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Things You Don't Know About the Miami, Florida Biltmore Hotel

One of America’s most beautiful displays of Mediterranean-Revivalist architecture soars from the Miami Sands, attracting celebrities, history enthusiasts, and lively, departed souls alike.

Located in nearby Coral Gables, the Biltmore Hotel has always been described as "a place of elegance, beauty, and old world charm."

Since 1926, this lavish hotel has been a playground for the rich and famous, and as local legend would have it, the infamous were quite welcome too.

A Narrative of Miami’s Best-Known Creepy Hotel

The Biltmore Hotel originally opened as the Miami Biltmore Country Club on January 15, 1926. The debut celebrations were on a scale few had ever seen at the time. It was the social event of the year as over a thousand guests poured into the hotel for a party graced by Hollywood luminaries, musicians, and famous socialites of the Northeast.

The party was such an elaborate affair that it marked a new era in South Florida that would continue all through the Jazz Age. At this point in history until the onset of the Second World War, the Biltmore Hotel was the most fashionable resort in the entire country, hosting European royalty and some of the most glamourous stars of the time. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Judy Garland, and Ginger Rogers were frequent guests at the hotel.

The hotel was welcoming to anyone who'd made a name for themselves, from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who set up a temporary White House whenever he'd visit, to notorious gangsters like Al Capone.

The Miami Biltmore thrived by hosting fashion shows, gala balls, elaborate weddings, and world-class golf tournaments that drew crowds from all over the world. Entertainment highlights included everything you can think of, including synchronized swimmers, alligator wrestlers, and daredevil divers.

Courtyard scene with roman columns and water feature

Secrets of The Biltmore

It's said there are secrets around every corner of the Biltmore Hotel. Speakeasies and illegal taverns came of age during the Prohibition era. These bars were operated by organized crime members who enjoyed the glitz and security the Biltmore Hotel offered.

According to legend, the 13th-floor suite was closed off to all but invited persons. The venue served as a speakeasy and gambling joint for the elite. The festivities and illegal activities were supervised by local mobsters, including the infamous Edward Wilson, Thomas Walsh, and Arthur Clark.

Violence was not too common at the Biltmore, even though the illicit gambling den was frequented by underworld high-rollers. That is until the early-morning hours of March 7, 1929, when multiple gunshots rang out after a bitter exchange of words. Hotel guests fled, and law enforcement would find two men down – one dead, the other wounded. The dead man was later identified as Tom Walsh, who died as dangerously as he lived.

Now, Fatty was a fun-loving gangster with a good-natured soul and a penchant for getting into trouble. Despite his illegal dealings, Fatty was well-liked, and his murder continues to wield ghost rumors to this day. The fact that he died on the 13th floor doesn’t help.

After Fatty’s murder, all traces of the speakeasy vanished. The hotel retained its spot as Miami's most glamorous hotel. But, the Biltmore wouldn't stay Miami's oasis for long. World War II happened, and the extravagant quarters were transformed into a military hospital. Many of the hotel's windows were sealed with concrete, and the rich marble and travertine floors covered with layers of government-issued linoleum.

Almost overnight, the Biltmore Miami was transformed from a high-class, international resort into a soulless government institution with one purpose: taking care of the wounded. This and the murder of Thomas "Fatty" Walsh would forever stain the hotel's reputation and bring an end to an era of glamor, decadence, and merrymaking.

Biltmore Hotel Miami Coral Gables

A Dazzling Legacy of Paranormal Manifestations

Many veterans died of injury and disease within the walls of the Biltmore. There's an amnesia that follows painful, traumatic deaths leading to unsettled souls of the dead who don't know they're dead. Same case with Fatty's ghost, who loves to wander the 13th floor and still enjoys the company of the living, especially women.

Despite the circumstances of their death, spirits at the Biltmore Hotel hold no ill will, so Fatty’s ghost won’t be the only lively entity you’ll encounter in this palace of the dead. Even when the hotel stood vacant, mysterious lights could be seen in the windows, and there was always music in the halls.

The historic and luxurious mediterranean style Biltmore Hotel

Sadly, not every spirit indulges in merrymaking. A young mother who fell to her death trying to save her 3-year-old son haunts the place of her death, not knowing whether her child survived or not. Murder by adultery has also led to a fair share of hauntings at the Biltmore hotel.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. If you’re looking to chase ghosts in the Sunshine State, you should book a night in the Miami Biltmore Hotel for a haunting you won’t soon forget.

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