Frank Flautt: Hotelier of the Year

Frank Flautt has seen it all in his 46 years in the hotel industry. In fact, Flautt, who was recently named hotelier of the year by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, learned the business at the knee of the master, Holiday Inns founder Kemmons Wilson.

“When I graduated from the University of Memphis in 1963, I was lucky enough to get a job at Holiday Inn, which was still a young company at the time,” says Flautt. “But I was really fortunate to travel with and be mentored by Kemmons, who I consider to be the father of the hotel business as we know it.”

Like several other future entrepreneurs (Roy Winegardner and John Q. Hammons are two) associated with the early days of Holiday Inn, Flautt took the lessons he learned to forge a long and successful career as a hotel executive, developer, owner and operator. In 1969, he joined W.B. Johnson Properties, another hospitality industry pioneer (Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Waffle House restaurants) and by the mid-1970s, Flautt formed his own hotel development, construction and management firm to build and operate Holiday Inns and other hotels.

In 1990, Flautt’s career took another half-turn when he sold Flautt Properties to concentrate on the condo and resort market, mostly but not exclusively, in the Florida Panhandle. Today, his Sandcastle Hotels & Resorts owns and operates two hotels in Austin, TX; a Hilton in Alexandria, VA; a Marriott in Panama City, FL; and the company’s flagship, the market-leading, 598-room Hilton Sandestin Beach & Golf Resort. The company also developed a string of condo projects in the Panhandle and elsewhere in Florida.

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