Rollins Real Estate Goes Ritz

September 19, 2013 Features
Photos Courtesy of Alfond Inn

With a rooftop pool and a fitness center, the Alfond Inn is a luxurious addition to the Winter Park community.

Opening its doors on August 18th, the Alfond Inn has quickly become a hot new destination for visitors and Rollins students alike.

Boasting 112 guest rooms, a fine dining restaurant, Hamilton’s Kitchen, and amenities such as a rooftop pool and fitness center, the Inn caters to the lavish needs of guests and local residents. The property is owned by Rollins, and was constructed with a $12.5 million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation. The hotel’s profits will be directed to the maintenance of the Alfond Scholars program, the premier scholarship offered to Rollins students.

Arguably the most impressive part of the hotel is the chic first floor and lobby, which highlights contemporary art and design in a seamless manner. The Inn’s conservatory filters in natural light through an expansive glass dome ceiling adding warmth and glittering personality that charms guests upon entry.

However, the collection of art featured throughout the lobby and first floor is the true gem of the hotel. The contemporary artworks are exclusive to the hotel, and the Cornell Fine Arts museum is the permanent recipient of this fine donation of art. The 57 artists who are featured within the collection utilized a variety of mediums. This facet of the hotel is truly the most remarkable, as it asserts a captivation with contemporary art unparalleled throughout the greater Orlando area.

Despite this contribution to the Orlando creative culture, the Inn has done little to highlight the respectable collection. Within the early weeks of opening, the hotel had yet to place information placards beside each piece, leaving viewers wondering who created each work and what mediums it was created with. This disservice to the featured artists was made worse by the inability of Inn employees (including members of the Director staff) to answer basic questions regarding individual pieces. For a hotel boasting their collection, training of employees in regards to the artwork should have been a higher priority.

Beyond the artwork, the first floor also offers a beautiful bar that is both warm and open while maintaining the modern feel of the entire hotel. Hamilton’s Kitchen is also on this floor, and the restaurant features Floridian-inspired, contemporary cuisine. With a menu that combines flavorful options, such as black grouper and herb quinoa, this restaurant intends to compete with Winter Park classics such as Luma and Hannibal’s On The Square.

Despite the brilliance of the hotel’s first floor, the guest rooms and suites are lackluster in comparison. The peacock feather carpeting in the hallway leading to the rooms feels gaudy and overwhelming. This leads to the standard rooms where guests will surely be disappointed by their bare interiors that do not capture the artistic brilliance found throughout the ground floor. Rather than feature contemporary photography, the rooms showcase a variety of photos of the Rollins campus, which feels disconnected to the hotel’s interior design.

The rooms feel standard in their small, compartmentalized construction. Floor plans feel cramped and uninviting, these rooms are certainly not recommended for long-term stay. The worst part of the rooms is the sliding mirrored door that separates the bathroom from the living space—these horrendous doors appear to be a cost-efficiency option that feels dated in design.

The signature suite is a slight improvement over the disappointing standard guest rooms. A large living room opens onto a lengthy balcony that offers picturesque views of the Winter Park area. This room is separated from the bedroom offering intimacy and privacy to guests on their honeymoon. However, when comparing this suite to other honeymoon or signature suites in Orlando hotels such as the Grand Bohemian, the Inn’s room is uninspired. Once again the room feels bare in decoration and the small kitchenette feels like a waste of space in the otherwise open living area.

Overall, despite disappointing guest rooms and suites, the Alfond Inn is an inviting cultural destination worth visiting. With a prime location near both campus and Park Avenue, the Inn will surely live up to its marketing as “a new place to stay, to celebrate, and to savor the Winter Park experience.”

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