Tourism & Cruises

Biltmore Hotel staying in hands of longtime operator Gene Prescott

The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.
The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.

Ninety-year-old Coral Gables landmark the Biltmore Hotel will stay in the hands of longtime president Gene Prescott following the conclusion of lengthy negotiations with his business partner Robert Kay, Prescott announced Friday.

Prescott finalized a deal last week to buy out Kay’s share of the hotel — the two had 50/50 ownership of the hotel’s operating lease — and is now the majority shareholder of the Biltmore’s operating company, Seaway Biltmore. The company took over the 99-year operating lease in 1992.

Prescott and Kay’s deal also settles litigation filed in Delaware by Kay last summer looking to end the joint partnership.

The announcement follows reports that the 275-room hotel faced competing deals between Prescott and New York-based firm Merchants Hospitality, which Prescott said were inaccurate.

The Biltmore received an “unsolicited” offer from Merchants to purchase the hotel’s operating lease, followed by a letter of intent to buy and renovate the property, Prescott said.

“We appreciate their interest but we have no interest in a sale of the operating lease agreement,” he said. “It’s business as usual at the Biltmore.”

The city owns the Biltmore Hotel and we are not selling the Biltmore Hotel.

Craig Leen, Coral Gables city attorney

Coral Gables city attorney Craig Leen confirmed that the case between Kay and Prescott has already been removed from the trial calendar in Delaware after the settlement between the two parties. Leen said the city is not entertaining any outside offers for the property.

“The city owns the Biltmore Hotel and we are not selling the Biltmore Hotel,” Leen said. “That is a historic landmark.”