Dogs sit, stay and roll over for this sophisticated & boutique hotel
By Si Si Penaloza
Up for a spontaneous spring fling to Florida with your pup? If you love the idea of picking up and jetting off with your pet, Winter Park awaits. This is a great time to go, before summer temperatures set in and suddenly, your double coat Samoyed or Sheep Dog isn’t up for a game of fetch in the blazing heat. Simba’s more apt to be like, “Hey human, fetch me a cold towel and cucumber slices for my eyes, thanks.”
Fur family are most welcome in the theme park capital of the world. Orlando and the nearby suburb of Winter Park offer up an ideal ratio of high energy buzz and laid back bliss. With a bustling al fresco café culture, indie boutiques and breezy boulevards lined with stoic old oaks, Winter Park is one of Florida’s most dog-friendly destinations. Venture out and you’ll find more than two dozen dog-friendly restaurants to savor. Be sure to save an afternoon for Lake Baldwin Park, a sprawling 23-acre green paradise on Lake Baldwin where dogs may run off leash during posted hours.
Just a leisurely stroll from Park Avenue, the intimate Alfond Inn welcomes four-legged guests with warm smiles and spontaneous rubdowns. The Inn is owned by Rollins College, a nearby private coeducational liberal arts college. Swoon over the hotel’s impressive contemporary art collection, featuring over 100 pieces personally curated by Barbara and Theodore Alfond. This alumni couple gave back to their alma mater in a most stylish fashion, by funding the construction of the hotel. Consider another unique aspect of the property: hotel profits are channeled directly into the Rollins College scholarship program. Talk about a feel good vacation; every dollar you spend on your hotel bill goes toward helping promising students in need and the local economy. Who knows, the next Hillary Clinton or Elon Musk could be among the Rollins Class of 2021.
The Alfond Inn has won a robust round of tail wags for its VIP (Very Important Pup) Package, designed to keep everyone happy during their holiday. The package provides dog-friendly rooms, a keepsake water bowl, and signature treats at turndown. A complimentary ThunderShirt (a specially designed vest that gives dogs a “hug” as it applies a gentle pressure for a soothing effect) is part of the package too. Moreover, for that morning when you simply must sleep in, VIP includes one private dog walker session around Winter Park. In keeping with the hotel’s philanthropic mission, for each package booked, a donation will be made to The Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando.
A member of Preferred Boutique Hotels, The Alfond Inn opened in August 2013, built with a $12.5 million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation. The late Harold Alfond, shoe magnate, and former co-owner of the Boston Red Sox, had a true blue soft spot for Rollins College. He received an honorary doctorate from the school in 1997; son Theodore B. Alfond (class of ’68) is a current Rollins trustee, and his wife, Barbara Lawrence Alfond (also class of ’68) is a former trustee of the college. Net operating income from the Inn is directed to The Alfond Scholars program fund, the College’s premier scholarship fund, over the next 25 years or until the endowment principal reaches $50 million. The 112-room hotel includes local favorite Hamilton’s Kitchen under Executive Chef Marc Kusche (pictured), a pool and fitness center, and 10,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. The inn 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.
Photos courtesy of Visit Florida and The Alfond Inn.