Through an astronomical philanthropic donation, Rollins College will be the proud owners of the Alfond Inn, to open in the spring of 2013. In the words of President Lewis Duncan, this hotel will not only be a “living room for the visitors of our college,” but will also provide a massive endowment toward student financial aid and scholarships.
The idea of a hotel close to Rollins had been discussed for over two years. The Board of Trustees showed concern about not having a hotel near the campus within walking distance. There was “no way to show ourselves off.” Many colleges and universities have a hotel on, or affiliated with, the campus. A hotel would bring more people to campus and would become an important part of how Rollins presents itself to the rest of the world.
The economic recession allowed Rollins to purchase 3.4 acres of land next door to the Winter Park Public Library at a highly reduced cost; it was the only land available within walking distance to campus. Rollins and the trustees went through a deliberate system in order to discover the best way to fund the endeavor, talking to many different community partners.
A month ago, Rollins received a special opportunity. The Alfond Foundation bought naming rights to the inn through the donation of $12.5 million to the college. This is by far the largest gift Rollins has ever received. This donation means that Rollins will not only own the land, but it will own the inn as well.
In addition to naming rights, as part of the agreement with the Alfond Foundation, Rollins will commit all the profits for the first 25 years or $50 million (whichever comes last, guaranteeing at least $50 million) to an endowment for student financial aid. As part of this process, the Cornell Scholars will be renamed the Alfond Scholars within the next few years.
The inn will be relatively small, with approximately 125 rooms. Currently, it is estimated that a room will be approximately $100 a night. The hotel is expected to make a large profit, with a conservative estimate of $2 to 3 million a year.
There is the possibility that some day business students may be able to intern at the inn or that students may be employed or participate in workstudy programs there.
President Duncan is thrilled with the plans for the Alfond Inn and looks forward to the longevity of the project: “We are doing this for the next 125 years.”