Last week, we had a four-night stay at the Waldorf Astoria Casa Marina Hotel (The House by the Sea) which is located on the beach on the south shore of Key West. We stayed using a combination of a point stay and AMEX free weekend night certificates. Our room was the historic Flagler Building, oceanview king bed room.
The Waldorf Astoria Casa Marina Hotel is located on the south coast of Key West at Higgs Beach. It is one of the few hotels in Key West that has beach access.
Arriving At The Casa Marina
When you arrive at the lobby driveway, the first thing that you see is the statue called “Taking a break”.
The lobby is in the centerpiece of the hotel, the Historic Flagler Building named after Henry Flagler. Henry Flagler worked with John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil. Flagler built railroads in Florida and he built the railroad from the Florida mainland to Key West. The hotel was designed by John M Carrere and Thomas Hastings of New York who were experts in Spanish architecture. The hotel opened on New Year’s eve/day 1920/1921. On both sides of the Flagler building, there are two newer wings of the hotel.
I had booked the basic twin queen room on a standard Hilton Honors reward stay. When we checked in at the front desk, we were told that our diamond upgrade came through and we were upgraded to the oceanview king room in the historic Flagler building.
The Casa Marina has a total of 311 rooms and suites located in the Flagler building and the two newer wings on each side.
- Standard – two double beds
- Standard – king bed
- Oceanview – two double beds
- Historic Flagler building oceanview king bed
- Oceanview with balcony – two double beds
- Oceanview with balcony – king bed
- Oceanview with lanai – king bed
- Grand oceanview with terrace – king bed
- One bedroom suite with balcony – king bed
- Oceanview two-bedroom loft suite with balcony
- Oceanfront two-bedroom loft suite with balcony
- Oceanview suite with lanai patio
- Pool – partial ocean view suite – two double beds
- Pool -partial ocean view suite – king bed
- Oceanfront suite with balcony – king bed
King Oceanview Room
The king oceanview room is small by today’s standards at just 350 square feet. It is important to keep in mind that this hotel was built 100 years ago and 350 square feet was a large room back then. The room featured a king bed, sofa, desk, and chair. There was a closet on one side and a bathroom with a shower-tub combo on the side. The bathroom was small and it was separated from the bedroom by two double doors. The bed was comfortable, the LED flat-panel television above the dresser measured at 55 inches. There was a side chair, table, and lamp next to the bed. One negative feature for me was the desk. The desk was small and was mostly taken up by the coffee service, water bottles, and ice bucket. There was a gap of two feet between the desk and the wall to the right. They could have made the desk 24 inches wider or put in a table for the coffee service and ice bucket.
Food and Beverage
The Casina Marina has two food venues and the RUMba bar. The Sun Sun Beach Bar & Grill serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and a full bar menu. The grill is an open-air wood pavilion overlooking the beach. The two pools also have waitress service from the Grill. Flagler’s Cafe serves a lighter fare of coffees, smoothies, pastries, fruit, yogurts and a breakfast sandwich. The cafe is open from 6:30 am to midnight. The Sun Sun Beach Bar & Grill serves lunch and dinner from 11:30 am – 10:30 pm.
The ballroom features a breakfast service consisting of a buffet, omelet station and made-to-order selections. The price of the continental breakfast is $18.00 and the full buffet costs $33.00. Hilton Honors Diamond members get the full buffer for $15.00 which is the difference between the full buffet and the continental breakfast.
RUMba Bar and Complimentary Rum Tastings
The RUMba bar is located in the lobby and it is open from 2:00 pm until 9:00 pm. From 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm, RUMba offers free rum tastings. You get your choice of six different rum flights of three rums. Our bartender, Garret gave us a thorough education on his vast selection of rums.
The hotel features two pools – a family pool and an adult pool. Both pools have waitress food and beverage service. The hotel has the largest, private beach in Key West but due to the rocks, it is not suitable for swimming. The hotel does have beach chairs and umbrellas available for the beach. The number of loungers seemed adequate for the number of guests that were staying there. One nice thing about this hotel is that they don’t use towel cards to check out a beach towel. You don’t have to worry about losing your towel card and being charged for the cost of a towel. Poolside cabanas are available for rental at $100.00 per day.
There are two piers into the ocean that are both closed. These piers require extensive repair to make them usable and will be part of the upcoming hotel remodel.
How We Paid For Our Stay
We stayed at the Casa Marina for four nights using a combination of a points stay and using our Hilton Free Weekend Night certificates. Shelly and I are both Hilton Honors Diamond members so we had a total of three Free Weekend Night certificates. The Free Night Certificates can be used at any Hilton property for a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night stay. In order to book your stay using the certificates, you have to call Hilton at (800) 446-667. The certificates can be used for single back-to-back stays for one continuous stay. Here is how we did it:
- Thursday night stay was using my Hilton Honors points,
- Friday night stay was using my Free Night Certificate,
- Saturday night stay was using Shelly’s Free Night Certificate and
- Sunday night stay was using Shelly’s other Free Night Certificate.
The same rules for points stays are in effect for using the Free Night Certificate. You must find availability at the standard room award level.
The stay was pleasant and we did get a room upgrade and breakfast credit with our Hilton Honors Diamond status. The rooms were on the small side but that is to be taken in context with the fact that the hotel was built 100 years ago. It would have been nice if the piers were in working condition and available for use.
The hotel is scheduled for a complete makeover in the next year. This makeover will include repairing the piers and making them useable.
The breakfast service was excellent and taking advantage of the daily free rum tasting was an added plus.