Rollins College is getting its own hotel — one that echoes the liberal arts school's look and academic mission.
The Alfond Inn's first guests will arrive Sunday, but a Tuesday preview for the news media and other guests showed off the 112-room hotel and its collection of contemporary art.
The college owns the hotel, which is a block from the Winter Park campus. And although many guests are likely to be affiliated with Rollins, the hotel is open to all.
The $30 million hotel, at 300 E. New England Ave., sits on 3.3 acres of land formerly occupied by the Langford Hotel.
The new hotel's exterior is Mediterranean with a Spanish influence — similar to many Rollins buildings — with a more modern interior, said Shannon Michael Larimer, vice president of marketing for Baker Barrios Architects.
It includes luxurious tile and wood floors, a huge atrium and central courtyard, a pool fit for a luxury resort and artwork throughout.
The hotel will serve as a recruiting tool and first impression for many prospective students, Larimer said.
"We wanted them to feel at home — not just the students but the parents," he said of the blend of styles.
It was built, in part, with a $12.5 million gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation. As a condition of the gift, all revenue from the hotel — after operating expenses, fees and taxes — will be used to fund scholarships through the newly established Alfond Scholars fund.
Harold Alfond's son, Ted, and his wife, Barbara, are both 1968 graduates who have remained active as donors and trustees with the school.
"This will be the premier scholarship at Rollins College," said Jeffrey Eisenbarth, head of finance for the college. While other colleges have opened hotels, he said, the scholarship arrangement is the first of its kind that he's aware of.
Eisenbarth said the hotel could generate $2.5 million to $3 million a year for scholarships.
The Alfond will be only the third hotel in the city, after the Park Plaza Hotel on Park Avenue and the Best Western Mt. Vernon Inn on Orlando Avenue.
The hotel is offering "welcome rates" starting at $99 a night through the end of September. As of Oct. 1, rates will start at $159 and suites can cost more than $300 a night.
Another amenity is the in-house Hamilton's Kitchen restaurant. Chef J. Christopher Windus, previously executive chef at Todd English's bluezoo at Disney's Swan and Dolphin Resort, will oversee a Florida-inspired menu.
The artwork in the hotel, valued at close to $3 million, will also likely be a major attraction. The collection of more than 100 works includes paintings, sculptures and photographs by more than 50 artists from 15 countries.
They were chosen with an eye toward the college's liberal-arts mission of getting students to ask questions and become "global citizens," said Ena Heller, director of the college's Cornell Fine Arts Museum.
"A lot of the work is text-based, conceptual art" that explores "language, literacy and having different perspectives," Heller said.
Added Eisenbarth: "You can actually come to an art museum and spend the night."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun