Best Of The Best 2006: Fashionable Address
Certain details remind you that Casa Casuarina, an exclusive club and hotel on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, previously was a private home: The keys to the 10 guest rooms are proper metal instruments, not plastic cards, and the doors can be problematic at times. The most conspicuous evidence, however, is the steady procession of tourists who congregate on the sidewalk outside Casa Casuarina, pointing at the steps where the mansion’s most famous owner, fashion designer Gianni Versace, fell after serial killer Andrew Cunanan shot him in 1997.
Standard Oil millionaire Alden Freeman built Casa Casuarina in 1930, and Versace expanded the Mediterranean Revival–style estate during the 1990s. After Versace’s death, telecommunications businessman Peter Loftin purchased the home, making it the base for an invitation-only club. Opened officially in October 2005, Loftin’s club has approximately 200 members, who have access to the property weekly from Wednesday through Sunday. In addition, Casa Casuarina operates as a hotel, renting its available rooms for a minimum of $1,200 per night.
Club amenities available to hotel guests include services at Casa Casuarina’s Spa Eleven, which champions decadence over health. Spa patrons, who are greeted with a glass of Champagne, can take treatments in a room decorated with antique opium beds and hookahs, and they can request a “massage à trois” performed by three masseuses.