The setting for the “Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore” novel series is the historic Belleview Biltmore Hotel, located in Belleair, FL. The hotel, along with the town of Belleair that surrounds it, was built by one of Florida’s founding fathers, Henry B. Plant, in 1895. The Belleview Hotel opened as a luxury winter resort on January 6, 1897, and for almost 120 years, it hosted people from around the world, including countless famous guests from every decade.
In 1904, an addition on the East end of the Belleview Hotel almost doubled its size and, after the hotel was sold to the Biltmore Hotel chain in 1920, the South Wing was added. Over time, other additions increased the size of the hotel to a whopping 820,000 sq. ft. – arguably the largest occupied wooden structure in the world.
The Belleview Biltmore closed on the last day of May in 2009 for a total renovation, but due to the collapse of the real estate market and subsequent financial crisis in the USA, the owners lost their funding, the renovation fell apart, and preservationists began a fight to save this wonderful hotel from demolition. Unfortunately, despite valiant efforts, the battle was lost in the summer of 2015. The developer who is currently in the process of demolishing this wonderful icon has promised to save approximately 5% of the original structure to incorporate into a small, 33-room inn on the property.
Hopefully, this token of preservation, along with the “Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore” novels, will help preserve the glorious story of the Belleview Biltmore Hotel, its incredible influence on the surrounding community, and the memories made by hundreds of thousands who shared special moments there.