Uncovering the Fascinating History of Hotels in Southern Florida

As an expert in the tourism industry, I have had the opportunity to explore many different destinations around the world. However, one region that has always stood out to me is Southern Florida. With its warm weather, beautiful beaches, and vibrant culture, it's no surprise that it is a top choice for many travelers. But beyond the sun and sand, Southern Florida also has a rich history that is waiting to be discovered.

And one of the best ways to experience this history is by staying at one of the many historic hotels in the area.

The Rise of Tourism in Southern Florida

Southern Florida has been a popular tourist destination since the late 1800s. In the early days, wealthy northerners would travel down to escape the harsh winters and enjoy the warm climate. This led to the development of luxury hotels along the coast, catering to the elite class. As time went on, Southern Florida continued to attract more and more visitors. The construction of railroads and highways made it easier for people to travel to the region, and the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 brought even more tourists from Europe and South America. By the 1920s, Southern Florida had become a bustling tourist destination, with hotels popping up all along the coast.

These hotels not only provided accommodation for visitors but also served as social hubs where people could gather and enjoy the lavish lifestyle that Southern Florida had to offer.

The Great Depression and Its Impact on Hotels

The Great Depression of the 1930s had a significant impact on Southern Florida's tourism industry. Many hotels were forced to close their doors as people could no longer afford to travel for leisure. However, some hotels managed to survive by offering discounted rates and catering to budget-conscious travelers. One such hotel was The Biltmore in Coral Gables, which opened in 1926 and quickly became a popular destination for the rich and famous. During the Great Depression, the hotel was forced to close, but it reopened in 1933 as a hospital for the war wounded.

After the war, it was converted back into a hotel and remains one of the most iconic historic hotels in Southern Florida.

The Post-War Boom and the Golden Age of Hotels

After World War II, Southern Florida experienced a post-war boom, and tourism once again flourished. This led to the construction of many new hotels, including some of the most iconic ones that still stand today. The Fontainebleau Miami Beach, which opened in 1954, was one of the first hotels to cater to the growing middle class. It quickly became a hotspot for celebrities and played a significant role in shaping Miami Beach's image as a glamorous and luxurious destination. Another notable hotel from this era is The Breakers in Palm Beach. Originally built in 1896, it was destroyed by fire twice before being rebuilt in its current form in 1926. The hotel has hosted many famous guests over the years, including presidents and royalty, and remains one of the most luxurious and historic hotels in Southern Florida.

The Modern Era of Hotels in Southern Florida

In the 1960s and 1970s, Southern Florida saw a surge in development, with new hotels popping up all over the region.

These hotels catered to a wider range of travelers, from families to budget-conscious tourists. One notable hotel from this era is The Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood. Originally built in 1958, it has undergone several renovations over the years and remains a popular destination for tourists looking for a luxurious yet affordable stay. Another iconic hotel from this era is The Eden Roc in Miami Beach. Built in 1956, it quickly became a favorite among celebrities and remains a popular destination for tourists today.

Preserving the History of Southern Florida's Hotels

As Southern Florida's tourism industry continues to thrive, it's essential to preserve the region's rich history. Many of the historic hotels in the area have been designated as national landmarks and are protected from demolition or significant alterations. These hotels not only offer a glimpse into the past but also provide a unique and memorable experience for guests.

From the grand architecture to the luxurious amenities, staying at a historic hotel in Southern Florida is like taking a step back in time.


Southern Florida's history is deeply intertwined with its tourism industry, and the region's historic hotels play a significant role in preserving this history. From the early days of luxury resorts to the modern era of budget-friendly accommodations, these hotels have stood the test of time and continue to attract visitors from all over the world. So if you're planning a trip to Southern Florida, why not consider staying at one of these historic hotels? Not only will you get to experience the region's rich history, but you'll also get to enjoy all the modern amenities and luxuries that these hotels have to offer.