Tag Archives: Casa Marina Hotel

Southern Beach Destination Weddings at Casa Marina Hotel

Wedding Couple at the Casa Marina

Brides historically chose June as the most desirable month for their ceremony, but destination weddings have throw out the calendar. Exchanging vows somewhere other than a hometown church is the growing trend. Resorts and exotic locations temp couples with gorgeous settings, warm winter weather – if desired, and assistance with planning.  Plus, family and friends can enjoy a getaway, too.


Hotels embrace the concept because lavish functions and even those more low-key produce big income. Host facilities maintain a list of reliable vendors like florists, bakeries, photographers and transportation options to help coordinate nuptials. They essentially become “the wedding planner.”


Destination weddings do not necessarily mean an international venue. Some brides choose a place where the family has vacationed for years, a place that holds memories.


In the Southeast region, the Casa Marina Hotel on Jacksonville Beach, Florida, reigns as one of  the most popular choices. Rebekah Blakely, the hotel’s Director of Catering says, “We have an intimate facility and only hold one wedding per day. We assure exclusivity and our entire staff is committed to delivering dedicated service.”


The historic hotel must be doing things right because the Casa Marina earned a Best of Weddings listing from The Knot, a premier wedding website. General Manager Mark Vanderloo said, “Back in 2004, the hotel hosted about 30 weddings but the number grew to approximately one hundred by 2011.”


 Wedding Photos on the Beach
Wedding Photos on the Beach

Brides are choosing the ease of holding their wedding and reception in the same locale. Beach weddings have tremendous appeal and Casa Marina brides can choose between an oceanside ceremony or the hotel’s courtyard which lies just steps off the shore. When brides realize they can eliminate the complications of sand and rent a tent in case of bad weather, they often choose the courtyard. This also negates the need for a beach permit.


To match the non-traditional setting, many couples want flower arrangements or favors that feature a beach theme. They often incorporate shells, driftwood, starfish, floating candles and sand. Some couples select a seafood menu and specialized wedding cake featuring nautical designs.  For example, Classic Cakes of Jacksonville Beach offers wedding cakes with white chocolate sea shells and brown sugar sand.

Beach Themed Wedding Cake
Beach Themed Wedding Cake


Wedding photographer Emily Martin suggests working the beach as a romantic backdrop. She frequently whisks the couple onto the sandy shores for a quick sunset photo shoot. Sunrise is the best, she adds, ” but few brides select early morning ceremonies. ”


Today’s saavy brides know what they want and they want a memorable day that runs flawlessly.  We can’t guarantee the weather, say Blakely at the Casa Marina, but we can take the worry out.  Weddings are our specialty. We pride ourselves in excellent management of every detail. No wonder brides and mother-of-the-brides are choosing the Casa Marina.

Chef Aaron Webb’s Red Snapper

Chef Webb's Red Snapper
Chef Webb’s Red Snapper

A Sunday Brunch Show Stopper

Sunday Brunch at the historic Casa Marina Hotel and Restaurant in Jacksonville Beach, Florida would not be complete without Chef Aaron Webb‘s dramatically presented Red Snapper.  The gorgeous flame colored fish is served whole, in a standing position, along with dipping sauce.

I had the privilege of watching Chef prepare the fish and could not believe how easy it looked. 

I am almost convinced I could try it myself, but still find it intimidating. 

Here is a look at how Chef Webb does it: 

Start with a 5 to 7 pound whole Red Snapper, scaled and de-gilled.  Leave on the tail and head. 

Gently score the fish the long way and cross ways with a sharp knife forming large diamonds.  

Do not cut through the center bone.

With virgin olive oil, pour or brush in between the scored crevices.  Season with your choices of spices:garlic powder, cumin, lemon pepper, salt and pepper.

Create a large ball from silver foil and stuff into the open base cavity of the fish so it will stand up firmly on an oiled baking sheet. 

Cook at 325 degrees for 45 minutes; rotate and then check in another 20 minutes for doneness.  

Serve with your choice of sipping sauce. 

Enjoy this fabulously moist and tasty fish along with other selections at brunch!

Read this and other food blog stories on Wanderfood Wednesdays.

Casa Marina Hotel, Jacksonville Beach: Hometown Get-Away

Sunrise at the Casa Marina

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.)

Casa Marina

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.

My room in the Casa Marina