Posts Tagged Biltmore Hotel

A Demanding And Contrasty Week

Biltmore Hotel

Went to Florida for a week to attend a college mini-reunion in Palm Beach and then meet some high school friends in Miami. I was able to play singles and doubles tennis games on four days, which was quite an accomplishment in the humid, 80+ degree heat. My legs were rubbery, and I collapsed exhausted most nights.

All my opponents the three times in Miami were former or current school team players. One was just 18. When I participated in a round-robin tournament raising funds for a private high school, most of the opponents were team alumni in their 20’s and 30’s, and my team (with a 45-year old) won just one of 16 games. I was easily crushed by the power and spins. In the singles sets, I lost 1-6, although there was a 4-6 defeat…or should I call that a victory (that I won so many games). All very humbling. Glad I was able to play at all. And the intense sweating contrasts shockingly with this past week’s CT snow storm that dumped 20 inches in 27 degree weather. I have had no internet for five days, and six out of 10 CT houses were without power. Lots of tree damage still being fixed. The indoor tennis courts I went to play at yesterday had water on them in spots and were unplayable—an 8-inch diameter tree branch fell through the roof and let in the melting snow. So we played outdoors in a windy 45 degrees. It ain’t that way in Miami!

long lap length at the Biltmore Hotel pool

The day I left, I forced myself to swim in the largest pool in North America : one lap was over 300 yards, and I had the thought that I could pass out and drown. In spite of all the cardio I do on the tennis court, my breathing was pathetic, when I did my two laps—one of butterflies and another of backstrokes. I hadn’t had a push like that in over a year…but I made it, of course, and was just dizzy for a few minutes. I was thrilled I didn’t fall on the concrete.

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Zowee!!! Zee Zumba Clazz Zizzles And Izz Zesty

Back in Connecticut and thinking about Zumba, so I found that my gym has one afternoon class every Wednesday at 6pm. As for the 8:30 and 10:00 morning classes…fugeddabowddit. Tennis takes much less energy that I can manage early in the day.

November 11th: Same drill, pretty much as before (https://www.irasabs.com/?p=2672)—just me with 30 women. Crowded, tight black pants, swinging hips, all ages and shapes, various races—though no Spanish heard—and the instructor, slim svelte Lisa, on a dais, in front of mirrors with a headset and portable microphone, hands clapping above her head. I feel like I am on stage with a black-haired Madonna. But not yet one of her boy pets.

This was a bigger space, more room to move than in Florida at the Biltmore Hotel. Totally open. How DO those women remember the steps so quickly? Maybe they are repeated in the same order each week. This time I lasted the whole 45-minute lesson.

Thank God for my Miami Beach youth, meeting girl tourists at the hotels in the dance lounges. I still know a few cha-cha-cha moves and other Latin-flavored steps. It is much much fun, the music is loud and fast.

I am so focused on following Lisa and the adept women in the front line that I never think to look around and see how others are doing. Both rear rows were filled up by the time I entered class. I was stuck in the second row, totally viewable by all behind me. Not only am I standing out because I am tall and male, I am probably the oldest person in the room as well. Talk about being a minority.

When we were told to pair up, no one grabbed me. Eventually one brave lady was forced to be my partner. I showed her a few of my moves. (Wonder why so many others said no when I looked their way?)

But no one asked me to leave. No one laughed so loud I could hear. And no one said, “Nice going,” after class, nor patted me on the butt. Maybe that comes later. Next time I will wear a wife beater tank-top like Zumba’s creator, Berto Perez.

“Olé.”

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Flashing At The Breakers In Palm Beach

This is becoming a bit ridiculous, especially when my abs are disappearing without exercise. But I want you to see the (ups and) DOWNS of ab building, as well as when my muscles were growing larger. I have friends who say you are only as good as your last book, or deal, or show. Staying fit is in the same league—you have to keep at it. There’s no stopping and retaining earlier results. Or they will slip away, and you have to make more effort once again.

Flashing in Palm Beach—10/25/09

Flashing in Palm Beach—10/25/09

This world-famous hotel was designed by the same architects who did the Biltmore in Coral Gables, Florida (see November 4th post) and also Grand Central Terminal in New York. Maybe I should flash in front of more famous buildings…as long as my abs grow and show better.

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Swimming With Memories and Murders

Here I am beside the biggest hotel pool in North America, 22,000 square feet, at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, built in 1926. It’s fun to swim in these 700,000 gallons: never crowded and when you do a few laps, you feel like you have been somewhere. Usually I do just the butterfly, but this time the shoulders hurt from my recent injury, so I stayed with the crawl and backstroke. Not really much of a workout. But something. And a welcome antidote to the very humid 85+ degree weather. The picture of me by the pool was taken just after an hour of exhausting tennis practice. I am still dripping from the heat. In Connecticut that week, I had played tennis outdoors in 36 degrees!

Biltmore Hotel's gigantic pool

Biltmore Hotel's gigantic pool


after hot tennis, a cool pool at the Biltmore—10/09

after hot tennis, a cool pool at the Biltmore—10/09

According to one article I found, “That pool played an important role in helping the Biltmore through the nation’s economic lulls in the late 1920s and early 1930s. People came from all around to aquatic galas with synchronized swimmers, bathing beauties, alligator wrestling and Jackie Ott, the boy wonder who would dive from an 85-foot platform and slip through a circle of fire into the pool.

Before he was Tarzan (in the movies), Johnny Weissmuller was a swimming teacher and broke a world record at the Biltmore pool. Weissmuller was fired for running naked through the hotel one night. His female fans put up such a fuss, the hotel management hired him back.

The man famous for swinging through trees is only one source of entertaining stories at the Biltmore. The hotel had a gangster reputation, too. Mobster Thomas “Fatty” Walsh was murdered there while an illicit casino was in full swing. His ghost continues to scare occasional guests on the 13th floor, according to hotel storytellers.”

The hotel’s own web site boasts that “The Biltmore was one of the most fashionable resorts in the entire country in its heyday, hosting royalty of both the European and Hollywood variety. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland and Bing Crosby were frequent guests. In fact, everyone who was anyone – from politicians like President Franklin D. Roosevelt to notorious gangsters like Al Capone.”

Last year when I stayed there, I saw John McCain (campaigning for President) leave the hotel in an SUV caravan that had been sniffed by dogs and included snipers with sunglasses.

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