Recognizing the importance of having a luxury resort hotel in the city, George Merrick turned to John McEntee Bowman, President of the Biltmore Hotel chain. The New York firm of Leonard Schultz and S. Fullerton Weaver was selected by Bowman to design the hotel and ground was broken in 1925. At cost of $10 million, The Miami-Biltmore Hotel and Country Club, boasting a golf course and 350 rooms, officially opened on January 15, 1926. At the time, the hotel's pool was the largest hotel pool in the United States. The magnificent tower is modeled after the Giralda Tower from the Cathedral of Seville in Spain. In November of 1942, The Miami-Biltmore Hotel and Country Club was turned over to the United States of America for use as a hospital that opened in March of 1943. In 1946 the hotel became an Army general hospital and the Veterans Administration (VA) took over in July of 1947. The VA Hospital was closed in 1968 with ownership eventually being transferred to the City of Coral Gables in 1973. A grand re-opening of The Biltmore took place in December 31, 1987, 61 years after it first opened.