Florida Travel + Lifestyles, Garden & Gun, Aventura, Vacations, Florida’s Gulfstream Publications, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons and more
  • Coverage of Cheeca’s re-opening was featured in top online outlets including Haute Living Florida, Modern Luxury Miami and Urban Daddy Miami
  • Cheeca’s December 15, 2009 reopening was featured on leading South Florida TV news programs, including ABC, NBC, and CBS and major Spanish language stations
  • The reopening enjoyed major buzz on social media, including being mentioned on Twitter over 31 times on its opening day  [Top]

KWE Partners
1581 Brickell Avenue Suite 1103, Miami, Florida 33129
Tel: 305-476-5424  
Email: escalera@kwepr.com