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The Casa de Suenos Bed and Breakfast is located in St. Augustine, Florida. The building can be found near the historic district of the city, and as such has an old-fashioned, Mediterranean-Revival theme to its exterior. It has seven rooms as well as a few common areas that guests can gather in. A complimentary breakfast is offered to occupants as well as a social hour in the evenings where food and drinks are served. The inn offers a variety of specials to its patrons, like free entry to different attractions around the area that are included with guests’ stay, such as the St. Augustine Lighthouse Museum. Mary, one of the managers, says that she hopes visitors who stay with them will feel at home and like they are valued during their stay.
Located in the historic district of St. Augustine, Florida is the Casa de Suenos Bed and Breakfast. The three-story building is on the corner of Saragossa Street and Cordova Street. The walls are a light off-white color with red brick shingles on the roof. The styling of the exterior is described by the manager as a “Mediterranean-Revival” with arched windows, three second-story patios, and some trees and small plants separating the building from the sidewalk. There is also a small sitting area outside with a table and chairs, and there is parking behind the house on the property.
Inside there are seven rooms available for reservation, mostly on the second and third floors. There is one room on the first floor, the Nieves Room, that is ADA accessible, has its own private entrance, and an extra sofa bed that can be slept in. The most popular room guests will rent is the Valencia Room which serves as one of the ‘romantic suites’ that the edifice offers and it has the largest private balcony of all the rooms. The Sevilla Room is one of the larger rooms that also has a private balcony as well as a small desk that guests can use.
Elsewhere in the bed and breakfast, there are sitting areas where guests can gather, specifically in living rooms on the east and west sides of the building, in the dining room, and in the sunroom. A complimentary breakfast is served in the dining room from 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM on weekdays and from 7:30 AM to 10:30 AM on weekends and on holidays. Breakfasts are served buffet-style, usually containing two hot entrees, fruit salad, freshly baked bread, and homemade granola, among other things. For the brunches on weekends and holidays, Bloody Mary's and Champagne Mimosas are served included with the breakfast. The bed and breakfast also hosts a social hour from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM daily in the dining room that serves different local wines, beers, and snack foods and is free for people staying with them.
The Casa de Suenos Bed and Breakfast offers its guests a variety of complementary experiences in addition to breakfast and social hours. Those who stay at the bed and breakfast will receive free admission to tour the local lighthouse, the St. Augustine Lighthouse, and Museum. They also receive a discount to visit the Oldest House Museum at half of the usual price of admission. Those who are staying at the property can visit and use the Anastasia Fitness Club, a short drive from the establishment, free of charge. There are also other events that take place in the area throughout the year, which guests can participate in for free, notably around Christmas time with attractions such as free trolley rides on Mondays and Wednesdays and free tickets to the St. Augustine Christmas Choir.
When asked about how they want guests to feel when they stay with them, Mary, a manager at the bed and breakfast, says that they want patrons to feel like they are at home. She says that they strive to help guests not just feel like visitors to St. Augustine but like they are actually wanted there. “There are not strangers in St. Augustine,” Mary says, and the staff at Casa de Suenos strive to help the people who stay with them feel that way. The staff will try to frequently interact with those who are staying at the edifice, whether at breakfast, during social hours, or just in passing. The hosts, Joe and Margaret Finnegan, will also frequently interact with guests. Joe and Margaret’s favorite part of running the inn is getting to share it with other visitors. Mary says that her favorite part of her job is getting to meet so many new people and interacting with so many different personalities on a daily basis.
Various reviews of the property mention that they enjoy the service the staff provides. Some reviews also make a note of their appreciation of the social aspects offered. Other guests highlight the romantic atmosphere that the property strives to offer. Said one previous visitor about their stay, “The place is clean, and the staff is friendly and accommodating. Breakfast was good each morning. They have an afternoon/evening social hour which was fun and provided homemade desserts every evening.”
The bed and breakfast does have some policies that it asks its patrons to maintain during their stay. Smoking is prohibited on the property, and no pets are allowed. The property is also an adults-only bed and breakfast, only allowing guests age 13 and over to stay with them. The business is open year-round, with its busiest months of operation occurring from the middle of February through April and from Thanksgiving to New Years.
The building that is now the Casa de Suenos Bed and Breakfast was originally built on land owned by Dr. Andrew Anderson, who was a physician and mayor of St. Augustine. St. Augustine has a history that dates back to the early 1700s with Spanish occupation. Dr. Anderson commissioned many different works of art to showcase the history of the area, and the architecture of the historic district of St. Augustine can reflect that history. The Casa de Suenos was built as a one-story wood-frame home. The home was then owned by the Carcaba family who became well known for making cigars. As their business grew and they found success, they would remodel the home with its current Mediterranean-Revival style. The Carcaba family would eventually sell the house and through the mid-1900s, the building would see a variety of uses, such as a funeral home, a jail, and offices.
The house would be bought by Ray and Sandy Toole in 1998 and over the next three years, they converted it into a bed and breakfast and operated it themselves. They sold the business to Kathleen Hurley in 2001, and she ran the bed and breakfast until 2015. The current owners, Joe and Margaret Finnegan, bought the property from Kathleen in 2015.
Joe and Margaret met in St. Augustine in the 1970s and were married in 1976. They were both teachers who specialized in deaf education and spent much of their working lives in that field. They would move away from St. Augustine but often returned on vacation and enjoyed staying in bed and breakfasts as they did so, developing a desire to own one themselves. In June of 1985, they decided to buy the St. Francis Inn to move closer to St. Augustine and see if the lodging industry was for them. After working at the inn for 30 years, they bought the Casa de Suenos Bed and Breakfast to realize their dream of owning a bed and breakfast in St. Augustine proper. They converted two rooms that were used as an office and innkeeper’s quarters into two additional guest rooms and updated the interior theme. They plan to maintain the historic exterior of the property while still providing guests with modern amenities in the rooms during their stay for years to come.
Joe and Margaret Finnegan