Phil Rawlins, Chuck Whittall and David Siegel To Be Enshrined Nov. 13
The Grand Tour Foundation, celebrating tourism leadership while providing college scholarships to deserving hospitality students,’ has announced the 2015 Dick Pope Legacy Award winners.
Phil Rawlins, founder and president of Orlando City Soccer, David Siegel, president and CEO of Westgate Resorts, and Chuck Whitthall, president of Unicorp National Development were each unanimous first ballot choices of the selection committee.
The trio will be recognized on November 13 in the Citrus Ballroom of the Wyndham Resort at 8001 International Drive at a noon luncheon following an 11 a.m. VIP networking reception. Soon after, their likenesses will be immortalized on the Dick Pope Hall of Fame wall located within the Orange County Convention Center.
“We could not be more pleased with this year’s class recognizing leaders who have strengthened the sustainability of Florida’s hospitality and tourism industries,” said Dr. Mary Jo Ross, CSEP, CPEC who has served as committee chair and executive producer of the event since its inception.
The purpose of the Grand Tour Gala Foundation is to raise and distribute funds to student scholarship foundations, and to non-profit organizations purposed to provide educational programs to students interested in a career in the hospitality and tourism industry.
Nominations are solicited each year from several Florida professional associations including the Florida Attractions Association, SKAL International, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, and the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association.
Attendees of the luncheon can register at www.grandtourfoundation.com. Several corporate tables are also still available.
Rawlins whose vision led to Central Florida being awarded a Major League Soccer franchise, the Orlando City Lions, was voted Orlando’s Downtowner of the Year in 2013 for his work in helping develop downtown, and he was honored by MBA Orlando (LGBT Chamber of Commerce) as Community Champion 2014. He serves on the Board of Directors for CANVS, a non-profit technology and entrepreneurial co-working space located at the Church Street Exchange and is on the Board of the Central Florida Sports Commission.
Siegel is a pioneer in the tourism industry. He built the Mystery Fun House in 1975 and operated it for 25 years. It was the best scare attraction of its time. David spent the last 35 years growing Westgate Resorts into the largest privately owned company in Central Florida. David’s empire includes timeshare, real estate, construction, hotel and apartment management, travel services, telecommunications, insurance, retail, and much more. In 2001, Siegel launched the Westgate Resorts Foundation, which supports over 100 charities. David has earned recognition as an outstanding and committed member of the Central Florida business community.
Whitthall who led development of The Orlando I-Drive 360 and so many other massive projects in our area, has an extensive 27-year background in commercial real estate development, including commercial and residential construction. He is a visionary with a talent of picking prime real estate and developing extraordinary projects. He also holds his Florida Real Estate Broker’s license and Class A General Contractor’s license.
About Dick Pope:
Richard Downing Pope, Sr. died in 1988 but is legacy lives on. Better known as Dick Pope, was the founder of Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, Florida. He is also known as “Mr. Florida”. Pope played a momentous role in the development of tourism in the state of Florida and the growth of theme parks as tourist destinations.
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