On New Year's Eve, 1920, Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort opened its doors as Key West's most glamorous destination. Conceived by American railroad tycoon Henry Flagler, the resort was intended to accommodate wealthy customers of Flagler's Overseas Railroad, which spanned from Key West to the Florida mainland.
Although Flagler died before the hotel's construction began in 1918, architects Thomas Hastings and John M. Carrere – who also designed New York's Metropolitan Opera House, New York Public Library and the Senate and House of Representatives office buildings in DC – wanted the resort to serve as a monument to the magnate's memory. 6.5 acres and 1,200 square feet of beach were purchased for $1,000, providing a spectacular natural backdrop for the hotel. The two architects handled the hotel's interior and exterior, ensuring every detail honored Flagler's original vision.
Three days after the resort's grand opening, President Warren G. Harding came to visit, establishing Casa Marina as an exclusive high-end destination. In 1942, the property was bought by the US Navy, and used as officer's quarters for the duration of World War II. Casa Marina re-emerged as a luxury hotspot in the 1950s, and played host to celebrities such as Gregory Peck, Ethel Merman, Ezio Pinza, Rita Hayworth and Gary Merrill.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the historic hotel was used by the US Army's Sixth Missile Battalion. Soon after, Casa Marina fell into a period of decline, which was exacerbated by piecemeal renovations in 1978 and 1984. With the completion of a recent $43 million overhaul however, this splendid property has been restored to its original grandeur. Each of the resort's 311 guest rooms have been revamped with sophisticated furnishings and modern amenities, including LCD televisions, iHome docking stations and espresso machines. Eye-catching new event space and outdoor areas completes the renewed atmosphere of refined Floridian splendor, truly delivering luxury for our time.