In the heart of Coral Gables resides the Biltmore Hotel. Driven by a post from a fellow travel blogger about that hotel, I had to go and check it out myself. The Biltmore Hotel offers free tours of the property every Sunday at 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm. More about that later. First a quick history lesson. You will get more in-depth history information on the tour.
The spanish-style estate with old Floridian glamour was built in 1926 by John McEntee Bowman and George Merrick. It was designed by Schultze and Weaver. It served as a hospital during World War II, a VA Hospital and a campus of the University of Miami Medical School until 1968. In 1987 it became a hotel again and was managed by the Seaway Hotels Corporation. The hotel was the tallest building, surpassing the Freedom Tower in Downtown Miami. Two years after it got erected, in 1928, it was surpassed by the Dade County Courthouse.
The Miami-Biltmore Hotel & Country Club was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1996. The hotel is also famous for the “Al Capone Suite”, the official name is Everglades Suite, in which the legendary American Gangster resided. The suite is on the 13th floor. Unlike many buildings that superstitiously omit the 13th floor, the Biltmore doesn’t.
The hotel has been used as location for movies and TV shows like Bad Boys, CSI Miami, Miami Vice and many others…
Did you ever wanted to swim in the biggest hotel swimming pool in the continental US? Then visit the Biltmore Hotel. Its 23,000 square-feet pool holds 700,000 gallons of water.
I arrived way to early for the tour and was able to explore the grounds a little bit before the tour.
Like mentioned above, there are two tours every Sunday, at 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm. One tour lasts about an hour and you will explore different parts of the hotel as well you get to know the history of the hotel in more detail.
Tours start next to the bird-cage in front of the elevator in the (upper) lobby. That’s at least what I got told by the concierge. However 1:30 pm came up and a family with a guide passed us and started talking about antics. I asked the concierge where the tour will start and when and he told me the group (family with guide) just passed me is the actual tour group. I joined them and 10 minutes later two more families joined us, which apparently didn’t get picked up either by the tour guide. I saw them all standing around the cage during my wait. As a complete group we walked throughout the hotel and our guide told us quite a lot of stories about the hotel. We were only able to visit the Granada Ballroom, the Alhambra Ballroom was occupied by a conference.
Unfortunately our group was not able to visit the “Al Capone Suite” / Everglades Suite, because it was occupied. As of now the Biltmore doesn’t include this suite anymore in the tour, no matter if occupied or not.
Behind the hotel is a golf course and to the left of it is the Biltmore Tennis Center. Here is a map of the property. At the lower lobby is a gift shop and you can find numerous restaurants throughout the property. This is a great place and you really should visit it during your visit in Miami. I didn’t even know about that hotel until recently.
Not far from the Biltmore is the Venetian Pool, another historic place in Miami and tourist attraction. After my visit in the hotel I went there for my first time. That day they had their annual dog swim. People came with their dogs to swim in the pool. It was pretty funny to see the dogs jumping into the pool.