Travel Through Time
In the midst of residential Coral Gables, an area of stately Mediterranean Revival style homes, banyan trees, and tropical foliage, rises The Biltmore Miami. Ask for directions to The Biltmore, and most anyone around will tell you to look for the hotel's centerpiece—its grand 16-story copper clad tower, a replica of the Giralda Tower in the Cathedral of Seville, Spain.
Consider this road traveled the beginning of a treasure hunt through The Biltmore Miami. Architectural wonders are part of the grand dame's charm, along with stories of notorious guests, and luminaries who, in one way or another, left their mark on the landmark.
The Everglades Suite, also known as the Al Capone Suite, is where the notorious gangster allegedly ran a speakeasy during Prohibition.
The Great Indoors
The creator of Coral Gables, land developer George E. Merrick, tasked the same architects who built New York's Grand Central Station, to build what Merrick called his "great hotel." Yet, he was insistent that the style follow the Mediterranean theme Merrick envisioned for Coral Gables. So, the architects looked to Spain for the hotel's design inspiration.
In the lobby, hand-painted ceilings and ornate chandeliers, which hang in between large marble columns, display the Spanish and Moorish influences the architects so embraced for The Biltmore Miami. Underfoot are gleaming terrazzo and tile floors, but they weren't always exposed: they were covered with linoleum during World War II when the U.S. War Department converted the hotel into the Army Air Forces Regional Hospital. The floors were returned to their original splendor in 1983 during a massive restoration of the hotel.
On the 13th floor, the two-story Everglades Suite is legendary for its hand-painted ceiling frescoes depicting scenes from Florida’s tropical wetlands, yet also known for one of its repeat guests. Dubbed the Al Capone Suite, this is where the gangster allegedly ran a speakeasy during Prohibition. Original artifacts from Capone's days include a private elevator, as well as a secret staircase. Bullet holes on the fireplace and walls are further proof of Capone's notorious encounters.
Outside on the balcony is a view below of one of the hotel’s most celebrated features: a 23,000-square foot pool, holding 600,000 gallons of water.
Original Tarzan and U. S. Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller, served as lifeguard and swim instructor in the 1920s, and, during the same era, elaborate aquatic shows, starring Hollywood star Esther Williams, would attract crowds.
A glass-covered pergola along the pool looks as if it is part of the original architecture, but it was added in 1994 in preparation for dignitaries arriving to join President Bill Clinton, who was hosting the Summit of the Americas. Follow the path to the Biltmore Country Club, where you'll find World Golf Hall of Famer Donald Ross's Par 71, 6,700-yard golf course. Golf enthusiasts flock to the 91-year-old links, whose 2007 facelift was completed using Ross's original plans, hand-written notes, and historical photographs as reference.
Named a National Historic Landmark in 1996, an elite title bestowed on just over 2,500 historic structures in the United States, the hotel offers free tours of the grounds. Each Sunday, there is another experience that has become the stuff of local legend—The Biltmore’s champagne brunch.
To learn more about The Biltmore Miami Coral Gables, or to experience an historical tour of the hotel, please contact the concierge upon making a reservation.