Clarity on the Future of the Biltmore

By Zach Rosen   |   May 21, 2024
After four years of being closed, Biltmore employees have received their settlement packages from Four Seasons

Following the announcement that Biltmore employees have received their settlement packages from Four Seasons, the Montecito Journal sought clarity on the future of the historic hotel, which has been closed for over four years. Sean Lavelle, a representative for Ty Warner, commented, “as Four Seasons announced today, we are pleased to have reached a collective settlement with the employees of Four Seasons The Biltmore Santa Barbara.

“The settlement provides two payout options for furloughed employees who want to continue employment with the property when it opens, retaining their accrued benefits and seniority, and those who prefer to continue with other career endeavors.

“Regarding the employees who choose to stay, we are excited to welcome them back in the very near future. Twenty years since our last renovation in 2005, our team is eager to reopen and unveil the renewed vision for this legacy hotel property. That said, we are concerned that recently added steps in the permitting process may discourage confidence with employees who want to get back to work.

“We have engaged independent planners to help expedite the process and have multiple general contractors working on site – full time – to usher renovations that will set an entirely new standard for luxury family travel, while honoring the history of the property. We are redesigning guest rooms and suites to accommodate multigenerational travel needs, adding new restaurant concepts (without increasing traffic trips), and thoughtfully upgrading event amenities.

“Since hotel guests were restricted from using the private Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club in 2023, in order to reopen, we must mitigate the loss of the 51-meter pool and other amenities for Biltmore guests. Our plan is to designate the existing pool for adults only while adding a family pool with a sandy beach entry and an adjoining tropical pool to meet a variety of discerning traveler needs. Typically, hotel pool amenities and landscape would be approved as a substantial conformity designation. However, we are being asked to go through a Development Plan Amendment for an operational amenity, which unnecessarily adds time.

“If we do not incur any permitting challenges or delays, we anticipate the hotel will be re-opened in 2025. Once in operation, our calculations show that the renovated Biltmore will contribute $15.7 million in total tax revenue in 2025 – which includes $8.5 million in TOT revenue (nearly triple what it was in 2018) and $7.2 million in sales tax revenue.

“With The Biltmore, San Ysidro Ranch, Montecito Club, Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club, and other national and international properties, Ty Warner has demonstrated, time and time again, his impeccable standards, thoughtful renovations, and coveted design features, always with the utmost attention to care and detail.

“The silver lining to the challenging times that ensued from the debris flow and pandemic, is that it gave us the pause needed to reassess what the near 100-year-old Biltmore property could be for today’s luxury/family traveler, our neighbors, the community, and our staff.”  


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