Thursday, September 12, 2013
On August 19th the new Alfond Inn, a Preferred Boutique Hotel, opened in Winter Park (300 E. New England Ave., Winter Park FL). Owned by Rollins College, a private coeducational liberal arts college in Winter Park, The was built with a $12.5-million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation. Net operating income from the Inn will be directed to The Alfond Scholars program fund, the College's premier scholarship fund, for the next 25 years or until the endowment principal reaches $50 million, whichever comes later. The 112-room boutique hotel features Hamilton's Kitchen restaurant, a pool and fitness center, and 10,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. The Alfond Inn is poised to become the new hub of dynamic Winter Park, which The New York Times recently called "a sophisticated alternative to Disney."
Baker Barrios Architects of Orlando were responsible for the Inn's architecture, interior design and landscape architecture. Built in the Spanish Mediterranean revival style, The Alfond Inn echoes the classic look of Rollins College and of Winter Park homes designed by noted 20th century architect James Gamble Rogers II. The use of arches, columns, decorative wrought iron, overhanging trellises covered with flowering vegetation and formal courtyards are the essence of the elegant Winter Park design vernacular. Throughout the hotel are artworks from The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art for Rollins College, established by longtime donors and alumni Barbara and Ted Alfond.
Since Orlando has very few museums or galleries, I went to the hotel with the express intent to view the art collection. It is an eclectic collection of modern representational and abstract work. One piece, by Vik Muniz, was mounted behind glass and was based on "Absinth Drinker" by Edgar Degas. It was created using thousands of images torn from magazines. Had it been the original painting, I would have been impressed. On the opposite wall, "Color Coordinated Currency", by Michael E. Jone, consisted of a series of images of bills that were the same color framed together. I asked at the front desk if there was a brochure that showed where each of the pieces from the collection were located. I was told that a brochure was in the works. I'm not sure how much of the art collection I saw.
The new waitress joked with the good old boys seated at the center table. One of them enlightened her on how grits should be prepared. Guests wandered by periodically and several admitted they were lost. I must admit this is a gorgeous hotel. Although there was an introductory "Welcome Rate" at the Inn that started at $99 per night, based on double occupancy, you will likely be charged over $189. I asked about the "Welcome Rate" at the front desk and no one knew anything about it.