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Oceanfront Escape Blends History and Hot
By Leigh Cort - American Roads Travel Magazine

The Casa Marina Hotel, at 83, is a grand old lady and still turning heads! Ever since it opened its doors onto the Jacksonville beaches in 1925, when every postcard of the era announced ‘world’s finest beach’, the Casa Marina has remained an alluring landmark of Florida history. There have been many forgotten moments in the vast drama of the 1920’s, but the mystery of the Casa Marina is that she must have seen it all. wpe6.jpg (48311 bytes)

Jacksonville Beach was originally known as the town of “Ruby” (circa 1884), named by W.E. Scull, a railroad surveyor with the Jacksonville and Atlantic Railway Company, for his daughter. By 1885, the railroad and depot were completed and ‘Ruby’ was transformed into a tent city as crowds of beachgoers arrived with tents in which to live. By then the town was renamed Pablo Beach, after the San Pablo River, a name it kept for nearly 30 years, before settling in as Jacksonville Beach in 1925.

The Grand Opening of the Casa Marina on Saturday June 6, 1925 was the height of Florida ’s first land boom. That same day the town was renamed Jacksonville Beach , while 200 guests dined and danced in the grand ‘salon’. Its construction and Spanish-Mediterranean design brought a ‘first’ to the beach...a fireproof building composed of stucco, concrete, tile and an automatic sprinkler system.

The 1920’s in Jacksonville were Hot! The train terminal opened in 1919 and everybody who was anybody came southward to Florida , from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to Al Capone. The movie industry boomed in Jacksonville long before Hollywood and the ‘greats’ like Chaplin and Pickford made appearances.

The Casa Marina was two stories tall and had 60 rooms. Jacksonville Beach was the most alluring tourist town in NE Florida: its boardwalk, dance casinos, dining, amusement rides and wide beaches were known throughout America .

During the War Years of World War II, the U.S. government appropriated the Casa Marina for military housing. A succession of owners followed who were passionate about restoring & remodeling the Casa Marina into private residences and an assortment of businesses...tearoom, clothing store, 37-room apartment building and restaurant.

wpe7.jpg (106321 bytes)The ‘grand lady’ finally took a well-deserved rest and closed until 1991. By this time, a verandah and 3rd-story penthouse had been added to the original structure. Today, celebrating its 83rd birthday, the Casa Marina Hotel & Restaurant offers 24 stunning bedrooms and parlor suites individually decorated to represent the distinctive and changing eras of its rich history. The Penthouse enjoys its own notoriety, with one of the most stunning views of the Florida coastline.

The Casa Marina brings a feeling of classic glamour to Jacksonville Beach , a sultry blend of history, natural beauty and sophisticated culture. One can still conjure up images of the ‘ghosts’ of the beach, the sounds of families and lovers laughing and a lineup of Model ‘T’ Fords as they enjoyed the best that life could imagine!

What’s HOT Today – It’s Happening in the Kitchen

wpe9.jpg (88936 bytes)Chef Aaron Webb has been at the helm of the Casa Marina Hotel’s kitchen for more than 5 years, bringing their ala carte dining, weddings, corporate events and Penthouse Tapas menus to life with innovative regional New Beach Cuisine. Each season inspires him to create healthy, exciting specialties – always caring about what the guests enjoy and demand.  

With ‘foodies’ today choosing variety and a mixture of stylistic preparations over the traditional multi-course sit-down dinner, the new Penthouse Tapas menu reflects an entire cuisine that allows adventure, conversation and food exploration.

A few of the new HOT martinis are:

  • Pearadise Martini- Ciroc Vodka Blended With All Natural Stirrings Pear Martini 
  • Chunky Monkey- Cruzan Banana, Banana Liqueur, White & Dark Godiva and Frangelico 
  • Ginger Spice Martini- Wasabi Sake Infused Vodka, Canton Ginger Liqueur and Navan Vanilla Liqueur.

And the Penthouse Tapas menu features:

Bruschetta

Red and yellow tomatoes diced in virgin oil, basil and garlic.

Warm Spinach Salad

Baby spinach, diced tomato, red onion, carrots & pecans, tossed in warm miso dressing.

Steamed Little Neck Clams

In a basil, garlic, tomato and tasso ham broth

Jumbo Diver Scallops

In saffron nage over celeriac slaw and yucca chips.

Penthouse Crab Cakes

Over baby greens with sweet chili and mustard aoli.

Casa Cameronés

Sauteed jumbo shrimp in a coconut chili rum butter with pineapple relish.

Ceviche

Lime and chili marinated shrimp, scallop and fresh fish.

Mustard Crusted Pork Tenderloin

Served over a warm bacon and spinach sauté.

Seared Tuna

Sushi grade tuna seared rare over sautéed napa cabbage

Boardroom With a View

How often does the top team of a company get away from the office for a corporate retreat? You work daily under pressure with little chance to spend quality time with your colleagues. If your objectives are getting to know each other better, building a team to work harmoniously, being more innovative or getting down to work on strategies, you will achieve so much more if you get away, change your environment to the ocean and let us provide the perfect setting. The Casa Marina specializes in small, exclusive groups who are anxious to enjoy uninterrupted time in a tranquil setting. Their goal is confidentiality so that guests can relax and reflect.

wpeA.jpg (99137 bytes)Boardroom, conference-style and customized seating are individually designed, including the covered outside veranda - a great place to break with a panoramic ocean view. If a change of venue is required, the grand salon dining room or the outdoor oceanfront veranda/courtyard is also an option for lunch or breaks.

 

“We’re Living Tomorrow’s History”

wpeB.jpg (86895 bytes)When you walk in the doors, you step into a time warp where you can get away from everyday life, the stresses, and relax on the beach or watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean,” states Mark Vandeloo, one of Florida’s youngest hotel General Managers. “Being a member of Historic Hotels of America, it’s a whole different world here. It is a great little getaway. I wish we had more documentation of the old days but unfortunately, we don’t. Some of the stories include Charlie Chaplin staying here, and through the years, Humphrey Bogart, Jean Harlow, Al Capone and a few presidents. None of these is confirmed.


However, to me, the best, most authentic stories that I hear all the time are the romantic stories. The ones where right before World War II, how many people were married here, or how ‘he proposed to me here.’ Those are the stories that hold a deeper interest for people in the local community. You can have the greatest building in the greatest place in the world, but you don’t have anything if you don’t have good staff, the people that keep you going back. That’s the thing that makes the Casa Marina a part of tomorrow’s history.”

Provided by American Roads Travel Magazine - Visit American Roads Travel Magazine website.