Cashing “inn” on educational opportunities

Stefanie Botelho's picture

Approaching its one-year anniversary, The Alfond Inn at Rollins College is exceeding expectations from a hospitality, philanthropic and cultural standpoint. High occupancy rates at the 112-room boutique hotel have resulted in $3.2 million in projected net operating income for 2014, which will fund full scholarships for students at the nationally ranked liberal arts school.

The Inn, which is owned by Rollins, cost $32.5 million to build and was funded in part by a $12.5-million lead gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation; the additional $20 million was financed by the school’s cash reserve.

Since opening Aug. 18, 2013, the Inn has:

· Exceeded projections by more than 100 percent. Net operating income (projected to be $1.9 million between Jan. 2014 and Dec. 201

4) is expected to exceed $4.3 million by the end of 2014.

· Paid $1.1 million in principal and interest on the $20-million loan.

· Projected to designate $3.2 million at the end of the year toward the endowment of the Alfond Scholars Program, which funds full Rollins scholarships (tuition, room and board). This year, 4.5 percent of the endowment ($157,000) will be used to fund three student scholarships at Rollins.

· Averaged an 88.6 percent occupancy rate (the industry standard is 64 percent).

· Achieved four-diamond AAA-rating (only 5 percent of hotels receive this designation).

· Exhibited more than 145 artworks from the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College, part of the permanent collection at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum.

Net operating income from the Inn will be directed to the scholarship fund for the next 25 years or until the endowment principal reaches $50 million, whichever comes later.

“Business has been much better than anticipated, and The Alfond Inn has been fully embraced by not only the College but the Winter Park community,” said Jeffrey G. Eisenbarth, Rollins’ vice president for business and finance. “The funding of the permanently endowed scholarship is a unique aspect of the hotel, and this long-term investment is quickly paying off for Rollins, which ultimately benefits students.”

Located a block from campus in an upscale shopping and dining district, the Inn has 9,000 square feet of meeting space. The hotel, designed by Baker Barrios Architects, has enabled Rollins to host events and attract professional and academic conferences that the College previously could not accommodate on campus.

“A 2008 strategic planning session of the board of trustees sparked the idea for the Inn,” said Craig McAllaster, interim president at Rollins College. “The Alfond Inn has become an asset for Winter Park as well, and we are grateful for the generous assistance of the Harold Alfond Foundation. The gift is both entrepreneurial and philanthropic, and it is having a positive impact on our school and our community.”

The gift is the latest and largest in a long history of contributions to Rollins College by the Alfond family. The late Massachusetts-born Harold Alfond, who founded the Dexter Shoe Company, received an honorary doctorate from Rollins College in 1997 and was known for his education-centric philanthropy efforts.

“My father had a strong fondness for Rollins, and this project would have been right up his alley,” said Ted Alfond, who serves on the College’s board of trustees. “He was a businessman who liked entrepreneurial, creative ideas — and The Alfond Inn is both. As the Inn continues to achieve business success, the scholarship program’s impact will continue to grow. My dad would have loved it.”

In addition, The Alfond Inn is home to a dynamic presentation of artworks from the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College, offering an expansive visual experience to students, the wider Winter Park community, and visitors to the area. Established in 2013, the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art was conceived by Ted and Barbara Alfond (Rollins class of 1968) as an enriching “visual syllabus” for the college and its Cornell Fine Arts Museum. The evolving collection includes more than 220 works of sculpture, painting, photographs and mixed-media by both established and emerging artists from around the world. 

About Rollins College:

Founded in 1885, Rollins College is Florida’s oldest recognized college. Located in Winter Park, near Orlando, Rollins is consistently ranked as the number one regional university in the South by U.S. News & World Report. In addition to full-time undergraduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences and the College of Professional Studies, Rollins offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs for working adults through its evening program at the Hamilton Holt School and graduate business degree programs through its Crummer Graduate School of Business, which has been ranked a top MBA program by Forbes and Bloomberg Businessweek. Rollins serves approximately 3,300 degree-seeking students annually. For more information, visit “Like” Rollins on Facebook and follow on Twitter @RollinsCollege.

About the Harold Alfond Foundation:

Founded in 1950, the Harold Alfond Foundation furthers the philanthropic legacy of Harold Alfond, the founder of Dexter Shoe Company. The Foundation supports education, healthcare, youth development, and other charitable institutions, predominantly in Maine.

About The Alfond Inn:

The Alfond Inn, a Preferred Boutique Hotel that was recently awarded the esteemed AAA Four-Diamond Rating, is located in Winter Park, Florida and managed by The Olympia Companies, an innovative leader in hospitality. Owned by Rollins College, a private coeducational liberal arts college, also in Winter Park, The Alfond Inn opened in August 2013 and was built with a $12.5-million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation. Net operating income from the Inn is directed to The Alfond Scholars Program, the College's premier scholarship fund, over the next 25 years or until the endowment principal reaches $50 million, whichever comes later. The 112-room boutique hotel features rotating displays from the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College, as well as the popular Hamilton's Kitchen restaurant, a pool and fitness center, and 10,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. It is 15 minutes from downtown Orlando and 30 minutes from Walt Disney World and Orlando International Airport. The Alfond Inn, 300 East New England Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789. 407-998-8090.

About the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College:

Established in 2013 by Ted and Barbara Alfond, the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College was conceived as a “visual syllabus” to foster curiosity, respect for difference and an increasingly global perspective, and it has become a cornerstone of the liberal arts education at Rollins College. Part of the permanent collection at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art, which continues to grow, is comprised of more than 220 paintings, photographs, sculptures and mixed-media works by established and emerging international artists. Works from the collection are on view at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College and at the Alfond Inn, offering an expansive visual and narrative perspective to students, the wider Winter Park community, and visitors to the area.