It’s not a stretch to say that The Alfond Inn at Rollins, a boutique hotel in the heart of historic Winter Park, Florida, is unlike any other hotel in the country. Currently celebrating its 10th anniversary, the property unveiled a $36 million expansion last week, including a lavish spa, a chic Café, and 71 additional rooms, totaling 183 guestrooms. A light-filled seven-story atrium connects the expansion with the original building. Guestrooms in the original building have undergone complete upgrades with contemporary interiors, and the existing lobby, library, and bar have also been renovated.
Shortly after opening in 2013, The Alfond Inn at Rollins became the focal point of the upscale Winter Park community, the go-to destination for lodging, dining, socializing, meetings, and weddings. This Central Florida city feels more like a small town, from the elegant shops along Park Avenue to the Mediterranean-style homes surrounded by live oaks and Spanish Moss.
The Alfond Inn at Rollins would stand out if it were simply luxury writ large. Yet from the get-go, the hotel has distinguished itself with two unique features: philanthropy and art.
Owned by neighboring Rollins College, the private, coeducational liberal arts college in Winter Park, the hotel has a crucial philanthropic mission, directing all net operating income to scholarships. Since 2013, the Alfond Scholars Program has awarded millions of dollars in scholarships to deserving Rollins students. In the 2022-2023 academic year alone, 30 students attend Rollins on this full four-year scholarship, with an average award of $66,000 per student per year.
Then there’s the art. The Alfond Inn at Rollins is not an “art hotel,” one of those places where an owner or a corporate consultant has hung various pieces of art. It is the only hotel in the United States that functions as an extension of an art museum. The Alfond Inn at Rollins displays artworks from The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art, part of the nearby Rollins Museum of Art.
“I like to say that we’re a museum with guest rooms,” said Dr. Ena Heller, Bruce A. Beal Director, Rollins Museum of Art, who oversees the collection.
The art on view is variously provocative, sublime, and thought-provoking. The ever-growing Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art currently includes 600 artworks, such as the dramatic “Cloud Cities – Nebulous Thresholds” by artist Tomás Saraceno, which hangs in the glass-domed Conservatory of the hotel.
There are paintings and photographs from dozens of other artists, including Jenny Holzer, Jennifer Bartlett, David Hockney, Gordon Parks, and Kara Walker. The atrium in the new wing has an installation by Boston artist Steve Locke called “I remember everything you taught me here.”
The collection was conceived as a visual syllabus for the liberal arts education provided at Rollins. At any given time, there are about 140 artworks displayed throughout the hotel, and they’re rotated once a year. There are also free Happy Hour Art Tours with a curator on the first Wednesday of every month that are so popular that they require pre-registration.
The Alfond Inn at Rollins was wildly popular even before the expansion. Still, the new addition and features have elevated it to the top tier of luxury properties in the United States. One of the most anticipated features of the hotel’s new wing, The Spa, includes seven treatment rooms and his and her hydrotherapy amenities, including saunas, aromatherapy steam rooms, and experience showers. The Spa opens onto a new 6,000-square-foot terrace with a second swimming pool for the hotel, private cabanas, a neo-classical fountain, and a shaded canopy covering an extensive outside living room. The new Café, on the ground level, is a welcoming ensemble of pink, light wood, wicker, and mirrors, a sophisticated space with mid-century modern overtones.
“People ask me, ‘What is the secret sauce behind The Alfond Inn?’” said General Manager Jesse Martinez at last week’s opening. “It’s the location, a beautiful hotel in a beautiful city. It’s thought-provoking because it’s a living art museum. And it’s philanthropy because our mission is to endow scholarships.”
Visit The Alfond Inn at Rollins.