A Dream Come True | The Biltmore Hotel Miami
In 1924, a young land developer named Merrick joined forces with a Biltmore hotel magnate known as John McEntee Bowman, at the very height of the Florida land boom in order to build "a great hotel...One which would not only serve as a hostelry to the growing crowds traveling to Coral Gables, but also one that would serve as center stage for sports and fashion events. Bowman selectively contracted the commission with the renowned architect, Leonard Schultze and S. Fullerton Weaver, both of whom were established contractors, and developers. The newly hired team had already engineered the Atlanta and Los Angeles Biltmore Hotels, New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, Miami Beach’s Nautilus Hotel (later the first location of Mt. Sinai Medical Center), and the famed Miami Daily News Tower (now known as the Freedom Tower).
On November 25, 1924, 200 of Miami’s most prominent business and civic leaders, as well as the news press, gathered for a dinner to celebrate the new partnership. Bowman announced that the estimated $10 million project would host a 400-room hotel, a country club, a service building, a pro championship golf course, polo fields, tennis courts and a huge 150- by 225-foot oversized swimming pool. The 18-hole golf course, designed by premier golf-course architect Donald Ross was first to inaugurate, opening its gates in January 1925. Lastly, on January 15, 1926, The Biltmore Hotel was open for business with the celebration of a magnificent inaugural ceremony that promised and revered by many as the social event of the year.
The leading socialites of the Northeast traveled by rail on trains marked with the signage "Miami Biltmore Specials." As Champagne over-flowed and guests mingled to the classical music provided by no less than three orchestras, one led by famed and social iconic bandleader Paul Whiteman, the Biltmore’s Giralda Tower was lit for the first time and could be seen for many miles afar. A steady stream of attendees providing for an overflow crowd of 1,500 or perhaps more guests attended the opening dinner-dance, and a new landmark era was ushered in the annals South Florida's history.