The Biltmore Timeline
View the complete history of The Biltmore Hotel from inception to its existence today.
Biltmore Coral Gables is Built
Biltmore Coral Gables is BuiltJanuary 1, 1925
The Biltmore Hotel is built in 1925 by George Merrick
As the creator of Coral Gables, land developer George E. Merrick founded the University of Miami, and developed the suburbs with strict building codes to ensure the beautiful surrounding. In 1924, young Merrick joined forces with Biltmore hotel magnate John McEntee Bowman at the height of the Florida land boom to build “a great hotel…which would not only serve as a hostelry to crowds which were thronging to Coral Gables but also would serves as a center of sports and fashion.”
Biltmore Hotel is Opened
Biltmore Hotel is OpenedJanuary 15, 1926
On January 15, 1926, the Miami Biltmore Country Club debuted with a magnificent gala opening that promised to be the social event of the year. The leading socialites of the Northeast came down on trains marked “Miami Biltmore Specials.” As champagne flowed and guests fox‐trotted to the strains of three orchestras, one led by famed bandleader Paul Whiteman, the Biltmore’s Giralda Tower was lit for the first time and could be seen from miles around. An overflow crowd of 1,500 guests attended the opening dinner‐dance, and a landmark era in South Florida history began.
The Jazz Age
The Jazz AgeJanuary 1, 1927
The Biltmore was one of the most fashionable resorts in the entire country in its heyday, hosting royalty of both the European and Hollywood variety. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland and Bing Crosby were frequent guests. In fact, everyone who was anyone, from politicians like President Franklin D. Roosevelt to notorious gangsters like Al Capone– stayed at The Biltmore, where they enjoyed fashion shows, gala balls, aquatic shows in the 23,000 square foot grand pool, elaborate weddings and world‐class golf tournaments. With the Jazz Age at full cry, The Biltmore’s big bands entertained wealthy, well‐traveled visitors to this American Riviera resort.
Entertainment at the Biltmore 1930s
Entertainment at the Biltmore 1930sJanuary 1, 1930
Challenged by America’s economic lulls in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, The Biltmore thrived by hosting aquatic galas that drew crowds and kept the hotel in the spotlight. Up to 3,000 spectators turned out on Sundays to watch synchronized swimmers, bathing beauties, alligator wrestlers and the four year old boy wonder, Jackie Ott, whose act included diving into the immense pool from an 85‐foot high platform. Prior to his tree‐swinging days in Hollywood, Johnny Weissmuller was a Biltmore swimming instructor and later broke world records at The Biltmore pool. The aquatic shows were extremely popular with families, who would later dress up to attend fashionable tea dances on The Biltmore’s grand terrace.
The War Years 1942 – 1968
The War Years 1942 – 1968January 1, 1942
With the onset of World War II, the War Department converted The Biltmore to a huge hospital, dubbed the Army Air Forces Regional Hospital. Adapting the building to its new use, the Army sealed many of the former hotel’s windows with concrete, and covered the travertine floors with layers of government-issue linoleum. Also the early site of The University of Miami’s School of Medicine, The Biltmore remained a Veteran’s Administration hospital until 1968.
The City of Coral Gables 1983-1990
The City of Coral Gables 1983-1990January 1, 1983
Following intense lobbying by Coral Gables officials and city residents for The Biltmore’s acquisition, in 1973 the City of Coral Gables was granted ownership of the hotel through the Historic Monuments Act and Legacy of Parks program. But the City remained undecided as to the structure’s future, and The Biltmore remained unoccupied for almost 10 years.
Finally in 1983, the City initiated a full restoration of the Biltmore to its former glory as a grand hotel. Nearly four years and $55 million later, The Biltmore re-opened on December 31, 1987 as a four-star hotel and resort. More than 600 guests turned out to honor the historic Biltmore at a black-tie affair. The hotel remained open for three years, but closed again in 1990 in the midst of the country’s economic downturn.
Modern EraJanuary 1, 2020
Today, the 273 room hotel and resort is known as The Biltmore and is indeed as elegant as the day it opened. The Biltmore’s rich history makes it Coral Gables’ most preeminent historic landmark. Coral Gables is a largely residential, affluent area graced with broad, planted boulevards, golf courses, and a country clubs. Stately Mediterranean homes, Banyan trees, and tropical foliage line its quiet streets.