Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

For many years, visitors to Central Florida have longed for an upscale retreat in the beautiful and beloved city of Winter Park. In late August 2013, the longings were finally met with the unveiling of The Alfond Inn, a tribute to refined hospitality and exemplary artistic design.

Winter Park has always surpassed Orlando in terms of ambiance with its thriving arts scene, nightlife, dining and cultural activities. But now, with the addition of a true luxury boutique property like The Alfond Inn is perfectly poised to win!

The New York Times recently called Winter Park “a sophisticated alternative to Disney.”

As a vacation destination, Winter Park, best known for its beautiful lakes, tree-lined streets, gardens and stately mansions, offers an enchanting European-inspired escape.

In the late 1800’s, wealthy northerners began flocking to the city making Winter Park their seasonal home. The population grew with the addition of a rail station and the establishment of Rollins College, a private liberal arts college, in 1885. Rollins College remains an important economic anchor and altruistic supporter of the community. The College was instrumental in the construction of the Inn. Through the generosity of Barbara and Ted Alfond, active Rollins College Alumni, the Harold Alfond Foundation was created. The Foundation gifted $12.5 million in the form of a uniquely structured endowment focused on investing in the future. A strategic plan was soon put in place to not only to build the hotel property but to also bank on the success of The Alfond Inn as a solid business enterprise. All profits, less net operating expenses, are earmarked to fund scholarships, providing financial resources to talented and deserving students.

Giving back in support of education… it just doesn’t get any better!

Visitors are welcomed by Barbara and Ted’s Alfond’s passion for contemporary art via a 100-plus piece personal collection borrowed from Rollin’s Cornell Fine Arts Museum, showcased throughout the hotel. The rotating exhibition features paintings, photographs, sculptures and prints inviting and inspiring guests to pause and ponder the possibilities of creative expression.

The property’s offers a balance of bright open spaces for public gatherings and intimate cozy corners for romance and private moments. The lush garden courtyard is ideal for alfresco weddings and summer parties. The glassed-domed Conservatory is a magical spot for any celebration.

The rooms, complete with balconies and/or courtyard views, are warm and inviting. Think… modern design meets sophisticated comfort.

A Classy Collegian On Every Level!

Color accents honor Winter Park’s iconic symbol – the proud peacock. A burst of brilliant blues and greens, like the colorful plume of a peacock tail, enhance a nature-inspired palette of rich earth tones.

The general decor is elegantly eclectic – a mix ranging from simplistic contemporary designs to stylish upholstered overstuffed sofas and high back chairs. The funky blown glass crystal chandelier in the restaurant and the rustic bronze balloon ball lighting in the lounge/library area are among the hard-to-miss visual pop-outs that follow the Inn’s artful edgy theme.

The Barbara and Ted’s overall vision was to create a sense of community – a social hub of communication that embodies the art of conversation and Old Florida hospitality. Their dream is now a reality drawing in guests from around the corner and around the world.

Locals residents are The Alfond Inn’s biggest fans and can’t get seem to get enough.

So much so…a Winter Park Stay-Cation is now in fashion and in high demand!

Best to make your plans well in advance given the hotel’s trending popularity;  it is generally a sell-out on weekends and snagging a dinner reservation at the hotel’s Hamilton’s Kitchen can often be difficult.

With rave reviews rolling in after only two months, The Alfond Inn has certainly made Rollins College (especially, those professors at the Business School) proud!

If all stays on track, expansion is inevitable and the scholarship fund likely will exceed projected goals.

Looks like “Academia Takes On Tourism” is a winning proposition.

I know I can’t wait for a return visit. I am already making plans for a long weekend in early December when Winter Park will be decked out to celebrate the season. It will be the perfect time to do little holiday shopping, partake in the festivities and toast The Alfond Inn’s team’s philanthropic spirit and heart-felt hospitality.

Accommodations: A total of 112 guest rooms and suites ranging from 330 square feet to 998 square feet.

Rates: Seasonal. $159-$369

In-Room Amenities:

  • Coffee Makers with Seattle’s Best Coffee/TAZO Teas
  • Complimentary High Speed Wireless Internet Access
  • I-Pod Docking Stations
  • Flat Screen Televisions
  • Workstation/Desk
  • Make-Up Mirrors
  • Bathroom Scale
  • Mini-Fridge & Microwave ( select rooms)
  • In-Room Sage
  • Rooftop Pool & Fitness Center
  • Valet Parking
  • Concierge Services
  • Full Service Bar & Restaurant
  • Meeting Space – 20,000 square feet ( indoor/outdoor space)

A Dining Delight:

The Alfond Inn’s Hamilton’s Kitchen is named in honor of Hamilton Holt, the 8th President of Rollins College. Chef J. Christopher Windus follows a farm-to-table menu philosophy. The menu features Florida-inspired dishes made with fresh locally grown and sourced ingredients. Exposed beams, a farmers table, outdoor terrace seating provide a casually elegant dining experience.  The restaurant seats 90 indoors/60 outdoors and offers a private dining room for 12 to 36 guests.

Top Picks for Attractions/Activities:

Winter Park Scenic Boat Ride: A one-hour narrated tour through the historic canals and lakes of Winter Park. Tours leave every hour on the hour. Monday to Sunday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art: The Morse Museum is home to the stunning works of American artist and designer Louis Comfort Tiffany. The comprehensive collection includes jewelry, pottery, paintings, art glass, lamps and the chapel interior Tiffany designed for the 1883 World’s Exposition in Chicago.

Winter Park Farmer’s Market: Open Air Market located at the Old Train Depot with vendors featuring local goods from produce to plants. Saturday; 7 a.m -1 p.m.

Park Avenue: Pedestrian friendly shopping and dining district featuring boutique shops, galleries and restaurants.

Rollins College: Rollins is recognized as the oldest recognized college in the state of Florida. The architecture and grounds are stunning. Opt for a scenic morning jog or afternoon stroll along the lakefront nature trail or enjoy prayerful solitude in the Knowles Memorial Chapel.

SeaWorld Orlando: A 30 minute drive from Winter Park. The new exhibit, Antarctica: Empire of the Penquin, is definitely worth a visit. You are transported to the icy wonderland of the South Pole and are treated to the playful antics of an adorable family of flamboyant birds wearing their tuxedos and feathered top hats.

One thought on “The Alfond Inn; Winter Park, Florida

  1. Great Review, an invitation to an exceptional property and option to other hotels in the area. I am so glad to have learned about this on the “Tango Diva” site. I have found Sheila Gaspers reviews to be credible. I will most definitely reserve at “The Alfond Inn” on my next visit to the area.

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