Experience the Glamour of the
Legendary Designer’s Magnificent
South Beach Villa

t’s no secret that here at Divine Living we love fashion, luxury and hotels. So naturally while in Miami, we were drawn to the incredible Casa Casuarina, an exclusive five-star boutique resort with an iconic history as the high-profile home of one of the world’s greatest designers.

To this day, there’s no one more synonymous with Miami fashion than Gianni Versace. The Italian Designer first visited the Magic City in 1992, stopping to see his sister Donatella en route to Cuba.
He loved South Beach so much, he decided to scrap his travel plans and renovate a massive 1930’s Mediterranean-style villa on Ocean Drive instead.

The property was originally built by Alden Freeman, an architect. When he retired at 27 thanks to a lofty inheritance, Freeman became a jet setter, acquiring friends around the world and designing Casa Casuarina with 24 apartments to host them all. His construction paid homage to a 1510 villa he saw in the Dominican Republic that first belonged to Christopher Columbus’s son. He was also inspired by ancient Greece and Rome, integrating numerous symbolic, classical design elements.

Legend has it it, Versace fell in love with the Casa as soon as he saw the famous Kneeling Aphrodite statue, sculpted of bronze in 1928 and placed at the front of the home to welcome all with love. Versace’s own obsession with Greek and Roman mythology is no secret—his first logo was of the Greek God Hermes, though he famously changed it to Medusa after the release of his first womenswear collection.

Struck with inspiration, Versace quickly proceeded to purchase Casa Casuarina for $2.95 million and soon got to work on a three-year renovation. He scaled down the original 24 apartments to just 10 oversized suites and while he was at it, redid many of the interior floors, walls, windows and fixtures to create the fullest expression of his signature vision.

On the decor front, designers took their cues from his palazzo in Milan and his Villa on Lake Como. No expense was spared. The look was wild, exuberant and ornate, introducing a bold new flavor of Miami baroque that stood in sharp contrast to the quiet pastel elegance of Art Deco.

In Versace’s version of South Beach, American modernism was OUT, and Italian Renaissance was IN. Along with his Spanish-tiled mega villa, he also purchased a historic Art Deco hotel next door for $3.75 million—only to knock it down and make room for the property’s magnificent swimming pool and beautiful Mediterranean gardens. All told, Versace invested $32 million of his personal fortune into renovations at Casa Casuarina.

This was the mid-90s, and fashion was optimistic as was the economic outlook. It was the age of the Supermodels, and if they were in South Beach (and they were) they were probably at Versace’s along with Hollywood’s A-list and the fashion industry elite. It was undoubtedly the most fashionable scene in Miami, hosted by an icon who revolutionized the industry as part of a decade-defining wave of Italian designers.

Following Versace’s untimely death in 1997, the property has changed hands several times, but has remained an iconic and important feature of one of Miami’s most famous strips. Today, the Casa has opened its doors as an exclusive luxury hotel where you can still experience a taste of the Versace fantasy lifestyle.

Since acquiring the property in 2013, Victor Hotels has done a fabulous job of bringing it up to date. While many of Versace’s original furnishings and artworks were sold at auction after his death, the new decor continues in the spirit of the late fashion icon, preserving his most ornate additions, like his $10K marble toilet—one of just three made by the Versace Company (another of which famously belongs to Kimora Lee Simmons).

I was thrilled to have the Casa Casuarina open its doors for a Divine Living photo shoot so we could take you inside this beautiful and historic Miami destination. The hotel housed us in the Venus Suite
(quite apropos for DLM!) which was Donatella Versace’s frequent bedroom and Gianni’s favorite guest room. The walls and ceilings are all intricately hand-painted, giving the whole room a whimsical, joyful feeling.

Now the pool area, where we shot this week’s cover, is absolutely jaw dropping. Known as the “Million
Mosaic Pool,” it mesmerizes with thousands of 24k gold tiles, depicting mythological elements like Neptune (God of Water and the Sea) and the largest Versace Medusa icon on the property.

After our shoot, we loved stopping by Gianni’s restaurant, where sophisticated Mediterranean cuisine is served in Versace’s formal Medusa Dining Room, or out on the patio overlooking the elegant Mosaic Garden. We then opted for a drink at the Onyx Bar to soak in the opulence of this one-of-a-kind destination. Overall I was so impressed with the hotel that I’m definitely adding it to the bucket list for my next South Beach adventure—how about you?

t’s no secret that here at Divine Living we love fashion, luxury and hotels. So naturally while in Miami, we were drawn to the incredible Casa Casuarina, an exclusive five-star boutique resort with an iconic history as the high-profile home of one of the world’s greatest designers.

To this day, there’s no one more synonymous with Miami fashion than Gianni Versace. The Italian Designer first visited the Magic City in 1992, stopping to see his sister Donatella en route to Cuba.
He loved South Beach so much, he decided to scrap his travel plans and renovate a massive 1930’s Mediterranean-style villa on Ocean Drive instead.

The property was originally built by Alden Freeman, an architect. When he retired at 27 thanks to a lofty inheritance, Freeman became a jet setter, acquiring friends around the world and designing Casa Casuarina with 24 apartments to host them all. His construction paid homage to a 1510 villa he saw in the Dominican Republic that first belonged to Christopher Columbus’s son. He was also inspired by ancient Greece and Rome, integrating numerous symbolic, classical design elements.

Legend has it it, Versace fell in love with the Casa as soon as he saw the famous Kneeling Aphrodite statue, sculpted of bronze in 1928 and placed at the front of the home to welcome all with love. Versace’s own obsession with Greek and Roman mythology is no secret—his first logo was of the Greek God Hermes, though he famously changed it to Medusa after the release of his first womenswear collection.

Struck with inspiration, Versace quickly proceeded to purchase Casa Casuarina for $2.95 million and soon got to work on a three-year renovation. He scaled down the original 24 apartments to just 10 oversized suites and while he was at it, redid many of the interior floors, walls, windows and fixtures to create the fullest expression of his signature vision.

On the decor front, designers took their cues from his palazzo in Milan and his Villa on Lake Como. No expense was spared. The look was wild, exuberant and ornate, introducing a bold new flavor of Miami baroque that stood in sharp contrast to the quiet pastel elegance of Art Deco.

In Versace’s version of South Beach, American modernism was OUT, and Italian renaissance was IN. Along with his Spanish-tiled mega villa, he also purchased a historic Art Deco hotel next door for $3.75 million—only to knock it down and make room for the property’s magnificent swimming pool and beautiful Mediterranean gardens. All told, Versace invested $32 million of his personal fortune into renovations at Casa Casuarina.

This was the mid-90s, and fashion was optimistic as was the economic outlook. It was the age of the Supermodels, and if they were in South Beach (and they were) they were probably at Versace’s along with hollywood’s A-list and the fashion industry elite. It was undoubtedly the most fashionable scene in Miami, hosted by an icon who revolutionized the industry as part of a decade-defining wave of Italian designers.

Following Versace’s untimely death in 1997, the property has changed hands several times, but has remained an iconic and important feature of one of Miami’s most famous strips. Today, the Casa’s doors have been reopened as an exclusive luxury hotel where you can still experience a taste of the Versace fantasy lifestyle.

Since acquiring the property in 2013, Victor Hotels has done a fabulous job of bringing it up to date. While many of Versace’s original furnishings and artworks were sold at auction after his death, the new decor continues in the spirit of the late fashion icon, preserving his most ornate additions, like his $10K marble toilet—one of just three made by the Versace Company (another of which famously belongs to Kimora Lee Simmons).

I was thrilled to have the Casa Casuarina open its doors for a Divine Living photo shoot so we could take you inside this beautiful and historic Miami destination. The hotel housed us in the Venus Suite
(quite apropos for DLM!) which was Donatella Versace’s frequent bedroom and Gianni’s favorite guest room. The walls and ceilings are all intricately hand-painted, giving the whole room a whimsical, joyful feeling.

Now the pool area, where we shot this week’s cover, is absolutely jaw dropping. Known as the “Million
Mosaic Pool,” it mesmerizes with thousands of 24k gold tiles, depicting mythological elements like Neptune (God of Water and the Sea) and the largest Versace Medusa icon on the property.

After our shoot, we loved stopping by Gianni’s restaurant, where sophisticated Mediterranean cuisine is served in Versace’s formal Medusa Dining Room, or out on the patio overlooking the elegant Mosaic Garden. We then opted for a drink at the Onyx Bar to soak in the opulence of this one-of-a-kind destination. Overall I was so impressed with the hotel that I’m definitely adding it to the bucket list for my next South Beach adventure—how about you?

The Villa Casa Casuarina
1116 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139
(786) 485-2200
vmmiamibeach

Send this to friend