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Mark Walsh, vice president of Delray Beach-based Ocean Properties Ltd., has been making weekly trips to Longboat Key to inform community associations about the upcoming referendum May 12.
Longboat Key Wednesday, Apr. 15, 2015 6 years ago

Q+A with Mark Walsh

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All eyes are on Mark Walsh, vice president of Delray Beach-based Ocean Properties Ltd., as Longboaters prepare to vote in a special mail-only referendum.
by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

All eyes are on Mark Walsh, vice president of Delray Beach-based Ocean Properties Ltd., as Longboaters prepare to vote in a special mail-only referendum. 

The outcome of that election will determine whether the company can build up to 300 new tourism units on the Longboat Key Club Islandside property in a new hotel, villas and condo units as part of a future Longboat Key Club project. The son of Tom Walsh, who founded Ocean Properties in 1969 in Maine, Walsh and his brothers and sister were raised to help run one of the largest privately held hotel management and development firms in North America, with more than 100 properties under ownership.

 

Q: Describe Ocean Properties and its mission.

 A: We are primarily in the hotel business started by my dad, three brothers, myself, my sister, our cousins and close friends. We focus on building, owning and managing hotels. Currently, we have five hotels under construction including the former Hilton on Longboat Key, along with hotels in Clearwater, Treasure Island, and two hotels in Maine.

 

Q: What brought your business to Longboat Key? 

A: My dad was partner in a former Holiday Inn at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport in the 1970s, which exposed our family to the area for the first time. Years later, we built and own the former Holiday Inn in downtown Bradenton along the Manatee River that’s now a Courtyard by Marriott. In 2001, we purchased the Hilton, and from there, we picked up hotels on Lido Key and then the Key Club. 

 

Q: What’s your favorite Ocean Properties hotel?

A: All of our hotels in Maine. I grew up there, and they remind me of my childhood. 

 

Q: What’s the most important lesson you learned from your dad in the hotel business?

A: Work as hard as you ask anyone else in your company to work. 

 

Q: How did your dad train you to run Ocean Properties?

A: When I was 12, I was busing tables and washing dishes. Then, I cleaned hotel pools and mowed grass. From there, I handled luggage and eventually worked my way up to running a front desk. I think he taught me through that process how important each and every job is in the company and to never forget how important our employees are. 

 

Q: Are you confident this referendum will pass and the neighbors will support a future Key Club project? 

A: Yes. When we first became involved here, the prior developer did not have good relations with its neighbors, and the development plan was not received well. We feel we will have that support from the neighbors and the Islandside Property Owners Coalition in the form of an agreement parties are poised to sign.  

 

Q: What does the Longboat Key Club need more than anything else? 

A: Meeting space. We turn too many groups away because we don’t have adequate meeting space. We hope to fix that if the referendum and a new project are approved. 

 

Q: Will the former Hilton hotel have a hotel flag flying when it opens its doors?

A: No. In today’s economy, we can support operating an independent hotel there, and that’s what we intend to do. We’re working on a name for that hotel now. It’s going to be beautiful.

 

Q: Do you have any interest in the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort property?

A: The Colony is a fascinating situation, and I’m hopeful for solutions. I would love to be involved in any way I can, and we keep an eye on what’s happening there. It’s a beautiful piece of property.

 

Q: Why is this project needed? 

A: Updating resorts is critical because customers have a lot of choices and opportunities. If you don’t keep your properties up, you’re losing out. We need to stay fresh and current.

 

— Kurt Schultheis

 

 

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