The Casa Marina Resort is currently run under the Hilton flag. However, it has a very rich history dating back to the early 1900’s. The property opened its doors on December 31, 1920, making the main building over 100 years old!
Initially, Henry Flagler imagined the property as a resort for wealthy travelers arriving in Key West via his Overseas Railroad. Unfortunately, Flagler passed away in 1913 and the construction was not begun until 1918, so he never got to see the promised luxury resort come to fruition. Architects Thomas Hastings and John Carrere designed the property’s Spanish style in accordance to Flagler’s wishes, and the Casa Marina was built with the same mix of German cement, sand, gravel and saltwater used to build the original Seven Mile Bridge.
The Casa Marina was the talk of the town when it opened, and it was referred to as the island’s most glamorous resort and Flagler’s Crown Jewel. Today, it is known as the Grand Hotel of the Island. When the resort first opened, the Atlantic Ocean beachfront location attracted dignitaries and celebrities alike, including President Warren Harding. And over one hundred years later, it still does! In more recent years, celebrities such as Wade Boggs, Clarence Clemons, Helen Mirren, Ozzie Osborn, and Ed Marinara have stayed at the Casa Marina.
While the Casa Marina has a long history as a luxury resort, it has also played important roles in American history. Through eminent domain, the hotel was purchased by the Navy and used as officer’s quarters during World War II. And in 1962 the resort was commandeered and used as an US Army headquarters during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Soon after, prominent resident, Senator John Spottswood, purchased the property and leased it to the Westinghouse Corporation to train Peace Corps volunteers.
Sadly, from 1967 to 1976 the property was empty with only its Birdcage Lounge open to the public. The Casa Marina passed to various owners throughout the years, each making property improvements. In 2009, the property converted to the Waldorf Astoria brand, and in 2017, it was sold as a part of a nearly two billion dollar deal which also included four other resorts. Hard to believe that the property which encompasses over six acres of land was initially purchased by Flagler for a mere $1,000!
While I have never stayed at this resort, I have enjoyed many events at the Casa Marina throughout the years. From fishing tournaments like the Key West Celebrity SLAM to New Year’s Eve celebrations, sand art competitions, and pet masquerades. If you are staying at the Casa Marina, you can enjoy amenities such as the private beach, two pools, a spa, and watersports activities. And all of this is just walking distance away from so many other things to do, see and experience such as Louie’s Backyard, the Southernmost Point, and the Hemingway House and Museum to name just a few of my favorite things.
About Key West
Before making your reservations for a place to stay in Key West, check out our TOP 10 LIST! And where to dine for breakfast, lunch and dinner you will find so many options, so be sure to read my restaurant reviews; check out our restaurant review section of this blog. Also, to see what is happening on the island during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see other upcoming special events. For more information about the fun side of Key West… things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.
Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!
- Island Genn – Your Key West Concierge