Casa Marina Key West Review, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
My family and I recently returned from a family trip to the Florida Keys. While we spent most of the trip in at the Hyatt in Marathon my wife and I spent one night in Key West.
I decided to stay at Casa Marina because the kids would be with us during the day before heading back to Marathon with my parents. I wanted a hotel with a beach so they could play…which is no easy task in the Florida Keys. The Casa Marina seemed like the best hotel available with a beach so that is what we went with. Plus I thought it would be a great hotel to review.
The day was a little hectic so I am going to apologize in advance that I don’t have as many pictures as I should. I will like to other peoples photos on Trip Advisor in the two areas where I lack a few photos.
The Casa Marina Key West is a part of the Waldorf Astoria Resort group which is under the Hilton umbrella. It is a Category 9 Hilton property, not that categories really matter since Hilton uses more dynamic award pricing.
The rooms were going for 80,000 Hilton Honors points per night, which seems like the lowest it may go. The cash rate seems to hover around $500 but it jumps to $600 when you throw in taxes and the $35 per night resort fee. Unless you like burning cash I would never pay the cash rate here. At around $0.007 per Hilton point I felt like that was a pretty good use of Hilton points. This would also be a prime place to use a free night award but I hadn’t received mine yet from my newly acquired Aspire card. I was looking forward to using my Aspire card $250 statement credit at the property though.
The Casa Marina property is located on the southern end of Key West, not too far from the southern most point of the continental United States. It is about 1.5 miles away from the action of Duval street and Mallory Square (sunset shows etc.). While walk able, if you want to punish yourself I guess, an Uber ride will cost you around $10 each way.
The hotel is about 3 miles from Key West’s airport though I suspect a lot of people fly into Miami and drive down.
It is a great location if you want to enjoy the weather of Key West, which was noticeably warmer than Marathon, without the craziness of Duval street. It is also one of the few properties in the Keys with a beach.
We got to the Casa Marina around noon. (Picture of the Lobby). When I went to check in there were 3-4 employees working the desks most of the time. There wasn’t a Diamond check in area or priority line. The set up is a little strange that you aren’t sure if you should choose a desk and get behind someone or wait in one big line. I saw both things happen during our stay so it seems like no one really knows.
They did not have a room ready but said one had been cleaned already and just needed final inspections. The front desk clerk said it shouldn’t be too long and they offered to store our bags while we went to the beach. He said they would text me when the room was ready.
After about an hour I headed back in to check on the room and saw other people getting checked in who had just arrived. That did not please me at all, that people just arriving were getting rooms before I had been texted. After doing the line decision tango again I was informed that my room was ready and I had been “upgraded” to a room with an ocean view. My bags arrived at my door minutes after I got up there.
The check in snafu was the only issue I had with service during our stay. Service was impeccable outside of that.
Our room was located in the “old” tower. I didn’t know this was a thing until a reader, thanks Pam, let me know that there was a difference between the towers. Needless to say – stay away from the old tower.
The elevator was tiny, like a butler elevator, and smelled horrible. The hallway to the room had a horrible odor as well. They were trying to mask the smell with some air freshener. Once inside the room the smell disappeared which was nice…it actually had a refreshing island air freshener smell.
The room was medium sized and the furniture was pretty worn. Not what you would expect from a Waldorf Astoria property. The bed was amazing though!
The room came with an espresso machine and not much else. The glass shower had a cheap curtain on it instead of a glass door, not sure what the thinking was there.
My “upgraded” ocean view had a view of the ocean but also of the two balconies right below me…not the most enjoyable thing for either set of rooms. If I had been staying longer I might have complained but for one night I didn’t really care.
I don’t think Diamond status really got me much. Especially for a 1 night stay on a Monday night in February you would think that would be the time to get a good upgrade.
This is an area where the hotel is lacking. They have the restaurant out by the pool (Sun Sun), which has good food, but that is about it. I inquired about dining at what looks like a fabulous restaurant at their sister property, Spencer’s By The Sea at The Reach, but they said you can’t charge meals back to the room at that property. That seems beyond foolish on their part. Hotels all over the world allow you to bill back to sister properties…I think that is a missed opportunity here.
They have a breakfast buffet but it is expensive ($30-35 a person). It was very crowded and the wait would be 30-45 minutes for a table. As a Diamond member you get $15 a person towards the buffet or $15 a person at Flaglers Cafe. We decided to use the $30 at Flaglers Cafe. For my $30 I was able to get a smoothie, a tea, a yogurt parfait and a cinnamon roll. Yup that was it for $30. If you don’t have status then go off site for breakfast!
There is a small lobby bar called Rumba but it kind of looks like a tiny bar on wheels you find at a wedding.
The service by the pool and beach is great. They have amble staff and service is quick. We ordered chicken wings, a Cuban sandwich with truffle parmesan fries, and conch fritters. All of the food was very good, probably the best poolside food I have had. But it is of course expensive – about 25% higher than it would be at other restaurants. My $250 credit covered the food listed above and 3-4 rounds of drinks and the parking fee. It didn’t stretch very far.
Everything shut downs pretty early, 11 pm. So if you want to sit out by the fire pits at night order a bucket of beer or a couple of rounds right around 11pm.
This is where the Casa Marina shines. They have a spa which I didn’t check out, but I am sure it’s prices are very high. But the grounds are beautiful at this property and the service is top notch.
There are two pools, a KIDS POOL and an ADULTS POOL. The kids pool had a lot of debris floating in it while we were there and I am not sure if that is normal. It was a windy day so it may be hard to stay on top of. There didn’t seem to be any system in the pool to catch floating leaves etc. so it might just build up during the day. Something that shouldn’t happen at a Waldorf Astoria property in my opinion.
The beach is beautiful but it is pretty rocky out in the water. They have workers walking around all the time willing to set up chairs and umbrellas for you upon request.
The walk out to the pool area and the bar area is about as picturesque as it gets. The grounds are beautiful and very well kept. They even had some impressive sand sculptures set up while we were there.
I came away feeling torn on the Casa Marina property which probably isn’t a good thing for a top tier Waldorf Astoria resort.
The exterior of the property is great. The beach area is about as good as it gets in the Keys. The interior is another thing. If you get the old tower rooms you will leave seriously disappointed. I don’t know how much better the new tower is but be sure to request it.
The lack of food options is another area where the property falls short and there isn’t a lot of outside options near the hotel.
My friend who goes to Key West almost every year says he goes to Casa Marina every time to hang out at the beach and have some drinks. I guess they encourage outside people to enjoy the grounds and I think that may be the way to go here. Another good option would be to use up any free night certificates you have. I wouldn’t spend 80,000 points for the property.
If you want to be able to enjoy the craziness of Key West but also have a calm place to go back to at night then this is a good option. But if you want a beach vacation etc. it would probably be better to stay in Miami or Fort Lauderdale.
Have you stayed at the Casa Marina property before? What did you think?