Hotel Manager's 'Speech Detailed Belleview Biltmore’s Community Involvement
Photo/Text By Renee Burrell
The unanimous vote to grant variances and approval of site plans at the town's May 20 meeting was a welcome relief at 2:30 a.m. after seven hours of public hearings and negotiations for Legg Mason representatives: (left) architect Richard Heisenbottle, (right) Joseph Penner, Legg Mason executive director and (far right) Martin Smith, the hotel's on site manager and vice president.
BELLEAIR - Not all of the testimony and public comments made at the town's May 20 public hearing for the Belleview Biltmore (BB) requests for variances and new site plan approval were argumentative. Much was matter of fact.
Martin Smith, BB Managing Director and Vice President spoke about the hotel's community involvement. He accentuated some of the positive things the hotel has done as a good neighbor, for individuals, for the town of Belleair, and for the entire community, including getting the attention of Florida Governor Charlie Crist.
Smith said after Crist attended a press conference announcing the BB's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification last fall, he sent convention planners to Belleair to discuss holding the "Serve to Preserve Florida Summit on Global Climate Change" conference at the Belleview Biltmore this summer.
Last year the conference was held at the Intercontinental Miami Hotel and featured guest speakers California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Theodore Roosevelt IV. Unfortunately Smith said the BB couldn't provide the 400 room accommodations needed for the event which will be held in June at the Intercontinental Miami Hotel again and will focus on bringing renewable and alternative energy businesses to Florida.
Smith relayed that many events that are held at the BB have been done so at the hotel's expense and others at a significant discount. "The Belleview Biltmore has and always will be a huge supporter of the local community. We have hosted many social and local charity events helping them raise millions of dollars over the years."
In addition to opening the Tiffany Ballroom and donating wine and cheese parties for local charity beneficiaries at their "First Fridays"---which Smith said raised a total of $35,000, the BB has also donated space, food and staffing for:
In addition Smith revealed the hotel's generosity when it comes to sharing their parking accommodations with their immediate neighbors, some of whom objected to the BB's owners requests for variances to decrease parking space amount and size. "We open up our parking to the Belleair Country Club on a daily basis only closing our lots off when it is extremely busy. In fact, we open our parking up to the residents as well. We park the cars for private parties on the Belleview Island. In fact, we valet guests and shuttle his guests to the island to help ease their traffic concerns. In addition, this year the Spencers utilized our parking for their Chinese New Year’s party."
The BB is also the town's largest employer with currently over 300 employees at present. "Our current payroll is in excess of $5 million dollars. Our real estate and personal property taxes alone are close to a half a million dollars. We will pay over a million dollars in Sales Tax and approximately $270,000 in occupancy tax this year. The hotel is the largest taxpayer and employer in the town of Belleair and we have strived to be a good citizen over the last several years."
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