If the grace, style and beauty of Miami, Florida, have ever been exemplified in one building, the Biltmore Hotel is it. The grand Mediterranean Revival building was built in 1926, and boasts a lobby featuring a dramatic 45-foot hand-painted ceiling, large stone colonnades and fine craftsmanship governing every detail. Its 315-foot tower rises majestically above the city of Coral Gables and was modeled after the Giralda bell tower in Seville. In keeping with the traditional style of European grand hotels, old-world charm permeates the structure.
In its heyday, the Biltmore played host to the royalty of both Europe and Hollywood. The hotel counted Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby and assorted Rossevelts and Vanderbilts as frequent guest. Fashion shows, gala balls and weddings were de rigueur, as were world-class golf tournaments. A product of the Jazz Age, big bands entertained wealthy, well-traveled visitors to this American Riviera resort.
With the onset of World War II, the Biltmore was converted to a hospital by the War Department. Through the Historic Monuments Act and Legacy of Park Program, the City of Coral Gables gained control of the Biltmore. The Hotel was closed for most of the 1970s and 1980s and many people say the hotel was filled with ghosts. At night, local residents reported hearing strange noises and seeing odd lights in the empty building. In 1983, the City began to oversee its full restoration to be opened as a hotel. In June 1992, a multinational consortium officially became the new owners and operators of the hotel, which reopened in the fall of 1992 after significant refurbishment. Today, hotel guests still report odd happenings.