|By Denise-Marie Balona, The Orlando
Sentinel, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
June 25, 2011--When visitors check into a hotel going up near Rollins College, they'll be helping pay for student scholarships.
Rollins plans to start construction this fall on an upscale hotel that will generate income for scholarships designed to lure top students to the liberal-arts college inWinter Park.
The college has hired a company to run the 110-room Alfond Inn at Rollins, named after the family that donated the $12.5 million that will help pay for its construction.
The hotel will be built about a block from campus on Rollins-owned land at Interlachen and New England avenues. That's where the legendary Langford Hotel once stood before it was torn down in 2003.
Proceeds from the hotel's operations will go into an endowment that for at least 25 years will provide full scholarships -- an unusual business arrangement in the world of higher education.
Initially, only a few scholarships will be available. But as the hotel establishes itself, the college hopes to offer millions of dollars a year to high-achieving students.
The college already has been offering full-ride scholarships to a small number of top students through its Cornell Scholars program. That program will eventually be phased out, officials said.
Most students who go to Rollins need help paying for classes, room and board. Tuition alone costs $38,000 a year.
Jeffrey Eisenbarth, the college's vice president of business and finance, said the project will help fill a need for student financial aid in addition to a longstanding need for lodging near the historic campus.
Today, he said, families have few hotel choices in town. But lodging is a necessity, considering that so many students come from outside Central Florida. More than half of last year's incoming students live in other states.
Eisenbarth said the mission of the hotel will help draw patrons who don't have an affiliation with the school.
"To me, it's a great marketing opportunity because people who stay there know they're providing scholarships for students," he said. "They're providing scholarships when they stay there, when they book meetings, dance in the ballroom and eat at the restaurant."
Once the hotel opens in the summer of 2013, Rollins also will be able to start playing host to conferences and educational meetings -- opportunities the college has had to turn down -- that could help promote Rollins and bring business to the city.
Winter Park Mayor Ken Bradley is excited about the idea. City officials will have to approve the plan before construction can begin in October.
"There's going to be tremendous economic benefit from the people who stay," he said.
Plans call for a hotel that stands five stories high and mimics the Spanish and Mediterranean architecture featured on campus. It will offer a swimming pool, fitness center, restaurant and lounge, as well as 9,000 square feet of meeting space. Hotel rooms will cost about $150 a night.
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