Steeped in history, the Belleview Biltmore Resort and Spa was built by rail baron and hotelier Henry Plant in 1897 as a winter retreat for Victorian rail travelers. Monday marked a 110 year milestone for the largest existing wooden structure in the world still in use for its original purpose. The hotel was dubbed the Golfer's Southern Paradise with its Donald J. Ross designed courses.and attracted some of the sport's pros and enthusiasts. The Belleview Biltmore has stayed in favor with all of society's elite throughout the years. The hotel has played hostess to many noted personages, including President George Bush, President Jimmy Carter, President Gerald Ford, the Duke of Windsor the Vanderbilts, the Pew family of Sun Oil, the Studebakers, the DuPonts, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Lady Margaret Thatcher, baseball legends Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and entertainers Tony Bennett, Bob Dylan and Carol Channing.
For the past few years the hotel has been threatened with destruction as the current owners wish to sell the property to real estate developers. Preservation groups are actively trying to attract a buyer to save it. Diane Hein, president of Save the Biltmore, cautions those who appreciate the timeless elegance of the hotel, "The Biltmore is still under a threat of demolition since Belleair officials have not denied the redevelopment and demolition permit taken out by the hotel's owner Urdang and Associates. As a result, the Biltmore is in a state of indefinite continuance in regards to this demolition permit. Our gift [the community's] to the Biltmore would be to find a suitable buyer so that when an investor purchases the hotel, it will be saved permanently under the new historic preservation ordinance passed last year in Belleair. Only then will the beautiful, Victorian White Queen of the Gulf reign another 110 years!
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition