Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Historic Hotel and Price

 Your backyard.

Spend one night at the Casa Marina Hotel in Jacksonville Beach, FL, and you'll feel at home.

Spend two nights in the 85-year-old oceanfront hostelry and you'll be part of the family.

This 23-room member of the Historic Hotels of America is that kind of place. Guests and neighbors alike think of it as their place.

Tip: I traveled all of 25 miles to get there but it's an easy drive from Jacksonville International Airport  (JAX) if you live farther away. It's an easy place to stay for Levelers too: There's an elevator and the only stairs you will want to climb - the one-story flight to the Penthouse lounge with the best views in town.

Sterling Joyce shows brides and grooms how to cut that perfect first piece of cake for perfect photos.

Like home, each of the parlor-style guest rooms is different. Like home, there is one person you'll turn to for favorite ghost stories (yes, the hotel has them), advice on places to go in the area and life in general. Sterling Joyce, Maire'D and go-to guy, is that person.

In New England they brag that George Washington slept here and here and here. In Florida, it's Al Capone who slept around and yes, he's supposed to have slept here too, along with - though not together or at the same time - Jean Harlow and several presidents.

Tip: From now through November 30, Sundays through Thursdays excluding holidays, you can take advantage of Capone-era pricing to celebrate the Casa's 1925 opening. The first night's stay will cost $139, the second only $19.25. Including Continental breakfasts. Reserve through or call 904-270-0025.

Actually, weekdays are the best times to come. On Tuesday nights, The Johnston Duo, Debrann and Kurt (he toured with Bono) , entertain - and I do mean entertain - in the Penthouse. On Wednesday nights, The Hackers, a cover band that includes Kurt and many other talented musicians, fills the outdoor patio with local party-ers and dancers.


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