Q&A with Jesse Martinez
The Alfond Inn at Rollins College
As the nation’s second-largest hotel market, Orlando boasts several highly unique, award-winning places to relax, unwind and catch some Z’s — with one of the best examples nestled a few miles north of downtown in the heart of Winter Park. Named one of the world’s top hotels by Travel + Leisure, The Alfond Inn is an elegant escape for more than 50,000 guests each year. Owned by Rollins College and home to an acclaimed arts collection, the boutique hotel’s net operating income endows The Alfond Scholars Program, which annually awards up to 10 full scholarships to first-year students. Here, General Manager Jesse Martinez discusses the establishment’s impressive reputation and contributions to the Orlando tourism community.
How has The Alfond Inn earned such prestigious rankings in just five years?
Since the hotel opened in August 2013, we have distinguished ourselves through a consistent high level of service, an extraordinary location, world-class artwork and our mission of philanthropy. We are also home to the award-winning Hamilton’s Kitchen, which offers a distinct Central Florida culinary experience for our guests.
What need has the hotel filled in Winter Park, and what benefit does its location provide?
The city of Winter Park was in need of a venue that could support large functions and also provide luxury accommodations for guests. We are not just a weekend getaway hotel, but a popular gathering spot all days of the week. Our location is perfectly situated in one of the most charming cities in America, adorned by some of the best restaurants and retail shops, and surrounded by some of the most impressive museums in Florida.
How do your art, food and beverage offerings contribute to the hotel’s success?
These offerings work together to create a unique, signature experience unlike any other hotel. We have a living museum of incredible artwork with free art tours each Sunday and a Happy Hour Tour the first Wednesday of each month. Our signature Get Your Jazz On concert series is always popular, as is our Mother’s Day Brunch. Hamilton’s Kitchen puts on a great Sunday Jazz Brunch and Chef’s Table experiences in addition to its regular fare.
Who has helped you get where you are today?
Mentorship has been a major part of my success. Throughout my 22 years in the Air Force, and now my tenure in hospitality, I have been guided by several strong influences. Without my mentors’ dedication and passion for my well-being, I would not be where I am today. In return, some of my proudest accomplishments are the quieter moments when I’ve mentored people and watched their personal and professional growth.
How is Orlando — and Visit Orlando — an asset to your industry?
We receive nothing but stellar comments from our patrons about Winter Park and Orlando. Upon arrival, guests are transported to another time and place. Everything slows down and the pampering begins. Guests love having the variety of experiences Orlando provides at their fingertips, and Visit Orlando is vitally important to tourism in The City Beautiful. As our global storyteller, Visit Orlando has positively impacted destination growth, development and identity.
MEETING THE DEMAND
Orlando’s lodging sector adds quantity, quality
Orlando could not have become America’s most-visited destination without our vast hotel and resort inventory. We hosted a record 72 million visitors last year — more than 500,000 a day, on average — so providing a wide variety of accommodations is key to Orlando’s ongoing success.
To keep up with demand, it’s important that our lodging supply continues to grow — and that’s exactly what is happening. By year’s end, nearly 2,800 new hotel rooms will have come online. In 2019, another 4,900- plus rooms are set to open, pushing our region’s total to more than 128,000.
But it’s not just the quantity of rooms that’s soaring. Hotel quality is also reaching new heights.
From the brand new to the established classics, many brands have added amenities such as in-room technology, gourmet dining, day spas, waterpark-worthy pools, pet-friendly accommodations, rooftop bars, customer rewards programs and, in the case of The Alfond Inn at Rollins College, an incomparable art collection.
Of course, these developments are great for visitors, but they’re equally beneficial for our local community. Orlando’s lodging sector accounts for tens of thousands of jobs that stimulate the economy, provide upwardly mobile career opportunities and underpin hospitality’s role as the region’s leading employer.
Orlando’s tourism industry is always finding new ways to meet demand and exceed expectations — and it all starts with a warm, friendly place for leisure and business travelers to lay their heads. Thanks to our hotels and resorts, we are well-poised to capitalize on the projected growth that will continue to transform our destination for years to come.