The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida, is one of a handful of “Grande Dame” hotels from a golden age that saw the construction of the Waldorf Astoria, The Park Plaza, The Broadmoor and a few other great, classic American hotels. And while the Grande Dame is still a classy broad, she is definitely showing her age. Make no mistake, she is still the elegant old antithesis to all the glitzy, glaring, almost naked, in-your-face glam of Miami. Nestled among the fairways, banyan trees, and stately homes of Coral Gables, she’s a haven for the old money and blue hair that eschews the South Beach scene. Grand architecture, soaring lobby ceilings, a giant pool that was the largest hotel pool in America generations before “water features” became hip – the Biltmore harks back to the age of Flagler and other railroad barons. Her lines are distinctive, her rooms and spaces elegant, her grounds lush, and her staff impeccable.
But there’s a good deal of upkeep and modernization that has not happened here over the years, and it shows. From simple things, like elevator casings and hallway kickboards that have been painted over so many times that they appear coral encrusted, to more subtle neglects like stair treads that are wiggling loose under the thick carpet runners, to dark spaces that might have suited a different age but today need serious lightening up – the feeling is often of a dowager in neglect. Most of the Biltmore’s contemporaries have kept their five-star ratings through careful and attentive updating, but there’s little evidence of that here. The signature Italian and French restaurants, as well as the hotel bar, are in the ground floor “dungeon” area and are very dark, heavy affairs with low lights and no views – clearly designs out of the 1960s that are in serious need of updates. With the surrounding pool and golf course, these should open to beautiful natural lighting and stunning views, but no such reinvention has happened. Even the sleeping rooms, though generally well appointed and comfortable in size, haven’t been brought up to modern standards. Simple things like a coffee maker in the room and a nicely sized soaking tub rather than a suburban, el-cheapo bathtub need to be considered. The in-room artwork, reproductions of old sepia toned maps, needs to go and someone needs to introduce some light and color and brightness to the accommodations – everything is just so very beige. The too-beige area carpet in my room was literally threadbare. It needs to be said that an updated toilet and a few more amenities in the bathroom would also not go amiss. And mechanical systems – the noises coming out of my air conditioning system were an awful distraction.
While I enjoyed my stay well enough, mostly for the opportunity to be somewhere serene and away from the Miami Hustle, in fairness people expect more for $400 a night and up. The Biltmore needs a major infusion of cash and a serious renovation throughout.
And what's up with the stupid dogs-in-sneakers statues out front? Everyone in our group was looking for an explanation and none of the staff could offer one.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Graced with effortless beauty and sophistication, The Biltmore Hotel is a national historic landmark located in the exclusive Coral Gables area with close proximity to Miami Beach and downtown Miami. The 273-room resort resembles classic Italian, Moorish, and Spanish architectural influences spread over 150-acres of tropical landscape. A favorite of world leaders and celebrities since its opening in 1926, the hotel offers a restored Donald Ross 18-hole, 71 par championship golf course, tennis courts, the largest hotel pool on the East Coast of the United States with private cabanas, a European spa, and an award-winning fitness center. The hotel's dining destinations include the award winning Palme d'Or, recognized by Zagat as one of the best restaurants in the country; Fontana, a traditional Italian restaurant surrounding The Biltmore courtyard and fountain; the poolside Cascade and the 19th Hole Golf restaurant. The hotel also recently unveiled its culinary academy offering an array of hands-on cooking classes for adults and children. The Biltmore is one of South Florida's preferred sites for leisure and business travel, high-level corporate briefings, public policy conferences, and an extraordinary wedding destination. The Biltmore is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Biltmore Hotel Coral Gables
- Biltmore Coral Gables