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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Casa Marina: Something old, new, borrowed and blue

Casa Marina’s private beach

Something old, something new
The resort’s three buildings include the original hotel, completed in 1920 and now the resort’s main building. It is flanked by additions from the 1970s, which form a wide “U.”

One modern wing includes 70 one- and two-bedroom suites; the other, the west wing, includes guest rooms and meeting space.

The original building has two ballrooms, one on each side of the lobby. The 2,584-square-foot Grand Ballroom, on the east side, and the 3,080-square-foot Flagler’s Ballroom, on the west, are both column-free and feature wood floors, wood-coffered ceilings, and arched windows and doors that open to a covered promenade and the ocean. A breakfast buffet is served each morning inside and out on the patio of the Flagler’s Ballroom.

Continuing under the promenade to the west wing is the more traditional and less opulent Key’s Ballroom, which can be divided into five meeting rooms, each just under 1,000 square feet. Doors to the outdoors provide natural light. Rooms on the east end of the ballroom have a partial ocean view; west-end rooms overlook hotel rooms and a courtyard.

“You’ll often see breakout groups gathering at tables outside or down by the pool or beach,” said Wright.

Two 14-person boardrooms are on the main building’s second floor.

Meetings make up 23 percent of the resort’s business, and the types of groups are wide-ranging, from Jimmy Buffett’s Parrotheads to a broadcasting conference that flies in celebrities and filmmakers. A number of groups return each year.

“One university group has come here for 21 years,” said Silverman.

Although some groups buy out the resort and have overflow rooms in neighboring hotels, the hotel often hosts multiple groups.

“But with only 311 rooms, each group is a big fish in a small pond,” said Silverman.

Casa Marina was the brainchild of a big fish, railroad tycoon Henry Flagler, who wanted to accommodate wealthy customers of Flagler’s Overseas Railroad, which connected Key West to the Florida mainland.

Flagler died before construction of the resort began in 1918. Architects Thomas Hastings and John Carrere, who also designed the New York Public Library and the Senate and House of Representatives office buildings in Washington, D.C., wanted the hotel to serve as a monument to Flagler.

In the years since, the resort has had ups and downs. It emerged from a period of decline after an $85 million renovation five years ago that preserved its Mediterranean style but installed the modern conveniences, including wireless Internet throughout.

“All the rooms were completely gutted,” said Silverman.