Old Florida hotels & historic resorts
The best vacation spots, as judged from 1897
Miami is 366 miles almost straight south from Jacksonville, and is the most southern railroad terminus in the United States. It is a new town being built by Henry M. Flagler, the great Standard Oil multimillionaire.
Mr. Flagler has done and is doing a grand beneficence for the east coast of Florida, from Jacksonville to Key West. With his magnificent hotels, his railroad, and his steamboats to Key West and to Nassau, he is making Florida’s Atlantic coast, with the Bahama Islands, a new world and a sort of winter paradise.
He built the Ponce de Leon at St. Augustine, and that little old Spanish curiosity-shop bloomed into an American pleasure city. He ran a railroad down to Lake Worth and built the Royal Poinciana, and the Inn on the ocean and the little village on the lake became Palm Beach, with its tropical groves, and lawns, and gardens.
He built the Hotel Royal Palm at Miami, on the beautiful Bay Biscayne, and is making or the spacious grounds about it a panorama of picturesqueness that, when completed, it will be worth a trip across the continent to see. – From a letter from Col. Coates Kinney, published in the Xenia Daily Gazette (Xenia, Ohio) – April 8, 1897
OLD FLORIDA HOTELS & RESORTS: MIAMI
The Royal Palm Hotel – Miami, Florida
“Miami has the best of golf and other outdoor diversions as well as the amusements of modern city life… Its hotels are of the best, one of them being the Hotel Royal Palm, of the East Coast System.” – The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) – December 27, 1917
The Royal Palm Hotel opened in 1897. Unfortunately, it suffered major hurricane damage and a subsequent termite infestation, leading it to be condemned and razed in 1930.
The Halcyon Hotel – Miami, Florida
This beautiful hotel opened in 1903, but was demolished in 1930, and the Alfred I DuPont Building was built in its place.
The old Roney Plaza – Miami, Florida
This 17-story hotel opened in 1925, and was demolished in 1968 — just to be replaced with an apartment building.
OLD FLORIDA HOTELS & RESORTS: TAMPA
Tampa Bay Hotel, Florida
This amazing structure, which opened in 1891, still stands! Although it was closed to tourism in 1930 — a victim of the Great Depression — it is now home to the Henry B. Plant Museum.
OLD FLORIDA HOTELS & RESORTS: ST AUGUSTINE
Hotel Alcazar – St Augustine
“The Hotel Alcazar, one of the largest tourist hotels in St Augustine, in fact, second only in size to the splendid Ponce de Leon, has opened its doors to the traveling public. The opening dinner and dance was a brilliant affair and a most auspicious event for the formal ushering in of the season of 1915-16.” – The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) – December 26, 1915
The Alcazar opened in 1887 and closed in 1932. The building still exists today as the Lightner Museum.
The Ponce de Leon Resort/Hotel – St Augustine
“The illustration shows the famous Ponce de Leon hotel in the historic city of St Augustine, Florida. This establishment is probably the handsomest and most elaborately-furnished hotel in the United States. Nearby are the old, quaint, historic buildings erected by the pioneers more than a century ago. All visitors to the southern country find St Augustine one of the chief points of interest.” – Kentucky Advocate (Danville, Kentucky) – January 12, 1912
This hotel opened in 1888, and served guests for decades. Still standing, it has been the home of Flagler College since 1968.
OLD FLORIDA HOTELS & RESORTS: PALM BEACH
The Breakers, Palm Beach
The Breakers originally opened 1896 (as The Palm Beach Inn), burned down in 1925, and was rebuilt the following year. Remarkably, as of 2018, the Breakers Hotel is still a working business.
The Royal Poinciana Hotel – Palm Beach
OLD FLORIDA HOTELS & RESORTS: ORMOND BEACH
The historic Ormond Hotel
This hotel opened on January 1, 1888, and was razed in 1992… and replaced with condos. The photos below are from around 1917.