While visiting friends in Winter Park, Florida last weekend, I was treated to brunch at Hamilton’s Kitchen. Hamilton’s is located inside The Alfond Inn, a new boutique property that may be the world’s first non-profit hotel.
The lobby of the inn is bright and open, filled with contemporary art and modern Moorish influences. Hamilton’s opens onto the courtyard, and we chose a table outside. The weather was as perfect as you’d expect in a Florida resort town.
My girlfriends and I planned to have a pleasant meal, continuing a theme of cocktails and conversation that began years ago and continues with quick, but intimate catch-ups whenever we can spend time together. We were midway through our meal when we discovered the really special thing about The Alfond Inn.
Both the hotel and restaurant are operated through a non-profit organization that supports Rollins College, one of the region’s premiere institutions.
Venture philanthropy is all the rage these days, as organizations look for new ways to create and secure funding and folks with available cash discover how to invest while doing good. Rumor has it that other colleges and universities, including at least one Ivy League institution, have visited and are studying this unique fundraising model.
My friends and I were studying, too. We were focused on the cocktail menu. Our waiter, Jose Rafael is also the sommelier at Hamilton’s and he was attentive, funny and confident. He suggested unique drinks for each of us. (Every diner gets a special menu card at brunch, similar to what you might find at a sushi bar, where you can create a personalized version of a mimosa or Bloody Mary.) At Jose’s suggestion, I had guava juice, champagne and black raspberry liqueur.
Our meal was perfectly orchestrated by Jose and his team, and the food from new Executive Chef Marc Kusche was excellent. So good in fact, that despite myriad choices in Winter Park, we made dinner reservations for the same spot that evening.
The concept for The Alfond Inn was realized through a $12.5 million dollar grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation, which funds Rollins College’s premier scholarship program. Additionally, Barbara and Theodore Alfondcreated a stunning $3.2 million contemporary art collection which is rotated throughout the space. A triptych by artist Lalla Essaydl behind the concierge desk was one of my favorites, but amazing pieces were displayed around every corner.
I haven’t (yet) stayed in the hotel overnight, but if the service is anything like what we found in the restaurant, it would be unbeatable. And of course, its easy to feel good about any dollar spent in a hotel that raises money for college scholarships.
The Alfond Inn has 112 rooms and suites, as well as spaces for meetings and weddings – and they can accommodate pets. So if you’d like to do something good, simply by spending the night, this is the place for you.
Rollins College has been around since 1885 and Winter Park itself was originally a seasonal haven for wealthy New Yorkers and was known for its art, literature and social pursuits. Park Avenue is the main drag, full of boutiques and cafes, and The Alfond Inn is just around the corner from the action. I look foward to my next trip to Winter Park when, although I have friends with fabulous digs, I plan to stay at The Alfond Inn.
More about the hotel, here: http://www.thealfondinn.com