Since opening in August 2013, The Alfond Inn has redefined the concept of hotel philanthropy. It has established itself as a venue for The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art for Rollins College, an extension of the Cornell Fine Art Museum at Rollins College's collection on display in the hotel's public areas. The hotel earned a prestigious AAA Four Diamond status just eight months after opening and has become the hub for top-level CEO association meetings in the greater Orlando area. Weddings and fundraising events are also a specialized niche in Winter Park's very social community. Hamilton's Kitchen, The Alfond Inn's restaurant, has quickly become a bright light in the dynamic restaurant scene in Winter Park and a dining destination for Greater Orlando.
Owned by Rollins College, one of the country's most lauded liberal arts colleges, and managed by The Olympia Companies, The Alfond Inn was funded in part with a $12.5-million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation. The additional $20 million was financed by the school's cash reserve. Philanthropist Harold Alfond, founder of Dexter Shoe Company, had long supported the college, and two of his children and two of his grandchildren attended Rollins.
The intention of the Harold Alfond Foundation was that the net operating income from The Alfond Inn would be directed to The Alfond Scholars program fund, the Rollins College premier scholarship fund, over the next 25 years or until the endowment principal reached $50 million, whichever came later.
In fact, The Alfond Inn has vastly exceeded its expectations. Projected to have net operating income of $1.9 million in 2014, that figure is now expected to top $4.3 million by the end of the year. Following a loan payment, The Alfond Inn expects to be able to give back $3.2 million to The Alfond Scholars program.
"This year, $157,000 will be used for three full scholarships," says Jeffrey G. Eisenbarth,Vice President for Business and Finance and Treasurer at Rollins College. "It's so much better than what we had projected."
As The Alfond Inn's business continues to grow, and the endowment grows with it, there are expectations that the Fund will be able to award more scholarships with each passing year. "The Alfond Scholars Fund has a 4.5% spending rate," Eisenbarth says, "and we're projecting that at this rate of growth and an investment return of 10%, we'll be able to award 30 full four year merit-based scholarships every year within 10 years."
A Leader in Showcasing Contemporary Art
The Alfond Inn is a showcase for The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art for Rollins College, a growing collection of more than 220 works of art purchased for the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College by alumni Barbara and Ted Alfond. The evolving collection, conceived as a "visual syllabus" for the college, includes paintings, photographs, sculptures and mixed-media works by established and emerging artists from around the world.
"These artworks are a new and important chapter of our collection," says Ena Heller, the Bruce A. Beal director of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College. "I can't think of another museum that uses a hotel property as an extension of their exhibition space."
The Alfonds are both avid and knowledgeable art collectors, and Barbara Alfond serves on the board of trustees at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Works by contemporary artists and photographers such as Tracey Emin, Joseph Kosuth, Trevor Paglen and Maya Lin can be found in The Alfond Collection. The hotel offers complimentary guided tours of the collection every Friday at 1pm and changes in the installation are made every few months, due to new acquisitions made by the Alfonds with the advice of independent curator Abigail Ross Goodman. This fall's exhibition at The Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Fractured Narratives: a strategy to engage, is inspired by The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art, with some art works on display at The Alfond Inn, which Heller refers to as "a continuation of the main exhibit."
In the spring, the hotel welcomed Executive Chef Marc Kusche to Hamilton's Kitchen. A veteran of some of the finest kitchens in the world, including several Four Seasons properties as well as Silversea Cruises, Chef Kusche has become a familiar face at Winter Park's weekly Farmers Market, where he meets with the more than 20 local suppliers and personally selects the best local produce, meat and citrus. Hamilton's Kitchen, with its warm and inviting dining room, alfresco courtyard seating and private dining room, has quickly become an integral part of the vibrant Winter Park dining scene.
From now until December 15, 2014 the Alfond Inn is offering a One Year Anniversary Special, with a starting rate of $259 per night in a Classic Room based on double occupancy, including a full breakfast for two at Hamilton's Kitchen or delivered by Room Service. *Rate does not include room tax or restaurant gratuity.
For reservations and information call 407-998-8090, or visit the website at www.thealfondinn.com