The War Years 1942 - 1968
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.
In 1943, a recovering airman enjoyed the view from the terrace overlooking the golf course.
Patients in the former hotel lobby await transfer to various wards.
City Of Coral Gables: 1983 - 1990
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.
A New Era: 1992 - Present
In June of 1992, a multi-national consortium led by Seaway Hotels Corporation, a Florida hotel management firm, became The Biltmore’s operators. Seaway, managed by Gene Prescott, is a hospitality organization that owns and manages quality hotels in Florida. In addition to The Biltmore Hotel, the company’s portfolio includes The Sheraton Sand Key in Clearwater Beach, Florida.
Seaway embarked upon a $40 million, 10-year renovation program restoring The Biltmore to its world-class excellence. The company invested in complete guest-room renovations and also built a state of the art fitness center and spa. In addition, The Biltmore spent approximately $3 million to restore the historic 18-hole championship golf course in 2008. The Biltmore’s landmark swimming pool, one of the largest hotel pools in the continental United States, also underwent considerable refurbishment, led by noted landscape architect Emilio Fuster. The 85-foot high diving tower was transformed into a lush tropical waterfall, and private cabanas were built alongside the pool. The 600,000-gallon, 23,000 square-foot pool was emptied and completely resurfaced with polished marble.
At the 1926 gala opening of the Miami Biltmore Country Club, Dr. Frank Crane predicted, "Many people will come and go, but this structure will remain a thing of lasting beauty." Dr. Crane’s prediction came true on June 19, 1996, when the National Register of Historic Places designated The Biltmore a National Historic Landmark, an elite title offered to only 3 percent of all historic structures.
In keeping with traditional European grand hotels, Old World charm permeates the property. Consistent with the architectural style of the affluent homes of Coral Gables, The Biltmore's design is considered “Mediterranean Revival,” based predominantly on Spanish style with Moorish and Italian accents. The Biltmore's centerpiece is its 93 foot copper clad tower, modeled after the Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain. Guests arrive at The Biltmore via an arched driveway that leads to an impressive façade. Throughout the property, guests will encounter grand architectural ornaments, from the colonnaded lobby with hand-painted ceiling beams, to the open air courtyard and fountain, plus balconies with balustrades and gleaming terrazzo and tile floors.
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.