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In his early 20s, Tom Beedon worked three jobs that he credits with sending him into a successful career.
Beedon delivered newspapers in Orange County each morning, worked as a room service waiter at the Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Nigel for the breakfast rush and then spent evenings at various tasks at Disneyland's private Club 33.
"My clock always would go off at
2 o'clock to deliver those papers for two hours, and then I would go back to sleep for another hour and then go to work at the Ritz-Carlton," Beedon recalled. "That Disneyland, Ritz-Carlton, newspaper thing really set the tone for me to be successful."
That tone involved hard work and a "passion for taking care of customers." Today, Beedon, 45, serves as general manager of the Belamar Hotel in Manhattan Beach. He took the job in late 2006 after Larkspur Hotels & Restaurants purchased the property.
His main challenge after taking over was to reposition the 127-room Belamar to cater more to corporate customers instead of its regular fare of leisure travelers.
That led to a six-month, $2.5 million renovation that was completed in September 2007.
The Belamar's new "mid-century, modern" look - which involved replacing concrete surfaces with stone and marble, and adding a fireplace in the lobby - won Boutique Design magazine's 2008 award in
More importantly, the redesign increased occupancy from corporate business travelers, Beedon said.
"In spite of the economic downturn ... we are having the successes we came here to build on," Beedon said. "For corporate business, we have significant year-over-year growth, double digits."
The hotel tries to appeal to people in town on business with such large corporations as Mattel Inc. or Northrop Grumman Corp.
That required adding more corporate-oriented amenities such as a 24-hour business center and high-
tech meeting rooms on the hotel's second floor. That space previously housed a restaurant called Vibe, as well as an adjacent bar with live music from "loungy acts," Beedon said.
The restaurant and bar area is now much smaller. Gone is the hip Vibe name, replaced by the less flashy Second Story Restaurant, which has TVs playing reruns of 1970s shows "The Brady Bunch" and "Charlie's Angels."
"We do that with an intention of knowing our client, who needs to eat and be served and get on their shuttle to get to work quickly," Beedon said. "This and the meeting center really received the lion's share of the renovation budget."
Beedon speaks with the congenial manner of a restaurant ma tre d', which was his last job at Disneyland's Club 33 more than 20 years ago.
Beedon's family moved to Southern California from Michigan when he was 12. Growing up in Anaheim Hills, he dreamed of becoming a journalist like his older sister, who was a TV station camerawoman.
After high school, Beedon landed a job at Club 33 through a family connection. He started as a dishwasher, then worked as a busboy, waiter and bartender before being promoted to ma tre d'.
"I loved that job," he said. "I still have dreams at night that I went back to work there."
His Club 33 job lasted five years and included frequent customer service training. That job coincided with stints as a Ritz-Carlton waiter and Orange County Register carrier.
He also took three years of classes at Santa Ana College.
"That training I got at Disneyland instilled that pride in taking care of guests, and it's lasted all these years," Beedon said. "In five years of working at Disneyland and going through their training programs while going to Santa Ana College, I was told that was as good as getting a four-year degree."
In 1986 at age 22, Beedon took his first big step into the hotel industry when his former boss at the Ritz-
Carlton offered him a job as food and beverage director at a Palm Springs resort. That led Beedon to positions at various hotels, including the Santa Barbara Inn, where he served as general manager.
In October 2006, Beedon received a call from another former boss, who offered him the general manager position at the Belamar.
"I had no awareness of Manhattan Beach," he said. "I always thought it was a rough-and-tumble airport neighborhood."
Beedon accepted the job offer anyway because he liked the hotel's owner, Larkspur Hotels & Restaurants. Beedon then drove to the South Bay from Santa Barbara and headed west on Manhattan Beach Boulevard.
"I parked my car in front of Noah's Bagels and I saw the beautiful people and the surfers and the shops and I said, `This is home,"' he said.