October 9, 2018

Prominent Maine hotelier Tom Walsh dies

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Tom Walsh, founder of Ocean Properties Hotels Resorts & Affiliates, which owns numerous hotels in Maine and elsewhere, died Oct. 6 at the age of 88.

Tom Walsh, a prominent hotel owner in Maine and elsewhere, died Oct. 6 at age 88.

Walsh, who was born in Bangor, was the founder of Ocean Properties Hotels Resorts & Affiliates, which owned the Bar Harbor Regency, Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina and West Street Hotel, all in Bar Harbor, the Fairfield Inn in Bangor, Holiday Inn Express & Suites in South Portland, Homewood Suites in Augusta, Residence Inn Bath and Samoset Resort in Rockport.

The company is headquartered in Delray Beach, Fla., and remains owned and operated by his children. Walsh remained working in his office until his last days.

According to the obituary posted on the Brookings-Smith funeral home in Bangor, Walsh graduated from Bangor High School and worked with his father Paddy as traveling salesmen. In the early 1960s they opened Bangor/Brewer Bedding Co. on Wilson Street in Brewer and in 1969, Walsh opened his first hotel in Brewer.

He continued to build hotels, from from Key West, Fla., to Bar Harbor, as well as in Canada and the Southwestern U.S. Today the portfolio includes 110 hotels. According to the Ocean Properties website, the company operates 19,000 guestrooms in 16 states and employs 50,000 people.

Ocean Properties is one of the largest privately held hotel companies in North America, according to the company's affiliate, Atlific Hotels.

A key milestone occurred in the 1970s, when the company struck a strategic relationship with Intercontinental Hotel Group and launched Holiday Inns in the Northeast, Southwest and Southeast regions of the country. The Holiday Inn Bath was one of those launches. Days Inn Bar Harbor and the Holiday Inn Bar Harbor Regency were added in the 1980s.

The 1990s featured an increased partnership with Intercontinental Hotel Group and a growing portfolio of Marriott branded hotels, with over 10 hotels were built under the flags of Holiday Inn, Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn by Marriott.

More major developments and acquisitions were accomplished, including the purchase of the Samoset Resort. In the 2000s, The Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina was opened at the waterfront location of the former Golden Anchor Inn in downtown Bar Harbor and the company completed its renovation of the Bar Harbor Club, adjacent to the Harborside Hotel and dating back to the early 1900s.

In the 2010s, construction was completed of the West Street Hotel in downtown Bar Harbor, overlooking the harbor. The $12 million, 120-room West Street Hotel occupies a series of small lots that Ocean Properties and related companies purchased along Bar Harbor's commercial waterfront in 2009.

Walsh had a locally well-known rivalry with another prominent Bar Harbor hotelier, David Witham, who owned nine Bar Harbor hotels and died in 2017.


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