Getting Away in my own Hometown
Sometimes it takes a push to get out the door in your own hometown. When you’re on the road and away from home as much as I am, who stays in a local hotel? However, the International Food, Wine and Travel Writer’s Association, of which I’m a member, was holding a two day conference in nearby Jacksonville Beach.
So, I checked in, though somewhat embarrassed to admit I’d never set foot in the Casa Marina Hotel before. The Historic Hotel of America is a grand dame dating back to 1925 and restored to reflect the timeless glamor of the era.
Seems that Jacksonville was an “in” spot during the Roaring Twenties when the hotel first opened her doors. Why the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, John D. Rockefeller and President’s Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman visited the area. Jacksonville Beach boasted a boardwalk, dance casino’s, restaurants, amusement rides and wide beaches where automobiles were allowed to drive. (You can verify this by viewing the old photos lining the hallways.)
During the war years of 1939 to 1945 the government appropriated the Casa Marina for military housing. Afterward a succession of owners and renovations took place.
Recently the Spanish Mediterranean-style hotel was recognized by The Knot Best of Weddings 2010 as one of their “Top Wedding Professionals.” Brides agree as nearly 150-175 weddings are held in house each year. And please realize, this is an intimate 27-room hotel.
The seclusion of the inner courtyard, the view from the third floor penthouse and the nearness of the ocean bring an enchanted calm to the inn. The food is outstanding and the treasured staff are most gracious and trusted by general Manager, Mark Vandeloo. He must be doing something right as turnover is rare.
Visiting a Jacksonville hotel turned out to be a real treat in my own backyard.