Palm-lined pools of water lead to Casa Marina. Photos courtesy Casa Marina
Staff spread beach towels on chaise lounges and wipe smudges from sunglasses. They deliver ice towels and popsicles on hot afternoons. A concierge sends guests off on sunset cruises or on fishing trips led by local guides.
The Mediterranean-style Casa Marina also offers something old through its ties to Florida’s early developer, Henry Flagler; something new, with a recent renovation; something borrowed, in the shared amenities of a sister property; and something blue, with a lawn full of pools and the sea out its back door.
Appropriately, the 311-guest-room historic hotel is one of Key West’s most popular spots for weddings. But given its setting on rare oceanfront acreage on Key West’s quiet south side, wedding parties aren’t the only groups that gather there.
“Casa Marina is able to offer Caribbean meetings, but domestically, without customs or passport,” said Steve Silverman, area director of sales and marketing.
Step out the back door from the lobby, and no explanation for the resort’s popularity is needed. A walkway, lined with palm trees and two long reflecting pools, leads to the brilliant-blue Atlantic Ocean. On each side of the walkway are mirror-image swimming pools.
“We have the largest true sand beach in Key West,” said Silverman. “When guests arrive here, they can have their toes in the sand within minutes, dining with white-linen table service, tiki torches and watching the sun set with the beach all around.”
The resort’s setting is why half of the 22,000 square feet of meeting space is outdoors.
“When people come here, they want to be outside,” said Kaitlin Wright, senior sales manager. “Anything that can be done inside, we can do outside. We always have backup space in case there is a problem with the weather. I would say that every group has at least one function outside.”
The outside is so important that the main restaurant and bar, the Sun-Sun Bar and Grill, are located by the swimming pools and beach and have open-air seating. In the evening, dining tables are set up on the beach. As for the lobby bar and the Flagler Bar, both indoors, “no one uses them unless there is bad weather,” said Wright.