Hotel Review: Casa Marina Resort Key West

Continuing to work backwards from the end of my road trip around Florida, having already covered my stays at the Le Méridien Tampa and the Conrad Miami. Since I won’t be going into my first night, a stay at the Sheraton Orlando North hotel in Maitland (which is pretty much my go-to hotel for stays in Orlando), that leaves us with my one night in Key West at the Casa Marina Resort.

Casa Marina is one of two Waldorf Astoria branded resorts that exist in Key West, the other being The Reach. Between the two of them, Casa Marina is definitely the more resort-like option and having been opened originally in the 1920s has a very attractive historic main building. There is some sharing of resources between the two properties which are located within a 5 minute walk of each other, such as activities. The great thing is that you can take advantage of the all the features of either property no matter which one you stay at.


I had stopped in Orlando the night before, because driving non-stop from Panama City Beach is just crazy talk; if you don’t stop along the way, it’s approximately a 12 hour drive. So, I made the journey from Orlando, and for the most part it was a nice drive, but thanks to everyone else heading to the Keys for the 4th of July, that meant it took longer than anticipated to get there. By the time I pulled up to the valet drop off at the Casa Marina, I was ready to get a beer in my hand and into a hammock as quick as possible. The valet was quick to rush over and grab my key and I was making my way to check in. As I was gathering my belongings though, the valet asked me if it had been a long drive, to which I responded “Yeah, all the way from Panama City”, to which I got a surprised look and him saying “I thought perhaps Miami!” Comeon, Miami is only 3-5 hours away (3 according to Google Maps, 5 based on my actual driving time); that’s hardly a long drive! That wouldn’t be my first conversation like that during the course of my one-night stay in Key West.

Checking in wasn’t too chaotic. Perhaps since it was nearly 6PM, many other holiday beach-going vacationers had already checked in, so I walked to the first agent, who I felt bad for because she looked incredibly sun-burned. Check in was relatively quick, but no apparent recognition as a HHonors Diamond member. This was my first Waldorf Astoria stay, but from what I had read online is that more or less don’t expect anything extra. Actually, probably shouldn’t expect any of the benefits either; while it wasn’t offered and I forgot to ask while checking in, I did not get my Diamond welcome benefit as part of the MyWay Choices other than my 1000 HHonors points. However, since Gold/Diamond gets WiFi for free, they do at least discount the $25/night resort charge for $15/night, so I will at least hand them that. I’ve stayed at other resorts with free WiFi and had not seen that before. Usually you just wind out paying out the same as everyone else. As for an upgrade, I didn’t ask since it was a holiday weekend, but they made no mention of one. Either way, I got my key and made my way towards my room, 325.

This Is What Greets You After Leaving The Lobby…Beautiful!

The Room
My room was located on the 3rd floor of the western building (the resort is made up of the main 1920s building and adjacent buildings on either side). Apparently the rooms are a mixture of both indoor and outdoor entrances, with mine opening up to a courtyard. Unfortunately, there was no upgrade and I got the room that I booked. Not surprising and I don’t fault them, but at the same time I could have sworn there had been some oceanfront rooms still available that morning when I checked in Orlando. Of course, they could have been taken in the course of my drive and again…holiday weekend. I point this out, because I think too many elites get stuck in the mindset that we MUST be upgraded and when we wind up in our originally booked rooms we cry foul. Don’t get me wrong, I think it sucks I didn’t get upgraded and one could have been super-freaking-awesome, but this just meant that I needed to make sure I spent more time on the beach in the hammock.

I entered the room and pretty much found your basic, but nice, hotel room that was neither huge nor cramped. I had booked a King Room and that was exactly what I got, of which the bed was actually decently comfortable. There was also a chair by the window that looked out to the side street (and their dumpsters), along with a bench with a glass table next to it. Guess that is an attempt at having a spot for in room dining?


King Bed + Small Table and Bench

Desk + TV + Looking Back To The Entrance

…And A Small Chair Next To The Large Window

A Room With A View…

The only real annoyance that I had with the room? The bathroom door, which just does not want to stay open. Maybe that is a good thing since it is right next to the entry door, but I found that mildly annoying. The bathroom however was otherwise acceptable. There was a decent sized shower and plenty of counter space (not that I need much).

It’s A Shower.

Overall, if you’re like me and coming to Key West to have a good time which means outside of the hotel room, then this room would meet all of your needs at a decent cost ($219/night for my stay) while keeping you beachfront. It did that perfectly and as much as I would have loved a beachfront view, I was able to manage without. I did wind up with a couple of chocolates though…

They Were Gone Pretty Quick

Food + Drink
Usually when I travel, I like to not eat many meals at the hotel I am staying at. While it’s convenient, a lot of times I feel like I am missing something of the local area (although I am not one to turn down a free breakfast, if I get it at say like a Conrad). However, on this stay I think I only at at the hotel. Yeah, I probably missed out on some sort of Key West institution, but it was hard to turn down it down for both dinner and breakfast.

Let’s start with dinner. After getting here and relaxing for a bit, I decided that a dinner during sunset would just be a fantastic idea at the on-property restaurant, Sun Sun. There seems to be seating pretty much everywhere around the main courtyard for seating, but the best is really up on the beach…and when I mean on the beach, I mean on the beach. A table and chair on the sand of their private beach not far from the water’s edge was just the perfect place to enjoy a delicious meal. I had opted to go with a pasta dish, the name of which I cannot remember, topped with a local catch fish, which likewise I cannot remember what it was (they sold it as being similar to swordfish, which it kinda was).

Dinner On The Sand

You Really Can’t Get Better Than That For A View At Dinner

Sunset Panorama (Click To See Larger)

As for breakfast, I had also opted to dine at Sun Sun, where service is located on the main patio off the main building. There was a breakfast buffet, but I had opted for an order for the huevos rancheros and coffee. I had just returned from kayaking and was pretty hungry, so perhaps I should have gone with the buffet, but I wasn’t let down with what I ordered either. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but still very good; there was essentially a “breakfast quesadilla” on my plate with sausage filling and topped with eggs, beans, pico, and an avocado. And sitting outside on a beautiful morning, it was again a pretty good spot to enjoy a meal.

Sun Sun Breakfast Area (Main Building Patio)

It Wasn’t Much, But It Was Tasty

As for the drinking, down by the beach there is an outdoor bar pavilion that seemed to have a pretty decent selection, however I just went with a few Coronas. Probably should have had a mojito while I was at it. It’s not a bad spot to sit and enjoy a drink and I’m not sure what the rules are with taking your drink a few steps over to the beach or to a hammock. The only one thing I noticed is that one person had some sort of drink voucher that the hotel had given him, I don’t know if it had been included in his rate, or if he was an HHonors elite member or what, but it made me wonder if perhaps I should have got one? Who knows.

Beer. After My 7-8 Hour Drive, I Needed One.

Resort Features
Obviously, if you are coming to a resort in Florida the beach is probably the number one feature you are after. Let me first say, that I’m very spoiled with the beaches here in Northwest Florida that are the finest and whitest that you’ll find. Unfortunately, Key West does not have those white sands, but on the plus side it’s not that terrible coarse brown sand. Still, that won’t stop you from spending time out there. For what it is worth, it’s a pretty small beach, but luckily it being a private beach means that you will not be competing with all the other tourists for access. I spotted a few people sitting actually on the beach before dinner that night, but most people seemed to be taking advantage of the beach chairs, lounges, and hammocks. I myself made a run for an open hammock and chilled out and enjoyed the sunset prior to sitting down to eat. After spending all day driving, swaying in the breeze between two palm trees was just what the doctor ordered.

It’s Hammock Time

There are also two pools in the courtyard, if the salt water isn’t your thing, one on either side of the path between the beach and the main building. One of the pools has been designated more or less for families (be prepared to be splashed by kids) as well as an adults only pool for floating sitting by and not having a kid run away with your towel. While I didn’t partake in the pools (there’s only so much you can do in a less-than 24 hour stay), I’m glad to see that they have both options for two very different types of travelers.

One Of The Two Pools

While I may not have gone for a swim, I did go for a paddle. Between the Casa Marina and The Reach, they offer wide variety of rentals and water activities. I myself, knew that I needed to go kayaking. It had been since last August since I had kayaked around St. Andrews Bay in Panama City, so I was long overdue. For whatever reason, Casa Marina’s otherwise comprehensive rental shack did not include Kayak rentals, so I had to make the short walk through the local neighborhood to The Reach. The waterfront activities kiosk wasn’t up and running yet (it was 830AM, which is supposedly when they opened), so I headed to the front desk to try to get something set up. Luckily at the front desk was a very friendly agent who got my two hour rental written up and set up for a room charge back to my room at the Casa Marina. The only downside was the rental rate, which at $25/hour isn’t cheap. I had her put me down for two hours as I figured that would be plenty of time for me to paddle around without wearing myself out too much.

Back down at the beach, the kiosk was now set up and after signing a waiver it was time to put into the ocean. I started out heading East passing the Casa Marina and the adjacent pier in the direction of the airport. I Believe I had almost reached the Sheraton by the time I had decided to turn back, so I had covered a good amount of water. Instead of going straight back though, I kayaked past The Reach and went towards the “Southernmost Point In the Continental US” (which actually isn’t, but hey close enough) where I captured the “Southermost Selfie in the Continental US”. By time I got to that point though, I started getting some decent sized blisters on my hands since I had let me hands get wet, which meant it was time to head in. At least it nearly coincided with the end of my two hours.


Casa Marina From My Kayak

Let Me Take A Selfie

It surprises me that I’ve gone this far in writing in that I have not touched on how beautiful that this property. You’ve probably noticed in several of the photos already, but I had to just say it. While some of the treatment as an HHonors Diamond member was not quite top-notch, the physical aspects of the property definitely made up for some of those shortcomings. I mean, just look at some of these addition shots from around the property – how could you not think it looked awesome?

Pool Area At Night

Off The Main Building

The Covered Pier Is At The Reach Resort


Casa Marina’s Pier

Main Building And Sun Sun Dining Area

Main Building (Night Time)

Overall, I pretty much enjoyed my one night here at the Casa Marina and would consider staying here again. It’s great location (although most anything in Key West seems to be) that makes it easy to walk to almost anywhere on the island as well as plenty of amenities onsite without being massive. With it being a 3-day holiday weekend, I would have anticipated the entire property to just be busy, but never once did I feel like it was crowded or noisy or anything of that nature. It was more relaxed and calm, which honestly is important when you want to have an hour in a hammock or a nice meal on the beach at sunset. While I may not have received out of the ordinary treatment as a HHonors Diamond member, most of my interactions with the staff were all pretty positive. Considering that I won’t probably be a Diamond member past next spring, at least I know I wasn’t getting special treatment, so I would hope I could expect the same level of service as a Gold or *shudder* Silver member.

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