The Casa Marina Hotel & Restaurant. A step-back-in-time jewel of a hotel on the northeast coast of Florida was my destination and a mere ninety-minute pleasant drive from my home on St. Simons Island, Georgia. Pulling into the half circle drive I liked my initial impression, a Spanish-Mediterranean low profile stucco reminiscent of the by-gone 1920’s when Jacksonville Beach was the playground of the rich and famous. It stood there quietly, waiting for me to discover its secrets, its history, its own special enchantment here on the beach. Built in 1925 and now celebrating its 90th year, this Landmark Historic Hotel ushered glamorous guests such as Jean Harlow, Charlie Chaplin and Al Capone through its doors.
I parked, went up the pretty brick steps under the monogrammed portico and into the lobby. Nice, simple elegance. Friendly. Inviting. This grand old lady patiently lets you form your own impression. It attaches itself to my own distant memories of slow summer days with endless hours to drift upon. Fireflies caught in the backyard darkness, in a glass jar. Holes punched in the lid. I can see myself making new lazy summer memories here where the beach grasses nod a gracious welcome. The pier says come walk and leave behind the everyday. The ordinary.
The room upstairs is great. Individual and personal. Akin to a tiny three room European apartment, it is comfortable. Easy to navigate. Sitting room, a generous but efficient hallway leading to bath, bedroom. Windows looking out onto the nearby ocean and pier. I unpack, try out the bed. Perfect. Plumped up with generous pillows, I am in heaven anticipating a restful sleep when the light of this day decides it is time to retreat to its other world. I am happy with the accommodations and at peace to be so near the beach and sea.
It is a pretty location and the time spent there a wonderfully pleasant interlude. The beach, the pier, the ocean and its incredible lure are a perfect match for this elegant hotel. And how grateful I am that in this place, this hotel, time stands still. Elegance and perfect service welcome the traveler, the guest, the everyday and the memorable. It is unique, it is extraordinary.
Story and photos by Nancy Kirkpatrick