The Biltmore Hotel
Builders: John McEntee Bowman, George Merrick
Architect: Schultze and Weaver
You could kinda say I have a soft spot for this old hotel. It's on my way to work, so I drive by it every morning, five days a week, but could never grow tired of its presence. When I was a kid on the Fourth of July my family and I would watch the fireworks show on the golf course surrounding the building. One of my nephews had a birthday celebration there when he was younger (we had told him the rumors of it being haunted and he wanted to check it out). It's among my favorite hotels in Miami and I enjoy its relaxing atmosphere, away from the crowds.
This is a building with a rich history--one that's definitely seen its share of changes throughout its 86-year history. It was built in 1926 and operated as a luxury hotel and golf resort until World War II, when the government took control of the property and transformed it into a hospital for wounded veterans. Then from 1952 to 1968 it served as home to the University of Miami medical school. In 1973 ownership was transferred to the City of Coral Gables, and it was during this period that the once-lively resort became stagnant and unoccupied for almost ten years. It underwent a major face-lift in the early 80's and reopened again as a hotel in 1987. In 1996 it received the honor of a National Historic Landmark designation.
The Biltmore when it was the American Air Force Regional Hospital
When the lobby was renovated in the 80's the designers tried to duplicate the look and atmosphere it had when the hotel opened in "The Jazz Age" 1920s.
You didn't think I would do the entire post without sneaking in a makeup item, did you? This is MAC's Snob on nails.
Developer John Bowman, a fox hunting enthusiast, imported English red foxes to the Biltmore for sport in 1926. I found this interesting to learn because I have actually seen foxes in Coral Gables and both times it was after dark and less than a mile away from the hotel. Maybe they really were the descendants of Bowman's foxes!
Hi there! It's me here, in the shadows :)
The excerpt above mentions that teens used to trespass during the years the hotel was closed up, and it even became a "rite of passage" of sorts. I remember hearing stories from my then junior high-school aged brother and friends about their adventures in the abandoned building and golf course after dark. I think I would have been too scared of getting caught by police to try it...come to think of it, I don't remember ever hearing about any of the girls we knew doing this, but I'm sure there were some who took the risk!
Above is a look at the dilapidated state of the hotel interior prior to its renovation in the early 1980s.
(Photo of p.145 from The Biltmore Hotel: An Enduring Legacy.)
Above: "Miami Biltmore Hotel guests took advantage of the six mile gondola excursion to bathe on Tahiti Beach." (APC) Source: The Biltmore Hotel: An Enduring Legacy
Bob and Enid Kay of New York City raise finches & nightingales
One of my very favorite features of the hotel are the enchanting finches and nightingales kept in beautiful mahogany birdcages in the lobby. They make the sweetest, soft little song. I am not a bird expert so all I can say is, they are incredibly pretty and colorful, and no trip to the Biltmore would be complete without stopping by to see them!
The photo above shows what was originally the dining lounge of the hotel, but now serves as a space for special events and receptions.
Look at the beautiful ceilings! It was dark inside and I didn't use flash, but you can still see the detail a bit.
I hope you enjoyed this picture tour of the Biltmore. Many of these photos were taken late on a Sunday evening and I was lucky enough to find the place fairly deserted, but the number of visitors varies widely depending on the time of day and whether guests are in the area for special events or conferences. I definitely recommend stopping by for a look if you're ever in town and have an hour or two of free time!
~ Thanks for reading ~
Credits: All photographs were taken by me with a Canon S100, except for the images of the text, which are pictures I took with a Panasonic Lumix DMC G-1 of pages from the book The Biltmore Hotel: An Enduring Legacy, by Samuel La Roue, Jr. and Ellen Uguccioni.