From the Miami Daily News, Dec. 9, 1927.
|Click here to enlarge.|
BUILDER IMPORTED SOUTH SEAS
August 18, 1991
By Rene Rodriguez
George Merrick came up with many inventive ways to attract prospective buyers and tourists to his dream city of Coral Gables during the 1920s. One of his wackier ideas involved Italian gondolas, grass huts and servants dressed in Tahitian clothing.
On Feb. 6, 1926, guests staying at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables had a new way to relax and enjoy their stay: 25 authentic gondolas, imported from Italy along with gondoliers, transported guests along the Coral Gables Waterway to a private playground called Tahiti Beach .
Touted in advertisements as a place "where discriminating people will find their own kind" and "where the only American Tropics makes its most inviting gesture," Tahiti Beach was designed to create a South Seas atmosphere for visitors.
Thatched huts shielded beachgoers from the sun while attendants dressed in authentic Tahitian clothing. A larger hut, the Tahiti Beach Clubhouse, also housed a small casino.
The beach , which was located about a mile east of what is now Cocoplum Circle, was dotted with coconut palms and covered with white sand. The area's natural beauty was such that Merrick contemplated building another Biltmore-sized hotel along the coast.
The September 1926 hurricane, however, changed all that. The storm destroyed most of the Polynesian-style paradise, and the economic collapse that followed prevented Merrick from rebuilding.
Instead, Tahiti Beach was later opened to the general public, although the new incarnation was built on a much smaller scale, with concession stands offering hot dogs and soft drinks.
This new, popular version of Tahiti Beach remained open until 1974, when it was purchased as part of the Cocoplum development. Today the area is part of Tahiti Beach Island, a private section of Cocoplum. The island is made up of 28 lots. Six homeowners reside on the island. Other homes are under construction.