JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- She's a stately sight. The Casa Marina Hotel. The grand old lady of Jacksonville Beach. The Spanish Mediterranean style stucco hotel was built in 1924 during the height of Florida's land boom.
At the time, carnival rides lined the beach while the hotel played host to both elite northerners and gangsters looking for a place to lie low. "When they find out that Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly used to hang out here they say show me the rooms." Capone and Kelly used to drink at this hotel bar according to Sterling Joyce, the Matre 'de of the Casa Marina. Celebrities are still drawn here today. "Recently we had Bill Cosby here and he enjoyed himself," said Joyce.
During World War Two the hotel was used for military housing. In 1983 it was transformed into a 60 room apartment building. Shortly afterwards, it was boarded up after a foreclosure The hotel was restored and reopened in 2004 with 24 suites.
General manager Mark Vandeloo says he hears stories every week from guests who stayed here a long time ago. "You hear couples who come in and tell me they stayed here right before the husband went off to World War Two. They say they had the best memories. That's something we'd like to keep going"
On the top level of the hotel you'll find a small restaurant along with the Penthouse lounge with one of the best views of the beach. "Just being able to sit up here and take in our beach is something special," says Vandeloo.
Several years ago the hotel capitalized on its location to host more weddings and receptions. Stephanie and Michael Drog just got married at the Casa Marina. "We loved the eclectic and the history of it and it's right on the ocean," says Stephanie Drog.
Sunday brunch is one of the best in Jacksonville set in a room where cyprus from the beams and ceiling was salvaged from sunken German warships.
The Casa Marina Hotel, a grand old lady and boutique hotel jewell here on the First Coast.
First Coast News