The Chesterfield Palm Beach is located in the heart of a residential section of Palm Beach but still only two blocks north of the world famous Worth Avenue. Designed in the manner of a European bed and breakfast, it was built as The Lido-Venice in 1926 and renamed The Vineta in 1928. The hotel was renovated in 1937 by Palm Beach architect John L. Volk. While the hotel is registered with the Palm Beach Preservation foundation as a historical landmark, you can be sure our eyes are set firmly to the future. It undergoes annual refurbishments, none of which, however, are permitted to change the basic historic character of the property. Named The Chesterfield Palm Beach in 1989, the hotel today is a proud member of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection and Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
Eyebrows may have shot up among Palm Beach real- estate watchers when the Palm Beach County Clerk’s office last Friday recorded a deed showing that The Chesterfield hotel had a new owner.
Well, sort of a new owner, at least on paper, according to the folks at the historic inn at 363 Cocoanut Row.
Even though the “special warranty deed” showed that The Chesterfield was bought for $6.5 million, it’s business as usual at the boutique hotel, which remains the only U.S. property in the United Kingdom-based Red Carnation Group.
“There was a change in corporate structure to the property on Friday,” acknowledged hotel spokeswoman Arnelle Kendall, explaining that it was an internal transfer of ownership “from one entity to another. It’s still very much a Red Carnation hotel.”
Kendall provided no reason for the sale, but property owners make paper transfers for a variety of business reasons — for tax-related issues, say, or to satisfy the request of a lender.
The deed shows that the original owner, T-H Court Limited Partnership, transferred ownership to a corporation named Chesterfield PB Hotel Property Inc. The Aug. 26 deed was signed in South Africa by part-time Palm Beacher Beatrice Tollman, acting on behalf of Tollman-Hundley Court Corp., “the sole general partner” of the seller. (Tollman’s husband, hotelier Stanley, you might remember, pleaded guilty in 2008 to U.S. tax evasion; charges against his wife were dropped as part of his plea deal, which included $105 million in settlement payments.)
Whatever the reason for the sale, the price on the deed was about $3.3 million more than the $3.2 million “total market value” set by the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser office for the property in the 2011 tax rolls.
One more clue that the sale was internal: The company that sold the property was Florida-based, while the buyer was established in corporation-friendly Delaware, the home state of so many entities that own Palm Beach properties.
Meanwhile, the hotel continues a phased renovation project to upgrade its 52 rooms and suites as well as refurbish the popular Leopard Lounge restaurant and bar. The latter will close in November for two weeks of renovations, and the re-opening party is set for early December.
Other Red Carnation hotels are in Great Britain, Switzerland and South Africa.