Casa Marina Key West Review – A Waldorf Astoria Resort

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Casa Marina Key West Review

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.

Casa Marina Key West Review

Overview

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.

Location

Casa Marina Key West Review

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.

Check In

Casa Marina Key West Review

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.

Room

Casa Marina Key West Review

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.

Casa Marina Key West Review
Dark Smelly Hallway

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!

Casa Marina Key West Review

Casa Marina Key West Review

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.

Casa Marina Key West Review
Cheap Shower Curtain for the Glass Shower

Casa Marina Key West Review

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.

Restaurants

Casa Marina Key West Review

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.Casa Marina Key West Review

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.

Casa Marina Key West Review

 

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.

Casa Marina Key West Review

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.

Casa Marina Key West Review

Amenities

Casa Marina Key West Review

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.

Casa Marina Key West Review

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.

Casa Marina Key West Review

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.

Casa Marina Key West Review

Conclusion

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?

 


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16 COMMENTS

  1. I think this is a fair & good review, Mark, but it’s also only based on 1 night! I think it’s important to settle in for at least a few days to get a true feel for a property, particularly an historic one.

    As pointed out, the restaurant situation is the real weak link of this property. I otherwise found the resort to have a pleasant & authentic vibe that I look forward to returning to. I appreciate that it’s away from the craziness of Duval St but also easy walking distance to Louie’s Backyard

    • Thanks Pam. The property was beautiful and the service was pretty great too. The property definitely has it’s good parts.

  2. With the arrival of their Curio Collection, btw, I also think Hilton should rebrand this WA property to Curio.

  3. We’re burning our two weekend certs from the Citi Hilton sign up bonus there later this month. I’ll see if they’ll let me, a lowly Gold, get a room in the new tower. We visit Key West yearly, so have our local places picked out so we don’t have to eat at the hotel. Louie’s Backyard was one of our faves but we’ve found it to be lackluster the last year or two

    • You are going at a perfect time – after spring break, before school lets out, & start of the warmer season (lower heat & humidity).

      Our favorite breakfast/brunch is Blue Heaven. Flawless poached eggs if you are also a fan.

      A few miles from the airport is a great local spot in an industrial area on Stock Island – Hogfish Bar & Grill. Lobster pot pie delish. You may already know both restaurants as you go there a lot & they’ve been there forever but still solid picks for other readers new to the area.

      Also Croissants de Paris has amazing chocolate/coconut/mango baked goods & Five Brothers Sandwiches for great Cubans.

      The pool bar at the CM has a Key Lime Colada, tasty. I recommend you calling the res dpt now & request the new tower as well as a suite upgrade. Then call again the night before arrival. At the front desk, tell them you want to first see the room they have assigned you before deciding. If it’s just not going to work & they still won’t budge, ask about a suite upgrade fee. Your $600 nights are already fee so may be worth it if reasonable?

      Have a great stay & enjoy some pink sheimp for all of us!

    • That would be awesome if you were able to snag the new tower. Enjoy the trip you will love outdoor areas of the hotel!

  4. Stayed a couple of years ago. Beach nice. Our WiFi was nonexistent and hotel acknowledged they had problems but were not very apologetic. Room dark with weirdly situated window in first floor room. Still had a pleasant time, but no desire to return.

  5. Stayed here many years ago when it was flying the Marriott flag. I’d say that renovations have been insufficient to merit flagging the property as a Waldorf Astoria.

    Even the restaurant scene was better 30 years ago.

  6. Lived in Key West for 8 years. This is an older property. Much better options around town with better food options. CAMILLES is great for breakfast. I would recommend the Hyatt if you want beach front.

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