Elegant guest rooms with flat-screen TVs and iHome docking stations
Huge, elaborate pool
Legendary golf course
Golf and tennis lessons for kids
Great restaurant and wine list
24-hour room service
Long-popular "afternoon tea"
Built in 1926, the iconic Biltmore (a national landmark) brings timeless luxury to a hotel scene overwhelmed by skin-deep glitz. Though far from any beaches, it offers doting (tip-free) service, a lovely pool, a prestigious golf course and a catalog of amenities. Unfortunately, its residential neighborhood can get boring.
Civilized families gather far from the drunken hordes.
While you might observe a few scotch-swigging businessmen in the Cellar Club, the Biltmore typically draws quiet professionals and middle- to upper-middle-class families in town for business or pleasure. There's no raucous spring break crowd here.
The bellman took my bags the second my taxi pulled up to the entrance and promptly disappeared -- no tip necessary. Unlike any other hotel in Miami, all gratuities are included in your daily resort fee, so there's no need to grease palms in order to get the level of service a hotel of this caliber demands.
Suburbia, Miami style, with a blend of multimillion-dollar homes and frat-party blowouts side by side.
Surrounded by luxurious homes and its famed golf course, the Biltmore doesn't have anything in terms of entertainment or restaurants within walking distance.
The Biltmore is located in Coral Gables, a Miami suburb that balances multimillion-dollar homes, high-end shopping, excellent dining and the University of Miami. This means plenty of beer pong tournaments that get out of hand and move out onto impeccably kept streets.
But a 20-minute walk -- or a short cab ride -- will get you to the Miracle Mile, which has plenty of shops and restaurants.
Hardly cutting-edge, but the design is classic with great attention paid to details.
I marveled at the lobby, with its soaring, vaulted ceilings and carved pillars. My superior room, in comparison, wasn't as awe-inspiring, but it was comfortable and serene. Though painted a simple cream, little decorative flourishes like a veil whimsically festooned around the bed make the room feel special (or at least worthy of haughty language like "whimsically festooned.") The bathroom is simple but beautifully detailed as well, with carved moldings, marble countertops and a brass tissue box.
Technologically speaking, the rooms have modern features like flat-screen TVs and iPod docks, what you would expect from a hotel of this caliber.
The beds are comfortable, if a little firm, with high-grade linens.
Free, and fast, hard-wired and wireless Internet access
Plenty of towels and Gilchrist and Soames toiletries
Everything but the beach, from a legendary golf course to a gym that even attracts the locals.
As if to excuse its landlocked location, the Biltmore is overflowing with high-grade facilities.
The Biltmore is best known for its 22,000-square-foot swimming pool. Film buffs take note -- the actor Johnny Weissmuller, better known as Tarzan, used to be a swimming instructor here.
Famous, 18-hole, par 71 championship golf course
The Biltmore's fitness center and 10 tennis courts have been rated Top 10 in the nation by both Men's Fitness and Men's Health. The 10,000-square-foot fitness center has a lot of machines, but it isn't as well designed as some of the newer gyms in Miami, such as the gym at the Fontainebleau. The ceilings are low, and the rooms are divided into a confusing maze. Since the fitness center is also open to the public -- for a fee -- a number of locals use the gym as well, and many find it to have the best classes and instructors in Coral Gables.
Great sports classes for kids, plus water shows and free cribs.
There's no kids' club, but the Biltmore has a lot of activities to offer children. Apart from tennis lessons, children can also learn how to play golf on the 18-hole par 71 course. But the Bitlmore's most unique feature is its culinary class where kids receive training in cooking from the hotel's award-winning chefs. Younger children can enjoy water shows with synchronized swimmers doing vintage routines at the hotel's historic pool. The Biltmore also has free cribs for infants.
With more than 100 different wines by the glass and a famous afternoon tea, the options are enticing but not cheap.
The Biltmore's afternoon teas -- served every afternoon in the lobby -- are such an attraction that even locals stop by.
Two poolside food options: full food service to the lounge chairs as well as a full restaurant, the Cascade Poolside Restaurant, which serves sandwiches and salads. It's a little pricey, though, and the food itself is hardly mind-blowing.
Dinner is served at the Fontana restaurant in a gorgeous courtyard under the stars. The prices, however, are a bit steep for food that is merely good.
The elaborately lacquered Cellar Club is supposedly the only bar in Miami that serves more than 100 types of wine by the glass. This once-exclusive club is now open to the public, but a membership will still allow you to BYOB.
Palme d'Or, the jewel in the Biltmore's culinary crown, is the winner of multiple awards. No wonder jackets are required and ties "appreciated." Note, however, that it can often be closed to host private events, such as a wedding.
Miami's most elegant and historic hotel is also its most prestigious black-tie wedding destination; its prices reflect this.
There's no one-size-fits-all approach to weddings at the Biltmore, and each event can be uniquely styled by the dedicated in-house company, Biltmore Event Design. In general, the hotel organizes its weddings into five-hour loosely defined packages, which you are open to build upon and elaborate on -- the only real restriction depends on how much you're willing to spend (a six-figure wedding is common). Even the most basic wedding can cost an exorbitant amount and the average dinner starts at a not-too-modest sum per plate.
Wedding Size: Up to 400 guests
Ceremony and Reception Locations: Gardens, terraces, and three ballrooms -- the Biltmore has no shortage of space. The Danielson Gallery, a medieval-inspired ballroom with an open mezzanine, and the Country Club Ballroom (along with its adjacent outdoor courtyard) are some of the most beautiful, ornate wedding locations anywhere in Miami.
Photographers and Videographers: Like most Miami hotels, the hotel does not use an in-house photographer or videographer, and there's no extra fee for bringing in your own outside vendor.
Music: There are no in-house musicians, but no charge for bringing in an outside band, DJ, or a musician for the ceremony. The hotel will provide you with a list of approved entertainers.
Food: A full-scale gala dinner with a specialized menu starts is available at a pretty standard cost per plate. The chef can accommodate any food allergy or dietary restrictions.
Spa Treatments: Full menu or services, including hair and makeup, at the on-site spa
Honeymoon Suite: While there's no special "honeymoon suite," most newlyweds opt to upgrade to a Superior Room.
Airport Transportation: There's no shuttle service from the airport provided by the hotel, though the airport is only a 15-minute drive away.
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