Miami is a city of flash and excitement, but if you look closer you’ll see that there is a quiet and serene side to this beautiful city. Nestled just outside of downtown in Coral Gables you’ll find large tree-lined streets blooming with bougainvillea and splashed with fountains and large arched gates. At the center of this beautiful area sits one of the most iconic and luxurious hotels in America, the Biltmore Miami.
Built in 1926 by Coral Gables developer George Merrick and Biltmore hotel magnate John McEntee Bowman, the hotel became an immediate success. It saw guests such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, and Al Capone. The hotel even became a surrogate White House as Franklin Roosevelt set up offices here during his extended stays in Miami.
The hotel itself is magnificent. It was designed in the Mediterranean Revival style and features a 315-foot tower that was at the time of its construction the tallest building in Florida. It is surrounded by 150 acres of well-manicured tropical landscape full of large oak and banyan trees. Walking through the property you can immediately sense the contrast from the otherwise fast-paced world of Miami.
What has become one of the most defining aspects of the hotel is its 600,000-gallon swimming pool. Floating in the pool it’s easy to picture high-divers leaping from heights above and synchronized swimmers dancing through the water. In the 1920s large aquatic shows featuring these performers were often held in the pool, drawing thousands who would stay for tea or a meal in one of the hotel’s restaurants.
Just behind the hotel sits a recently restored Donald-Ross golf course. Like his designs of the more famous Pinehurst No. 2 and Oak Hill, this course will keep golfers interested throughout, however, it carries the distinction of being manageable by players of all skill levels. When it first opened, golfers such as Bobby Jones, Tommy Armour, and Gene Sarezen were all known to play the course. Today it continues to draw celebrity players including former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
For those who live in Miami, the hotels holds a special place in its culture. Not only is it a well-known hot spot for locals who want a romantic staycation, it also offers some of the city’s best food. The hotel’s premier restaurant is Palme d’Or, which is helmed by chef Gregory Pugin and has been awarded a AAA Five-Diamond rating. It features a contemporary French cuisine that makes a nod to the elegance of the 1920s while providing diners with a modern sense of excitement.
Every Wednesday through Sunday the hotel offers a traditional British Afternoon Tea. This formal occasion is revered by Miami residents who enjoy the decorum and beautiful setting. On Sundays, the hotel also offers a luxurious Champagne Brunch, which has been rated as the best brunch in Miami and features everything from carved meats to caviar. Guests who would like to get a little more involved can take advantage of the Biltmore’s Culinary Academy, which offers classes to both adults and children who would like to learn some of the hotel’s culinary techniques.
Whether you are visiting Miami or a local looking for an escape from the hurried pace of Miami, the Biltmore is a wonderful place to visit, even if it is just for a walk amongst its grounds.